Up on The Roof

New Options for Roofing Options

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A new copper and modified bitumen roof.

On these hot and lazy days of August I really don’t like to be Up On The Roof, but then I recall some of the words from the hit song by The Drifters:

“When this old world starts getting me down
And people are just too much for me to take
I’ll climb way up to the top of the stairs
And all my cares just drift right into space
On the roof it’s peaceful as can be…..”

And then I get right back to work and right back Up On The Roof! It’s hot in August, but it’s always peaceful on the roof!

Now that a long and stormy summer is nearly behind us, and fall is fast approaching, it may be time to think about a new roof. In that case you would want to think about the new roofing options for your Capitol Hill rowhouse. There are numerous possibilities for your flat/low slope roof. In the old days almost all rowhouses were fitted with standing-seam tin roofs (also known as terne roofs) which lasted for many years and were manufactured by one primary company, Follansbee Steel, but the company ceased operations several years ago in the global steel downturn and tin is no longer readily available. In lieu of tin roofs, copper roofs are still an alternative and we do install new cooper roofs in Capitol Hill for numerous homeowners. However, there are many less expensive quality and innovative roofing alternatives that have been developed over the last few decades.

So, what are the leading non-metal options for new roofs? Single-ply membrane products have an earned reputation as being durable, cost effective and long-lasting. Single-ply membranes do not corrode like metal roofs and do not erode like shingles and asphalt membranes.

Single-ply roofing systems use primarily three different types of materials:

  1. EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) is classified as rubber roofing. The product is affordable and strong and light weight. These roofs are installed using fasteners or adhesives and are easier to install than some other roofing systems. However, they are dark in color and the dark surface absorbs the heat of the sun and increases indoor temperatures. This disadvantage can be eliminated by applying reflective white coatings, but this increases the cost significantly.
  2. TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin) like EPDM introduces excellent watertight seals. It has an EPDM base combined with fiberglass filler, carbon fiber and talc. The price may be more than EPDM roofs but they deliver better UV resistance because of their light color (including white). And the actual weight of the materials is lighter than EPDM and places less weight on your roof deck.
  3. PVC (polyvinyl chloride) roofs are heat-welded at the seams giving them extra insulating qualities and they require less frequent maintenance. However, they are the most expensive single-ply membrane roofing system.
  4. Modified Bitumen (MB) roofing is otherwise known as “rolled” roofing is a type of asphalt that can be applied in both hot and cold temperatures. Substances are added to the standard roofing asphalt and fiberglass and polyester is used to increase performance. MB with added white granules somewhat reflects the sun and helps keep roofs cooler but does not have the same UV resistance as white TPO roofs.

That is a quick summary of some of the options for your new flat/low slope roof.

*Up On The Roof was recorded by The Drifters in 1962 and co-written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin.

Tom Daniel is owner of R. Thomas Daniel Roofing, LLC and is the third generation of the Daniel family to provide roofing services to Capitol Hill homeowners, covering a span of nearly 100 years. Tom was born in Capitol Hill and supports numerous community organizations. For help with your roofing needs he can be reached at 202-569-1080, 202-544-4430 or tom@rthomasdanielroofing.com.