Factors To Consider When Purchasing A Roofing System: Performance

You must consider many factors when your roof needs to be replaced or when you are constructing a building that requires a new roof: Price. Quality of the product being installed. Prefabrication. Installation disruptions. Ease of maintenance. Performance. Environmental impact. Life-cycle costs, and so on. It is crucial to review all of these aspects in order to make the wisest roofing choice and get the best long-term value for your investment.

This is the sixth post in a series discussing the issues involved in purchasing a roofing system.

Proven Track Record

How long has the roofing system you are considering been on the market? How has it performed? Has its formula changed over the years to improve performance? Is “thicker” really “better” when it comes to roof performance? Answers to these questions are vital to know in order to get the best roof for your building.

Hundreds of roofing systems are on the market today, and sometimes they seem to blend together and appear to offer the same qualities. Not true. Look at how long the roofing product has been around and then evaluate its success. Most manufacturers will be happy to direct you to satisfied customers who can describe how their roofing system solved a problem.

Thicker=Better? Not So Fast!

Some roofing manufacturers promote the idea that when it comes to roof performance, “thicker” means “better.” However, that is not necessarily the case.

Some manufacturers increase membrane thickness by adding more material to the bottom film layer but little to the exposed layer. However, increasing bottom layer thickness does not directly increase membrane performance. Rather, performance is a balance between film formulation, membrane thickness, and reinforcement.

Film formulation determines the flexibility of the membrane and its ability to resist crazing and cracking over time, plus protect against ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

Membrane thickness provides protection from water, snow, and ice elements.

Reinforcement provided by the scrim layer of the membrane is the source of the membrane’s strength. The scrim protects against natural elements such as wind and hail, and from human activities that can cause punctures and tears. Additionally, reinforcement gives dimensional stability to the membrane and strength against building movement.

If you buy or specify single-ply roofing systems, your decision should be based on membrane performance, not thickness alone.

In our seventh installment in this series, we will discuss roofing system features that have a positive impact on the environment.

Is Roofing Part of Your Energy Management Strategy?

Significant Savings Drive Demand for Cool Roofing

Cool Roofing Options and Choosing the Best Cool Roofing System

There are two primary types of cool roofing products on the market today: (1) reflective paints and coatings; and (2) single-ply roofing systems. Paints and coatings based on either acrylic or elastomeric chemistry can be an effective short-term solution for reducing energy costs, but most facility owners looking for long-term, low-maintenance solutions opt for a complete single-ply roofing system.

Many roofing products are on the market, which can make choosing the right one a challenge. Fortunately, several objective tools are available to help with the process. Choosing a system from the approved list of products in the EPA’s ENERGY STAR® Roof Products Program or from the Cool Roof Rating Council (CRRC) ratings chart is a good way to narrow down the selection process. Products on the ENERGY STAR list undergo rigorous testing before approval to ensure that they meet the established standard for reflectance.

In addition, the ENERGY STAR Roof Products Program has developed an energy savings calculator that projects the potential savings from installing a cool roof compared with alternative “non-cool” systems.

Here is a short list of important factors to consider when selecting a cool roofing system:

  1. Reflectance/emittance performance, both initial and after three years.
  2. Long-term track record of durability and performance.
  3. A good warranty backed by a solid, well-established manufacturer.
  4. Climate and weather extremes in a given location.
  5. Maintenance requirements and ease of repair.

In our next installment we will discuss: Single-Ply Cool Roofing Systems


The A Through Z of Associations: Part 4

There are many associations that roofing manufacturers, contractors and other industry professionals can be involved with. Some are technical and engineering-oriented; others are sales and networking associations; and some deal with each of these aspects in the roofing and construction industries.

This is the fourth in a series of posts that discuss associations related to the roofing industry.


The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL or Berkeley Lab) was founded in 1931 by Ernest Orlando Lawrence, a UC Berkeley physicist who won the 1939 Nobel Prize in physics for his invention of the cyclotron. It was Lawrence’s belief that scientific research is best done through teams of individuals with different fields of expertise, working together. His teamwork concept is a Berkeley Lab legacy that continues today.

The Berkeley Lab is a member of the national laboratory system supported by the U.S. Department of Energy through its Office of Science. It is managed by the University of California (UC) and is charged with conducting unclassified research across a wide range of scientific disciplines.

Berkeley Lab developments have resulted in billions of dollars in savings for lighting, windows, and other energy-efficient technologies such as roofing systems.

The lab provides a wide variety of research that is relevant to “cool” roofs and the urban heat island effect, giving building owners important information they can use to select the right roofing system for their building.


Established in 1886, the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) is one of the construction industry’s oldest trade associations and a voice for professional roofing contractors worldwide.

The NRCA offers roofing industry information for roofing professionals, including technical information, special reports, insurance and safety information, and the latest industry news.

