Weatherproofing for the Long Haul

Maintenance Solutions

As the seasons change from summer to fall, property owners may want to use this opportunity to consider the weatherproofing of their building. One way to prepare for changes in the weather conditions, and for whatever else Mother Nature might throw their way, is to thoroughly inspect the entire building envelope.

Whether it is extreme temperatures, rain, or heavy snow, the whole building, from the foundation to the windows and doors to the roof, should be checked to make sure it is free of holes, sealed properly and ready for winter.

Asphaltic products play a large role in helping property owners weatherproof their building against the elements. While asphalt roofing products are the preferred choice for roofing systems, it is also used in a variety of other applications to waterproof a building.

Because asphalt is highly resistant to moisture, it is a commonly used material for waterproofing a building from the ground up. Applied as a liquid emulsion, asphaltic or bitumen-based systems are used on concrete surfaces in basements and around foundations to form a monolithic membrane to prevent water from seeping in. Other bituminous systems can also be used as a hot- or cold-applied liquid “rubberized asphalt.” What’s more it’s easy to use as it can be applied either by trowel, rolled or sprayed on the surface.

Asphalt based flashing materials are also used to seal openings around doors and window frames under the clap board to serve as a weather-resistant barrier against water, air and moisture penetration. These products are durable, long lasting and require no maintenance, said Brian Impellizeri, product manager for North American residential waterproofing products at WR Grace & Company.

“When the self-adhered flashing tape is transitioned properly with the weather resistant barrier, this forms an effective system to shed water away and prevent moisture related issues such as mold, mildew and rot from around the openings of the door and window,” said Impellizeri.

The flashing tape is available as a peel and stick rubberized asphalt roll, similar to asphalt roofing products but smaller in width sold in 4-, 6-, 9-, and 12-inch rolls. Asphalt applications are easy to use, pliable and can be attached to various surfaces. Its thickness varies by application and is determined by the type of abuse that it might be succumbed to over time, Impellizeri said.

The asphalt membrane material is also used in commercial applications to act as air barriers, limiting the air flow, vapor and water infiltration into and out of the building envelop and improving energy efficiency, he added.

When it comes to roofing products, asphalt shingles are the most common roofing system for a home because it’s readily available, easy to install and requires little maintenance throughout the duration of its life.

These factors makes it economical as well, as asphalt costs significantly less than higher-priced alternatives including tile, wood, cedar, slate and metal, while providing superior performance.

The same applies to low-slope facilities where durability plus low maintenance costs result in enormous savings for the commercial property owner.

Properly installed, an asphalt roof is designed to endure harsh climates and will be extremely resistant to wind tear-off, uplift, moisture damage, and other natural hazards. Some manufacturers also offer algae-resistance asphalt roofing products to guard against airborne spores that can leave ugly black streaks and splotches on your roof.

What’s more, a built-up roofing (BUR) system adds stability by using the redundancy of multiple layers to provide long-term durability, decreasing the amount of fasteners and breaks in the structure making it more wind- and water-resistant than its single ply counterpart. A four-ply BUR provides about 280 mils of waterproofing thickness, whereas other systems typically provide 60 mils of thickness (and sometimes less). The increased mass enables BUR to stand up to the forces of nature. Extra layers also yield insulation qualities not recognized by single layered roofs; increasing a building’s energy efficiency.

For additional protection, self-adhered roofing underlayments beneath the asphalt shingles extend the life of a roof by protecting against leaks caused by ice dams and wind driven rain. Underlayments are also designed for metal roofs and for high temperature applications and used by architects, specifiers, contractors and owners seeking high performance and long-term protection.

Things to watch out for

A home inspector, roof consultant or building inspector can help identify areas of a property that may require attention to help assure it remains leak free as the weather changes. Proper weatherization can help avoid leaks and the expense and disruption that can occur when an owner is forced to make untimely repairs. Foundations, windows, door opening and roof areas all benefit from the waterproofing properties of asphalt products.

For more information about asphalt roofing, please visit www.asphaltroofing.org