After the four walls of a given structure, the roof is sometimes referred to as the “fifth plane”—and just like the walls that hold it up, the roof is an all-important structure that can make or break a building’s performance. Florida’s tropical climate, particularly its long rainy season and frequent storms, often exacerbates trouble spots. If not properly maintained, even a minor roof problem can lead to costly repairs.
Michael Kuzelka, president and CEO of FFR [Final Flat Roof] Global Inc. in West Palm Beach says that modified bitumen is the most common type of roof in South Florida. “It’s basically from an older system that’s still is use,” he says. “It’s the same material that shingles are made out of. It’s rolled asphalt that’s put down with heat and flame. Everyone refers to it as the modified bit.”
According to experts, the modified bitumen is an evolution of asphalt roofing. It’s made from asphalt and a variety of modifiers and solvents. There are several ways of connecting pieces of this material. In a heat application process, the seams are heated to melt the asphalt together and create a seal. There is also a cold applied adhesive application process, and some self-adhesive forms of this system. This material is also referred to as APP or SBS.
“There are many types of roofs in South Florida,” adds Kuzelka, “You have TPO [Thermoplastic Olefin or Polyolefin] which is a thermal plastic, there’s PVC [Polyvinyl Chloride] which is also a plastic, PDM [Propylene Diene Monomer] which is a stretched rubber and then you have specialty products out there like the K1 product which isn’t a roof system, it’s a restoration product for roof systems. The unfortunate thing is that they all have the same types of problems.”
Other Surfaces and Common Problems
In addition to a flat roof, other types of roofs common to South Florida’s wind and rain-driven climate are pitched roofs, which typically will use asphalt or wood shake shingles, tile, slate, steel, metal, copper or aluminum. A metal roof in Florida will give your home the most protection of any roof type. New shingle roofs are rated as high as 130 mph but metal roofs, experts say, can sustain wind gusts up to 200 mph. These shingles are heavier than the 3-tab shingles that are put on most homes.