Fall maintenance for metal roofs

Yes, it is still summer, but it is not too early to start thinking about fall maintenance.  The sooner you contact your network of building owners, the sooner you’ll be able to schedule and get paid for performing maintenance this fall. MBCI's Stormproof Panel

But let’s take a step back. Why don’t you have a maintenance agreement in place for every roof you’ve installed?  Think “car dealer” for a minute.  When you buy a brand new car at a dealership, you’re basically expected to get it serviced there for the life of the car, or at least while the warranty is in effect.  Car dealers have the knowledge and expertise, and car owners rely on that expertise.  It’s the same idea for metal panel roofs.  As the installer (and perhaps designer) of a complex, highly engineered metal panel roof system, you are uniquely qualified with the knowledge and experience to provide semi-annual maintenance and inspection.

The roofing industry continues to extol the virtues of semi-annual maintenance.  Even though roofs don’t have moving parts (like an elevator or an AC unit), a roof moves because it expands and contracts with temperature changes.  This movement puts stresses on all seams and joints.  High winds induce significant stresses at seams and fasteners, too.  Debris can collect on the rooftop and in gutters.  Fasteners and seams can become loose or damaged.  Regular maintenance can correct these minor issues before they become major issues.  Regular maintenance can also find potential warranty issues, such as a paint or coating issue.

Because fall is around the corner, it’s time to start contacting your network of building owners to set up a service contract.  Some companies may take a couple months to approve a service agreement, so an early start matters.  A service agreement should define the parties involved, the services included, and the fees.  Fees can be based on the square footage of the rooftop, and perhaps can include travel time and mileage expenses.  Service agreements can be a one-time contract, or, preferably, a multi-year contract, with annual increases included.  To help sell a service agreement, let your clients know that most, if not all, manufacturers’ roof warranties require annual maintenance.  If you don’t have a service agreement form for your company, many examples of “roof system service contract” can be found with a Google search.

There may not always be opportunities to install new metal roofs, but there will always be opportunities to service existing metal roofs—twice a year for every metal roof.

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Best applications for water barrier standing seam metal roof panels

We discussed water shedding standing seam metal roofs in my last post, and the fact that despite their water shedding properties, you still really must guard against water infiltration. Today I’ll discuss water barrier roof systems, which are structural SSRSs. These panels can withstand temporary water immersion over the panel seams and end laps. They normally have factory applied mastic in the seams to insure weather integrity. End laps, when needed, are installed using high quality tape and/or bead sealant supplied by the manufacturer. The trim designs used with these systems are much more water resistant as well.Water barrier SSR

The advantage these water barrier SSRS systems offer:

  • They require no deck. This is a tremendous savings on the in-place roof cost.
  • Many systems can be installed on roof slopes as low as ¼:12. This allows greater design flexibility and can also save on the in-place roof cost.
  • Because they are the only thing between the interior of a building and the weather, these are the most tested metal roof systems available. Manufacturers spend a lot of time and money testing these systems for air and water intrusion, dead load, wind uplift and fire.

Water barrier SSRSs can be further divided by seam type—trapezoidal or vertical rib.

Trapezoidal systems usually have a rib height of 3 inches. The most common panel width is 24 inches, although some manufacturers offer them in other widths as well. Trapezoidal systems are traditionally thought of as commercial or industrial standing seam systems. They are used on warehouses, factories and buildings where the roof is not meant to be seen from the ground. However, some designers have taken these systems and incorporated them into architectural applications with stunning results.

But be careful. Trapezoidal rib systems are much harder to seal at hips and valleys than vertical rib systems. The outside closures at the hip must be cut on a compound bevel with a trapezoidal system. At a valley, the panels are harder to seal because they require an inside closure; the vertical rib panels do not.

Vertical rib systems have traditionally been thought of as non-structural. However, there are now many vertical rib systems available that can span purlins or joists. These systems are available in a wide variety of panel widths, ranging from as little as 10 inches to as much as 18 inches wide. Rib heights vary from 1 foot to 3 feet.

Vertical rib systems are usually easier to install than the trapezoidals. There are fewer parts to the typical vertical seam system, which makes for a simpler, quicker installation. Because there are no inside closures, valleys are much easier to seal and quicker to install. Hips are easier to seal because the outside closures can be cut quickly and simply from a stock length of zee closure.

