Proper Details for Specialty Roof Conditions

Sloped, standing seam, metal roofing provides a continuous surface that is designed to shed water efficiently while providing a long-lasting and great looking roofing solution. When the roof design and shape is simple, (i.e. continuously extending from ridge to eaves with no changes or interruptions) then all of the attributes of the metal roofing can be assured by using some very conventional and well-known details for design and construction. But in the real world, there are lots of conditions that require more specialized attention to detail. For our purposes here, we will simply refer to those as “specialty roof conditions.”

What types of roofing conditions warrant the special attention? Most are associated with changes in the shape or surface of the roof, say where the ridge line is interrupted or offset. Others could be a means to accommodate a roof feature such as a dormer, a dutch hip type of roof, or the intersection between a ridge and a parapet wall. Some might be related to the design of a valley, particular if it is a “dead valley” that doesn’t drain directly to the gutter but stops short, as around a dormer or elsewhere. Or some could be the result of some special conditions created by the roof design such as cascading water over an edge or heavy snow accumulation conditions. There are certainly many others too, but the point is that any of them are a potential source of water leakage and building damage if they are not properly addressed.

Roof Conditions
Above is an example of a special roof transition created by MBCI.

Most metal building manufacturers not only recognize the importance of such specialty roof conditions, but they also have lots of experience in developing very workable solutions for them. The key for success is found in the fundamental principles of properly overlapping (i.e. “shingling”) all materials to allow water to drain smoothly away where it is intended without getting diverted to places where it shouldn’t go. That means the metal roofing panels need to be cut, fit, and installed properly, but it also means that flashing, sealants, and fasteners need to be installed correctly too, all regardless of the slope of the roof. To communicate ways to achieve better results in the field for specialty roof conditions, manufacturers like MBCI make step-by-step details available for installers. The significance of using and following these details can not be overstated since they are a key component in getting a weathertightness warranty from the manufacturer.

As an example of how this might play out on a specific building, let’s look at a dead valley that occurs because a gable roofed dormer is installed in the main area of a roof. The first thing to recognize is that multiple layers of materials are involved in the transition around the dormer, all of which need to be installed in the proper location, following the proper sequence, and with the proper connections. A step-by-step process as detailed by the manufacturer might look like this:

Step 1:

With the substrate in place (rigid insulation over a metal deck), a special width panel will likely need to be installed and serve as the collection area for the dead valley to drain into. Then, plywood spacers and nailers are installed, and the main lower valley area is covered with “rubber” (EPDM) flashing.

Step 2:

Secure continuous eave trim over the plywood nailers and add and offset cleat on top to receive roof panels, all secured with tri-bead tape sealer and fasteners as shown.

Step 3:

Install extended valley trim across the valley with an offset cleat on either side secured as shown.

Step 4:

With all of the prior steps in place, then the installation of upper panels can begin to interface with the edge of the dead valley.

Step 5:

Continue cutting and installing panels to fit over and drain into the dead valley, which then drains without interruption onto the special width panel and the roof.

By following step by step details from the manufacturer for this or other specialty roof conditions, then the likelihood increases that everyone involved in the project is both proud and satisfied with the end results. The key is to start at the beginning with the proper planning and preparation by communicating with the manufacturer about all roof conditions that require special attention like this example.

To find out more about the library of specialty roof conditions available for metal roofing projects, contact your local MBCI representative.

What You Need to Know Before Installing a Skylight

The beauty of skylights can be a real benefit to the aesthetic value of a metal building project. Beyond looks, though, the proven benefits of daylighting are many: building occupant satisfaction from natural lighting, mold and mildew growth prevention and, of course, energy savings, to name a few. In fact, once the decision has been made to go with metal for the roofing material, a skylight is often a natural tie-in when it comes to sustainable design—for both form and function. In order to make the most of the design choice, there are a few key considerations to bear in mind during the specification and pre-installation phases of the process.

