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Examining the economics of wide-width thermoplastic roofing rolls

IB Roof Thermoplastic Roofing Rolls
June 17, 2024 at 6:00 p.m.

By Dani Sheehan. 

Are wide-width rolls more cost-efficient than narrower rolls? Considering the full spectrum of costs including labor, materials, equipment and safety suggests not. 

Wide-width thermoplastic roofing rolls are often marketed as a more efficient and cost-effective solution compared to their narrower counterparts. However, a deeper analysis published in the IIBEC Interface reveals that the economic benefits of these wider rolls are not as clear-cut, especially for mechanically attached systems. This article briefly discusses the financial implications and hidden costs associated with the use of wide-width rolls, the result of a collaboration between Colin Murphy from the International Institute of Building Enclosure Consultants (IIBEC) and Jason Stanley, CEO of IB Roof Systems

One of the primary selling points of wide-width rolls is the perceived reduction in labor costs due to fewer seams and faster installation times. However, this assumption does not account for the increased labor required for mechanical attachment. The study found that the time savings from reduced seam welding do not compensate for the additional effort needed to secure wider and heavier rolls. 

The analysis highlights a critical aspect often overlooked in marketing materials: fastener density. Wider rolls require a higher density of fasteners to meet wind-uplift resistance standards, effectively doubling the number of side-lap fasteners needed for rolls over 96 inches or wider. This increase not only adds to labor time but also to material costs. Fasteners and stress plates for wider rolls can be more expensive, particularly when non-standard, high-tensile strength materials are required to achieve necessary ratings. 

Another economic factor is the cost of equipment and safety measures. The heavier and bulkier wide-width rolls necessitate specialized handling equipment and more labor to maneuver them safely on site. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) set strict weight limits for manual lifting, and exceeding these limits without proper equipment can lead to increased injury risks. 

For contractors, the choice between wide-width and traditional rolls should be informed by a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis. The study provides a calculator developed from extensive time trials, enabling contractors to evaluate the total man hours and material costs for different roll widths. 

While wide-width thermoplastic roofing rolls offer certain advantages in specific applications, their use in mechanically attached systems presents a more complicated economic picture.  

Read the full study to gain a comprehensive understanding of the factors affecting the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of thermoplastic roofing rolls.

Learn more about IB Roof Systems in their Coffee Shop Directory or visit www.ibroof.com.

About Dani

Dani is a writer for The Coffee Shops and AskARoofer™. When she's not writing or researching, she's teaching yoga classes or exploring new hiking trails.



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