Roof Repair 101 – Flat Roof Repair. Materials and Option to Choose From.

Flat Roofing Repair Toronto, Mississauga, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina, Vancouver and all points between. British Columbia. Alberta. Saskatchewan. Manitoba. Ontario.

July 26, 2016 by Tyler Sinclair | 1.877.497.3528 24 Hour Service

Leaky Flat Roof? Below are the options for flat roof repair and replacement.

While I write this I am looking out my office window at corner of John Street and King Street downtown Toronto and there is a massive rain storm – I am watching the water levels rise on many of the flat roofs and wondering about their drainage and how many are leaking right now.

Toronto, Roof, Repairs, Leaky
From office at 50 John Street (John and King Street) looking at likely Toronto flat roofing repairs and leaky roofs from rain storm.

Flat roofs leak. Even new flat roofs can leak because they are custom installed and expansion and contraction or improper installation can cause leaks. Storms, ice dams, the suns rays, aging low slope membranes, plugged drains, flashing problems and more can cause roof leaks.

What to do if your flat roof is leaking.

The first thing to do is to assess whether it is an emergency roof repair or if the repair can wait until the next business day (if it happens on the weekend or at night). If there is a concern with patron or pedestrian safety or the roof may collapse due to weight loads from water or snow loads then it is best to call our emergency roof repair dispatch that is available 24 hours a day.

Emergency, Roof Repair, Calgary, Metal Roof
Our roofers at an Industrial Metal Roof – Emergency Roof Repair in Calgary, Alberta.

While you are waiting for our crew to arrive to inspect and repair the leak be sure to catch any water you can coming in the ceiling with buckets and mop up the area to protect public safety (if commercial building). If the roof could collapse you may have to have people evacuate (this occurred with many buildings in 2011 in Edmonton, Alberta). If you attend to the roof be safe and always be careful with using ladders.

How Our Roofers Will Help With Your Roof Leak.

The first step is to inspect the flat roof. Our flat roofing expert will attend to your roof to assess the roof and provide you a verbal and/or written report and options for repair, replacement and pricing options.

Roof Drain, Repair, Roof, Inspection, Edmonton
Flat Roofing Repair Inspection in Edmonton, AB. Roof drain problems.

When your roof has been inspected and you have the report with costs for repair or replacement you can then make decisions. Sometimes this needs to be done immediately so our roofer will provide you with verbal inspection results and pricing and you may want to authorize the repairs at that moment.

Flat Roof Problem Areas – What to Inspect When Experiencing a Roof Leak.

When inspecting a flat roof check the sealants to be sure they are not dried out and cracked. Be sure roof drains are clear and allowing water to flow down (or scuppers and downspouts). Sometimes leaves or snow and ice can plug roof drains. Check all mechanical units such as air conditioner curbs and any roof tie-ins and parapet walls flashing.

Mississauga, Roof, Inspection, Torch-On
Flat roof inspection of torch-on roof in Mississauga shows improper installation.

A common place for problems on a flat roof are at rooftop unit curbs and flashing. Also check membrane for holes, punctures, blistering, splitting, ridging and any other irregularities.

Typical Flat Roof Repair Costs and Options

Most flat roof repairs are fast and relatively inexpensive, unless you have allowed the roof to deteriorate over the years without proper annual maintenance.

Most repairs a simple repairs to blisters on tar and gravel, torch on patches on SBS modified bitumen roofing, quick rubber patches on EPDM and for TPO and PVC roofing the repair is usually a quick heat weld to seams or rooftop penetrations.

Metal roofs can usually be repaired and maintenance with roof coatings and spot repair to the fasteners, seams and rooftop vents.

Metal Roof Leaks, Coating, Liquid Rubber, Regina
Liquid Rubber Roof Coating in Regina Repairs Metal Roof Leaks for a Reasonable Cost.

Materials Available for Flat Roofing

Modern membranes include many options not available when most flat roofs in Canada were originally installed. Over recent decades there are many options beyond traditional built-up tar and gravel.

