Roof Glossary

July 1, 2004

6 Min Read
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-storagebuilding preservation, yet it is simple to perform. To increase the life of yourroofs, as with any other major purchase, check-ups and periodic upkeep arerequired. When was the last time you inspected the tops of your storagebuildings?

Whether your have a built-up system consisting of tar and gravel or a metalroof, inspections are important to increasing the life of your building. Thefact is, most property owners or managers do not properly maintain their roofs,causing accelerated deterioration and a state of disrepair. The roofs wear outbefore their time. Following are lists of simple items to look for during aregular 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 mayprovide a solution. The process involves installing a new roof over the existingone, which can save money and time as well as enhance the facilitysappearance. Retrofit roof systems are generally lightweight and add verylittle dead load to your existing structure. They also add positive drainage,which can minimize further deterioration to old roof structures and erosion toyour 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-roofpanels, which are installed using hidden fastener clips, eliminating the needfor exposed attachments. Standing-seam roofs are standard for most commercial andindustrial facilities and increase a sites value.

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

Basic metal re-roofing costs start at just under $3 per squarefoot. This provides for a new slope of at least 1/4:12, with light-gauge framingmembers attached to the existing building; a Galvalume, standing-seam roof-panel system; and pre-painted flashings such as gutters, downspouts and gabletrim. Other considerations must be made for parapets, roof steps and roofpenetrations, such as HVAC units, firewalls and vent pipes. Insulation can beadded to increase the efficiencies of mechanical systems. Product warranties aregenerally 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 youexpected.

Rick Dodge is vice president of sales andoperations for Rib Roof Metals Inc., a Rossville, Tenn.- based manufacturer ofmetal-roofing systems, retrofit-roofing systems and light-gauge building systemsfor the self-storage industry. The companys services include design,engineering and nationwide installation. For more information, call800.876.9062; visit

Roof Glossary

Source: Cudahy Roofing (


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

Built-Up Roof (BUR)

A roofconsisting minimally of a BUR membrane but may also include insulation, vaporretarders and other components.

Built-Up Roof Membrane

A built-uproof consisting of plies or layers of roofing felt bonded together on site withbitumen, either tar or asphalt.

Dead Load

The constant designedweight of a roof and any permanent fixtures attached above or below.


The metal pipe used todrain water from a roof.


A general term coveringa wide variety of screws and nails that may be used for mechanically securingvarious components of a building.


Connecting devices thatseal membrane joints at expansion joints, walls, drains, gravel stops, and otherplaces where the membrane is interrupted or terminated.


The end of a building asdistinguished from the front or rear side. The triangular end of and exterior wall from the level of theeaves to the ridge of a double sloped roof.


Metal trough at the eavesof a roof to carry rain water from the roof to the downspout.


Material that slowsdown or retards the flow or transfer of heat.


To extend one materialpartially over another; the distance so extended.


A generic term relatingto a variety of sheet goods used for certain built-up roofing repairs andapplications.


A condition where waterstands on a roof for prolonged periods due to poor drainage and/or deflection ofthe deck.


The assembly of interactingcomponents designed to weatherproof and, normally, insulate a buildingssurface, separated from adjacent assemblies by walls or changes in elevation.

Roof System

General term referringto the waterproof covering, roof insulation, vapor barrier (if used) and roofdeck as an entity.


Incline or pitch of roofsurface.

Standing Seam

A type of jointoften used on metal roofs.

Vapor Retarder (Barrier)

Amembrane placed between the insulation and roof deck to retard water vapor inthe building from entering the insulation and condensing into liquid water.

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