The NRCA also provides a wide range of information and services to help home owners and building owners make informed decisions about replacing and maintaining their roofing systems.


Established in 1979 by the NRCA as a separately funded organization, the National Roofing Legal Resource Center (NRLRC) acts as a legal advocate for roofing contractors throughout the United States.

Issues such as contract language, employee relations, regulatory compliance, payment provisions, insurance coverage, and codes and standards can threaten a company’s profitability and even its existence. The NRLRC provides contractors with assistance in resolving such legal issues, ultimately saving them time and attorneys’ fees.

Working With A Roofing Contractor: Part 2

Screening A Contractor

Before hiring a contractor, a building owner should ask several questions:

  • Can the contractor provide references from satisfied customers?
  • What experience does he or she have with similar installations?
  • What is their experience with the product being installed?

Many manufacturers have implemented a quality rating system to ensure that the contractors installing their roofing systems are proficient. Duro-Last’s Master and Elite Contractor programs are intended to give building owners/facility managers confidence that the roofing system will be installed to high-quality standards.

“To qualify for these Duro-Last programs, a contractor must have installed our roofing system on a variety of buildings, and achieved consistently high-quality inspection scores over several years,” said Mitch Guettler, Quality Assurance Manager at Duro-Last.

The building owner should also verify that the contractor’s business is financially stable. Before allowing any business to become one of its authorized roofing contractors, some manufacturers obtain a credit report from Dun & Bradstreet (D & B), noted Tom Allen, President of Allen Consulting Group, Inc. When the contractor’s business is so new that there isn’t a D & B report on file, the manufacturer may ask to see his or her banking history. To be sure, each contractor sets different parameters regarding the information he or she is willing to provide to potential business partners.

“Most of the better contractors have appropriate financial statements that they’re willing to make available,” added Allen.

What A Contractor Should Provide:

  • Qualified employees.
  • Equipment that will enable the completion of the project at hand.
    • Vehicles that can haul away refuse at the end of each day.
    • Safety equipment such as guard rails and fall protection harnesses for employees to use while completing a roofing installaion.

Another crucial factor to consider when selecting a roofing contractor is their employees’ experience and skills levels.

“What drives installation quality today is the experience of the foreman or job superintendent,” said Allen. “It’s critical that the building owner or facility manager ask the contractor how much experience the employees have installing different types of roofing.”

Additionally, the building owner/facility manager and contractor will also want to go over variables that will help ensure a smooth-running project.

Points of discussion should include:

  • The location of a staging area for tools and materials.
  • Expected duration of the installation and what (if any) building disruptions can be expected.
  • Daily work hours.
  • A number to call if problems occur outside of normal business hours.

Finally, the building owner should ask the roofing contractor the following post-installation questions:

  • How does the contractor plan to handle post-installation work?
  • Will the contractor inspect the roof annually? If so, is there a fee?

The best solution is to have the contractor and building owner establish a yearly maintenance program together to help ensure the performance and longevity of the roofing system.

In our next installment, we will discuss who is responsible for what when it comes to the roofing system warranty.

Is Roofing Part of Your Energy Management Strategy? Part 2

How Cool Roofing Works

The trend may be new, but mankind has understood for centuries that white or light-colored surfaces are cooler than dark surfaces. Those stunning, ancient, all-white Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cities are not only aesthetically pleasing, they are also surprisingly cool and comfortable even on the hottest days of summer. Economic and environmental pressures have inspired a renewed interest in the heat-reflective properties of white surfaces, and recent research into the dynamics of urban heat islands, or UHIs – the phenomenon where even small cities are typically three to ten degrees warmer than nearby suburbs and countrysides.

The UHI chain of cause and effect is clear: As temperatures increase, more electric power is needed for air conditioning and more fossil fuel is consumed, which leads to higher levels of air pollution. The probability of smog rises five percent for each one-half degree increase in ambient temperature above 70°F.

Meanwhile, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has conducted several related studies to evaluate various materials for solar reflectance and emittance.

  • Reflectance, also known as albedo or reflectivity, is the percentage of solar energy reflected by a surface. The higher the percentage of reflectance, the more heat energy will be reflected from the surface.
  • Emittance, or emissivity, is the percentage of heat energy a material can absorb and then shed in the form of infrared radiation. Materials with low emittance tend to heat up more easily because they collect and trap heat. It is interesting that while many black materials have very low reflectance, they can exhibit very high emittance.

Although there is no industry-wide definition of a cool roof per se, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ENTERGY STAR® Roof Products Program has established a minimum standard for products to qualify. The EPA standard requires that low-slope roof products have an initial reflectance of at least 65 percent, and a reflectance of at least 50 percent after three years of weathering. The ENGERGY STAR Program also requires products to carry warranties similar to, or better than, those offered by the same manufacturer for similar non-reflective roof products. ENERGY STAR ratings can be found on their web site, www.energystar.gov.

