April 14, 2017
The concept of testing materials and assemblies in buildings has been around since the late 1800s, when John R. Freeman initiated Factory Mutual Laboratories (now known as FM Approvals) to test fire protection systems. Since then, the use of FM-approved building components and assemblies has become recognized as an accepted safety standard for insurance companies, building inspectors, design professionals, and building owners. In the case of roofing systems, FM is particularly well known for determining how roofing performs not only for fire, but also for high wind. In fact, it is unique among other testing laboratories in the way that it performs wind uplift testing – it uses full-scale roof sections measuring 12 feet by 24 feet to obtain an accurate view of expected real-world performance. Further, it tests not only individual products, but full assemblies. In the case of metal roofing, for example, that would include the metal roofing panels, the fasteners (e.g., screws), EPDM washers, seam sealant, and any insulation, all as attached to a specific roof deck or structure.
To find out if a roofing product or assembly has been approved by FM based on its independent testing, the best place to look is on the FM roof navigation website, known as RoofNav. Registration is free and offers access to FM’s fully searchable, comprehensive database.
Here is a quick overview on using the website:
The website also contains a number of very helpful ways to assist a user. A tab for a “ratings calculator” allows flexibility in the amount of information entered; a tab for “reference materials” provides drop-down assistance with tools such as a “quick-start guide.” Links for “help,” “support,” and “training” appear at the top of the page, along with a quick-search portal where a known FM assembly number can be entered and found directly.
The RoofNav tool is a great resource for anyone who wants to find out test-result information about any one or a series of roofing products, systems, or assemblies, and can be a go-to resource for contractors, designers, and specifiers of roofing systems of all types.