Our main website has a complete article dedicated to flat roof membranes.

When we prepare pricing for flat roof repairs and replacement we include all options. Some are as follows:

Tar and Gravel, Roof
Picture of a tar and gravel flat roof on mall in Calgary.

Tar and Gravel Roofing (Built-Up).

Tar and gravel is the standard flat roof (old school style) you may have seen. There are pebbles (pea gravel) on top to protect the layers of mopped on bitumen from the suns UV rays. If the rocks are larger then it is not likely a standard tar and gravel built up roof (BUR) – it is most often a ballasted EPDM or inverted roof system.

Torch-On Roofing (SBS Modified Bitumen).

Torch-On, Membrane, 2 Ply, Toronto
Picture of 2 Ply SBS Modified Bitumen Torch On Roof Membrane in Toronto, Ontario.

SBS modified can also be applied as a cold application or mopped on. Typically SBS Modified is torched on however.

This product choice is newer than tar and gravel systems and comes in rolls that are usually torched on. The granules are on top and many customers refer to it as the shingle looking roll style when they call me for service.

Single-Ply Membranes.

EPDM, Membrane, Single-Ply
Picture of an Edmonton EPDM roof on a commercial building.

Next came the single ply roof membranes. Standard in Canada are EPDM, TPO and PVC.

EPDM is a rubber roll usually 10 x 100 (but comes in many sizes) that is applied by way of glue, mechanically fastened or with rock ballast (a rock similar to river rock). The picture to the right is a fully adhered EPDM membrane in Edmonton, AB on a commercial property.

TPO and PVC.

TPO, Membrane, Vancouver
Vancouver TPO roof inspection shows improper welding of seams.

TPO (thermal plastic olefin) is another type of single ply membrane and is usually white in color. The rolls are welded together with a heat welder vs. using adhesive as with EPDM (above).

PVC (poly vinyl chloride) is similar to TPO and the seams are welded in the same fashion as TPO. The chloride in the PVC caused some issue with the market when it was released so TPO was brought to market shortly after.

Roof Coatings. Fluid Applied.

Another category of products are the liquid applied products such as liquid rubber (which is a cold application coating), Spray Foam (SPF) and there are also hot applied rubberized asphalt coatings.

Liquid Rubber, Roof Coating, Metal, Industrial
Leduc, AB. Roof Coating being installed on an industrial metal roof (liquid rubber).

Liquid rubber / elastomeric roof coatings are typically used to coat metal roof systems. Liquid rubber is available in various colors.

In Canada it is best to stay with a darker coating but lighter coatings such as white and reflective are also available. You can click here to learn more and visit our roof coatings repair website.

And finally spray foam (SPF) is available which is a spray foam that is applied over top of the roof and a coating (usually polyurea but also silicone and liquid rubber are used) is sprayed on top of the spray foam.

Spray Foam, Roof, SPF, Cracking, Peeling
Leaking spray foam roof (SPF). Top coat on spray foam was not applied properly and it is cracking and peeling.

The biggest challenge with spray foam roofing in Canada is that spray foam expands and contracts and the top coating can peel if not the right top coat or if done improperly. Be sure you have a good contractor if you choose spray foam – it has to be right or there can be big problems.

Our inspection report and pricing options will detail the pros and cons of each product and provide pricing for each membrane type. Our quotations also provide pricing details for replacement of insulation, metal flashing for parapets and deck (substrate) sheathing if required.

Toronto green roof installed at 80 Front Street East.
Green Roof at 80 Front St E in Toronto.

Eco Roofing.

Eco-roofing is a green roof (low slope / flat roof) that supports vegetation or is a cool roof (reflective white roof) that reflects the sun’s thermal energy away from the building.

A green roof (eco friendly) is one that has growing vegetation over a significant proportion of the area of the roof. Water and energy conservation is the goal with a green roof. The low slope assembly is made up of a waterproofing membrane (such as above – EPDM, TPO, or PVC), a drainage layer, an organic growing medium (soil) and vegetation.

