Upgrading Your Roof with Metal Panels

In a recent blog post, we reviewed key considerations to help a building owner decide whether to repair or replace a damaged roof. In this post, we’ll address some ways metal roofing systems are an advantage when upgrading your roof and restoring your building to “like-new”, weathertight condition.

MBCI Blog: Upgrading Your Roof with Metal Panels

Installing Metal Panels Over Existing Roofing

Some owners are concerned about replacing a roof because they dread the cost of removing the existing roof. This concern is valid in many low-slope roofing situations because the new roofing membrane might not be compatible with the existing one, and could cause premature deterioration. There are, however, metal panels specifically designed to be installed directly over existing roofing. And, many of these retrofit systems can be installed over existing roofs made of metal or other materials. Avoiding removal of the old roof obviously saves on cost. However, it also saves considerable time when installing the new roof. As an exposed-fastener metal roofing system, this retrofit application also requires fewer construction components, further streamlining the installation process.

Retrofit metal panels typically feature a membrane treatment that prevents rust or contaminants from the old building materials from transferring to the new panels. This is a versatile solution for both low- and steep-slope roofs (minimum slope: ½:12). It is also very durable and can feature approvals for use in extreme weather locations, including Florida. Metal panels are available in a variety of colors that enhance the overall design of a building. Often, this “replacement metal over existing roofing” approach is the most cost-effective, even compared to some repairs. Additionally, new roofing is more likely be eligible for a warranty, while repairs rarely, if ever, are.

Upgrading Your Roof with Insulated Metal Panels

Energy conservation is on the mind of many building owners and building code enforcement officals. Therefore, adding insulation when upgrading your roof is often required to adhere to building codes. In this case, applying zee-shaped sub-purlins over the existing roof system helps support a new layer of metal roofing. In between the sub-purlins, insulation can be added to meet or exceed current energy code requirements. This system also eliminates the need to remove the existing roofing while providing an added layer (or more) of insulation to improve the overall energy performance of the building. Insulated metal panels (IMPs) like MBCI’s can help keep buildings cooler in summer and warmer in winter—conserving energy year-round.

Sub-purlin systems can fit any existing metal panel, support new panels, and be made to accommodate many types of insulation between the old and new roofs. They can also  support or incorporate a variety of solar energy systems where desired. Roof panel options include variety of profile shapes, textures and colors to suit aesthetic preferences.

Altering the Roof Slope

In some cases, upgrading your roof means changing the roof slope (i.e., turning a low-slope roof into a steeper-sloped roof). In these cases, metal roofing systems can be the most economical choice. Steel framing (16-ga. to 12-ga.) installed over the existing roof frame creates a sloped plane that can support new metal roofing panels. Note that the existing physical shape of the roof, the existing structural system and other rooftop conditions are usually the biggest factors in the geometry and shape of the new roof. Nonetheless, the beauty of the system is that it can dramatically improve the appearance and drainage of a building’s roof, regardless of whether the substrate is steel, wood or concrete.

Lower-slope applications (1/2: to 2:12) are typically driven by economy and designed to efficiently discharge rainwater from the roof. Higher-slope applications (greater than 2:12) often serve to improve and update the look of an existing building. They achieve this by showcasing the metal roof while also improving its drainage and durability. Once the framing is installed, standing-seam metal panels can be installed over the top, creating a ventilated attic space. This allows space for additional insulation , thus improving the energy performance of the building.

Working with Building Professionals

Any of these options are applicable over an existing metal roofing system. They cab also convert other types of roofing systems to longer-lasting metal roofing, or replace an existing roofing system altogether. Of course, engaging the services of a design professional (architect, engineer, etc.) is always appropriate when considering your options. They can help properly assess existing building conditions and recommend the best overall metal roofing solution from metal panel manufacturers.

To learn more about upgrading your roof system with more durable, longer-lasting, better-draining and easier-to-maintain metal roofing systems, contact your local MBCI representative.

Planning for Metal Roofing Retrofits

The decision to retrofit an existing commercial roof with a new metal one is usually based on the very real appeal of creating a long-term (50-60 years) roofing solution, achieving better energy efficiency, creating better aesthetics, or all of the above. Prior blog posts discussed these benefits in more detail and talked about different types of metal roofing retrofits. Here, we will focus on where to start in terms of planning to undertake a roofing retrofit based on covering a membrane roof with a metal-framed, low-slope, metal roofing system.

Existing Building Assessment

A successful retrofit is based on the new metal roof system working with the existing building structure and local conditions. Each of the following should be looked at first when starting the planning and design process:

