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October 22, 2018

Understanding Weight and Traffic on Your Commercial Roof

It’s important to understand the weight load your roof can accommodate. Excess load on a roof, whether flat or not, can pose an extreme danger to human life and property within your premises.

Flat roofs are great for commercial buildings because they can be used for purposes in addition to keeping things watertight, such as the location of HVAC equipment, but just how much weight can they really handle? Many roofing experts note that most commercial business owners don’t pay adequate attention to how much weight their flat roofs can hold. As a building owner or manager, you should:

rooftop snowUnderstand your roof’s expected structural load. Load is calculated in pounds per square feet and determines how much continual weight is exerted on your roof. Weight could come from foot traffic, type and mass of equipment stored on it, an overburden (e.g., solar or vegetative systems) or the kind of weather you experience. 

Control ponding water. Water weighs about five pounds per inch of depth, per square foot of roof surface. So, one inch of standing water in an area of only 10 feet x 10 feet – 100 total square feet – would add 500 pounds of weight to that area – potentially compromising the structural integrity of the building. The solution here is to ensure proper roof drainage.

Know how much snow your roof can support so that you can clear it before the roof is overwhelmed. Excess snow on a roof during a massive snowstorm could cause it to displace and collapse. Paying a contractor (or your maintenance crew, if available) to clear your roof of snow will be less expensive than rebuilding your facility after a roof collapse. Care should be taken to remove snow with equipment and practices that won’t damage the roof surface. 

Use strong materials for a heavy-foot-traffic roof. Roofing materials have different structural strength capabilities, so it’s important for your roofer to determine the sturdiest material for your roof depending on its expected foot traffic. Single-ply PVC membranes for commercial roofs are common and durable but should be protected from regular foot traffic with compatible walkpads. Your roofing contractor should be able to provide these.

Making sure you have the best roofing services. Use an experienced, professional roofer who will make sure your building structure and roof can work together to support the expected load and traffic.

Article by Royalty /


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