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Commercial Roofing: Single Ply Membranes

Commercial Roofing – Single Ply Membranes

Single ply systems can offer an economical and fast track solution on large featureless commercial roof areas. They are particularly suited to the new build environment. However, they rely upon a single layer of waterproofing and the material comes to site in large rolls, which have to be cut and welded together on site.

These laps and joints are the greatest weakness in these systems. The membrane also has to be cut and formed around every detail, increasing the number of over laps and therefore the number of potential weak spots. Different systems use different methods to weld the joints. Some are self-adhesive, some are glued but by far the most common method is to heat weld the two surfaces together.

The welded joints require a three-part weld and any imperfections which compromise the adhesion such as trapped moisture, dust, variances in the level of heat used or small imperfections in workmanship can result in failure. Given that there is only one layer of waterproofing there is no secondary back up and even a small failure can have significant consequences.

A further disadvantage is that following trades, service engineers, plant installers and maintenance operatives, often abuse the waterproofing and again, because there is only one layer, the membrane is easily punctured.

The systems are usually installed using hot air guns and whilst this is undoubtedly a lower fire risk than the use of naked flames, the hot air guns are required to weld at extremely high temperatures (typically between 300 – 600 degrees) creating a significant fire risk.

If you need any more formation on how Single Ply Membranes could suit your commercial roofing needs. Or any professional advice on existing systems, we are more than happy to talk you through it.