Roof Renovation: Overlayment vs. Tear-Off

May 20, 2013

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To cover up or remove altogether? Roofing experts share their knowledge on how to make this decision when renovating your building. One thing is certain: the choice is determined more by existing condition, not preference. The following points are important to consider when picking which route works best for your roof.

The two main options are tear-off and overlayment:

  • Tear off allows for better inspection. If substrate is in poor condition, tear off removes the additional weight that a new roof would cause.

  • If there is minimal water damage, overlayment would be quick, inexpensive and easy. Overlayment also allows for the owner to retain a weather barrier, which is helpful if something delicate needs to be stored underneath said roof.

According to some roofing experts, if there is 30-40% of water damage, the roof should be replaced completely. This can be determined by doing some testing, which involves thermal scans, insulation tests, and making strategic cuts on the roof to assess how the core material is doing.

Tear-off may also apply on roof surfaces that are pooling water and are not apt for drainage solutions. This instance alone may warrant contacting a waterproofing company. Another reason to favor tear-off is the improvements of the existing roof. The great benefit to doing this is the assurance that the new one will be made with better materials of higher structural integrity.

When determining what process to choose, it is also important to determine the type of building, location, traffic, roof access and traffic, decking, and slope.

Aside from overlayment, also consider foam sprays, “cool roof” and vegetated roofs.

The “cool roof” alternative is a fluid application that helps manage internal building temperatures. If there is no moisture concern, no drainage issues, this type of green painting may be for you.

Vegetated roof coverings are growing in popularity and consist using plants in individual trays and letting those grow. Eventually the trays are removed, leaving a green “blanket”. This will earn you LEED credits in terms of rainwater management and building performance.

Special considerations:

Sequencing, phasing and coordination, like with any renovation project in a commercial building, should be brought up with your commercial painting contractor of choice. Always coordinate the work to being from the bottom and make its way up. Sequencing is also important so workers don’t end up having to walk over finished areas.

Protect the substrate by tracking the weather and ensuring that it won’t be unfavorable on days when the work will be completed. Also, consult an engineer if any major structural changes need to be made when reroofing; for example, changing a flat roof to a slope.

Following these basic considerations when renovating your structure’s roof should yield highly-efficient and durable results over the long term.

Questions or comments?

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