  • Existing Roof Geometry: The shape (length and width) of an existing roof is important to determine the square footage of the roof, but so are the actual dimensions, since those can impact the height of the new metal roofing. The minimum recommended slope for new roofs is between ¼:12 and 3:12 , depending upon the roof system chosen for the new roof. Existing roof details such as overhangs, parapets, and the existing roof slope itself all need to be documented in order to determine how best to address them with the retrofit system.
  • Existing Roof Type: In many cases, the existing roofing does not need to be removed, but there may be ballast such as stone or other materials that are no longer needed. Oftentimes, the removal of this ballast will compensate for the additional weight of the new roof and framing system. The materials of the existing roof may also pose compatibility issues with new materials, so they should be documented to plan accordingly.
  • Existing Roof Substrate: Under the existing roofing, some type of substrate material is holding it up. It may be rigid insulation resting on a metal, wood, or concrete deck, or it may be an uninsulated substrate that has insulation below it. The specifics here need to be established, since the new metal framing will need to connect through this material. If insulation is in fact part of the substrate, then its effectiveness should be determined—has it gotten wet and been compromised, or is it still in good usable condition? Either way, how much is there?
  • Existing Roof Structure: The structural system of the building includes framing or other components that support the roof. This is what the new metal framing will anchor to and transfer structural loads to. Hence, the specifics in terms of type (steel joists, concrete beams, wood joists, etc.), the size, and the spacing are critical. Further, the carrying capacity of this system should be assessed and analyzed by a structural engineer, since the retrofit system will add 2 to 4 pounds per square foot of dead load to the roof structure. Further, this weight, plus any live loads from the roof, will typically not be distributed uniformly, but in a series of point loads. Therefore, the engineered capacity of the existing structure needs to be known to determine if any structural enhancements are needed.
  • Existing Roof Equipment: Many commercial buildings use the roof to locate mechanical, electrical, or elevator equipment. In some cases, that equipment can be moved to the ground or elsewhere, but in other cases it can’t, or would be too costly to consider. Hence the details, location, and height of such equipment needs to be known so a determination can be made on whether it can be covered and enclosed in the “attic” of the retrofit system, or if it will need to be raised to the top of the new roof.

New Retrofit Roofing Goals

With an assessment of the existing conditions in hand, the focus now becomes identifying the primary objectives of the new roof. These should be clearly articulated so the final design can address and include each of them:

  • Appearance: What is being sought in terms of shape, height, visibility, color, improved curb appeal, or other visual considerations?
  • Performance: What is the new roof being asked to address related to operations or performance issues? Common elements could be improved drainage, less maintenance, greater longevity, or more resistance to damage.
  • Energy Efficiency: Replacing a roof is the ideal time to improve energy efficiency in a building by adding new or more insulation. This could be done simply to meet current energy code requirements or to contribute to an overall energy-use reduction project at the building. In some cases, the new roofing system could enhance the ability to include energy generation, such as solar panels mounted to the new roofing system.

With proper planning and goal setting, a metal retrofit system can meet or exceed all expectations. This was the case recently at a water treatment facility in Dallas, Texas. Here is a photo of the existing built-up roof that was experiencing problems and needed replacement. It was assessed, analyzed and determined to be an excellent candidate for a retrofit metal roofing system.

Retrofits

 

Metal Roofing Retrofits
Here is a photo of the light-gauge metal framing installed to create the new low-slope planes and transfer loading to the existing building structure.

 

Planning for Retrofits
And, finally, here is the completed metal roofing, which looks better and is expected to perform better than the original roofing.

 

To learn more about MBCI retrofit metal roofing systems and how they might work on a building you are involved with, visit http://www.mbci.com/products/retrofit-products/.

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.

Snow and Metal Panel Roofs: Part I

It’s February; winter storm Jonas happened last month. Snowstorms will continue to occur, and heavy snowfall can have many negative effects on roofs. What should you consider when designing a roof in snow areas, especially those with high snow amounts?

Rustic Trail Blog

What to Consider when Building Metal Roofs

Roofs on buildings in snow areas—from a structural capacity point of view—can be designed to be any low-slope or steep-slope roof system. Roof structures can be designed and built to accommodate any anticipated snow loads. From a weather-protection point of view, snow buildup on a roof can be problematic. The extra load and the risk of leaks are not desirable; however, keeping snow on a roof is often the acceptable way to deal with it.

Roof Slope

Unquestionably, the slope of the roof matters when it comes to snow staying on or sliding off. Once a roof slope gets to be about 45 degrees (i.e., 12:12), slope becomes the overriding factor for sliding snow. The amount of snow and the roof type also matter. From a designer’s perspective, there are also a number of localized issues to consider when designing for snow on roofs.

Snow Density

The amount and density of snow also matters. More snow means more weight. More weight means a greater sliding force down (along) the slope of the roof. On slopes less than 45 degrees (e.g., 6:12 to 9:12), a low coefficient of friction (such as on smooth pan metal panels) means less resistance to sliding. Striations and embossing add a small 3D profile and improve the resistance to sliding, especially if they run transverse to the slope.

When heavy, dense snow slides it can pack a punch. Such snow sliding down a roof can shear off exhaust vents; therefore, rigid vent pipes are needed, along with a secure method of attachment. Further, installing vent pipes as high up on the slope as possible reduces the amount of potential shear load. Consider the potential load on a vent pipe that’s 5 feet from the eave with a 40-50-foot eave-to-ridge length! Reverse that and most of the load goes away.

Roof Material Type

Material type and surface color make a difference, specifically a roof’s emissivity. Metal roofing absorbs heat more quickly and radiates heat more effectively than most other roofing materials. Darker colors enhance this effect. Even with as much as 3 to 5 inches of snow, UV light passes through it; less light passes the denser the snow. (The proof: solar energy panels [photovoltaics (PV)] work when covered in some snow.) This effect only happens on sunny days, and is most effective on south-facing roof areas. If there is heat loss from the building up through the roof, the heat will help melt the snow at the roof/snow interface. This creates a potential for sliding snow.

In part II of this blog, I’ll discuss the logic, experience and engineering that goes into designing a metal roof for snow. In the meantime, learn how to properly install snow retention devices, and watch how a New Jersey home heats and cools itself by gathering snow and rainwater.

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