Top 6 most common commercial weatherproofing mistakes

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Getting roof weatherproofing right is essential for any building – it protects the building envelope from damage caused by damp, rainwater ingress and wind, and it also protects the contents of the building and the building occupants. 

Over the years, we’ve been called out to repair hundreds of commercial roofs, and there are several weatherproofing mistakes we often see – many of which could have been easily avoided with careful planning, expert knowledge, and a skilled hand. 

Here are the six most common commercial weatherproofing mistakes we’ve seen, along with advice on how to prevent problems, mitigate damage and ensure proper repairs are carried out.

1. Neglecting maintenance

The amount of maintenance required for a commercial roof will depend on how the roof is constructed and what kind of weatherproofing is used. 

Many commercial roofs are flat roofs covered with bitumen, EPDM, metal, or thermoplastics, and these require regular maintenance and inspections to check for buckling, cracking, pooling, shrinking, damage, or deterioration. Any issues will need to be addressed quickly, as it doesn’t take long for a small problem to grow into a much larger one.

However, GRP (glass reinforced plastic) roofs, also known as fibreglass roofs, require almost no maintenance. Regular cleaning is all they need to retain their appearance and durability. GRP roofs have an expected lifespan of at least 25 years, and many last much longer than that. Of course, no roofing system is entirely problem-free, so even GRP roofs should be checked regularly to ensure they’re in good condition.

2. Not investigating underlying problems

When you notice a crack in the roof covering, discover a leak or spot a bit of pooling water on a flat roof, your first instinct may be to quickly patch up the problem and assume it’s taken care of. 

However, many roof weatherproofing issues are symptoms of underlying problems. For example, pooling water could indicate a poorly designed roof, weak or damaged roof structure or, in the case of roofs covered with a hot bituminous system, improper mopping that created voids in the membrane. 

If these underlying issues aren’t recognised – usually with the help of a commercial roofing expert – and properly dealt with, the problem is likely to return and increase in severity.

3. Blocked drainage or inadequate drainage

Standing water is a significant problem for commercial flat roofs for several reasons. For one thing, it adds weight, which could cause sagging and deterioration of the roof surface. For another, standing water is more likely to find its way through imperfections in the roof surface. It also encourages the growth of plants and moss. 

Keeping drains, gutters, and downpipes clear is part of good roof maintenance and will help ensure water leaves the rooftop quickly and efficiently. However, other drainage problems, such as a poorly designed roof or not enough drainage, will require the knowledge and skills of an expert roofing contractor to put things right.

4. Poorly constructed roof penetrations

Commercial buildings are likely to have a variety of roof penetrations, ranging from rooflights, access hatches and lift shafts to openings for HVAC equipment, chimneys, manufacturing plant and other machinery. If these penetrations aren’t carefully planned, constructed, and weatherproofed, there will likely be problems with leaks and drainage.

Ideally, roof penetrations should be considered early in the building design process. Working with a commercial roof expert will help to ensure that the penetration is constructed and weatherproofed adequately. 

However, roof penetrations are often installed after roof construction is complete – sometimes years later when the building is undergoing a change of use or refurbishment. In these cases, a roof penetrations expert can provide advice and guidance on the best locations for penetrations, the types of support required and how to weatherproof the installation for long-term reliability. 

And if an existing roof penetration is suffering wind damage or rainwater ingress, an expert can provide advice and carry out remedial works to resolve the problem.

roof penetration installers tall pipes on top of a roof

5. Improper repairs

We often see cases where previous repairs were carried out using the wrong materials or installation methods. Sometimes this simply means that the repairs didn’t work or only lasted a short time. However, a bad repair job can cause more roof damage.

For example, it’s not unusual to see metal roofs that have been patched up with caulking and plastic roof cement. These materials are not fit for purpose and are likely to fail, especially in extreme weather conditions. On single-ply membrane roofs, roof cement can damage the roofing surface, as the solvents in the cement may dissolve plastics like PVC and EPDM.

The lesson here is that if commercial roof repairs are needed, it may be tempting to DIY it or find the cheapest rate around. But it usually pays to have a knowledgeable professional survey the damage and carry out repairs that will remain structurally sound and weathertight for years to come.

6. Not enlisting the help of a commercial roof weatherproofing expert

As we’ve already mentioned, calling in an expert with specific knowledge of commercial roof weatherproofing is the best course of action for building, repairing, or renovating a commercial roof.

