Warehouse Roofing:

Maintenance Tips for Longevity

Maintaining the integrity of a warehouse roof is essential to safeguard owners’ assets, maintain positive tenant relations, ensure uninterrupted business operations, and preserve a facility’s appearance. 

Indeed, a well-maintained warehouse roof is the first line of defense against the elements, protecting inventory, equipment, and valuable resources from water damage, structural deterioration, and environmental threats.

When companies make warehouse roofing maintenance a low priority, the risk of damaged assets (including a building’s structure and tenant inventory), operational disruptions, and costly business downtime can run into millions of dollars.

Most modern roofing systems’ technology and material strength ensure longevity and dependability. Routine maintenance and inspections, looking for faulty drainage or loose fasteners, contribute to a system’s overall performance. No matter the size of the threat, attention to maintenance can result in premature system failure.

The Bigham Taylor Roofing team collectively boasts hundreds of years of roofing and waterproofing experience. We’ve worked on warehouses, commercial and industrial buildings, multi-unit residential facilities, and distribution centers across Northern and Central California. 

Our history as warehouse roofing specialists helps us lead the way when it comes to preventative maintenance, and we are experts in prolonging the life of a building’s roof to avoid costly and sometimes catastrophic events. 

In this article, we look at several helpful warehouse roofing maintenance tips tailored to various types of roofing systems and the specific needs of your existing roofing structure. Whether your roofing system is flat, sloped, or made of different materials, these tips will help you maximize the lifespan of your warehouse roofing while minimizing the risk of costly repairs or replacements down the line.

 

Common Types of Warehouse Roofing

There are many different types of warehouse roofing, each designed to meet specific operational requirements. The choice of warehouse roofing types is pivotal in protecting assets and ensuring your business operations run smoothly.

Here are some of the most common types of warehouse roofing, their individual characteristics, advantages, and ideal applications.

 

Built-Up Roofing (BUR)

Built-up roofing — called a tar and gravel roof when gravel is the surfacing product — is a time-tested and durable system commonly used in warehouse roofing. A BUR system gets its name from these components’ repeated layering (“building up”).

The BUR roofing method involves the application of alternating layers of hot-applied asphalt and reinforcing fabric, typically felt or fiberglass, creating a robust and waterproof membrane.  A protective layer, either gravel, a mineral-surfaced cap sheet, or a fluid-applied coating, is applied to provide an extra shield against environmental elements.

Often, a BUR roofing system lasts 20 years or more when well-maintained. There are many other benefits to this system. Its multi-layered structure creates redundancies, making it highly resistant to water penetration, and helps eliminate applicator errors during installation. BUR boasts excellent fire resistance and durability against foot traffic and other mechanical stresses when paired with additional system products. 

The team at Bigham Taylor Roofing has extensive experience working with BUR roofing.  We have installed millions of square feet of hot asphalt built-roof systems on warehouses.  

 

Metal Roofing

Another leading choice for warehouse roofing is a metal roofing system that’s composed of galvanized steel, aluminum, or other metal sheets. Frequently, metal roofing sheets serve as a roof deck and system, which can lower installation costs. 

Aluminum sheets can provide exceptional corrosion resistance in harsh weather environments. Plus, many metal roofing sheets offer a level of fire resistance and energy efficiency. 

While a popular warehouse roofing solution, metal roofs do have disadvantages. Fastener gasket systems that adhere roofing sheets to the deck can fail when they wear out over time. When used in low-slope applications, metal systems can be problematic when the seam gasket system deteriorates over time. 

On a more practical level, it’s a challenge to correctly integrate equipment on metal roofs and maintain a watertight condition, and edge flashings and panels can be susceptible to wind uplift damage if not correctly installed. 

Inspecting and maintaining a metal roof as you would any other roofing system is essential to maintain system integrity. Metal roof restoration is possible with a liquid-applied coating system or a single-ply retrofit when necessary. 

One of the most significant projects in BT’s history came when we tacked a metal roof retrofit using a single-ply system. The existing system on an 800,000-square-foot warehouse north of Reno was failing because of blow-offs and leaks due to the weather and high winds in the area. 

