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Roofing Warranties: Always Read the Fine Print

Consumers in the market for a roof replacement are often concerned with the warranty type and length that accompanies their new roof. The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) advises consumers against putting too much emphasize on the warranty that roofing companies offer.

Roofing warranties, especially long-term ones are largely reactive rather than proactive. Keeping this in mind, the length of a warranty should not be the primary principle in the selection of a roofing system. Warranties do not necessarily provide assurance of adequate roofing performance.

You should also take caution when working with a roof company who uses long-term warranties as a marketing tool. Many roofing companies have found themselves deep within a highly competitive market where they are obligated to meet or surpass warranties of other roofing contractors. In some cases there are roofing specialists who established a warranty length with little or no technical research or documentation of their roof systems performance over time.

Another problem with warranties is the common misconception that long-term warranties are all-inclusive insurance policies covering virtually any roofing repairs. Typically warranties do not guarantee that the roof coating will not leak. Even a comprehensive roofing company warranty that covers material and workmanship generally provide only that the company will repair roof leaks that are a result of specific causes detailed in the warranty. A material-only warranty typically provides only that the manufacturer will provide replacement material-not install it. Many warranties contain restrictive provisions, which extensively limit the warrantor’s liability and the consumer’s remedies in the event that problems develop. Be sure to read the fine print for other restrictions and limitations such as a prohibition against transfer of the warranty, exclusions of damages resulting from a defective roof and monetary limitations.

To get the best for your roof in the long run, focus your efforts instead on looking for a roofing contractor who focuses their efforts on relevant and proven merits of the roofing systems best designed to fit the needs of your building, your budget, and your roof. They should have a warranty that is honest and realistic to the life span of the system and honors their warranty for the duration of the warranty term. Be sure you have a clear and conspicuously written document that states all of the recommended and required owner maintenance responsibilities as well.

Your choice should be based upon the product’s qualities and suitability for the particular roof restoration/replacement project in mind. A long-term warranty is of little value if the roof does not perform satisfactorily and you are left with a leaking roof.


Is Moisture Infiltrating Your Roof?


Moisture can enter into a roofing system many different ways. In addition to water entry due to roof membrane leaks, moisture can enter a roofing system due to condensation from internal humidity, infiltration through building walls, water entry through equipment housings and latent moisture entrapped beneath the roof system. Note: The inspection for moisture infiltration requires professional roofing experience.








1. Building Walls & Parapets
Many types of wall construction, especially masonry and stucco, can allow moisture infiltration due to porosity and cracking. Particular attention should be paid to metal flashings associated with walls, including wall copings, counter-flashings, and termination bars.
2. Large Rooftop Units
Frequently the metal housings around these units may allow water entry.
3. Skylights
Skylight glazing beads and metal trim flashings typically require periodic maintenance.









1. “Soft” Roof Insulation
If the roof insulation appears to be “soft” under foot, it may have absorbed excessive moisture.
2. Cracking, Spalling or Discoloration Of Walls
The deterioration may be an indication of moisture entry.
3. Loose Metal Wall Flashings
Look for any discontinuities in the firm, uniform compression between metal flashings and the wall surface.
4. Covered “Weep Holes”
Look for masonry weep holes that have become clogged or were accidentally covered over by the roof flashings.
5. Missing Or Broken Weather Seals On Equipment Housings
Frequent maintenance of rooftop equipment may allow weather seals and sheet metal joints to loose water tightness.
6. Cracked or Sunken Caulking
Almost all joints in metal flashings are sealed with an application of sealant or caulking. Any cracking or other discontinuity is a potential source of water entry.









1. Replace Wet Roof Insulation. A licensed roofing contractor should perform this work.
2. Re-Attach and Re-Caulk Metal Components. Maintenance of metal flashings and caulking
Joints typically can be performed either by a roofing contractor or trained maintenance
3.Repair Deteriorated Walls. Repair of walls can be performed by a variety of trades. Be sure
to select a recognized professional.









1. Roof Moisture Survey: If a new roof will be installed over an existing roof, or whenever moisture is suspected to be entrapped within a roof deck, a roof moisture survey should be conducted by a recognized professional, and the findings of the survey should be used by the roof designer to select the most appropriate roofing system.

2. Rooftop Equipment Maintenance Standards: A roof access log should be maintained in order to review and monitor the maintenance of rooftop equipment.

All roofs require periodic inspection and maintenance in order to perform as designed and to provide a long and effective service life. Periodic inspection and maintenance is also typically required by roofing system manufacturers to keep roofing warranties in full force and effect. Although all building owners should establish a periodic roof inspection program, inspection and maintenance of any roof should be undertaken only by qualified persons who are familiar with safe roofing practices, including all applicable occupational, health and safety regulations relating to the
roofing and construction industries.

Modern roofing systems contain a wide variety of components and installation techniques. All roof inspections should be conducted by a licensed roofing contractor or similar roofing professional.
Typically, two inspections should be conducted each year, one in the spring and one in the late fall. If the roof is warranted, at least one roof inspection each year should be conducted by the licensed
contractor who originally installed the roof.

Manager’s Reasonable Responsibility

Your building’s roof is probably the single most expensive piece of equipment in your entire facility.  An average roof accounts for 5-8% of a building’s total construction cost.  Extending the life of your roof through proper preventative maintenance can have a considerable effect on a building’s long-term costs.  If you can properly maintain your roof and add on a few more years to its life, the long term cost savings will be significant.  On the other hand, if you neglect your roof, and have to make an early replacement, the negative impact will be equally significant.