For these reasons, the vertical rib systems are often a better choice for applications on high-end architectural roofs. Ask just about any metal roof installer, and he will tell you that he prefers the vertical rib system over the trapezoidal system in this application.

Bottom line, when selecting a roof system, choose function first, then aesthetics.  When you use the wrong roof system for a given function, the installation process becomes complicated, and results less than ideal. With so many great metal roof options, don’t make life more complicated and uncertain than it need be.

And to make things simple, safe and sound, choose from MBCI’s array of metal roofing system products. Find out more.

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All those sustainability acronyms mean something, right?

PCR, LCA, EPDBy now I’m sure you’ve heard about PCRs, LCAs, and EPDs.  Simply put, a PCR is a set of product category rules; an LCA is a life cycle analysis; and an EPD is an environmental product disclosure.  But what do they mean and what’s the purpose of it all?  In the broadest sense, these are mechanisms used for the sustainability movement.  The most granular is the EPD, which is a product-based discussion (i.e., disclosure) of the environmental effects caused by a specific product or product type.   Architects and building designers use EPDs to compare products in order to select the most environmentally friendly products to be used in environmentally friendly buildings.

Developing an EPD can only happen after the creation of a set of product category rules (PCR).  A PCR sets the rules for creating LCAs and EPDs.  An example of a PCR is “Product Category Rules for Preparing an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) for Product Group: Insulated Metal Panels & Metal Composite Panels, and Metal Cladding: Roof and Wall Panels,” which was developed by UL through the efforts of the Metal Construction Association (MCA).

Only after a PCR is developed can a verifiable LCA or EPD be developed.  An LCA and EPD are similar but different.  An LCA uses industry-average data, and an EPD is specific to a product or product type.  For example, “LCA of Metal Construction Association Production Processes, Metal Roof and Wall Panel Products” provides industry-average information about the environmental aspects of three key products: steel insulated metal panels, aluminum metal composite material panels, and steel roll-formed claddings.  This LCA is based on 24-gauge material.

EPDs are typically more product specific.  (An EPD is typically based on an LCA, so most often LCAs are developed prior to EPDs.)  For example, the EPD titled “Roll Formed Steel Panels For Roof and Walls” provides similar environmental data as an LCA, but includes information about 29-, 26-, 24-, 22-, 20- and 18-gauge materials.  This provides additional product specific information that can be used by designers when an industry average is not adequate.  And importantly, more LEED points are garnered from a product-specific EPD than an LCA because of the specificity.  LEED is certainly a driver of this!

LCAs and EPDs used in the roof industry are often focused on cradle-to-gate analysis, and exclude the use phase and end-of-life phase.  Ideally, an LCA or EPD should include the use and end-of-life phases so architects and designers have a complete cradle-to-grave analysis.  Without the use phase, designers are allowed to freely select the service life of a metal roofing product, for better or worse, without industry guidance.  And, the advantages gained through metal recycling at the end of life are also omitted from MCA’s LCA.

It’s all about standardized disclosure of environmentally based product data.

Learn more about MBCI’s LCA, EPDs and other sustainability efforts, here.

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Best applications for water shedding standing seam metal roof panels

A standing seam roof system, or SSRS, has exposed fasteners only at the eave and at specially designed end laps. The concealed clips installed at the panel seam typically allow the panel to float during thermal movement. These systems are normally manufactured in 24 gauge, though 22 gauge is often used.

People tend to classify SSRS as either structural or architectural, but those two distinctions aren’t absolute. There are many architectural SSRS that are structural systems, and most structural SSRS can be used in an architectural application. I think the better distinction is that SSRS are either water shedding or water barrier systems.

Water Shedding SSRSs

Water shedding panel systems are architectural SSRS, meaning they rely on gravity to shed water from the roof before it can build up on the metal panels. The steeper the roof slope, the faster the water will run off. However, in certain instances, these roofs still may allow water to infiltrate.