Types of Available Skylights

Two common types of skylights used with metal roofs are Light Transmitting Panels (LTPs) and Curb Mount Skylights. Both supply natural light into the building and provide similar benefits. LTPs, which are formed from a translucent material and come in many different panel profiles, in actuality, can be used not only in metal roofs but as an accessory for metal wall panels, too. One of the key benefits of LTPs is that the panel is formed so that it substantially matches the configuration and characteristics of the system into which it is installed, and therefore can work seamlessly with specific metal roof systems. Curbed (curb mount) skylights include a raised structure (“curb”) formed around the roof opening where the skylight will be attached. Curb skylights come in many shapes and styles.

In addition to the general “type” of skylight, another consideration is selecting the best orientation for the skylight—which we’ll look at next.

Skylight Placement, Orientation and the Climate Factor

Placement and orientation are some of the most important factors in getting the maximum benefit from skylights. During the planning phase, determine the best location to achieve optimal light and to avoid obstructions (such as HVAC, plumbing, electrical, and vent pipes) below the skylight.

Skylight
Skylights and Light Transmitting Panels supply natural light into the building as shown above.

In terms of getting the most out of the skylight from an energy-savings standpoint, climate and exposure are also key factors. For example, with a southern exposure, skylights provide an excellent level of passive solar heat during the colder winter months, while keeping cooling costs down during the summer heat. On the other hand, a skylight with a western exposure will increase cooling costs if the structure is in a relatively warm climate.

Installation Planning and Timing

Skylights can be installed during or after the roof has been installed, but it is in the best interest of the project to plan for a skylight from the early stages of the design phase in order to best accommodate and prepare for the addition of the skylight.

Safety Concerns

Skylights and LTPs should be guarded to protect from fall through the use of metal railing, nets or some other method of protection.

Responsibility and Compliance

Last but certainly not least, it must be stated that it is the user’s responsibility to ensure that the installation and use of all light transmitting panels comply with State, Federal and OSHA regulations and laws, including, but not limited to, guarding all light transmitting panels with screens, fixed standard railings, or other acceptable safety controls that prevent fall-through.

For additional information about skylights for metal roofs, please contact MBCI at (877) 713-6224.

Structural Penetrations in Standing Seam Metal Roofs

In our prior post on “Pipe Penetrations in Standing Seam Metal Roofs,” we identified important guidelines for when pipe penetrations are made to metal roofing systems, typically after the metal roofing is installed. That means an opening is cut in the metal roofing, it is properly flashed or sealed, and the penetrating member is passed through it. However, some penetrations are already in place before the roofing contractor shows up. These can be things like vertical members resting on the building structure that support a platform for HVAC equipment above the sloped roof. Or, it can be parapet wall with offsets or other conditions that are already in place. In cases like this, a different approach is needed to assure that the roof remains watertight.

Equipment Platforms for Structural Penetrations

Penetrations
Structural Penetrations in Standing Seam Metal Roofs

From the standpoint of a roofer, a structural equipment platform is a pre-existing condition. The metal roofing industry already recognizes the need to address such situations, particularly on existing buildings, by offering retrofit flashing and curb products. The same, proven approach can be used when pre-existing conditions are encountered on new buildings as well. For example, when structural posts for equipment platforms are encountered running up through the roof plane, roof jacks and curbs specifically designed for retrofit applications should be used. The retrofit roof jack, or boot, should be made out of rubber and be designed to install around the penetration, rather than over it. The boot should ideally rest on a two-piece retrofit pipe curb which can span across one or more standing seams and create a smooth, flat surface for the boot to be attached and sealed. The two-piece design allows for the pipe curb to be properly shingled on the up slope and down slope side of the roofing, thus preventing a “backwater lap,” which will leak. Trying to use only products intended for new construction on such conditions will require unwarranted field modifications or an over-reliance on caulking and sealant, all of which can be prone to problems and failure of the watertight abilities of the roofing.

Parapets

The use of parapet walls around some or all of a perimeter of a building is a common condition. However, if the building shape varies, and the parapet along with it, then there may be some rather uncommon conditions in which the roofing meets an offset or irregularly shaped parapet walls. The issue is that water coming down the sloped roof runs into the offset or other obstruction, causing a buildup of water and a potential leak. The typical approach is to provide a cricket, which is flashed into the parapet wall and diverts water away from the corner created by the offset. It is important, in this case, to be aware that standard sheet metal crickets have not proven to be effective. Instead, welded aluminum crickets and fixtures are recommended to create a truly watertight seal. Also, the welded cricket can be “shingled” into the roof to prevent “backwater laps.” The key is to provide a complete seal at the corners by welding the material, which cannot be done with sheet metal crickets.