A cool or white roof is one that reflects solar and thermal emissivity and reduces heat build – up in the building. A white reflective roof (or cool roof) is applied as a coating over an existing system such as a low slope metal roof or over an existing or new waterproofing membrane (listed above) on a flat roof.

Toronto has grants for green and cool roofs. Since 2009, the City of Toronto’s Eco-Roof Incentive Program has helped fund the installation of more than 100 green and cool roofs on buildings across the city. You can find the Toronto Eco Roof program here.

Patio Membrane - DecTec Installed at Condo on 100 Ave in Edmonton.
Google Earth Image of Balcony Membrane Repairs at 11618 100 Ave Edmonton, Alberta – DecTec Rooftop Patio Membrane

Balcony Waterproofing Membranes / Rooftop Decks / Patios.

If you have a balcony membrane that is leaking (also used on rooftop decks or patios) our journeyman install material such as DecTec to deck areas.

If your deck or patio is above a living area (including a garage) then you need a waterproofing membrane material such as DecTec (a PVC product) that is suitable as both a flat roof and a patio membrane. It is very important to choose a material that is suitable for both uses.

Conclusion

If your flat roof needs repair or replacement my best suggestion is to be sure that you are provided with ALL options for replacement material and methods. Ask for a complete and detailed report and pricing explaining the pros and cons of each material type and method.

For more reading I will direct you to our main website at www.grscanadainc.com or visit these links:

Wikipedia –  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_roof

Different Types of Flat Roof Material Options – http://homerepair.about.com/od/exteriorhomerepair/ss/Types-of-Flat-Roof-Materials.htm#step1

Thank you for considering us for your roof repair needs! Call anytime 1.877.497.3528 and speak to our local expert in your area.

Cheers!

Tyler Sinclair

Flat Roof Repairs in Toronto, Mississauga, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina, Vancouver and all points between. British Columbia. Alberta. Saskatchewan. Manitoba. Ontario.

 

Roof Repair 101 – How to Begin Repair Contracting Process for Roofing (in Canada)

General Roofing Systems Canada (GRS) provides Roof Repair throughout Canada. Calgary, Red Deer, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Lloydminster, Saskatoon, Regina, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Canmore, Banff, Cranbrook, Kelowna, Vancouver, Whistler, Winnipeg, Mississauga, Toronto and points between. British Columbia. Alberta. Saskatchewan. Manitoba. Ontario. 

[To the reader: This article is a Canadian adaptation of an article that I originally published in our stateside blog.]

A Step by Step Guide for Successful Execution of Contracting Roof Repair and Maintenance Services in Canada.

First, a Little Bit About Me.

I have been managing roof repair crews in Canada from Vancouver to Edmonton / Calgary to Saskatoon / Regina and Toronto / Mississauga for about ten years now. Repairs on every roof system type imaginable on projects the size of five football fields (industrial type manufacturing facilities) to small repairs on homes – products including flat roofs to shingles to roof coatings, metal roofs and many more.

This experience has given me unique insight that I hope will help you with engaging your roof repair challenges in such a way that brings success.

When your roof is leaking it is important to undertake repairs in such a way that successful remediation  is achieved in the most effective and efficient way. Re-do’s are not a good place to find yourself. Roof repairs are expensive, but more than cost, the inconvenience of business operation interruption or interior business or home damage can be considerable. And, in some instances a roof simply cannot leak (such as with molten copper facilities or steel manufacturing plants or buildings that house computer servers such as our clients that operate cloud computing operations).

The goal when starting the process of roof repair is to have successful completion in the most predictable, efficient and economically feasible manner.

Successful roof repair requires the following steps:

Determine the Type of Repair, Replacement or Maintenance Needed.

The reason you first want to determine the type of repair needed is so that you can effectively communicate with contractors you call, but more importantly so that you call the correct type of roofing contractor for the right type of roof repair. Also, if it is an emergency situation there are contractors like GRS that will attend 24 hours a day.

