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A spray foam roofing system consisting of Gaco Western materials restores a multi-level roof

Ups and Downs

A Spray foam Roofing System Consisting of Gaco Western Materials Restores a Multi-level Roof

By Juan Sagarbarria

There are spray foam contractors that might balk at a certain roofing project that presents a myriad of complexities and hesitate to bid for the job altogether. On the other hand, some contractors confidently welcome the challenge, denoting that their expertise makes them well equipped for the task. Such companies adhere to the notion that the more complex a job is, the more rewarding it can be in terms of company growth and all-around industry status. When a retrofit roof job of this nature emerged in Louisville, Kentucky, the crewmembers of Spray-Tec, the SPF contracting company hired for the roof restoration, knew they were in for the long haul. Located at Louisville’s Vogt Industrial Commons Building, the job in question consisted of a 216,000 sq. ft. roof with over 30 different sections at various degrees of elevation.

“There are large, unique roofs and then there is Vogt,” said Spray-Tec’s Aaron Martin. “We knew that just accessing certain sections was a real chore, let alone installing a new roof system, but we were up for the challenge. I’m very happy we had the opportunity to be a part of this project.”

Constructed in 1902, the Vogt building once operated solely as a factory for the development and manufacturing of major large-scale refrigeration and ice making units. Over the years, the Vogt building had several additions, which resulted in constant expansion due to growth of business. The old built-up roofs and concrete roof decks in each sections had succumbed to wear and tear over the years and were in dire need of restoration, which is why Vogt building owner Lake Polan brought in Spray-Tec.

Since some of the roof sections had minimal maintenance done in the early 2000’s, it allowed these particular sections to be re-roofed in lieu of costly tear-off and replacement. However, other sections required a complete tear-off and structural deck replacement with two-by-eight-inch wood decking.

“Moisture intrusion was a problem, especially in the low-lying areas where ponding had occurred, which damaged the wooden roof deck below over time,” said Martin. “The sheer size of the roof allowed for small issues to turn into big issues.”

The Vogt building’s 216,000 sq.ft. roof had over 30 sections at various elevations, so inevitably, the sheer size of the roof allowed for small issues to turn into big issues.

The Vogt building’s 216,000 sq.ft. roof had over 30 sections at various elevations, so inevitably, the sheer size of the roof allowed for small issues to turn into big issues.

Martin explained that between 15 to 20 percent of the roof had to be torn off and replaced, but that there were some areas that they tore off where the decking was still useable. Upon inspecting the roof, the Spray-Tec crew noticed that the existing BUR sections had been installed with nominal or no insulation between the roof membrane and the decking, which meant that retrofitting with a spray foam roofing system was not only a viable option, but that it would substantially increase the performance of the entire building.

Aside from tear offs and re-roofing of certain areas, perhaps the most challenging aspect of the project that Martin and his crew faced was working around the different elevations of the roof.

“There were literal constant ups and downs during this project,” said Martin. “Accessing and staging for each section was quite the process. Just imagine constantly relocating everything day in and day out, all the while you are still on the same roof. It’s one thing to complete sections of a large flat roof, it’s another to move and set up over 30 times on one.”

During the prep work stage, the crew also power-washed the existing substrate of the roof sections that did not require removal to clear them from loose dirt and debris. Prior to the actual foam application, Spray-Tec crewmembers installed perimeter edge-metal flashing using a one-inch SPF foam sealant. Additionally, the Spray-Tec crew installed perimeter flagging around each section and crewmembers tied off to roof anchors using safety harnesses and lanyards as necessary throughout the project.

“Safety is paramount,” said Martin. “We made sure our workers were especially careful when they were working in a high-pitched section or six feet from the edge, so everyone was tied off.”

Safety is paramount: The Spray-Tec crew utilized perimeter flagging for safety.

Safety is paramount: The Spray-Tec crew utilized perimeter flagging for safety.

The Spray-Tec crew accessed the different roof sections via maintenance ladders that were located throughout the facility. They moved their trailer constantly around the building so that they could pull up their foam and coating hoses from the exterior of the building onto their designated working area. The crew wore PPE consisting of coverall suits, nitrile gloves, and MSA respirators. Before the spray application began, the Spray-Tec crew installed to the substrates one gallon per 200 sq. ft. of GacoFlex E-5320, an epoxy primer coating made by Gaco Western.

“It’s hard to describe all the areas that our scope of work encompassed,” said Martin. “Parapet walls, skylights, drain valleys, saw-tooth sections, old monitor windows, etc.–the list goes on and on. That’s the beauty of coated foam roof systems: they’re self flashing. We can add slope to enhance drainage, we can seal in problematic areas, and ensure the roof performs correctly.”

For the foam application, the Spray-Tec crew used Gaco Western’s Gaco RoofFoam, a 3 lb. closed-cell foam. Using a Graco H-40 proportioner and a Graco Air Fusion air-purge spray gun, the Spray-Tec crew installed an inch of foam over existing roof systems and 1.5 inches over the torn off sections. As the spray foam project nears completion, an estimated total of 84 sets of foam will round out the project. During foam installation, the crewmembers held windscreens behind the sprayer to mitigate overspray.

Gaco Western’s Gaco RoofFoam was applied to the various sections constituting the roof.

Gaco Western’s Gaco RoofFoam was applied to the various sections constituting the roof.

Then, the crew installed 30 dry mils of Gaco Western’s grey GacoFlex S2022 solvent-free silicone coating. The application consisted of two coats that were installed using a Hennes-Johnson 5320X pump. While applying the topcoat, the Spray-Tec crew broadcasted ceramic granules atop the coating to embed them with the roofing system for an additional layer of protection. The leak-free spray foam roof system comes with a 15-year warranty for labor and materials from Gaco Western.

Martin pointed out that the spray foam roof system offers a seamless, fully adhered insulation and waterproofing system that is lightweight and versatile. He also mentioned that the grey coating provided the primarily red building with an appealing contrast and uniform presentation.

“This is a monolithic and sustainable system that trumps over any other conventional system for a fraction of the cost,” said Martin. “This was without a doubt the best solution for Vogt Industrial Commons.”

The Vogt roofing project is all but complete, with one section remaining to finish up what will be a remarkable restoration effort of 12 Spray Tec crewmembers in 110 working days.

After almost 10 months on the job, the project is still not finished, but Polan is pleased with Spray-Tec’s progress thus far.

“I own a lot of large buildings and this is easily the largest roof project that I have been a part of – it’s daunting!” said Polan. “It has been fascinating watching Spray-Tec’s progress and I’m certain we will be happy with their performance for many, many years.”

The GacoFlex S2002 system consisted of a dark gray basecoat followed by a light grey topcoat.

The GacoFlex S2002 system consisted of a dark gray basecoat followed by a light grey topcoat.

For more information, please visit www.gaco.com and www.spray-tec.com. •