The problems associated with a poorly maintained roof extend far beyond early replacement costs.  A roof leak causes damage to the roofing deck and structure.  Leaks unnecessarily tie up maintenance staff changing ceiling tiles, moving furniture and equipment, or setting up buckets to catch water.  Leaks cause trip and fall accidents.  Leaks cause wet insulation which leads to a loss of insulation performance and increased energy costs. Leaks cause mold, which is a major health concern.








Roofing is a field which is not always well understood by maintenance staff or property managers.  The staggering variety of different roofing systems, installation methods, and materials makes roofing one of the more difficult trades for maintenance staff to master.  Few maintenance workers know which repair or patch products are compatible with which types of roofing.  This lack of knowledge can turn an emergency roof repair into more roof damage.

Since a roof is such a large investment, and such poor maintenance practices can lead to such expensive repairs or replacement, it is usually cost effective to contract the services of a roofing professional to make regular inspections and maintenance recommendations.  During the life of a roof, professional inspections should be scheduled yearly to prevent future problems as well as to maintain your warranty.

Following your inspection with a professional roofing contractor it will be up to your in-house staff to inspect as part of your preventive maintenance program.  These inspections will be more effective if you have a solid understanding of the various commercial roofing systems.  The purpose of this section is to make you more familiar with commercial roofing materials, installation methods, compatibility issues, and common roofing problems.


Sometimes referred to as the 11-month inspection, this is one of the best times to examine your roof in detail. Buildings settle, shrink, and expand.  It has also seen extreme weather conditions- from the heat of the summer to an exceptionally busy rainy season.  Let’s see how your roof is responding.

Best Roofing is offering a no-cost, no obligation, inspection and analysis of  commercial & condominium roofing structures to determine the current condition and expected remaining life. While we can’t predict when a roof will fail, we can give you our professional opinion on where your roof is in regards to it’s life cycle and if the maintenance has been done properly.

With a secure, well-built roof, you’re in a wonderful situation for 2013 to safeguard all of your business devices and records.  Our experts will analyze your roof and provide you with a detailed report of our findings.









  1. If you are on the board of your condo and the association is considering having the roof replaced in 2013 you should definitely have your roof inspected…
  2. If your building is nearing it’s 40 year certification
  3. If your roof is older than 15 years
  4. If you are planning on selling a commercial property in 2013
  5. If you are in negotiations as the buyer of a commercial property you will want to have the roof inspected
  6. If you are a property manager of a new property and need to know the current condition of the roof
  7. If you don’t want to lose the warranty on your roof system you need to have a licensed roofing contractor perform an annual inspection
  8. If you can’t remember the last time you had your roof inspected (!)
  9. If your roof is leaking (it should be obvious but we had to say it!)
  10. If you would like a lot fewer problems in 2013!


Roof Blisters- What are they?

Blistering is a common problem with both field applied exterior coatings such as paints and built-up roofing systems.  In built-up roofs blisters are raised surface areas over voids in a roof system which contain entrapped air and/or moisture.  As the  roof surface temperature rises, the pressure inside the blisters rises and the adhesion of asphalt weakens.  Blisters are usually noticeable on hot, sunny days and range from small spongy spots to large pronounced areas.  Blisters develop from voids built into the roof. Voids can result from skips in bitumen mopping, entrapped debris, and uneven gases and bitumen bubbling.  Even in perfect conditions, a few small voids are inevitable in built-up roofing applications.  A few small voids do not pose a problem with respect to membrane blistering as membrane elasticity and adhesion can accommodate small movements.  However, numerous large voids will result in membrane blistering problems.








Blisters grow when:

  1. the volume of air sucked into them at night exceeds the volume of air forced out of them by day;
  2. the increased pressure overcomes the peripheral bond of the blister

Treatment of Blisters

If a few small blisters develop, they often do not result in problems, provided they remain watertight and do not become too large.  Eroded bare spots on small blisters can be coated with a cold-process asphalt coating and sprinkled with gravel. If a blister approaches a dimension of about 2 ft, it is recommended that its outer boundary be marked so that it can be checked periodically to determine if its getting larger. When blisters grow out to about 5 ft., or if they occur in a high-traffic area, blisters should be repaired.  To avoid breaking blisters, you should not step on  them, particularly when the membrane is cold.

If a blister is broken or otherwise capable of taking in water, the usual repair process is to remove the entire raised portion of the blister and patch the remaining void with alternate layers of asphalt and successively larger pieces of felt.

The Wrap Up

  • Prevention is the best deterrent: When getting a new roof, try to make sure that it is installed according to manufacturer’s specifications as well as industry best practices. It’s difficult to have a roof installed perfectly, but by doing your homework and choosing a quality and qualified roofer your chances are much better.
  • Limit Foot Traffic: If you know that you have blisters on your roof, it’s important to keep walking on your roof to a minimum, especially in warmer weather. Walking over blisters can break the blisters open, allowing water and air to damage them even more.
  • Keep your roof cleaned and maintained.: Allowing moss or algae to grow on your roof only adds to the problems of blisters.

Copyright 2011, Best Roofing, Inc.