Innovative Option for Ultra-Steep Slope Church in Saratoga, California
by Michael Russo, contributing editor
FromArchitectural WestMar/Apr ’17
In the early 1960s, flat and smooth natural clay tile roofs, used as part of a striking architectural design, were the crowning glory of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church and School in Saratoga, California. However, prior to 2016, the nails securing the tiles were rusting through. Leaks and dry rotting of a six-square section of the church roof had occurred. Blown-off tiles were found around the property, and although an incident was unlikely, the church board worried about sharp pieces of airborne tile causing injury to pedestrians.
It was time to reroof the church and school, but clay tile was considered out of the question. Indeed, the real dilemma facing the board was finding a substitute that matched or exceeded the aesthetics of its original tile. In addition, the offices of the Saratoga city planners and the building department were within walking distance of church property. These public officials expressed a keen interest in the reroofing project to come.
As the winter of 2015-2016 wore on, the church decided the reroofing of its adjoining school needed to be completed during the summer vacation, which was June through August 2016. The private elementary and middle coeducational day school plays an integral part in Saratoga’s educational system, serving 370 students in more than 15 surrounding communities. It is not in St. Andrew’s nature to shirk in its worship, ministries, or academic programs, and the same can be said of its responsibilities toward facilities management.
Falcon Roofing of San Jose, California, had maintained the five buildings that compromise the St. Andrew’s complex. Falcon first responded to a leak over a classroom more than a decade ago. Incredibly, the company warrants its repairs for up to 15 years. It also reroofed the steep-slope portion of a large gymnasium and smaller classroom building about 12 years ago using architectural shingles manufactured by GAF of Parsippany, New Jersey.
When the private bid went out on St. Andrew’s Church and School, it attracted plenty of attention, but Falcon Roofing won the job. St. Andrew’s had a trusted contractor to handle the application, but the nagging question of what exactly was going to be installed remained. Mario Renteria, president of Falcon Roofing, presented the church board with a plethora of options, centered mostly on higher-end, asphalt-based architectural shingles. The board, however, was not excited about these original options.
Not long ago, GAF introduced a dramatic, triple-layer shingle design with an ultra-dimensional look. Dubbed Glenwood® Shingles, the product featured all of the company’s high-tech, shingle enhancements to date. Glenwood® Shingles are also part of the manufacturer’s family of ultra-premium designer shingles. When Renteria returned with a sample, the board was duly impressed with the bold, beautiful shingle. But what really fired them up was the custom color palette. Glenwood Shingles in autumn harvest appeared to duplicate the hue of the weathered clay tile shingles it was destined to replace. The board’s enthusiasm later spread to the congregation. “We had people actually moving around the property, comparing the shingle’s look at different times of day and locations,” says Renteria.
Glenwood Shingles were also among the thickest asphalt products Falcon had ever installed. The aesthetics were a top priority, and the thickness, design, and color of the product set it apart from every other shingle, including slate and tile. The city planners were also pleased that the church chose a shingle that was similar in color to the original clay tiles.
Before making their decision, board members also wanted to meet the manufacturer, and GAF’s area representative, Sean Ryan, obliged. He and Renteria had built a custom mock-up, basically a three-dimensional cutaway illustration, to show the client the interrelationship between each product in the roof system. “Ryan always makes time for us,” observes Renteria. “It’s the same on a large project like this or a single-family home.”
Specification and installation
While the church board found the shingles quite attractive, meeting the three-month installation deadline was its second most-important criterion. Another requirement was that the church, school, and low-slope areas of the gym all be worked on at the same time. The height and dizzying 14:12 pitch of the church roof required scaffolding, safety harnesses, a boom lift, and a telescoping forklift to load materials onto the roof.
GAF takes a systems approach to all of its roofing products, so Deck-Armor™ Roof Deck Protection and WeatherBlocker™ Premium Eave/Rake Starter Strip Shingles, at the eaves, were part of the package. Glenwood Shingles were also installed in a unique four-course offset pattern. “The crews seemed to like following the pattern, and the alignment notches definitely helped with installation,” says Renteria.
The manufacturer typically requires Ridglass® Ridge Cap Shingles, but St. Andrew’s wanted to stick with the original copper for peaks and ridgelines. Falcon reused the existing copper trim on the project. As mentioned previously, Falcon discovered extensive dry rot on a six-square section of the church’s plywood decking. It was impossible to find the original 4’x8’ tongue-and-groove, so Renteria custom-formed that section of the deck. Although the clock was ticking, the contractor knew the extra time and labor required for this task was of paramount importance. Distributor Roofline Supply & Delivery of San Jose also helped Falcon meet the tight schedule on the school roof by offering to deliver materials a truckload at a time to match the company’s installation progress.
The low-slope portions of the gymnasium were reroofed with 55 squares of white 60 mil GAF EverGuard® TPO single-ply membrane mechanically attached to the plywood deck. For an experienced, full-service contractor like Falcon, the TPO flashings and terminations on parapet walls or around multiple HVAC units were relatively straightforward and proved to be the easiest portion of the project. The company also roll-formed 2’ deep, custom-made gutters and downspouts wherever needed to match the original materials on the project.
The worship doesn’t stop here
While the project plans placed a variety of demands on the contractor, Falcon’s primary goal on every project is ensuring the safety of its employees and pedestrians. However, St. Andrew’s was not about to cancel its worship services, so no work was performed by Falcon on Sundays. This required that veteran project manager Amado Alvarez, who designed and installed a maze of fencing, scaffolding, and overhead cover around the church, create an opening and additional fencing on Saturday evenings to guide the congregation safely into the church on Sunday. Designated entryways for St. Andrew’s personnel were also available every day of the week to allow access to the various buildings in the complex.
“With every project, especially one as large as St. Andrew’s, a preparation meeting with the client precedes the start of the project,” says Renteria. Falcon Roofing also conducted meetings to address the daily operations and challenges that such a project would bring to crew members and customers. For this reason, Renteria himself became a familiar figure on the jobsite.
When asked what other issues developed during the project, Renteria turned the question upside down. “Instead of issues, I’d like to mention the many positives that have come from this project,” he said. “We’ve gotten many leads and referrals from our work and the GAF products we used, and the overall outcome was a pleasant one for all involved.”