The following precautions can be taken to avoid this:

  1. Water shedding panel systems must be installed on a minimum roof pitch of 3:12 or greater. Panel manufacturers typically advertise the minimum recommended slope for each of their products.
  1. They must be installed over a solid deck, since they are not structural panels.
  1. The deck must be covered with a moisture barrier or membrane. This is critical as the moisture barrier is the last line of defense once water gets under the metal roof panels. The industry standard for years has been #30 felt. I think this should be considered the absolute minimum.

    A better, though more expensive solution is to use a peel and stick membrane. These are much more tear resistant and they will self-seal to nails and screws. Check with the membrane manufacturer about ventilation requirements as these membranes can trap moisture in the attic space if it is not well ventilated.

  1. Keep the design simple. Because these roofs only shed water, intricate trim details are usually not as watertight as those used with water barrier systems. Valleys, hips and other architectural effects can certainly be utilized, but with them comes a much greater chance for water intrusion.

Next post, I’ll get into the applications for water barrier standing seam roof systems

A standing seam metal roof system from MBCI is one of the most durable and weathertight roof systems available in the industry. So when your design requires a roofing system that is both aesthetically pleasing and structurally sound, choose one of MBCI’s six standing seam metal roof systems. Read more.

 

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Choosing the right metal roof system for the job

It should be no surprise that I’m a strong advocate of the outstanding benefits of metal roofing. It is extremely, durable, low maintenance, energy efficient, recyclable –yes, I could go on and on. And it’s not just functional; it’s attractive. Its versatility is a designers dream when it comes to achieving today’s architectural elements—hips, valleys, slope changes, transitions and dormers are all possible.MBCI's 7.2 Panel

But as great as these roofs are, care must be taken to select the right type of metal roof system for the job at hand. In fact, the designer must specify a roof panel that can be used in each of the design elements he or she intends to incorporate into the roof project. Design, coupled with the choice of roof slopes, trim details and how the panel is to be fastened to the substructure are deciding factors in choosing the proper roof. When the roof system chosen isn’t the right one for the job, the result can be a roof that leaks and doesn’t function as designed.

Though most metal roofing manufacturers are able and willing to discuss the application parameters for each of their products, it would be wise to arm yourself with at least a general idea about the parameters of some of the most common profiles. To arm you as simply as possible, I’ll separate metal roofing into two broad categories—through fastened and standing seam.

Through-Fastened Roof Systems

Exposed, or through-fastened panels, are available in a variety of widths, usually from two to three feet wide. They also come in various rib shapes, heights and spacings. Typical gauges are 29 and 26, but they also come in 24 and 22 gauge.

There are structural and non-structural through-fastened panels. Structural panels are capable of spanning across purlins or other secondary framing members such as joists or beams. Non-structural panels must be installed over a solid deck.

Through-fastened roofs generally have two great advantages: (1) they are relatively inexpensive and (2) they are simple to install. Structural though-fastened panels have the additional advantage of providing a diaphragm, which is important in the wind bracing of metal buildings.

But most through-fastened roofs also have two big disadvantages: (1) they can leak if not fully seated to the panel or if the purlin is missed, and (2) they do not allow the roof to float during thermal movement. This can cause the roof panel to tear around the fasteners, causing leaks and possible roof blow off.

For this reason, through-fastened roofs are best suited to small- and medium-sized metal buildings and residential applications. In both instances, the panel runs are limited to shorter lengths where thermal movement is typically not a problem.

I’ll discuss the best uses for standing seal metal roofing systems in detail in my next two posts.

To support our customers’ design flexibility, MBCI offers 11 different metal roofing panels with exposed fasteners, each with its own unique profile. Most of these roof panels can also be used in wall applications and designed for both vertical and horizontal installation. Read more.

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Details, details, details

Water runs downhill.  And, gravity is our friend.  Yet sometimes we forget these basic concepts when installing metal panel roofing details.  When it comes to metal roofing details, a contractor should always think about the flow of water.  Roofing contractors are in the business of controlling water, so let’s install details that allow water to run downhill and let’s use gravity to our advantage.  A more precise way to say it: Implement drainage details that don’t buck water!