Our team researched a handful of solutions and consulted with many manufacturers, concluding that a Carlisle TPO single-ply system consisting of expanded Polystyrene (EPS) flute fill insulation, High-Density Polyisocyanurate (HD ISO) insulation cover board, and .60 mil. light gray TPO membrane installed with Retro-Driller metal truss fasteners at an increased fastening pattern rate of six inches on center would solve the building’s issues. As an added benefit, the manufacturer offered a 20-year warranty on the roof. Read the case study here.

 

Single-ply

Single-ply roofing is a roofing system that utilizes membranes made from rubber or synthetic materials. These membranes can be applied in various ways, including ballasted, mechanically fastened, or chemically adhered to insulation, providing a protective layer for warehouse roofs.

The main subtypes of single-ply roofing are Thermoplastic Olefin (TPO), Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM), and Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC).

Due to its lightweight nature, single-ply roofing systems can be applied directly over existing systems, reducing labor costs and environmental waste. Many systems feature highly reflective colors reflecting sunlight to maintain lower interior temperatures and reduce cooling costs while offering excellent UV resistance and enhanced energy efficiency.

Certain challenges and disadvantages come with single-ply roofing, however. For instance, a minimum-thickness membrane will lose mass over time at a greater rate and not last as long as expected due to the lack of membrane thickness over the reinforcing scrim in areas with high UV loads. 

Further, premature loss of membrane thickness and system failure can occur in certain areas when standing water is next to a highly reflective vertical surface. The refraction of UV rays from the vertical surface onto standing water adds a UV load on the membrane.

Researching the levels of UV resistance is essential because not all single-ply systems are equal. 

 

“Did you know that the single-ply roof system is a pivotal component in Energy Code compliance for industrial warehouses and commercial structures? Building codes require energy efficiency standards and mandate specific requirements for reducing energy consumption. Single-ply roofing, particularly reflective materials like TPO (Thermoplastic Olefin), effectively reflects solar heat, contributing to a more energy-efficient building. By regulating interior temperatures, single-ply roofing assists in meeting  Energy Code requirements, reducing energy consumption, and ultimately helping warehouse owners achieve compliance while simultaneously cutting operational costs.

Warehouse Roof Maintenance Tips

There are many important tips for ensuring the longevity and effectiveness of your warehouse roof, no matter the type of system installed. 

Also, some systems require different types of maintenance requirements. Some of the most important aspects of maintaining a Built-up roof system, for example, include

  • Debris and drain cleaning
  • Sealing flashings
  • Sealing cast iron drains, scupper drains, and overflow drains
  • Sealing curb corners
  • Ensuring wall top details are secured and sealed properly
  • Installing reflective coatings on all exposed roof cement

 

Here are some other important warehouse roof maintenance tips:

Regular Inspections

Regular inspections are essential to maintain warehouse roofs effectively. By conducting professional checks at least twice a year, you can identify and address potential issues before they become costly. Post-storm inspections are equally vital, especially after extreme weather events. These inspections help identify damages like leaks, loose materials,  ponding water, and compromised drainage systems so you can call for timely repairs to lengthen the life of your roof. 

Roofing preventative maintenance is one of the most important ways to protect your building’s most valuable asset. Bigham Taylor crews are experts at investigating potential threats to your roof’s integrity and maintaining its condition. 

Cleaning and Debris Removal

Regular roof and gutter cleaning is essential to ensure proper drainage, which prevents water damage and leaks. Maintenance crews should also clean the roof’s surface of debris, such as leaves, twigs, and any other debris that may affect drainage or proper system function.

When left to build up, this debris can prevent the proper water flow off the building.  This condition can prematurely deteriorate the roof system and also affect the structural integrity of the building.  Substructure failure can occur when excessive water cannot drain off the roof due to blocked or improperly functioning drainage systems. These cleaning and debris removal tasks can help warehouse owners preserve their roofs’ waterproofing and structural integrity and safeguard the valuable contents in a warehouse.

