By Greg Hlavaty, General Manager Western Colloid.
As we have all heard, the hot trend in roofing is coatings. But we seldom talk about using fluid-applied systems with other technologies like solar. Many contractors cringe when they think of bidding a roof that has solar panels already installed. As more and more buildings utilize the roof deck as a solar field, the roofing industry is faced with creating strong solutions for re-roofing those buildings.
As contractors deal with failing roofs that host solar arrays, they either need to take the panels off the roof or move them around as the new roof is installed. There is also the issue of improperly flashed penetrations created during the installation of the panels. A good solution to consider is fluid-applied roofing systems that can be installed with the solar arrays in place. In fact, Western Colloid products provide a permanent seal around those roof penetrations. With the ability to go over most substrates including EPDM, TPO, Foam and BUR, Western Colloid can offer a solution that means less work for the contractors and better waterproofing for the building owner.
There are additional reasons for using fluid-applied roofing products including increased foot traffic. With solar, there is constant upkeep required for the panels including maintenance and cleaning. This leads to high impact on the roof. Keep in mind it is not just foot traffic but also it is the sharp edge of a toolbox or a dropped drill during repairs that can harm the roofing system. But a clean roof and clean panels make the collection of energy more efficient and foot traffic is a reality. Building owners do not want to compromise the efficiency of the solar collection, they want to have a roofing system that can handle the stress.
Solar panels can also generate heat and additional UV exposure for the roofing system. The roof takes a special kind of beating with the heat generated underneath solar panels and most roofs are not designed to handle it. In fact, it is necessary to make sure the installation of solar panels do not void the warranty. There is a lot to think about when adding any equipment to the roof, especially solar.
Western Colloid has been applying roofing systems under solar for years. Not just new solar projects, but roofs under solar need to be replaced. Case in point, we are providing the roofing system for sixteen department stores. They all have solar on them and they all have worn out TPO roofs. Traditionally, it would have required removing the solar, removing the TPO and installing a new roof and re-installing the solar, but with fluid applied we did not have to do any of that. It would have been a nightmare in logistics and quite a big bill if not for the alternative we were able to provide.
Our roofing system was the perfect solution. They selected a fluid-applied reinforced roof system that was sustainable, energy efficient and could handle traffic and impact. Additionally, we matched the roofing system life with the term life of the solar system. We also provided specifications to be tested and approved by Factory Mutual meeting the FM 4470 Class 1 rating, so that the entire system met specifications, code and the building owner’s requirements.
It is time for the industry to look beyond sheet-applied roofing and provide solutions, like fluid-applied roofing systems, that are a win-win. For more information visit, www.westerncolloid.com.