Emergency Roofing Repair
Red Seal Roofer attending to Emergency Roofing Repair in Calgary.

Do You Have a Residential, Commercial, Industrial or Institutional Roof?

This is important because you want to hire a company that has regular experience in the same working environment. When we are called to work in a mining operation for example or crews are required to operate within parameters that are appropriate to industrial operations.

Contractors that are equipped, trained and know how to function in required safety, have the appropriate insurance and more are important considerations.

In Canada we find our crews attending many industrial sites that require stringent safety procedures from nuclear and manufacturing in Ontario, to coal mines in British Columbia, the oil and gas industry in Alberta and Saskatchewan and much more.

Roofers, Safety
Personal Protection Equipment on our Roofers in Edmonton.

Generally, What Type of Roof System do you Have? 

Is it a flat roof (low slope membrane), a steep pitch (such as shingles, tile or shake) or a low slope industrial roof? The reason this is important (beyond selecting a company suitable to the type of operating environment) is so that you hire a contractor that is an expert in the specific type of roofing you have. Flat (or low slope membrane) contractors are much more specialized in scope than say a shingle company (for example). The same applies for industrial low slope metal roof systems… some contractors only know how to replace a low slope metal roof and may not give you options for coating or recover options.

Industrial Roofing Repair Mississuaga
Our workers applying a coating for low slope industrial roof repair in Mississauga.

What Type of Roofing Product Needs Repair? 

Once you have identified contractors that work in your type of environment (residential, commercial, industrial, institutional) and you have determined that the contractor is in fact an expert for the general type of roofing (flat – low slope membrane, steep pitch shingles, tile or shake or low slope industrial metal) then it is important to know that the contractor is experienced and an expert at repairs for the specific type of product.

Not all flat roofing contractors (for example) are knowledgeable and experienced in all flat membrane material types. Flat roof membranes include variations of Tar and Gravel (Built up Roofing), SBS Modified (torch-on, hot tar mopped, or cold applied), EPDM (rubber roll roofing), TPO (Thermal Plastic), PVC (Poly Vinyl), Liquid Applied (such as hot rubberized asphalt, liquid rubber, or a white reflective coating) and more.

With steep roofs this can include asphalt shingles, shake, concrete or clay tile, synthetic tile, metal shingles, metal tile, composite tile, rubber tile, standing seam metal and so much more.

The point is that you need to identify a contractor that has specific experience in the specific type of installation. You do this by asking questions and discussing the contractors knowledge. Also, specific to the market in Canada we have noticed many spray foam contractors that may not have a background in roofing providing spray foam roofing systems.

The roofing trade is a red seal trade in Canada so you do want to consider due diligence as it applies to the contractor’s experience and knowledge of systems (more than just being able to apply spray foam and a coating).

Roof Repair Toronto
Ongoing repairs in Toronto – EPDM, Commercial Roof

What Options for Repair, Maintenance or Replacement are Available for the Specific Type of Product? 

In other words, you want to also know specific to your type of system and product what options are available. Let’s assume you have a tar and gravel roof that is leaking. You want to know first of all what options the contractor is proposing for repairs, maintenance and replacement (or a recover or coating). But more than that, if the contractor is recommending replacement you want to know more about the options for replacement (this can include removal of the complete system to the substrate, or perhaps only leaving the insulation after the top membrane is removed, or even simply removing only the gravel and putting another system on top of the old).

The point is, you want to know about all the viable options. Once you know all your options for repair, maintenance and replacement you can then focus on the actual “system” or “assembly” itself. The climate in Canada can be a significant deciding factor also, so it is important to understand how a membrane interacts with the climate (expansion and contraction, UV, insulating value and more).

Torch On, Roof Repair, Toronto
Torch On Roof in Toronto, Ontario.

What are Your Objectives? 

