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Condo Comfort

Two Roofing Companies Combine Forces to Apply Spray Foam to the Roofs of 18 buildings Inside a Condominium Complex

By Juan Sagarbarria

From a simplicity standpoint, it can be argued that living in a condominium is a more manageable scenario than inhabiting a house, given the maintenance and added expenditures that comes with the latter. Furthermore, one factor that instinctually drives people to condominium living is lower energy bills. When placing comfort and electrical bills in the condo vs. house balance, there undoubtedly should be a financially friendly tilt towards condos. If there isn’t, then there can be only two logical explanations: electricity is being irresponsibly abused or the building in which the condo is located suffers from energy inefficiency. If a condo building has faulty or non-existent insulation, it will require more electricity to achieve the level of indoor comfort that is preferred by its occupants.

For those residing in the Northeastern region of Illinois, where the winter and summer seasons can be extreme, this could turn out to be a substantial problem, which is why more builders are considering the installation of an energy-efficient roofing system during building restorations. Case in point: a prominent property management company of an apartment complex in the Chicago area opted to have 18 buildings inside the complex retrofitted with spray foam roofing systems. To complete the application swiftly and in a timely fashion, the operator brought in two-contracting companies: Stout Roofing and Applaudable Roofing. The project’s progression was lead by a joint effort from both companies, who diligently worked hand-in-hand throughout the different phases of the installation.

According to Applaudable Roofing’s Brian Kick, the residents of some of the building units had been complaining that these concrete deck roofs had leaking issues, which prompted the management company to further take action. The 40-year-old, two-story condo buildings had different proportions that equated to the number of units per building, which varied from 8 to 14 units. Because of this, the buildings’ roof areas varied between 5,000 to 9,000 square feet. The project consisted of replacing the existent single-ply modified bitumen and gravel aggregate systems of all 18 roofs with a spray polyurethane foam roofing systems, totaling a spray area of 115,000 square feet.

“Spray foam was a key ingredient in the restoration of these buildings,” said Kick. “Not only does it replace these old, inefficient systems that were putting an extra load on each building with a lighter system that increases each building’s structural rigidity tenfold, the SPF contributes to these buildings being ‘green’ by providing optimal insulation and energy efficiency. The people living in these condos are going to be much more comfortable and they will be able to save a good amount on energy bills. ”

While onsite, the 10-man combined crew of Applaudable and Stout Roofing parked their foam and coating rigs next to the particular building they were working on and accessed the roofs using 32-foot ladders, which were specifically placed on the side of each building so as to not interfere with residents’ foot traffic.

The white top coat provides heat reflectivity, which keeps the building cool  in spite of the blistering heat of the Midwestern summer.

The white top coat provides heat reflectivity, which keeps the building cool in spite of the blistering heat of the Midwestern summer.

Initially, the Stout and Applaudable crew installed roof caps to lift duct pipes extending through the roof 12-inches, providing maximum leak protection with a pressed-sealed, built-in roof flashing. Then, they proceeded to pressure-wash the existing roof prior to the foam application. Prep work also included the installation of boxed-shaped curbs that were installed under the roofs’ A/C units so that they could seal them with the foam and protective coating without leaving any gaps in the system while maintaining a uniform look. During the material applications, the Stout and Applaudable crewmembers wore PPE consisting of Tyvek suits, full-face respirators, and gloves. Additionally, the crewmembers installed perimeter flagging around each roof and wore safety harnesses tied off to roof anchors while working along the edges around the 12-inch parapet walls.

The crews applied to each roof two inches of ELASTOSPRAY, a 2.8 lb. spray polyurethane roofing foam formulated by BASF. During the foam application, crewmembers held windscreens behind the sprayer to reduce overspray. Approximately 44 sets of foam were installed throughout the entire project. The spray foam provided an R-6 per inch R-value to the buildings, which notably superseded the minor insulation that the fiberboard over the concrete decking had provided underneath the previous modified bitumen roof system.

“The modified bitumen roofs they had were coming apart at the seams and causing leaks,” said Stout Roofing’s Jodi Stout. “The spray foam application provides the building with a seamless, monolithic roof system that has a Class A fire rating protecting these concrete roofs.”

During the application, the crews faced the challenging hurdle of having to work during a lapse of heavy rains. Over 26 working days, the Stout and Applaudable crews were subjected to 17 inches of rain, which they had to work around in order to mitigate downtime. Kick affirmed that working with another crew allowed for greater daily progress and maximum productivity, as some crewmembers focused on applying foam and coating to a roof that had been prepped while others moved onto another roof to powerwash, and so forth. This system allowed the crews to complete the SPF roof system installation of each roof every two days.

“We had a fluent pattern of workflow going between the crews,” said Kick. “It allowed us to proceed with the job faster rather than focusing on one roof at a time.”

Kick added that the spray foam created positive drainage for standing water that had pooled on various areas of the roofs. He explained that these roofs had been poorly designed since they were pitched from the outside-in, which resulted in frequent water pooling in the middle of the roofs. The application of SPF built up the middle area of the roofs where water had pooled and allowed it to run down and drain down through the roof scuppers.

The white top coat provides heat reflectivity, which keeps the building cool in spite of the blistering heat of the Midwestern summer.

The white top coat provides heat reflectivity, which keeps the building cool in spite of the blistering heat of the Midwestern summer.

The protective coatings application consisted of a two-coat application of acrylic coatings made by Conklin Roofing Systems. The Applaudable and Stout crewmembers topped off the spray foam with a 14-mil base coat of blue Benchmark, followed by a 14-mil topcoat of white Puma XL. Kick noted that the benefits provided by the materials constituting the roof system are backed by an 18-year, non-prorated warranty for materials from Conklin.

“The white topcoat provides 85 percent heat reflectivity, which keeps the roof cool during the summer months and adds to the energy-efficiency of the building,” said Kick. “The system is long-lasting, self-sustaining, and requires minimal maintenance over time.”

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Photos Courtesy of Stout Roofing

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