Category Archives: Hurricane Wind Uplift

Three Year Anniversary of Sandy – Surviving the Storm with Standing Seam Metal Roofs

A picture of the Sea Girt Pavilion during Hurricane SandyThis month marks three years since the widely destructive Hurricane Sandy devastated large areas of the coastal Northeast, a Category 2 storm officially recorded as the largest Atlantic hurricane on record with estimates as of 2015 assessed damage to have been about $75 billion.

Sandy delivered winds up to 90 mph and produced extensive property damage. Property owners along the Atlantic coastline are still recovering from the massive storm. Continue reading

Meeting Standards for Metal Wall Panels: An Important Consideration in Building Design

There are thousands of building materials and products globally and virtually all of those used in a manufactured environment are subject to some form of testing and standards.

There are a host of international standards organizations that set standards for and test all kinds of products. There are de facto standards which means they are followed by informal convention or dominant usage, de jure standards which are part of legally binding contracts, laws or regulations and voluntary standards which are published and available for people to consider for use.

Picture of metal wall panels used in construction.The people who use an item (architects, engineers, contractors, etc.) or specify it (building codes, government, industry, etc.) have the responsibility to consider the available standards, specify the correct one, enforce compliance, and use the item correctly.

By the end of the 19th century, differences in standards between companies, was making trade increasingly difficult and strained. Hence the establishment of professionally supported standards organizations.  Progress was nevertheless slow. Suppliers in many industries including construction objected to standard material specifications and testing procedures because they feared that strict quality controls would make customers more inclined to reject items and default on contracts.

There was plenty of back and forth on the issue but the demand by material end users like the powerful railroad industry finally led to the formation of the American Society of Testing and Materials in 1898.

To this day, the ASTM remains one of the key standards organizations in the world. And in the area of wall panel, it provides some of the key standards for materials used in building design and construction. Continue reading

Steel and Aluminum—Two Great Metal Roofing Materials, Each Have Their “Strengths”

If you are a designer or builder considering a standing seam metal roof you may be asking the question what is the difference between aluminum and steel as a choice for the metal roof.

Commercial and residential metal roofing is primarily made of steel or aluminum. Both products are initially produced in giant rolls at a mill. All steel roofing has a protective barrier on both sides of the sheet called a metallic coating which protects against rusting. This is underneath and separate from any paint which imparts color to the product. There are two types of metallic coatings used: galvanized, which uses 100% Zinc in various thicknesses depending upon the product usage, and Galvalume, a mixture of aluminum and zinc. These metallic coatings “sacrifice” themselves to protect the iron in steel from oxidation when exposed to air and moisture. Zinc is a more “active” metal than iron so it oxidizes first and forms a protective barrier — zinc oxide, before the iron in the steel can become Ferric Oxide (rust). When zinc is combined with aluminum to form Galvalume there is even more protection in most circumstances.Metal roofing coil in various colors.

Steel residential roofing is made in thicknesses designated by gauge and is generally 24 to 26 gauge, with the higher gauge being thinner than the lower. These gauges are appropriate since most residential metal roofing applications are over a solid substrate. Aluminum residential metal roofing is designated by decimal thickness and ranges from .023 to .040 thickness.

Steel and aluminum both perform well as a metal roofing material. However, aluminum roofing, depending upon the exact product chosen, can run up to 20 percent higher in price compared to steel roofing. Continue reading

What Contractors Should Know When Buying Metal Roofing Coil

Contractors looking for a good deal on galvanized steel and aluminum roofing coil should always be careful—if it looks too good to be true then it probably isn’t.

There are some tools and “rules of thumb” for them to be sure they’re at least getting what they paid for.

Contractors order metal roofing coil by the square foot and most, in turn, charge their clients the same way.

So the number of square feet a coil is going to yield will dictate how much they are going to pay and how much they are going to earn.

There are a few unknowns in the process. Let’s use 24 gauge steel coil as our example. One coil of 24 gauge material can be different from another. That’s because industry standards permit “tolerances” in what constitutes a 24 gauge thickness. For example, we’ve know of one widely used “standard” that allows the thickness of 24 gauge galvanized steel to be anywhere from .0236 to .0316 inches thick. We know another one that only allows it to be from .0236 to .0296. A lot of contractors know this and realize that the yield of a coil may differ to some degree based on those tolerances. The only way to figure how many square feet the coil will accurately yield is to use a micrometer to measure the thickness of the material. And only a handful of large contractors and distributors have micrometers. Continue reading

Standing Seam Metal Roofing: The Lightweight Material That Pulls a Lot of Weight with the Competition

Quick! Which gauge of metal roofing material is thicker? 29 gauge or 22 gauge?

If you chose 22 gauge, you picked the right number because in the world of metal measurement, the lower the number of the gauge, the thicker the material.

So, if your contractor tells you he’s going to order a 26 gauge standing seam metal roof for your house, he’s picked the most common roof thickness for a metal roofing system in America today. If he tells you he’s picked a 29 gauge material, ask why. Most metal roofing companies require a 24 gauge or better to ensure the roof will be suitably impact resistant.Worker installing solar panels on standing seam roof.

That’s because impact resistance is one of the features that make it superior to other forms of roofing materials when weather and other aspects of Mother Nature come into play. How does its strength shape up against other roofing materials?

Well, measuring the flexural strength of asphalt shingles or even terra cotta tiles is a difficult task at best and a potentially pointless exercise since roof shingles do not provide weight support for a roof—just weather protection.  In fact, their manufacturers do not provide flexural strength information knowing this.

