6 Reasons to break up with your vain roof system

The selling points for non-redundant roof systems can read much like a dating website profile; all of the features sound good on the surface, but what about the long-term relationship? What are they conveniently leaving out? And how will they react under stressful conditions?

Features of non-redundant roof systems may include engineered, pre-manufactured, flexible, lightweight, resistant to chemicals, reflective, easy to install and relatively inexpensive. Sounds pretty good, right?


Unfortunately many facility managers learn the hard way how ineffective some systems can be on a commercial roof over time. As a manufacturer/installer who regularly performs emergency service and repairs, here are some observations:

  • High-maintenance – Seams can fail, unlike field fabricated seamless systems, and membranes tend to cure and crack, which translates to more frequent maintenance and repairs.
  • Vulnerable – Some non-redundant systems puncture rather easily, allowing entry for water to wreak havoc. Relying on one ply of thin, engineered membrane sacrifices the security of a redundant system.
  • Misleading – The initial price of materials and installation can be tantalizingly lower than other options, but poor longevity, frequency of service calls and higher cost of re-roofing can actually turn non-redundant systems into a more expensive solution.
  • Weepy – Condensation can be more prevalent, which can damage the deck and fasteners, accelerate mold growth and roof failure, and cause ice formation under the laps in winter.
  • Fragile – Some systems are more susceptible to wind uplift, which can cause attachment failure, as well as accelerated weathering when subjected to extreme heat and UV exposure.
  • Energy vampire – Energy efficiency can be compromised in non-redundant systems, which have shown to lose up to 15 percent of energy through insulation joints and mechanical fasteners alone, which translates to higher utility costs.*

*Eco Structure Magazine