Jones and Woolman UK has extensive experience in commercial roof weatherproofing, and we have worked on a wide range of projects, from shopping centres, schools and factories to data centres, airports, and sports arenas. Our cold-applied liquid fibreglass roofs provide a robust, reliable, and weathertight surface, and the system also works with all kinds of roof penetrations to provide a weatherproof seal.

We recommend getting in touch from the very earliest stages of a project. That way, we can provide advice and liaise with other teams to ensure the best results using the most straightforward methods. However, our flexible system, combined with our ability to design and build bespoke GRP components, enables us to successfully deliver reliable weatherproofing, backed by our 25-year guarantee, no matter how far along the project may be.

Get in touch to find out more about commercial roof weatherproofing, or discuss your next project with a weatherproofing expert, you can also call on 01922 712111.

A guide to choosing commercial rooflights

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Commercial rooflights can bring many benefits to a wide range of commercial and industrial buildings – from shopping centres, hotels and hospitals, to office blocks, factories and warehouses.

Whether you’re looking to enhance the appearance of a building, bring in more light, reduce energy costs, improve working conditions for occupants, or incorporate the latest EN 17037 daylighting standards, commercial rooflights can help.

Why should I consider a commercial rooflight?

Commercial rooflights, along with other glazing options such as tall windows or curtain walling, all help to bring the outdoors in, creating a space that feels more inviting and comfortable.

Natural daylight incorporated into indoor spaces can dramatically reduce energy costs, while also improving performance and the mood of the building occupants. They also create an interesting and aesthetically pleasing architectural feature, making the building more attractive, both inside and out.

Numerous studies have shown increased exposure to natural daylight can help to improve focus, reduce stress, and decrease cases of illness, all resulting in a happier and healthier workforce, while also benefiting other visitors to the building.

In fact, natural light is so important, its provision is incorporated into the new European Standard, EN 17037. The new standard was published at the end of 2018 and provides comprehensive guidance on everything from how to integrate daylight in building design to methods of calculating daylight levels.

Depending on the commercial rooflight you choose, it may also provide natural ventilation, further contributing to the air quality of the building and the overall comfort of occupants.

What are the different types of commercial rooflights?

Commercial rooflights come in a wide range of shapes and sizes – and the right choice will depend on criteria such as roof construction, the amount of light desired and aesthetic preferences. Options include:

Flat rooflights – These can be used to cover large spaces, providing a considerable amount of daylight. These are often chosen for more modern buildings due to their minimalist appearance, and some products can be installed flush with the roofline. Depending on maintenance and access requirements, these can also be designed in a way that makes them safe for walking on.

Barrel rooflights – Semi-circular in shape, barrel rooflights are ideal for larger spaces and can even fit together to cover an entire roof.

Box rooflights – These are often used to enhance natural lighting indoors, while also providing access to roof terraces since they can create the headroom required for staircases.

Pyramid rooflights – If you’re looking to combine natural lighting with an attractive architectural feature, then a pyramid rooflight might be the best choice. Sometimes called roof lanterns, these create a spotlight-like effect, and are beautiful both inside and outside.

Dome and tube rooflights – These are usually small rooflights that combine a dome on the outside of the building with a reflective tube that guides light into the building.

We’ve been providing commercial roofing solutions for more than 40 years, and we’ve installed commercial rooflights for an array of commercial and industrial projects, including shopping centres, airports, sports stadia, factories and office buildings.

Can you put a rooflight on a flat roof?

The short answers is yes. As previously discussed, there are many different types of rooflights, and many of them are suitable for flat roof applications, so long as they are correctly installed and adequately weatherproofed.

Depending on the design, some rooflights may require an upstand for installation on a flat roof. Despite its name, a flat roof requires a fall to allow for water drainage and is therefore not truly “flat”.  An upstand is the frame that sits around the rooflight, and ensures the rooflight is installed at the right pitch so that rainwater can naturally drain away. Custom-made GRP upstands can be manufactured to suit the specific requirements of your roof and rooflights, and once installed, they offer long lifespans and require minimal maintenance.

Are rooflights a good investment?

In almost every case, as long as the rooflight is installed professionally, the answer is yes. As with all investments using a highly skilled team with experience installing commercial rooflights ensures that planning and execution will keep disruption at an absolute minimum, while the overall gains will benefit the building and its occupants.

Commercial rooflights help to reduce energy use throughout the day, as they provide natural lighting and reduce reliance on electrical lights. Finally the improvements in occupant wellbeing and performance should also be considered and not underestimated when looking at the value of investment.

Do rooflights require maintenance?