Details, details, detailsMetal roof penetration and edge details should not rely on sealant as the primary defense against water leaks.  Certainly, sealant is and should be used as a secondary measure against water leaks.  Consider this: A transverse panel seam is created by lapping the upper panel over the lower panel, and sealant is used as a secondary seal.  Installers would never reverse the lap of a transverse seam (where the lower panel is on top of the upper panel), bucking water and relying only on sealant to keep water out.  A penetration detail (e.g., a vent stack or roof curb) should use the same logic.  There’s no doubt that bad details are rooted in low cost and speed of installation, but those are not details that are going to have equal service life to the metal panels on a roof.  A penetration detail is as critical to the long-term success of a metal roof as a transverse seam.

It’s best to use prefabricated penetration details that have welded or soldered weathertight seams.  The prefabricated piece should be the width of a panel and include the male and female seams, and be seamed into the adjacent panels.  And just like a typical transverse seam, the top edge of the prefabricated piece should be under the upper panel, and the bottom edge of the prefabricated piece should be above the lower panel.  Water is not bucked and seams are fully intact.  That is a long-term penetration detail.

Where proper overlap can’t happen, redundancy is necessary.  A small pipe penetration detail should use a rubber roof jack with added levels of redundancy for weatherproofing.  First, the roof jack should only be installed in the flat of the panel; sealant tape should be installed between the panel and the roof jack; and closely spaced, gasketed fasteners should be installed to create compression on the sealant.

Metal roofs sell themselves because metal is long-lasting.  And construction details need to be developed and installed with that in mind.  Metal panels don’t leak—the joinery and fastener locations can leak.  Remember to design and build details that have equivalent service life to the panels themselves.  Proper laps are critical, and remember, gravity is our friend.

To learn how to design a roof system that prevents possible infiltration and allows for proper water runoff, take MBCI’s AIA-accredited course, The Devil is in the Details.

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Code requirements for cool roofs with Climate Zone specifics

There is still a lot of discussion—some agreeable and some not so agreeable—about the necessary color of our rooftops.  One side of the discussion revolves around keeping the surfaces of our built environment “cool,” so there’s a movement to make all rooftops “cool” by making them white, or at least light-colored.  Those on the other side of the discussion claim that cool roofs are necessary to reduce a building’s energy use.  Cool roofs can be a really good idea, but let’s not mix up the reasons why cool roofs matter—are we cooling the urban areas (that is, reducing urban heat islands), or are we saving energy costs for individual buildings? Cool Roofs

The average building height in the United States is less than two stories, but “white roofs” are mostly desired in dense, urban areas…and how many buildings here are less than two stories?  Tall buildings are typically found in dense, urban areas, with shorter buildings dominating the fringe urban areas.  In the suburbs and rural areas, one- and two-story buildings are more the norm.  So we have a mix of building heights in the United States, but the conflict is that the “cool roof” focus is often where the tallest buildings exist.

And unfortunately, a cool roof on a 20-story building isn’t going to reduce its energy use, especially if the code-required amount of insulation exists on that roof.  Rather, reducing energy use of a 20-story building hinges on the energy efficiency of the 20-story-tall walls—R-value of walls, percentage of windows, and solar blocking eaves, just to name a few items.  Conversely, the energy efficiency of a one-story big-box store comes down to its roof.  And for these buildings, roof color definitely can make a difference.  However, our building codes don’t differentiate based on building proportions, but only on geographic location—and that’s problematic.  But as designers, we can improve on the code requirements.

The 2015 International Energy Conservation Code provides specific information about cool roofs, which are required to be installed in Climate Zones 1, 2, and 3 on low-slope roofs (<2:12) directly above cooled conditioned spaces.  There are two ways to prescriptively comply with this requirement: use roofs that have a 3-year-aged solar reflectance of 0.55 and a 3-year-aged emittance of 0.75.   Notice that initial (i.e., new) reflectance and emittance are not specified; long-term values are more important.  The second method to comply is to have a 3-year aged solar reflectance index (SRI) of 64.  SRI is a calculated value based on reflectivity and emittance.  It’s important to understand why a cool roof is desired and to make appropriate design decisions.

To locate metal roof products that meet the IECC requirements, go to http://coolroofs.org/products/results and use the search function to narrow your results.

Learn more about MBCI’s cool roofs, or view our finishes’ SRI ratings on our color charts.

