Roof Coatings Articles

Contractor’s Coatings Tests Solve Problematic Roofs

Photos courtesy of American WeatherStar
Vendor Team

American WeatherStar
Coatings manufacturer
P.O. Box 6256
Mobile, AL 36660 (800) 771-6643

Galt Construction
Coatings contractor
906 W. McDermott Dr.,
Suite 116-231
Allen, TX 75013 (888) 962-9449

In May of 2013, Galt Construction was contacted by a Houston property management company to review an existing rooftop structure. They were asked to provide a scope and estimate to ensure a watertight warrantable solution for the property. The property management company was in the process of purchasing the apartments, and the Federal Housing Authority was requiring that the roofs be repaired before final funding of the loan.

By the end of that month, Galt Construction made a site visit to the property to assess the current condition of the property and determine the best solution for it and the new owners. Upon inspection, Galt determined that out of the 20 low-slope roof structures, only one, which was a new modified bitumen roof system, was in reasonable condition. The others, well let’s just say it was a mix of built-up roof (BUR), modified, and elastomeric coatings thrown in with a group of cold processed asphalt patches. Anything and everything was attempted to stop the leaks by the previous owners…that is, everything but hiring a knowledgeable professional to reroof the structures.

Ponding Problem

After reviewing the property, Galt Construction’s salesman Rodney Carter interviewed the new owners regarding their long-term goals. “Understanding the long-term goals of the owner is probably the most important step in proposing a roofing solution,” stated Carter. “If an owner has short-term interests in the property, then proposing a 5-year system will usually be the most economical for the owners. However, if the goal is to keep the property for an investment portfolio, then a 10-, 15-, or 20-year system is the best solution.”

First and foremost, the owners did not want to remove the existing roof. By removing the roof, certain codes that were currently being grandfathered in would have to be brought up to current standards. Second, the existing roof had areas of ponding water and the new roofing system had to be able to warrant such conditions. Next, the owner wanted to try to achieve a 10-year Material and Labor Warranty. Finally, the owners had bad experiences in the past with single-ply systems and did not want to use that type of system again.

“Given the fact that ponding water was a problem, we ultimately knew that a layover of asphalt-based material was not a consideration due to warranty restraints,” stated Carter. “We knew that with the requirements of the owner, we were going to have to get creative. With asphalt and single-ply systems not being an option, we knew that a coating system was the best choice.”

Luckily, that’s when a few coatings professionals stepped in!

Test Case

Near the end of 2011, Scott Gayle, national sales manager for American WeatherStar, contacted Galt Construction to propose that the coatings crew try the Ure-A-Sil System, a new product that Galt hadn’t been specifying as a coating system at that time.

In mid to late 2012, Galt Construction agreed to test the Ure-A-Sil system on 3 smaller jobs (ranging from 9,000–20,000 square feet, 836–1,858 m²) taking place a few months later. These test roofs consisted of an asphalt built-up system, a modified bitumen system, and an elastomeric coated system. And the results were exactly what Carter was hoping for. “In 20 years of coating flat roofs, this was the first system that looked like what I envisioned a coating to be. The thickness of the urethane base along with the self-leveling properties is one of a kind,” said Carter.

And this system was the best solution for the unique requirements with this apartment project. Along with the inclusion of ponding water in the 10-year warranty, there was no need to remove any of the existing roof systems and, as long as the owner engaged in a yearly roof maintenance program, an additional 2-year extension would be added to the warranty with this system.

“The owner of the complex was at first reluctant to a coating system,” Carter said. “They had several contractors in the past attempt acrylic coatings that quickly deteriorated or not live up to the warranty standards. So we asked the owner to give us two buildings in their complete portfolio that were their biggest nightmares for leaks.”

In June, when Galt Construction completed the two “test” buildings, to the owner’s amazement, the Ure-A-Sil system performed as promised with no additional change ordersWhen walking the test building, the Chief of Construction stated, “This is amazing. You fixed the leaks for half of what we had in our budget for replacement.”

Onward and Upward

After two months of testing during the rainy season, Galt Construction was contracted to complete the 107,000-square-foot (9,941 m²) project within 30 weather-permitting days. Just a few days after signing the contract, delivery of materials was accepted and construction began.

To start, the crew prepped the roof by removing all unnecessary equipment and debris and then pressure-washing the substrate with 4,000 psi (27,579 kPa). With the roof ready to go, the crew applied two layers of coatings to create the WeatherStar system: one basecoat of AWS Urethane 520 and one topcoat of AWS Silicone 410. They used rollers to apply both coats, since overspray using a traditional airless sprayer was a concern. The urethane was applied at 15–16 mils (381–406 microns) dry film thickness (DFT), while the silicone was applied at 14–15 mils (356–381 microns) DFT; thicknesses depended on each of the roof’s substrates.

Another real concern for the crew was the residents of the buildings. To mitigate those concerns, the crew used spotters and made sure to be aware of all activity on the ground.

Perfect Results

Within 29 calendar days from start of construction, including 7 non-working bad-weather days, Galt Construction finished the roofing project and submitted the file to American WeatherStar for independent testing and certification for the warranty. This was done before Galt Construction’s 30 weather-permitting days were up. Not only did they pass, but Galt Construction scored a total of 10 out of 10 for project performance!

“Combined with completing the project one week before our scheduled completion date, eliminating all of the project location’s existing leaks, performing a warranted system for half of the budgeted funds, scoring a 10 of a possible 10 for performance by an independent roofing consultant, with no additional change orders, along with a zero safety incident rating, Galt Construction has been asked to begin negotiations for additional projects using Ure-A-Sil for the same owner,” said Carter.

For the Galt Construction crew, which works to find systems that meet its clients’ specific needs, this coating job was a unique one. It just goes to show that the ability to solve problems can not only make a client happy but can also lead to more work opportunities in the future.

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