Roof Glossary

Reliable Roof Maintenance
Preserve your building and your bottom line

By Rick Dodge

Roof maintenance is one of the most overlooked aspects of self-storage building preservation, yet it is simple to perform. To increase the life of your roofs, as with any other major purchase, check-ups and periodic upkeep are required. When was the last time you inspected the tops of your storage buildings?

Whether your have a built-up system consisting of tar and gravel or a metal roof, inspections are important to increasing the life of your building. The fact is, most property owners or managers do not properly maintain their roofs, causing accelerated deterioration and a state of disrepair. The roofs wear out before their time. Following are lists of simple items to look for during a regular roof inspection and maintenance program, categorized by roof type.

Built-Up Roofs

  • Bubbles in the asphalt topping
  • Cracks in the asphalt topping
  • Water-ponding
  • Loose flashing attachments
  • Exposed sealants with cracks and/or bubbles
  • Loose or damaged gutters and downspouts

Thru-Fastener Metal Roofs (With Screw-Down Panels)

  • Missing screws
  • Screws that pop up
  • Deteriorating rubber washers
  • Separating lap joints
  • Loose flashing fasteners
  • Exposed sealants with cracks and/or bubbles
  • Loose or damaged gutters and downspouts

Standing-Seam Metal Roofs

  • Separating panel laps
  • Loose flashing fasteners
  • Exposed sealants with cracks and/or bubbles
  • Loose or damaged gutters and downspouts

Regardless what type of roof your facility has, the most commonly overlooked problem areas are the gutters and downspouts. Manmade debris that gets thrown onto the roof and natural refuse, such as twigs and leaves, are the biggest causes of water-drainage restrictions. Downspout exits become blocked, and the water backs upmost often into the buildingat the eaves.

Roof Repair

For older roofs in need of major repair, retrofit roofing may provide a solution. The process involves installing a new roof over the existing one, which can save money and time as well as enhance the facilitys appearance. Retrofit roof systems are generally lightweight and add very little dead load to your existing structure. They also add positive drainage, which can minimize further deterioration to old roof structures and erosion to your building.

Some other advantages are:

  • No expense for disposal of old roof materials.
  • No disruption of normal business operation.
  • Additional insulation can be added to increase thermal efficiencies.
  • The speed of completion.

Retrofit roofing most commonly uses standing-seam metal-roof panels, which are installed using hidden fastener clips, eliminating the need for exposed attachments. Standing-seam roofs are standard for most commercial and industrial facilities and increase a sites value.

Retrofit roofing is affordable and can be phased into a project over time. Since most self-storage projects have multiple buildings, retrofitting one or two at a time can help defray costs rather than absorbing them at once. This also allows the owner to prioritize his roof problems and resolve the most serious ones first.

Basic metal re-roofing costs start at just under $3 per square foot. This provides for a new slope of at least 1/4:12, with light-gauge framing members attached to the existing building; a Galvalume, standing-seam roof-panel system; and pre-painted flashings such as gutters, downspouts and gable trim. Other considerations must be made for parapets, roof steps and roof penetrations, such as HVAC units, firewalls and vent pipes. Insulation can be added to increase the efficiencies of mechanical systems. Product warranties are generally for 20 years, and installation warranties vary by vendor.

Dont wait for your roof to be a problem. Inspect it periodically and develop a program for maintenance. This will increase your project life expectancy and provide the high rewards you expected.

Rick Dodge is vice president of sales and operations for Rib Roof Metals Inc., a Rossville, Tenn.- based manufacturer of metal-roofing systems, retrofit-roofing systems and light-gauge building systems for the self-storage industry. The companys services include design, engineering and nationwide installation. For more information, call 800.876.9062; visit

Roof Glossary

Source: Cudahy Roofing (

AsphaltA dark brown to black, highly viscous, hydrocarbon produces from the residue left after the distillation of petroleum, used as a waterproofing agent.

Built-Up Roof (BUR)A roof consisting minimally of a BUR membrane but may also include insulation, vapor retarders and other components.

Built-Up Roof MembraneA built-up roof consisting of plies or layers of roofing felt bonded together on site with bitumen, either tar or asphalt.

Dead LoadThe constant designed weight of a roof and any permanent fixtures attached above or below.

DownspoutThe metal pipe used to drain water from a roof.

FastenersA general term covering a wide variety of screws and nails that may be used for mechanically securing various components of a building.

FlashingConnecting devices that seal membrane joints at expansion joints, walls, drains, gravel stops, and other places where the membrane is interrupted or terminated.

GableThe end of a building as distinguished from the front or rear side. The triangular end of and exterior wall from the level of the eaves to the ridge of a double sloped roof.

GutterMetal trough at the eaves of a roof to carry rain water from the roof to the downspout.

InsulationMaterial that slows down or retards the flow or transfer of heat.

LapTo extend one material partially over another; the distance so extended.

MembraneA generic term relating to a variety of sheet goods used for certain built-up roofing repairs and applications.

PondingA condition where water stands on a roof for prolonged periods due to poor drainage and/or deflection of the deck.

RoofThe assembly of interacting components designed to weatherproof and, normally, insulate a buildings surface, separated from adjacent assemblies by walls or changes in elevation.

Roof SystemGeneral term referring to the waterproof covering, roof insulation, vapor barrier (if used) and roof deck as an entity.

SlopeIncline or pitch of roof surface.

Standing SeamA type of joint often used on metal roofs.

Vapor Retarder (Barrier)A membrane placed between the insulation and roof deck to retard water vapor in the building from entering the insulation and condensing into liquid water.

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