Leak Identification and Repair

Identifying and repairing roof leaks as soon as possible is essential to minimize or eliminate the risk of damage to your building. Schedule regular interior building inspections to look for water stains or mold on the ceiling and walls, which may indicate roof leaks. Once detected, swift and appropriate action is vital to avoid further structural damage and potential inventory loss.

Bigham Taylor’s Service Department is available 24/7, answering requests for roof repairs and inspections and dispatching service teams for emergency leaks to protect your building’s interior. Building owners and managers rely on us to respond promptly to service requests for leak detection and repairs and to deliver professional communication and excellent service.  

We provide inspection reports with photos documenting each emergency leak repair and roof maintenance visit.  Our online Client Portal allows 24/7 reporting of emergency leaks and maintenance requests, total visibility into dispatch status, and building maintenance and repair history.  

Roof Restoration Systems 

Another important aspect of warehouse roofing care is determining when and if a roof restoration system is appropriate to extend a roof’s service life.

Roof restoration systems and material maintenance can extend the lifespan of your roofing system. For instance, adding UV-resistant coatings in regions with intense sunlight adds durability. A system’s protective qualities can be reinforced by re-coating with waterproof coatings at regular intervals. Proactive material maintenance protects your warehouse’s assets and ensures the long-term performance of your roofing system, reducing the risk of costly repairs.

Bigham Taylor is an industry leader in commercial and industrial roof restoration systems and coatings. Restoration and coating systems are installed over existing roofs to prolong the life of a roofing system.

We monitor a roof’s condition as part of our regular preventive maintenance services and discuss with building owners and managers when it is practical to extend the life of an existing roof by installing an appropriate restoration or coating system.

Our experience shows that the existing roof must have enough structural integrity to make it a good candidate for a roof restoration or coating system. Often, a roof older than 15 years old is not a good candidate for restoration and coatings. Properly evaluating the warehouse roofing system is an essential first step when determining if a restoration or coating system is viable. 

Drainage System

Roofs that function at the peak of their capacity require correctly maintained and fully functioning drainage systems. The best way to ensure the drainage system works properly is through annual or bi-annual inspections, regular preventative maintenance, and cleaning.

A failing drainage system may result in ponding water on the roof surface that can cause serious structural damage and leaks, weakening a roofing system’s integrity over time. If you are struggling with water problems, consider upgrading the drainage system to ensure efficient water flow and prevent water accumulation.

If you need help, our team will help determine an effective, efficient, and economical plan for your building’s roof

Structural Checks

Maintaining your roofing system’s structural integrity and safety requires regular structural checks. During these checks, we inspect supports and joists, ensuring they are free from signs of wear and tear. We recommend calling a structural engineer if any issues are identified and address them promptly.

It’s also important to ensure you adhere to specified load limits to avoid exceeding the maximum weight load your roof can safely bear, including any additional weight from HVAC systems or other mechanical installations.

If you need assistance with your roofing system’s structural integrity and safety, our team can help. We understand what it takes structurally to support existing or new roofing systems, along with various roof drainage, waterproofing, and venting systems.

The Masters of Preventative Maintenance for Your Roofing System

At Bigham Taylor Roofing, roofing maintenance is what we do and what we do well!

From commercial buildings to industrial buildings and everything in between, our goal is to maximize the lifespan of your existing roof structure by finding and fixing minor things before they become major things. We deliver detailed reports with photographs that include our findings, recommendations, and plans for the next steps.

Our Preventative Maintenance Services include:

  • Inspections
  • Debris Removal
  • Drain Clearing
  • Cleaning
  • Basic Repairs
  • Perimeter Evaluations
  • Sealant Inspections
  • Testing

The first thing we build is relationships. The longevity, growth, and success of Bigham Taylor Roofing over the past 45-plus years are thanks to our relationships with property owners and managers, roofing consultants, and general contractors. We deliver transparency and honesty to foster solid and long-lasting relationships.

 

How Can We Help? Let’s talk about your building and needs, and let the team at BT deliver roofing solutions you can rely on.