So You Need a School Roof Restoration or Replacement? Here’s How to Streamline the Process

By Ken Swink, AEPA Oversight Committee Chair

Commercial roofs don’t and can’t last forever. Sooner or later, your school is going to embark on a roof replacement project. However, with proper maintenance and advanced restoration technologies, you might be able to extend the service life of your roofs for decades.

It can feel a little daunting to undergo a school roof project, especially when it can make such a large dent in your school’s maintenance budget. However, it’s possible to make the project smoother — especially with the following tips.

School Roof Restoration Versus Replacement

There’s a big difference between restoring and replacing a roof, especially for large buildings like schools. Here’s how to determine which one is right for your roof at this time:

First, work with a professional to examine your roofing system components (such as the deck type, existence of a vapor retarder, insulation type and thickness, and roof membrane type).

Next, determine what materials were used to construct the roof deck and whether they’re strong enough to support the layers required for restoration. There are many tests that can show if the existing roof is strong enough for a full-scale restoration project. Ideally, it will have enough remaining tensile strength, elasticity, and adhesion remaining.

Armed with all this data, you can work with your chosen vendor to determine what you need: simple roof repairs, roof restoration, or a complete roof replacement project.

Moisture Measurements

What’s the secret to starting any potential school roof restoration project off right? Diagnostics and analysis.

A thorough expert evaluation will provide plenty of information about your roof. For instance, moisture surveys can detect hidden pockets of moisture accumulation. Visual inspections, infrared devices, and even drones equipped with high-definition video and thermographic (infrared) cameras can identify areas with potential moisture. Your professional evaluator might also use moisture probes or even nuclear roof moisture testing to verify any suspicions.

The hope, of course, is that you won’t find moisture. If you do, it could change the cost of your roofing project. Know that many failing roofs with moisture issues can be restored rather than replaced if they still meet acceptable construction and condition criteria — saving you as much as 50% compared to replacement costs.

Choosing a School Roof Replacement or Repair Contractor

You won’t want to go at it alone when it comes to fixing or replacing your roof. Rely on an experienced vendor to make the process work more efficiently.

When vetting contractors, provide detailed specifications written to meet both your budget and your building needs. Be realistic about budget, and especially when it comes time to award a bid; contractors that bid much lower than everyone else might cut corners or leave you with a leaky roof that allows mold to grow, putting students, teachers, administrators, and staff in an uncomfortable and unsafe position.

Additionally, school administrators often get a false sense of security when they receive a warranty. But it’s important to double-check any limitations and read the proverbial “fine print.” Roof warranties might sound good until you find out that they don’t offer the value you expected. Don’t be misled by a long warranty with a rock-bottom price. Remember: A warranty does not equate to performance.

Many school districts have turned to an AEPA contract to find reliable roofing vendors. This way, school officials know they’re only being introduced to proven, capable, compliant, and (most importantly) vetted providers. And if they need their roofing project contract to meet EDGAR requirements for use of emergency federal funds — such as ESSER II and ESSER III funding — AEPA has them covered.

Moving Forward With School Roof Restorations and Replacements

To minimize disruption to building occupants, nonemergency roofing projects usually are scheduled during school breaks. This also keeps kids and adults out of harm’s way in terms of coming in contact with debris or particles. With that being said, newer no- and low-odor roof restoration systems can be installed when school is in session without causing safety risks. Just make sure you work with your approved vendor to flesh out a realistic time frame.

Making the Most of Any Roof Revitalization Project

The advantages of a properly functioning school roof and moisture-resistant building envelope can’t be overstated. Not only will your school building function better, but you’ll help reduce the chance of mildew buildup from water intrusion, which helps to protect indoor air quality.

In addition to getting the best value for your school roof, you’ll want to manage your roofing needs pragmatically. To extend the usable lifetime of your roof, be sure you understand the parameters of your warranty, especially as they dovetail with your preventive maintenance plan. You don’t want to nullify the roof’s warranty accidentally.

When repairs are needed, choose to partner with vendors committed to quality control. On roofing restoration or replacement projects, make certain a technical representative from the manufacturer is present. Sourcing your roofing needs through the AEPA contract assures you of top-notch quality control.

Buyers looking for a piggybackable contract for roofing restoration and replacement may want to consider AEPA’s roofing contract with Weatherproofing Technologies Inc. The company description can be found on the AEPA website.

Ken Swink has served as the Executive Director of the Southwestern Ohio Educational Purchasing Council (EPC) since 2002.  He is the current chairperson of the Ohio Council of Educational Purchasing Consortia (OCEPC) and is a board member representing Ohio for the of Educational Purchasing Agencies (AEPA).  Ken is the chairperson of the AEPA Roofing and Building Envelope Committee and serves on the AEPA Executive Committee and AEPA Solicitations Committee.

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