Tile Talk: Roof Replacements

Are There Other Options?

by Richard K. Olson, president & technical director, Tile Roofing Industry Alliance

(Editor’s Note:  Richard K. Olson is president and technical director for the Tile Roofing Industry Alliance.  The association represents industry professionals involved in the manufacturing and installation of concrete and clay tile roofs in the United States and Canada, and works with national, state, and local building officials to develop installation techniques, codes, and standards for better roofing systems.  Olson can be reached at rolson@tileroofing.org.)

Over the last decade, weather pattern changes continue to show increased opportunity of wind and hail in the East and wildfire in the West through catastrophic events.  Roofing design professionals should give consideration for how you might assist in the recovery/repair efforts during the rebuilding process.  When a destructive, weather-related event occurs, in addition to structures that are a total loss, there are many more that have been identified as partially damaged that will need repairs without a total rebuild.  The repair process can be challenging and will most likely require the professional tools for evaluation you can provide to better understand the options.

         For steep-slope roofing, it opens the opportunity to help provide alternatives and options directly to the building owner or insurance underwriter.  Sometimes wildfires in the West create embers that only partially ignite and destroy a small area of the roof.  In the outlining areas of tornados and hurricanes, wind can cause partial blow-offs that create similar areas of repairs.  The pressure to help identify proper repairs that meet code, with a focus on the overall claim cost, is raising the basic question of are there options for less than a full roof replacement for a roof?

         This is a very complicated question, as it will depend upon the roof system and the type of damage that might have been identified.  For steep slope, the questions will be different than for low slope.  We will focus our thoughts for this article on a steep slope.  First and foremost, it will require a trained and licensed professional to properly evaluate the roof condition after these events. 

         What is the damaged area as a percentage of the entire roof?  In some code jurisdiction you will be allow up to 25% of the roof section to be repaired without bringing the full roof up to current code.  It is important to get a proper clarification from the local building department when determining the allowable repair areas for a roof.  This might include a clarification of roof section, or the entire roof.  With today’s architecture styles creating numerous roof planes, being able to look at a roof section will open additional options for a repair. 

         What is the age of the roof?  A roof assembly for steep slope involves more than just a cladding for most systems.  The condition of the deck sheathing, underlayment, flashings, venting, and fasteners should be reviewed.  While the damage of the storm event may be centralized, by inspecting the surrounding areas, you will be able to identify the overall condition of the entire roof.  Placing a new cladding over a deteriorated underlayment or worn-out flashings will only lead to future leak potentials that the building owner may wish to address at this time.  Knowing the age will alert you to the actual code in place when the roof was installed if you are repairing not replacing the entire roof.

         Can we find suitable replacements?  This requires a greater understanding of the products.  For concrete and clay tiles, we need to look at the style and design of the actual tile.  If a replacement from a different manufacturer is being considered, it will need to be able to be installed as designed.  It is always best to consult the tile manufacturer of the actual product for compatibility prior to installing.  Color matches are always a challenge, as new to aged materials will be different.  Color is an aesthetic issue and will not affect the performance of the product, but is important to the owner for curbside appearance.  The final selection of replacement products should be agreed upon between owner and contractor prior to installation. 

         Can a roof cladding be harvested?  For concrete and clay tiles, there is the option of harvesting of tiles.  Prior to harvesting of tiles, there should be a proper evaluation of the roof condition.  If they are worn out, or there are performance issues surrounding flashings, valleys, or weather blocking, the inspection of the harvest area, in addition to the damaged area, needs to include the conditions and recommendations for the building owner to consider for both areas. 

         As supply chain issues continue to challenge the entire building community, there will be the need to consider cost-effective alternatives.  For the design professional you can help bring the inspection and proper roof evaluation tools to the roofing contractors as they develop options and alternatives.  Through these collaborative efforts, we can help reduce the future costs of insurance for all of us. 

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