Retrofit possibilities keep growing

By most accounts, the world of retrofit metal roofing is growing. The flat roofing systems on many large buildings are not performing the most important job a roof is commissioned to do — protect the contents of the building from the outside elements. One reason these flat roofs are not up to the task is because they are flat. Moisture from rain and snow can form puddles in low areas, creating problems where there are penetrations or cracks.

The sooner rain and snow are off the roof, the less chance that moisture has at penetrating the roof. A sloped metal roof provides a much better chance of removing rain and snow from the building. Building owners are realizing that and opting for retrofit metal roofing systems. To aid contractors, more and more manufacturers are offering framing systems for contractors to convert flat roofs into sloped metal roofing systems.

Billy Cockrell, who with his wife Vivian owns Sheet Metal Masters of Molina, Fla., has used the Vantage Point retrofit system from Berridge Manufacturing on several projects, including large-scale Florida projects at Eglin Air Force Base and Hurlburt Air Force Base. Cockrell is a big fan of the Vantage Point because Berridge makes it easy for him to work with.

“Everything comes pre-cut to length,” he says, “and all the engineering is done in-house right there at Berridge.”

Engineering may be the most important consideration when adding slope to a roof with a retrofit framing system. Chuck Howard, PE, of Metal Roof Consultants in Cary, N.C., says input from a licensed engineer is required to properly lay out the framing system and whenever you add weight to a structure. An engineer licensed in the state you’re working in will know codes for that area as well. “That’s a place where a lot of people get hung up, licensed engineering,” says Howard, a regular speaker on retrofit roofing at METALCON.

Cockrell has been installing a Vantage Point project at the University of West Florida in Pensacola for more than a year. The metal roofing and fascia will be more than 50,000 square feet upon completion. The original modified roof is being torn off to clear the way for the Vantage Point system. The new metal roofing will cover six connected buildings on campus.

Cockrell says the Florida metal roofing market has been “phenomenal” in large part because of the hurricanes. “I’ve got a metal roof on my home and didn’t sweat it at all when the hurricanes came through, but I’ve got one roof on top of a building four stories up and when you stand on top of it, you’re looking right at the bay. Those hurricanes didn’t blow that puppy off either.”

Ken Gieseke says McElroy Metal introduced its retrofit system in 2005 because the demand for metal in a variety of applications — including retrofit systems — continues to grow. Manufacturers recognize the growth potential for retrofit roofing. “One reason is the recent story of metal,” he says. “It’s an old product that’s getting a lot of recognition for its advantages. There are a lot of entities, schools, government buildings, that are long-term investors in those buildings. The life cycle is better and the life cycle cost is better. There’s less maintenance and it looks better, it provides aesthetic beauty. No matter what kind of building it is, people still want it to look good and metal looks good.”

With its retrofit package, McElroy is working with new customers as well as existing customers who have been purchasing their retrofit systems elsewhere. McElroy Metal has several Roll Former machines to manufacture cee and zee purlins.

Gieseke says the McElroy package offers a 170-page manual. “We want to make it user-friendly,” he says. “We want contractors to feel it’s easy to do. The manual is written in layman’s terms, it’s not overly technical or too complicated.”

Gieseke says McElroy Metal prides itself on having the best training offering in the metal roofing industry and is working on establishing that same kind of training for its retrofit package.

“We’ve been involved in retrofit projects for a number of years, but not with a detailed program like this,” Gieseke said. “The difference now is that we have developed a bona fide program with sales aids, marketing tools, CAD drawings—all the expertise to go to the marketplace and sell retrofit systems. We’ll be able to do most any conventional roof that needs to be replaced, as well as metal roofs that have gone through decades and their useful life is over.”

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