If you own or manage a commercial building, the time will come when you’ll have to confront problems with the roofing system that’s on your facility. It’s going to come down to choosing between the three R’s: Repair, Re-cover, or Replacement. Which is the best option for you? No two cases are the same, but here are a few considerations:
Repair: If there’s damage from falling or wind-blown debris and it’s small and localized, then a roof repair is typically the best option – especially if the roof membrane is in good condition and hasn’t reached the end of its expected lifespan (typically 15-20 years). A roof repair will probably also be the cheapest choice (unless more extensive damage is discovered) and, if properly applied, will extend the life of the roof. Frequent repairs near the end of the roof’s expected life may indicate that a re-cover or replacement is necessary.
Re-cover. If the roof is showing multiple problem areas (e.g., the roof membrane is thinning or crazing), but the underlying structure (deck, insulation) is mostly sound, then re-covering it with a new single-ply membrane might be the best choice. A re-cover will still be less expensive than a complete roof tear-off and replacement, and provide your building with another 15-20 years of service. Building codes vary with respect to multiple roof layers, but in many cases, a new lightweight single-ply membrane can be installed right over the existing roof. This option will also be less disruptive to ongoing building activities than a complete roof replacement.
Replacement: If roof problems are too extensive to be addressed with a repair or re-cover, then a full roof system replacement is probably in the cards. Some indicators: large areas of insulation may be saturated with water due to leaks; there may be ponding water that doesn’t dissipate readily; there may be significant cracks in the membrane or separation of seams; sections of edge detail or other components may be missing. Any of these issues can seriously compromise the weathertight integrity of your building. The roofing industry rule of thumb is that if 25% of the roof has some sort of damage, roof system replacement is the best option.
All roofs need attention sooner or later. Regardless of your ultimate course of action in dealing with roof issues, make sure you’re working with a roofing contractor who is experienced and qualified to handle your particular situation.