In our next installment we will discuss: Cool Roofing Options and Choosing the Best Cool Roofing System.

Factors To Conside When Purchasing A Roofing System: Ease of Maintenance

You must consider many factors when your roof needs to be replaced or when you are constructing a building that requires a new roof: Price. Quality of the product being installed. Prefabrication. Installation disruptions. Ease of maintenance. Performance. Environmental impact. Life-cycle costs, and so on. It is crucial to review all of these aspects in order to make the wisest roofing choice and get the best long-term value for your investment.

This is the fifth post in a series that will discuss the issues involved in purchasing a roofing system.

Ease Of Maintenance

Once a roofing system has been installed, most building owners do not want to have to deal with it again. They do want to make sure that they get the most from their roof investment and, most importantly, that it provides long-term, leak-proof protection for their building.

If you’re in the market for a new roof, it is very important to understand the importance of the roof selection process and the impact it can have on your money and time. Both can be saved by matching the building design, building use needs and your capabilities.

Some systems can require extensive maintenance, such as re-coating, re-surfacing, new flashings, or re-spraying after a few years of service for the system to perform properly. Many require regular inspections and repairs in order to maintain warranty coverage. Then there are some roofing systems that are virtually maintenance-free, necessitating little to no upkeep when designed and installed correctly.

Consider how much time and money you are willing to invest in maintaining your roof or fulfilling warranty requirements. Clearly, most building owners will opt for a roofing system that requires less maintenance. However, even roofs that require little or no maintenance can benefit from periodic, common-sense inspections that can help keep drains and gutters flowing, vegetative overgrowth (trees) clear, ponding water a non-issue, and third-party damage minimal, especially following storms and other climatic events.

When looking at maintenance, it is important to ensure that the roof system is compatible with your building. As an example, roof systems with high emissivity and reflectivity will significantly reduce the stress put on cooling systems by dramatically lowering the ambient air temperature in summer that the units have to cool. This can lower energy costs as well as cooling system loads and maintenance. Facilities with rooftop grease vents should have roofs that are able to withstand grease exhaust. This will reduce or eliminate annual maintenance and resurfacing of these areas, which is necessary with asphalt based systems.

Additionally, it is critical that maintenance crews know how to correctly care for the specific roofing system that is installed on your building. Most roofing manufacturers provide instructions on how to maintain their systems, and they should be followed carefully so as to not void the warranty. It’s important to note that some manufacturers will only allow maintenance and repairs to be performed by the original installing contractor, or the warranty will be voided.

Thorough research on the care and maintenance requirements of each roofing system being considered will help you choose the right one for your building and help you customize your roof maintenance program to the needs of your facility.

In our sixth installment of Factors To Consider When Purchasing A Roofing System, we will discuss roofing system features that provide outstanding performance.

Faces of Duro-Last: Scott Shockey

Quality Assurance Training Coordinator
Scott Shockey - Quality Assurance Training Coordinator

Scott Shockey is a Quality Assurance Training Coordinator at the Duro-Last corporate headquarters in Saginaw, Michigan. He has held this position for over a year-and-a-half. Prior to this position, Scott worked as an Engineering Technician in the Engineering Services Department for over two years.

As a QA Training Coordinator, Scott has the unique opportunity to help train new contractors on how to properly and efficiently install the Duro-Last roofing systems.

“I enjoy working with the new contractors and walking them through the process of our on-the-job trainings,” said Scott. “Many of these contractors are unsure of the free services we offer to them, so it’s nice to point them in the right direction…and they really appreciate that.”

Scott’s experience in the Engineering Services Department also gives him the edge on answering the technical questions that come up in the training class.

“As an Engineering Tech, I fielded technical questions, assisted with UL and FM listings, estimated quotes, and created layout drawings; all of which have given me a diverse background in our roofing systems,” noted Scott. “That definitely helps when you have new contractors that want to know every detail about our systems.”

Scott not only enjoys meeting new contractors, but introducing them to the friendly staff at Duro-Last that is ready to accommodate their roofing needs.

“Everyone at Duro-Last is so friendly and helpful,” he said. “It is common to pass by several coworkers in the hallway and they’ll stop to ask how things are going. That attitude is also reflected to these contractors, which makes them feel comfortable in working with Duro-Last.”

Scott also appreciates the fact that Duro-Last is family-owned and operated.

“It’s great to work for a company that is family-owned, because they really take care of their employees,” he said.

When Scott isn’t working, he’s spending time with his wife, Susan. The newlyweds like to go biking and camping, watch movies, as well as hang out with family and friends.

Positive Responses to Negative Statements About PVC: Part 4

Statement: “Phthalate plasticizers used to keep PVC membranes flexible are dangerous to human health.”