Design Planning

The best way to address all of the structural roof penetration issues described here is with proper upfront planning. Avoiding any of these conditions would of course be ideal, and perhaps they can be designed out of some projects. However, if they’re unavoidable, then the roofing contractor and the design professionals need to review the conditions together ahead of time. This advance design planning is the best way to assure that the best, most effective detailing is employed and the proper materials are available on site.

A Storehouse of Storage Solutions

With more than an estimated 54,000 storage units spread across the U.S. in 2015, according to IBISWorld, and 2.63 billion square feet of existing rentable self-storage space in 2014, the self-storage industry is booming. In fact, U.S. storage facility revenue topped off at an estimated $29.8 billion in 2014, rising to $31 billion in 2015 and is expected to reach $32.7 billion in 2016. In this growing market, storage builders and facility owners face increased competition and must build and maintain more efficiently and effectively than ever. Metal panels can be a differentiator for this market, especially through multi-story and climate controlled storage facilities.

MBCI Self Storage
Southlake Self Storage in Weatherford, Tex. is a multi-story storage facility utilizing MBCI’s PBU, PBD and PBR metal panels.

Maximizing Sustainable, Rentable Space

Among the cladding and roofing materials available to build these specialized facilities, insulated metal panels (IMPs) are highly energy efficient, deliver a full weather barrier and can be designed without exterior wall framing. This boosts rentable square footage by eliminating exterior wall framing typically built with studs, batt insulation, and liner panels.

Made from 90 percent closed foam, encapsulated inside of two metal panels and impervious to water, IMPs offer a high R-value, which is a big benefit for all storage types, particularly cold storage facilities. Steel panel facings create a vapor barrier and provide long-term thermal stability, virtually eliminating off-gassing found with rigid board insulation. IMPs give design professionals the opportunity to design functional, attractive, sustainable storage facilities, and facility owners the opportunity to lower construction, operating, energy consumption, and maintenance costs throughout the life span of a building.

As an all-in-one air solution—delivering an air, vapor and water barrier with continuous insulation—building teams can strip down the multiple trades to one single application. This means there are no gaps or voids to sap thermal value, and no degradation by air or moisture. Furthermore, IMPs are the most efficient product available, providing an R-value of 7 to 8 per inch vs. the 4.5 for batt insulation, essentially doubling performance. So not only do building teams come away with a thermally superior product, but the IMP storage facility will meet increasing continuous insulation code requirements, such as those mandated by ASHRAE 90.1.

Of course, increasing rentable square footage is one of the biggest draws about IMPs for building owners as those extra four to six inches on the perimeter go straight to the bottom line.

A Modern Style for Storage

Evolving from the standard-looking, plain boxes, today’s storage facilities are taking on a more architectural look to better blend into the office complexes, residential communities and retail complexes surrounding them.

With a variety of high-performance coatings, colors, reveal joints and corrugated sheets with assorted patterns, IMPs offer a large selection of design options to architects looking to create these more trendy designs.

Metal Panels for Self-Storage Buildings
A-AAAKey Mini Storage in utilizes modern colors with 55,000 sq. ft. of MBCI’s Ultra-Dek® metal roof panels.

“The calculated use of smooth, concealed-fastener panels harkens to contemporary design styles with an eye toward the future,” states Ryan Rogers, managing partner, RHW Capital Management Group, Orange, Calif., in an Aug. 2016 issue of Inside Self-Storage. “This can create the perception of innovation and dynamism, communicating to customers that your facility is on the cutting edge of the industry and, as such, a successful leader.”

In order to capitalize on the design and performance options leveraged by IMP panels, architects are advised to integrate these systems from the project’s onset in order to maximize efficiencies and potentially take advantage of longer stands, greater distances and heavier steel gauges.

Multi-Level Storage Facilities

Moving forward, designers can expect to see an increase in multi-story storage facilities, particularly in urban areas, where building owners are being forced onto smaller lots.