If installed correctly, commercial rooflights should require minimal maintenance. This means by an expert that can ensure the rooflight is installed at the right angle, and well-sealed against wind and water ingress. Experts such as the team here at Jones and Woolman UK have extensive experience in installing and weatherproofing rooflights, and all work will be covered by an industry leading 25 year warranty for added peace of mind and long term cost savings.

Choosing commercial rooflights for your next project

If you’re thinking about having commercial rooflights, the next step is to speak with an expert. They will go over the specifics of your project, providing advice and guidance about everything from the ideal shape, size and placement of your rooflight, through to planning permission, installation and maintenance.

As trusted installers of commercial rooflights and other building penetrations, Jones and Woolman UK can create bespoke solutions for even the trickiest designs. To find out more, or to discuss your project, please get in touch.

How to waterproof a rooflight

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Rooflights and roof windows can be extremely beneficial for commercial buildings, however, you’ve got to know how to waterproof a rooflight. After all, a rooflight should flood an interior with warm, bright sunshine on a clear day – not rainwater during a downpour.

So how do you waterproof a rooflight? As with most things, prevention is critical, and opting for expert rooflight installation from the very beginning is likely to save you a lot of time and hassle.

Not only does installing a rooflight require working at height with a big bulky item made of breakable glass. It also requires putting a hole in the roof. The entire process, from planning through to cutting, installing and finishing, is best left to people with the right skills and plenty of experience.

Plus, having a rooflight installed by a professional will give you additional peace of mind that the project is being carried out by an expert who can ensure the result is weatherproof and looks professional – and their work should be backed by a guarantee.

Why is my rooflight leaking?

There are many reasons why a rooflight might start leaking. For example, it could be the result of an inadequate installation, or the rooflight may have been damaged after being exposed to high winds or suffering an impact. In some cases, a leak can even turn out to be not a leak at all, but a condensation problem.

Whatever the reason for a leaking rooflight, getting the problem fixed needs to be a top priority. Even a small leak can be a source of inconvenience for a building’s occupants, and it could damage expensive equipment or decor. Problems like damp and mould can also result from a leaking skylight, leading to uncomfortable conditions and potential health hazards.

It’s also important to note that even if you have what seems like a tiny leak right now, without an expert to correctly diagnose the problem and make the necessary repairs, it’s likely that the problem will only get worse.

This is where our teams at Jones and Woolman UK excel. We are able to assess and solve such leaks and potential problems and act quickly to ensure your rooflights and roofs are leak free for years to come with our peace of mind 25-year warranty on all works carried out.

Methods for waterproofing rooflights

As with any type of building penetration, there are several ways to waterproof a rooflight, and the right choice will depend on the roof construction, as well as the finished appearance that you wish to achieve.

In residential buildings with pitched roofs, for example, roof window and rooflight installations are typically sealed using flashings, with tiles layered carefully over the top for a weatherproof finish.

However, this method won’t work on most commercial buildings – particularly those with flat or low-pitched roofs and no roof tiles. So other techniques will be required to waterproof rooflights in commercial applications. Although a waterproof rooflight can be achieved with materials such as EPDM rubber, or even traditional roofing felt, GRP is one of the best ways to ensure a leak-free result that will look good and last for many years with minimal maintenance.

Roof top view of installed commercial rooflights installed at a nusery
Roof top view of rooflights installed on Cherry Tree nursery
Rooflights on pitched roof
Waterproofing rooflights
Multiple rooflights in commercial building
image of a rooflight on a modular building that has been weatherproofed

GRP roofing systems for leak-free skylights

As experts in GRP roofing systems, the team and Jones and Woolman UK have extensive experience in installing waterproof rooflights for a wide range of commercial buildings, including shopping malls, factories and even sports stadia.

Our system starts with load-bearing upstands, which can be custom-made to fit your rooflights perfectly. The upstands can incorporate our unique inclined shape, which means rooflights and roof windows can be installed on roofs with very low pitches, and even flat roof rooflights can be accommodated.

We also use a specialist weathering system comprising a flexible, reinforced cold-applied liquid that works well with most types of cladding, as well as single-ply roofs. It creates a smooth, clean finish that will provide years of leak-free service – and a skylight that lets only the sunshine in.

Waterproof rooflight installations from Jones and Woolman UK

Whether you’re thinking about adding rooflights to a commercial building, or need repairs to stop a leak, the team at Jones and Woolman UK can help. We’ve been carrying out commercial roof repairs and building penetrations work for over 40 years, and all of our work is backed by a comprehensive 25-year warranty.

To find out more about our GRP roofing solutions, or discuss your project with one of our experts, please get in touch.