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  • Writer's pictureUnited Materials

Not All Roof Repairs Are Equal

Updated: May 23, 2023

Your commercial building’s roof has a leak. Or maybe water is ponding on it due to poor drainage. Maybe there’s wind damage from a recent heavy storm. Depending on the materials used in your building’s roof construction, the repair process will look a little different for each type. We want to help you understand what some of these repairs can look like, so you understand that not all roof repairs are equal.

Single-Ply Membrane Roof Repairs

A single-ply membrane roof, sometimes referred to as EPDM or TPO, is made of a single layer of durable synthetic material and reinforced scrim. Though the typical “life expectancy” of a single-ply membrane roof is between 10-25 years, they do sometimes need repairs, despite their exceptional durability, usually as a result of a puncture, seam failure, blisters, or leaks from ponding water. When a repair is needed, our experienced technicians will replace and bind a new section, or patch, over the damaged area. Seam repairs typically entail applying a layer of material or self-adhesive tape that helps prevent more leaks to other vulnerable areas of the roof.

Modified Bitumen Roofing Repairs

A mix of asphalt and polymers, modified bitumen roofing is strong, flexible, and impact resistant, and, typically, lasts longer and can be easier to repair than most other roofing types. That said, if your modified bitumen roof requires repair, whether moisture has gotten into the asphalt layer and, if so, how much, will impact what kind and how much repair is needed. If moisture damage is present, the affected insulation or lower-level deck material must be replaced before the top can be patched. The roof will need to be cleaned and completely dry before repairs can begin. Our roofing technicians will apply a mastic coating to the affected area and then reinforce the area with a polyester membrane, leaving a few inches on all sides to overlap and avoid any gaps. After the polyester membrane is embedded into the coating, technicians will use a clean, dry paint brush to back sweep the polyester membrane, so no wrinkles, blisters, or air pockets are visible. Finally, technicians will apply a layer of topcoat to seal the fabric and avoid future moisture buildup.

Built-Up Roofing (BUR) Repairs

The oldest type of roofing, Built-Up Roofing is typically a 4-ply system with layers of asphalt roofing, with felt compressed between each layer of hot asphalt during the application process. There are different approaches to repair BURs, though qualified roofing technicians should clean the roof and replace any worn-out flashings before beginning repairs. Then, the technicians will reapply the layers of asphalt and compressed felt to the sections that need resealing. Following that, they will apply a new UV protection layer. *Note: The City of Denver no longer allows BUR construction, as it is not considered sustainable.

Since we are discussing roofing repairs, we would also like to remind commercial building owners that the best way to avoid roofing repairs is to have your building’s roof inspected by trained professionals, like ours at United Materials, regularly. We recommend inspections twice a year and after any significant weather events. However, if you find your commercial roof in need of repair of any kind, United Materials has a century of reliable experience with all types of roof repairs and materials.

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