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The right team holds your standing seam roof system together – Part 2

Blackridge Elementary features LokSeam

Blackridge Elementary features LokSeam

In my previous post, I talked about the important process of selecting the right materials and appurtenances for your standing seam roof system and how they should be used together for the best result.  There are three more parts of the standing seam roof system that, if used, must be carefully specified.

Pipe Penetrations.  Plumbing vents, heater flues, exhaust fans and pipe supports for equipment racks are all typical penetrations seen on metal roofs. Always specify rubber roof jacks for these penetrations, and use high temperature silicone rubber roof jacks on pipes that will be hot. Do not allow the use of residential type roof jacks, such as those made of plastic or lead, or the EPDM roof jacks made for single ply roofs.

Use pipe instead of square tubing to penetrate the roof when designing an equipment rack for rooftop equipment. Otherwise, there will be no good way to seal it to the roof. Pipe penetrations should always penetrate the roof in the middle, or flat part, of the panel, not through the seam itself. Ignore this advice, and you’ll probably have a roof leak on your hands.

Large diameter pipes may restrict the drainage of water. A good rule of thumb is to insure that the base of the roof jack fits completely in the pan of the roof panel. If it will not fit, install a stack flashing in the roof at the proper location and attach the roof jack in the stack flashing. Stack flashings install into a roof just like a roof curb, but they are flat in the middle and don’t have the opening a curb does. This provides a large flat area in which to install the roof jack with room for water drainage.

Crickets. The roof design may at times require a cricket be installed to divert water around a parapet wall. And if the specifications or architectural drawings are not clear as to the proper treatment of this area, the roofer will make the cricket out of sheet metal.  However, crickets should always be made out of welded aluminum or stainless steel. This allows you to have a cricket that fits and leaves no pinholes or laps that are sealed with caulk. Sunlight will eventually break down exposed caulk and may cause a leak. But when properly built and installed, a welded cricket will perform throughout the lifetime of the roof.

Snow Retention Devices. When these devices are required on a standing seam roof, never use a through-fastened device. When through-fastened devices are used, they are either installed into the secondary structural, which prevents the roof from floating, or they are installed into the roof panels only, which makes for a very weak connection that will eventually work loose, leaving holes in the roof.

The best snow retention devices utilize a clamp that locks onto the panel seam and does not perforate the roof membrane.

Keep in mind that if snow conditions are severe enough to warrant retention devices at the eave, you will also need to protect pipe penetrations as well. Many unprotected plumbing vents are broken at the roof surface from moving ice and snow.

Remember, the roof system is called a system for a reason. For a successful roof installation, all rooftop accessories should be considered. Well defined specifications and details should be provided and adhered to so everyone involved in the project knows what is expected and can bid the project accordingly.

The roof installation process will be more efficient, leak problems will be avoided and the “final inspection” will be painless. Who doesn’t want that? The end result will be a total roof system that looks good and performs well for decades to come.

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Reroofing and the Building Code

Reroofing is and always will be the predominant project type in the roofing industry.  Roughly 70-90% of all roofing projects (depending on the year) are performed on existing buildings.  Understanding the reroofing requirements in the building code is critical to proper design and construction.  And fortunately, the reroofing requirements are not all that complicated.International Building Code

The 2015 International Building Code, Section 1511, Reroofing provides the building code requirements when reroofing.  Reroofing projects are divided into two types: recovering and replacement (which includes full removal of the existing roof).

Metal panel reroofing projects must meet the same fire, wind, and impact requirements for roof systems for new construction; however, they do not need to meet the minimum slope requirements (¼:12 for standing seam; ½:12 for lapped, nonsoldered and sealed seams; 3:12 for lapped, nonsoldered, non-sealed seams) if there is positive drainage.  Also, reroofing projects do not need to meet the secondary drainage requirements (i.e., installation of emergency overflow systems is not required).

The requirements for metal panel and metal shingle roof coverings are in Section 1507.4, Metal roof panels and Section 1507.5, Metal roof shingles of the 2015 IBC.  These apply for new construction and reroofing, and include information about decks, deck slope, materials, attachment, underlayment and high wind, ice barriers, and flashing.  The 2012 IBC has the same requirements; the 2015 IBC added new language about deck slope and attachment requirements for metal roof panels.  Nothing was changed for metal roof shingles.

