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.

But a sturdy standing seam metal roof makes up only one aspect of a hurricane resistant roof.  Metal roofing experts tell us if you want the soundest defense against the fury of Mother Nature then you should also consider the following when choosing a metal roof system:

  • an American Society of Consulting Engineers (ASCE)  analysis to specify the most storm proof construction plan to withstand hurricane force winds for a specific building
  • a weathertightness warranty from the metal roofing material manufacturer with onsite installation inspections
  • and the services of a certified metal roofing installation contractor who will properly install the metal roof following the instructions of the ASCE analysis
Sallie Jones Elementary School 200 yards away suffers no damage.
Sallie Jones Elementary School 200 yards away suffers no damage.

ASCE/SEI 7-10 offers a complete update and reorganization of a metal roof system’s wind load provisions to make them more understandable and easier to follow.  ASCE 7-10 provides ultimate event wind maps with corresponding reductions in load factors, so that the loads on the metal roof system are not affected.

But ASCE/SEI 7-10 only contains methods to calculate loads on structures. Take the extra step and hire an ASCE professional engineer to take the wind pressures specified in the standard, and apply them to the building being designed. These wind pressures determine how the building must be constructed. A lot of factors can go into producing the report including the required wind speed loads, the geometry and geography of the building, its exposure, area weather history and the pitch of the roof itself.

Small exhibit hall with Englert metal roof undamaged while Turner-Agri Center 200 yards away is destroyed.

The specifications are then compiled in an analysis report that the contractor must follow when installing the metal roof. The engineer may recommend a specific standing seam roofing material that meets Florida Building and Miami Dade Building Code requirements for metal roof systems. But the engineer may do other things as well, like requiring that a custom-fabricated clip be made and spaced a specified number of feet throughout the roof area and especially around the eaves and ridge areas which are most susceptible to high wind.

Watch out or have your general contractor watch out for metal roofing contractors who try to save money by using homemade metal roofing clips and drywall screws that are cheaper and can’t withstand the wind loads and pressures of a hurricane that batters a building with high-wind gusts for hours on end.  If the roofing contractor is certified by the manufacturer  of the metal roofing material you’ve chosen, you’re going to substantially reduce your risk for this to happen.

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