A spray foam roof protects motorcycles inside world’s largest Harley-Davidson dealership.
BY JUAN SAGARBARRÍA
When GoDaddy.com founder Bob Parsons decides to make an investment, he goes BIG. Take one of his latest acquisitions: A mega-sized dealership in Scottsdale, AZ that is marked to be the largest space housing Harley-Davidson motorcycles in the world. Therefore, this dealership is now a heaven for those that are in or want to be in Harley Owners Group (HOG), the sponsored community club operated by Harley-Davidson for enthusiasts of the brand’s motorcycles. The two-story complex with a basement consists of nearly 140,000 square feet, including a repair shop, an apparel section, two showrooms for new, as well as pre-owned motorcycles, and even a tattoo parlor.
Now, when you’ve got the largest Harley Davidson dealership on the planet, you take steps to ensure that everything about the space is tip-top: From the apparel section to the bike showrooms, to the repair shop, to the roof. The roof? But what does the roof have anything to do with the condition of the motorcycles? Well, if you want the biggest and the best, you want to make sure your high-end inventory of motorcycles is well protected from any structural issues that may come in the form of roof leaks and wind uplift in the years to come. These issues can be nipped in the bud with a high-quality roofing system that provides a robust, monolithic barrier to the single-ply system on the roof that protects the entire building along with its contents. That’s why Parson opted to have a spray foam roofing system installed on the 59,800 square-foot roof of his one-stop shop for all things Harley-Davidson.
Arizona Foam and Spray (AFS) was contracted for the sizable SPF roofing application based on a long-standing, cohesive working relationship with the general contractor in charge of the Harley-Davidson complex build project. This relationship entailed AFS’ involvement and foam application on a few other buildings owned by Parsons. Harley-Davidson demanded an R-38 insulation value for the building, so AFS engineered a hybrid roof system solution consisting of attaching 3.2-inch poly-iso boards to the roof deck and applying closed-cell SPF to them. Additionally, the AFS crew would apply SPF to the top inside edge of the roof’s four-foot parapet walls. With this roof system, Harley-Davidson was able to have an insulating advantage at a reduced cost from the poly-iso boards, but with the added benefit of a seamless air and moisture barrier that SPF provides.
“We have worked with the general contractor on many past projects and they’ve all been successes when we applied foam,” says Tony Mackelprang, owner of AFS. “The performance of SPF speaks for itself, and it was the best possible type of system for this building.”
A J-SHAPED CHALLENGE
The dealership building is shaped like a “J” and, the metal decking is fitted around the roof’s curve so that the flutes radiate out like spokes on a wheel from the small bend of the “J,” describes Mackelprang. With this in mind, the AFS crew opted to cut the poly-iso boards into wedge shapes so that they could line up with the fluting of the roof deck and then be properly fastened. This would prove to be challenging particularly when attempting to fit the poly-iso board wedges around the curbs from the HVAC units and solar tubes on the roof. On top of that, the wedge shape into which these boards were cut created numerous seams as they were fastened to the roof substrate. This was another instance in which spray polyurethane foam was pivotal for the success of the project.
“The seams needed to be filled in order for the roof to maintain its waterproof integrity,” notes Mackelprang. “Using foam on the curve of the ‘J’ saved a lot of time and hassle. This is a big advantage over single-ply systems, which would have been a nightmare to install. There would have been numerous seams on the roof, and each seam would be a potential for water leaks. However, foam created a seamless, monolithic system with no potential for leakage.”
FASTEN, FOAM, COAT
The three-man crew worked with two custom-assembled Graco rigs, two Graco GX-7 spray guns, a Graco Xtreme airless coating pump, and 300 feet of hose. The first step of the roofing system install involved mechanically fastening the poly-iso boards to the metal decking, which was completed by a subcontractor prior to AFS’ spray foam and coating application. Once the boards were secured in situ, the four-man AFS crew suited up in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including Tyvek suits, fresh air respirators, hard hats, goggles, and boots and then proceeded with the foam application. They installed 1.5 inches of Quik-Shield 125, a low-viscosity, two-component, 2.5 to 3.0 lb. closed-cell, spray-applied polyurethane foam formulated by SWD Urethane. Further detail work included spraying foam around the large solar tube skylights on the roof surface and up the parapet walls, creating a leak-free, air impermeable seal around the newly installed skylights and self-flashing system on the parapet walls.
“By using spray foam, we were able to eliminate the flashing and metal work from most of the roof details,” says Mackelprang. “With conventional roofing, the parapet walls on the roof would’ve required flashing to be installed for waterproofing. We figured we saved them about $20,000 in metal work alone.”
Then, the AFS crew coated the foam with 24 DFT mils SWD Urethane’s Quik-Shield 1929F, a high-solids acrylic coating. The application was done in two coats: A tan, acrylic base coat and a white topcoat. The white topcoat reflects heat from the sun, which is significant in Arizona. This UV protection provides a cool roof system, which keeps the building cooler and lowers utility bills. The AFS crew also embedded #9 Crushed Limestone granules to increase the roof’s durability and lifespan. During the embedding, extra granules were added to create three-foot walkways from each roof hatch to the various HVAC units to help reduce wear-and-tear in areas that have heavier foot traffic expectancy attributed to sporadic maintenance of the units.
“Spray foam roofing systems also have the lowest life cycle cost of any roofing system,” adds Mackelprang. “Spray foam provides easy maintenance; it simply needs to be powerwashed and re-coated when it shows signs of wear. Furthermore, it is proven that the limestone granules installed enable the coating to last up to 20 percent longer, further extending the lifespan. A spray foam roof can last 30 years or more with proper maintenance, as opposed to single-ply roofs, which last fewer than 10 years here in the hot, Arizona sun.”
TAMING MOTHER NATURE
Arizona during the spring equates to occasional, yet powerful, gusts of winds. The Harley-Davidson dealership was located in a non-secluded, high traffic area with nearby businesses, including a car dealership, facing a potential risk to be afflicted with overspray damage. The AFS crew took this into account, and despite the fact that the four-foot parapet walls of the building’s roof provided protection in terms of overspray damage reduction; they went the extra mile to combat the wind. According to Mackelprang, during the days of the application, winds would pick up around noon, so his crew would arrive at three o’clock in the morning every day and use portable lights for clear visibility until the sun rose. To preempt the situation, the AFS crew utilized a flag system to monitor the direction of the wind when it got closer to noon. When winds were high, the crew used a rolling tent when spraying.
“The tent makes it more challenging for the applicator to spray, but it contains all of the overspray,” says Mackelprang. “At times, this was necessary because of the nearby car dealership. We were very proud when the job was complete and not a single car had been over sprayed.”
Aside from the high winds, heavy rains were also a factor during the roof system installation. The rains, however, only caused minor stop-and-start delays. As a matter of fact, the AFS crew actually took advantage of the rain after the initial application had been completed.
“As standard practice, we always conduct water tests to make sure the roofing system drains properly and is free of ponding,” says Mackelprang. “We were able to take advantage of a heavy spring rainstorm after the application of the base coat to examine how the water flowed off the roof in real-world conditions. We identified and fixed a couple low areas that needed adjustments, creating a quality roof that will be long-lasting and leak-free for Harley Davidson.”
The application of the entire 59,800 square-foot roof was completed in 20 days. Although the spring rains and winds caused minor setbacks, the AFS crew was still able to complete the project within the general contractor’s deadline. The roof application took a total of 29,409 pounds of 2.5 lb. roofing foam, 629 gallons of tan base coat, and 1,384 gallons of white topcoat.
A leak-free roof provides peace of mind to Parsons: All his Harley models will be safe under one roof.