Explaining the trend in a Sept. 2016 issue of Commercial Investment Real Estate magazine, Michael Haugh, CCIM, senior director of revenue management, Storage USA, Memphis, states, “Increased land costs have forced developers to build up, particularly in urban markets where land tracks of four or more acres necessary for single-story developments are nonexistent. In some cases, a multistory project can be built on as little as 1.5 acres.”

Or in regions where there is little space for new construction but a high demand for storage, like New York City, storage companies are renovating upward. For example, Stop & Stor partners with door and storage solution company, DBCI to convert existing buildings into high-end, multi-level storage facilities. Using existing building blueprints and outline unit placement, DBCI created a custom storage solution in a space that is both conveniently located and functional For more information, read “Urban Storage Units” in Metal Architecture’s Jan. 2016 issue.

Filling the Storage Niche

From multiple stories to designer-end architecture, IMPs are actively filling an important niche in the self-storage industry as a durable and aesthetic, all-in-one building enclosure solution.

Design and Color Trends in New Metal Construction

Design and color trends in metal roofing products are not exactly black and white. In fact, a whole host of options are available when choosing textures and colors for new metal construction projects, depending on specific criteria. Some are practical, some are aesthetic—but all are shaping how designers are specifying metal products, coatings and paints. Let’s walk through a few of the top trends in the industry now.

More color options for coil coatings

Bright Color Options in Coil for Design
Through vertical integration, manufacturers are offering more color options than ever.

It used to be that coil options were limited to standard stock choices and availability was determined by the coil coaters. Now, with evolving industry strategies, such as NCI’s vertical integration, many more manufacturers are properly positioned to enter into the market with multiple color choices across multiple brands without as much deviation. This also allows manufacturers to quickly adapt to requests for custom colors—both internally or externally.

Ratings and regulations are leading to more energy-efficient choices

Moreover, color requests based on aesthetics and paint systems have evolved based on changing code requirements. For additional benefits, specifiers can turn to many rating systems, such as the Cool Roof Rating Council and ENERGY STAR®, as well as earn LEED points by having specific SRI (Solar Reflectance Index) values.

Much has changed over the past 10 to 15 years. For instance, the components industry has evolved from customers merely selecting colors based on preference to a more integrated approach accounting for aesthetics, cost and energy efficiency. Today, owners and architects are more likely to consider a color such as Solar White to save on insurance or receive tax rebates. Environmental considerations and regulations have changed the way customers purchase steel, incorporating such issues as unique regulations for different states and weather conditions, LEED points and reflectivity into the atmosphere.

Insulated metal panels used in higher-end architectural projects

Another design trend in the industry is a move towards insulated panels, mimicking what is typical in the aluminum composite material (ACM) world. High-end car dealerships are known for design with ACM. This includes blocked-off designs that can be elongated, can be different colors or have joints in different places. This application has been ACM’s primary wheelhouse for decades. Now that ACM manufacturers have entered into the insulated metal panel (IMP)  industry, more of the design community is considering a thinner, horizontal IMP. The intention is to replicate the appearance of an ACM panel, while reaping the major cost and insulating benefits of IMPs.

Depth of color and texture: the rise of metallic colors

Architecturally, more metallic paints are being used. Historically, metal panels were white, tan or Galvalume. The current trend has expanded to a wider color palette, including mica fluoropolymer. These metallic coatings give depth to the color, adding sheen and sparkle. In fact, there are actually metal flecks in the paint. Metal oxide-coated mica pigments offer up the metallic look and add to the durability.

 Signature® 300 Silver Metallic Color Design
Vasa Fitness in Lehi, Utah features MBCI’s FW-120 panel in Signature® 300 Silver Metallic paint.

What’s behind this trend? Designers are thinking about metal roofs in a whole new way. They are looking to leverage colors and properties of paint to bring out a unique architectural appearance not previously available.

Conclusion

Trends in metal construction are as broad as the choices of color and coatings. Whether a reaction to energy savings criteria or simply a desire of an educated consumer to bring new life to their project, it’s worth taking the time to investigate all your options when specifying your next metal project.

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