Flat roof refurbishment: why choose liquids?

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Victoria Ramwell of Kemper System discusses the key considerations of flat roof refurbishment in housing projects

The refurbishment of any housing complex requires adequate planning to ensure budget and time constraints are adhered to – not to mention the safety implications and potential disruption for residents.

With many projects needing to accommodate a high number of residents in-situ during repair works, it’s important to devise a strategy that is careful to avoid any unnecessary disturbance without compromising the specification of products or installation quality.

And, for many contractors working in collaboration with a housing association or local authority, certain design elements will need to be taken into consideration during specification. This is why, in many cases, cold-applied liquid waterproofing is often the preferred choice for housing refurbishments.

Sound specification

A key benefit of specifying a liquid waterproofing solution is its versatility. Many, if not all liquid solutions can be applied not only to a roofing area, but also balconies and walkways. It can also be used within a built-up roof system such as a green or blue roof, and offer easy application around areas which have lots of outlets such as air conditioning and ventilation units or plant.

This versatility is why liquids are one of the fastest growing solutions in the flat roofing sector. Within a housing setting, versatility is key as there can be a number of complex application areas which cold-applied liquids can tackle with ease as they are roller applied with minimal equipment needed onsite.

If specifying a liquid system, take the time to research which one is most suitable for your project. Consider requirements such as compliance with Building Regulations, for example fire resistance, or specific performance characteristics, including the compatibility of the surfaces to be waterproofed, ability to withstand substrate movement, and resistance to damage from anticipated load levels or trafficking.

Independent product accreditation is used to effectively communicate conformity and suitability, so it is advisable to research the manufacturer’s current product certification. An example is BBA certification, but there are others.

Beware of specification switching

As we know, specification switching can sometimes happen during housing projects because of budget or time constraints. Maintaining the specification on a project is often difficult, yet, the implications of not doing so can cause a single product or even an entire system to fail – therefore raising liability issues.

Consider the client’s needs as well as the long-term performance requirements for the job. A specifier will often choose a system they have used before and work with the same contractors. However, the main contractor and their preferred sub-contractors may then propose to use alternative products to the specifier.

Specifying a complete system from a single-source supplier offers peace of mind. The products specified will be matched for their compatibility, and come with the appropriate guarantees and warranties. Where liquid waterproofing and warm roof systems are concerned, switching just one element of a specification can not only create problems onsite during installation, but may also affect U-value and fire performance, alter the roof design, increase condensation risk and compromise the suitability of individual products. The entire project could be put at risk.

Rather than looking at component cost cutting, the right system choice needs to be made for the end client, and to protect the credibility and reputation of the roofing contractor. The long-term benefits of specifying a complete and proven product system is priceless.

Installation benefits

Aside from easy application, liquid waterproofing can be the ideal solution for a housing refurbishment because of its quick curing times.

In many circumstances, residents will be in-situ when the refurbishment works are undertaken, meaning minimal disruption is required. Cold applied liquid waterproofing often offers fast curing times to ensure renovations can be completed quickly, on time and within budget.

Solvent-free, non-odour waterproofing solutions are also on offer – ideal in circumstances where residents remain in-situ or live close-by.

Large expanses of sheeting materials on a roof area are not practical in many housing refurbishments, and could offer health and safety issues depending on the location of the site. High-rise housing apartments for example could be subject to high winds on the roof area, and access to the roof could be restricted or unsafe for operatives that might be carrying lots of materials.

No hot works are required as part of cold-applied liquid waterproofing systems, further reducing potential health and safety risks, and no wait time between applications of resin. And because liquid waterproofing is seamless, once cured, the system forms an elastomeric waterproof membrane that cannot delaminate, is UV stable, and creates a sturdy bond directly to the substrate.

Sustainable refurbishment

Many local councils and housing associations face a similar dilemma when undergoing housing refurbishment work – how to successfully renovate buildings of the past to provide homes for the future.

Plans developed and products specified must offer a durable, long-term solution, as well as address the immediate challenges onsite.

There are many benefits of choosing a cold-applied liquid waterproofing system for flat roof repairs, and with quality application, this can ensure a sustainable refurbishment to serve a community for many years to come.

Victoria Ramwell is UK marketing manager at Kemper System