On the other hand, metal roofing materials have excellent tensile strength. For example, stainless steel roofs have been tested at 80,000 pounds of pressure per square inch. Galvanized steel comes in at 50,000 psi, copper at 36,000 psi and even lightweight aluminum rates 22,000 psi. Insurance companies know this and will often offer discounted premiums to homeowners with a metal roof. Nonetheless, heavier gauge does not necessarily mean better performance. Product design and manufacturing, quality of coatings and installation expertise can mean the difference as well. Continue reading

Hurricanes and Mega-storms in the Northeast: Is it time to take a new look at the building codes?

Hurricane Sandy was the ninth such devastating storm to hit the Northeast in the last five years, and it raises the question “Will the impacts of climate change only make such storms worse.”

That region has had hurricanes and Halloween snowstorms.  So the questions must be raised–Are these coincidence or is climate disruption affecting this region and other parts of the country? And what do government, the insurance industry and private sector developers have to do to protect against future devastation?Sea Girt NJ During Hurricane Sandy

More than a decade ago in the wake of destruction of Hurricane Andrew, Southeastern elected officials, state, county and municipal engineers,  building department officials and the insurance industry finally bit the bullet and imposed stringent building requirements to thwart the impact of future storms.  The Florida Building Department and Miami-Dade County launched stringent building codes to ensure new construction could survive the high winds bred by hurricanes and tropical storms.  Other states and their counties and municipalities throughout the region began adopting the provisions of those codes as well. The result has been a significant reduction in damage in high wind situations. Continue reading

Manufacturing Metal Roof Systems More Efficiently On the Job Site With Portable Roll Forming Machines

Standing seam metal roof panels are formed for a project in one of two ways— directly at the job site using a portable roll former or off site at a factory and transported by truck to the job site.

When on-site portable roll forming first appeared on the scene more than 25 years ago, the sellers of factory formed panels saw the threat of losing business to metal roofing companies that formed the metal roof panels at the job site using portable roll forming equipment that provided greater flexibility and job control.  These in plant manufacturers began to make a lot of noise about the perceived disadvantages of on-site manufacturing.  Their unfounded claims were that on-site roll forming was too new and lacked a proven track record.   They focused a great deal of time and effort trying to disparage and eliminate the competition from on-site metal roofing fabricators.

Despite their great protestations, job site roll forming has thrived and millions of metal roofs have been installed using portable roll forming machines.  In fact, during the intervening years metal roofing projects completed using portable roll forming equipment have not received any more complaints than those projects that were completed using factory formed panels.  In many cases the advantages with respect to flexibility and increased job control resulting from the more efficient on-site roll forming process drew raves from GC’s, Architects and Building Owners.

Recently, times have been tough in the building industry—we all know that. And twenty five years later the sellers of factory-made panels are feeling the pinch and protesting again—from their factories, hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles from the job site where their roofing panels are being installed.

Twenty five years later, they’re still obsessed with the competition and still complaining about product reliability issues which were clearly never an issue in the first place. Meanwhile, job site roll formers have proven to have several distinct advantages over factory-made panels.

Unlike sellers of the factory formed panels, they don’t store piles of standing seam metal roof panels at the job site only to wait until other crafts have completed their work before roof installation can begin. They don’t leave panels exposed to inclement weather. They don’t have to worry about possible shipping and job site damage.  And they never have to worry that the panels will be too long or too short or that there weren’t enough panels manufactured and sent to the job site in the first place.


Conversely, job site roll formers are able to accommodate last minute changes in plans without waiting several days for the factory to take the order, make the new panels and ship them back to the job site.  Meanwhile, sophisticated roll forming machines allow contractors to punch in 50 different programs and get a series of different panel lengths in sequence.  Today’s contractors produce panel lengths in batches—without touching the unit.

Polyurethane drive rollers drive all materials up to 24 gauge steel through a machine with ease.  A wide variety of materials are run through the machine, with little or no adjustments.

The use of AutoCAD and CAD in the machine design process has resulted in shorter machines that produce finished panels and gutter systems in record time.

And… due to the resulting quality and efficiency more and more architects and GCs are turning to on site metal roof fabricators as the preferred choice to manufacture their clients metal roof systems.

Standing Seam Metal Roofs Will Weather Hurricanes

But the Metal Roof is Only One of the Factors

What makes a metal roof perform well in high wind conditions? They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  The pictures below dramatize the importance of exercising best practices when designing and installing a standing seam metal roof in hurricane country. In 2004, the Punta Gorda High School suffered severe damage due to high winds from Hurricane Charley while the Sallie Jones Elementary School, less than 100 yards away with an Englert standing seam metal roof suffered none. Several other structures with properly installed metal roofs remained unscathed while many with poorly constructed metal roofs were virtually destroyed by high winds (see photos below).

Punta Gorda High School suffered severe damage.

Building industry professionals may argue whether metal roofing failures in high wind uplift environments have been the fault of certain metal roofing systems, inadequate codes, construction shortcuts or simply the power of Mother Nature. Nonetheless, the consensus has been that tougher wind standards implemented after Hurricane Andrew 10 years ago have saved property and lives.

The Atlantic hurricane season is now officially upon us until November 30th, a timeframe that historically encompasses 97 percent of the annual tropical storm activity. Whether you’re designing for now or the future, the standing seam metal roofing material you choose will always be an issue.  Some, not all metal roofing products meet industry requirements such as the Florida Building Code wind-uplift requirement, Miami Dade uplift testing, FM uplift testing, UL Uplift Standard 580 and ASTM 1592 uplift standards. These products, like Englert’s Series 1300 and Series 2000 standing seam metal roof panels, have gone through rigorous, controlled performance examinations that make them more qualified than other metal roofs to withstand the onslaught of Mother Nature. Continue reading

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