In general, recovering is only allowed if there is one existing roof in place, except if a recover metal panel roof system transmits loads directly to the structural system (bypassing the existing roof system).  This provides a great advantage for metal panel roofs!  The existing roofs do not need to be removed, but new supports need to be attached through the existing roof (typically a metal panel roof) directly into existing purlins.

If metal panels or metal shingles are installed over a wood shake roof, creating a combustible concealed space, a layer of gypsum, mineral fiber, glass fiber, or other approved material is required to be installed between the wood roof and the recover metal roof system.

Good roofing practice is codified in the reroofing section of the IBC; contractors who design and install a recover or replacement metal roof are legally required to follow locally adopted code requirements.  And, of course, all metal roofs must be installed according to the manufacturer’s approved instructions.

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The right team holds your standing seam roof system together – Part 1

The architect, roof manufacturer and roof construction installer are parts of a team that can work together like a well-oiled machine to get the best result – a professionally installed roof that looks beautiful and will last for decades.

I now invite you to think of your roof system as a “team” in the sense that all parts must work effectively and efficiently together like pieces of a puzzle to function optimally as designed. A well-thought-out process puts the right combination of materials together in the right way to produce an optimum roofing system.

The process requires identifying a reputable manufacturer of standing seam roofs – one that meets your specific performance and aesthetic needs, and that provides the required warranties. Once chosen, the designer may think, “Voila! Mission complete,” when in fact, the process is just beginning.

BattenLok and LokSeam

Mitchelle Elementary School features BattenLok HS and LokSeam

 

 

Since metal roofs are being used in increasingly more complicated designs, the roof panels and related accessories that attach the roof to the substructure are a part of the total roof system. The added roof curbs, pipe penetrations, crickets, snow retention devices and lightning protection equipment all become part of the standing seam roof system.  And it really matters how each of these items attach to the roof.  Though it sounds logical to do so, don’t leave it up to the roofer or another tradesperson to decide how these items will be installed.

Take control and make sure the following are adhered to when specifying a standing seam metal roof system:

Do not use dissimilar materials.

 Copper, lead and graphite can all cause galvanic corrosion. Even water dripping from these materials onto the roof can cause it to corrode. And manufacturers’ warranties are often void if this situation exists.

Some examples: Copper lightning arresting equipment is a typical use of dissimilar material found on Galvalume roots. Use aluminum instead. Lead hats are often found on Galvalume roots. Rubber jacks can be substituted.

Compile a qualified list of acceptable curb manufacturers. Choose only those that use aluminum or stainless steel. Many curb companies use Galvalume, which seems reasonable since most standing seam panels are made from this material. But when Galvalume-coated steel is welded, the Galvalume-coating melts at the weld. Even when a coating of corrosion inhibitor is used, it will never be as good as the uncontaminated Galvalume coating.

You also want a curb manufacturer that offers a weathertightness warranty if required for the roof. Roof manufacturers will generally warrant the attachment of the roof curb to their roof panels, but it’s up to the roof curb manufacturer to warrant the construction and performance of their product.

Be careful with roof curbs.  First off, they should be “shingled” into the roof. This way, all laps shed water as it drains from the roof. Curbs that lap on top of the roof panels on the upslope side will cause problems.

Roof curbs must allow plenty of room for water to drain around them without building up a waterhead at the upslope end.  Provide clearance on both sides of the curb and a long flange on the upslope end so the roof panels can lap onto the flange and maintain a 12” upslope from the top of the water diverter built into the curb.

Finally, if AC units will be placed on the roof, include PVC condensate lines to carry the water off of the roof. Never allow the condensate to drain directly onto the roof. The dissolved copper ions which will cause galvanic corrosion of the roof panels.

This is a lot to consider, possibly more than you thought was involved. Well friends, there’s even more. I’ll explore this even further in my next post.

In the meantime, learn more about MBCI’s rigorously-tested, standing seam metal roof systems and how it’s one of the most durable and weathertight roof systems available in the industry. Find out more.

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