The facts: The Duro-Last membrane uses a plasticizer that has been determined to be non-toxic to humans with no negative environmental impacts. There is no reliable evidence that any phthalate has ever caused harm to anyone. In over 40 years of study and use, phthalate plasticizers have never been shown to cause harm to humans from their normal use. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has studied the use of plasticizers in vinyl toys and found no demonstrated health risk.

In the 1980s, some phthalates were shown to cause liver cancer in rodents when administered at high doses over long periods of time. Follow-up research showed that the cancer was caused by a biological process in rodents that does not occur in humans.

A study of questionable reliability claims a statistical relationship exists between phthalates and asthma, rhinitis and eczema. The study was found to be of poor quality and the conclusions to be based on assumptions unsupported by the evidence. The conclusions disagree with recent experimental evidence showing no immune system response of the kind associated with asthma. Many risk factors associated with asthma such as dust, molds, mildew, and dander were not controlled for and so could not be ruled out.

A study by Shanna Swan claimed that prenatal exposure to phthalates affected the reproductive development of infant boys. However, a review of the study by a leading scientific research firm found that the study researchers used the wrong statistical model to obtain results and the relationship claimed is not biologically plausible. When an explanation of the study methods and a set of the data were requested from Swan, the request was refused. The failure of a scientific study’s author to disclose data for peer review leads to suspicion about its reliability because scrutiny is part of any valid scientific process.

Junk science is often used to create an emotional connection with perceived facts. One way to fight junk science and maintain credibility is to require public disclosure of data.

In our next installment, we’ll look at this statement: “PVC building products create poisonous gasses when they burn.”

Is Roofing Part of Your Energy Management Strategy? Part 1

With the continuing volatility of oil and gas prices, two things have become increasingly important to the owners and managers of buildings of all shapes, sizes and locations: energy management and cool roofing. And yet, the two are seldom discussed as related issues. If you ask a building owner or manager about their energy management strategies, chances are they’ll mention a variety of “high-tech” solutions for improving building automation, systems interoperability, and the energy efficiency of their lighting, office equipment, security systems, and the biggest electricity consumer of all – air conditioning. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that $40 billion is spent annually to air condition commercial buildings, which is one-sixth of all electricity consumed in the United States.

Important as these high-tech solutions are, the enormous energy savings potential from smart “low-tech” roofing decisions are typically regarded as a traditional “building envelope” issue. But smart roofing decisions can reduce annual air conditioning consumption by 10 to 40 percent, depending on location, building design, climate, and other factors. This not only reduces air conditioning loads and utility bills, but can also allow facilities to downsize their air conditioning equipment considerably.

The Cool Roofing Trend

Roofing can contribute to energy efficiency in two ways – proper insulation, and reflective surfaces. Thermal roofing insulation became a major consideration during the oil embargoes of the 1970s. Proper insulation helps keep warm air in during the winter and out during the summer. Insulation needs vary from climate to climate, and most local building codes today mandate minimum roofing R-values – a material’s ability to resist heat flow.

A more recent trend has been the phenomenal growth of “cool roofing” – the use of white or light-colored roof surfaces that reflect solar energy and keep building relatively cooler in summer months. Although the overall market for commercial low-sloped (flat, or nearly flat) roofing has been stagnant in recent years, demand for cool roofing systems has continued to grow strongly. More than just a sensible, long-term, “green” building design solution, cool roofing is considered by many scientists, industry experts, and government officials to be an effective means of addressing critical national energy efficiency and environmental challenges.

In our next installment we will discuss: How Cool Roofing Works.

Faces of Duro-Last: Peter Ouderkirk

Peter Ouderkirk
Peter Ouderkirk - Customer Service Representative

Peter Ouderkirk joined the Duro-Last® Sales Department over nine years ago as a Customer Service Representative (CSR). Peter is responsible for providing customer service to over 2,700 authorized contractors through order entry, ordering assistance, quoting, and helping contractors determine materials needed for their roofing projects. Peter also trains new contractors in how to sell the Duro-Last roofing system through sales programs, ordering, and layout.

Prior to his position in the Sales Department, Peter worked at Plastatech® Engineering, Ltd., as the Lead Operator on the laminator for two years before being promoted to a CSR in 2000.

Peter is committed to helping customers solve their roofing challenges and helping them meet their long-term goals as a company. Because of this strong commitment, he was chosen as Employee of the Month in March 2001.

“I have gained several long-term relationships while in this position, both in the office and the field, that have helped me grow as an individual as well as an employee,” said Peter.

According to Peter, Duro-Last has a strong sense of family and exudes it by believing in its employees and making them their priority to succeed. This is one of the many reasons Peter enjoys working for Duro-Last.

“It has been a privilege to grow with this company, and I look forward to our future together,” concluded Peter. “I am grateful to the Burt family for supporting me through the challenges I have faced over the last 11 years; I am a better person because of it.”