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AFTER A NATURAL DISASTER, HIRE SPECIALISTS TO ASSESS POTENTIAL DAMAGE TO COMMERCIAL BUILDINGS

Sep 01, 2011

August 31, 2011

In our experience as a California commercial roofing contractor, we are sometimes asked how different roofing materials react to hurricanes. While we always take this question seriously, our response is frequently the same: it depends on the integrity of the structure and its resistance to damage from a recent and natural disaster.

The recent Hurricane Irene on the East Coast spurred a similar query regarding heavy winds, tropical storms and even hurricanes. The facts are that when weighing the options for water-proofing commercial roofs, sprayed polyurethane foam (SPF) is super durable and is especially resistant to hail and wind driven debris damage. The acrylic coating also protects the foam from UV light damage, but it is the foam that is the final barrier to water damage.

After the 2004 hurricane season, in which four of the major storms hit Florida, most SPF roofs survived undamaged or with minor surface damage and building occupants remained protected by the roof system, according to an industry abstract called Hurricane Performance of Spray Polyurethane Foam Roofing written by Roger V. Morrison with NCFI, a division of Barnhardt Mfg. Co. Inc.

Commercial roofs are not immune to damage from hurricanes, as Hurricane Katrina clearly demonstrated in 2005 when portions of the Louisiana Superdome were ripped away by that storm. However, a post-Katrina study in 2005 by the Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research revealed that significant damage occurred to structures that were downwind of gravel roofs. Of course, the major damage from Katrina was caused by water – but flooding was the issue, not the rain and wind. Structural damage in many commercial buildings happened from storm surge and general flooding, including concrete structures that were not adequately restrained. And yet the after-affect from mold can be even worse for buildings and homes (thousands of them in New Orleans required demolition after Katrina).

Regardless of the nature of a natural disaster, we remind clients that it is always prudent to hire specialists to assess potential damage to their buildings after an ‘event. With closed cell sprayed polyurethane foam (ccSPF) roofs, we look for any cracking that may have occurred and can easily repair light damage because SPF can be applied over many difficult and uneven roof surfaces and most importantly, it can be layered to be leak free while also providing positive drainage. With proper maintenance and regularly scheduled re-coating (every 15 years) there is virtually no limit to the length of time ccSPF roofs will last.

 

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