Your objectives will determine what the repairs, maintenance or replacement include. For example, if you have an old low slope metal roof (commercial or industrial) that is starting to leak, you may consider spot repairs with coating type material or you may consider a complete coating or replacement of the metal roof panels. But it wouldn’t make sense to consider spray foam to that roof if you are wanting to simply waterproof the roof. Spray foam roofing would make sense (perhaps) if your goal is for R value but not specifically for waterproofing a metal roof that is leaking. Why pay for R value when that isn’t what you need is my point.

Many of our Edmonton Roof Repair customers (specifically this area of Canada because of the regional marketing) make the mistake of getting a spray foam roof when they actually only needed waterproofing (accomplished with liquid rubber or some other roof coating with-out the cost of the spray foam). And for each roof system and type there are many considerations.

Tar and Gravel, Roof Repair, Mississauga
Tar and Gravel Roofing Repair in Mississauga Ontario.

What are the Geographic Implications?

Different roof systems are better for different locations. Some membranes are better in hot environments and some are better in cold. Some roof assemblies make more sense in hot climates than cold also. Be sure your roofing contractor is knowledgeable in the different product offerings and the specific engineering and science behind each for your specific climate (achieving a net benefit to the building efficiency for example).

A simple example would be roof coatings – a reflective or white roof coating in a hotter (relative speaking in Canada) sunny climate such as Kelowna makes more sense than in a colder climate like Edmonton. A black roof coating vs. a white roof coating (reflective) in Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg and even in parts of Ontario is more often a net benefit choice (simply because there are more cold days than warm so the objective becomes absorbing heat and not reflecting the UV).

The same applies to low slope / flat roof membranes – a black roof may make more sense than a white (reflective) roof in Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, Regina or northern Ontario than in Kelowna, Vancouver or even in downtown Toronto. Our Toronto Roof Repair and Mississauga Roof Repair divisions constantly deal with the issue of white or reflective roof net benefit when inspecting and advising on roof replacement and repair. We are finding more and more stateside influence north of the border here in Canada with white roofs / reflective roofs and in cold climates they can cause significant issues with condensation and negative efficiency results.

Our main website has articles (go to grscanadainc.com and click on Flat Roofing) about the issue of condensation with white roofs in colder climates. Our Calgary Roof Repair division is seeing this at inspections all the time now.

Roof Coating, Mississauga, Industrial Roof, Metal
A low slope industrial roofing repair in Mississauga that requires a coating.

Due Diligence. Once you have determined your roof contractor works on your type of building, on that type of roof, on your specific type of product and that he or she will offer the available options for repair, maintenance or replacement you then need to finalize your search with simple due diligence such as making sure they have enough liability insurance, they are registered with local safety as provided for by law and they are credible.

As mentioned above, in Canada roofing is a Red Seal trade so this should be an important consideration especially with commercial, industrial, flat roofing, metal roofs and coatings. Typically serious due diligence is only a concern at the residential level because the industrial and commercial roofing contractors are few (there are 200 residential roofing contractors for every significant commercial or industrial roofing contractor) and the residential contractors can simply start up quickly with-out a lot of investment etc. The commercial roofing contractors have significant upstart cost and compliance protocols that deter fly by night start-ups.

Conclusion:

It is critical to select the right type of roofing contractor for your roof repair job. This is accomplished by following the steps I have outlined above. General Roofing Systems Canada (GRS) performs roofing work on all types of buildings and on all types roofs and products. We also provide our customers with all available options for repair, maintenance, replacement (including recovers or coatings) as part of the roof inspection reporting and quotation phase.

If you require simple roof repair advice or have any questions write me an email, fill out our roof repair online form or call anytime. If you require a roof repair quotation and/or inspection call our 24 hour call center and request assistance.

Thank you for reading my article on roof repair and best of luck on your project.

Tyler Sinclair.

Video with Summary Content:

Roof Repair Calgary, Red Deer, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Lloydminster, Saskatoon, Regina, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Canmore, Banff, Cranbrook, Kelowna, Vancouver, Whistler, Winnipeg, Mississauga, Toronto and points between. British Columbia. Alberta. Saskatchewan. Manitoba. Ontario.