Cold Storage Roofing: 5 Tips for Creating Effective Construction Documents

By Kristin M Westover PE 11-13-2023
Tag Icon

Cold storage facilities face unique challenges when it comes to maintaining optimal interior temperature levels. Development of cold storage roofing system design documents that both maintain interior temperatures and create an airtight roof system are important to have a high-performing cold storage roof. Uncontrolled airflow into the roofing assembly can lead to condensation within the roof and the presence of icicles or ice balls at the underside of the roof deck. Condensation and ice in the roofing assembly adds weight to the roof assembly, and wet insulation has significantly reduced R-value. A reduction in R-value means that it is more difficult for the insulation to retain interior temperatures, and cooling equipment has to work harder to maintain the interior temperature set points.

With this in mind, here are five tips on how to create a high performing cold storage roofing project:

  1. Clearly Define Project Goals

    Outline the goals for the project, such as interior temperatures, energy efficiency requirements, and methods for controlling air leakage and thermal loss. This will help guide the design phase and inform value engineering efforts related to the roof assembly selection, including specified R-values for insulation and roof assembly attachment methods.

  2. Provide Complete Roof Assembly Design

    Include a complete roof assembly design with considerations to service life, wind uplift, hail, foot traffic, and energy efficiency. The entire roof assembly including membrane selection, insulation type and R-value, coverboard selection, and roof attachment methods should take into account the design considerations. A thicker membrane, with a coverboard below it, will extend the overall service life of the roof assembly, increasing resilience to hail and foot traffic. The specified insulation type and R-value, along with the roof attachment method will impact the energy efficiency and wind uplift performance. Consideration to how the components come together to form the roof assembly are essential for achieving the project goals.

  3. Incorporate Comprehensive Detailing

    Include comprehensive details for penetrations, curbs, and roof-to-wall transitions, clearly illustrating methods for roof membrane termination with special consideration to preventing thermal bridging and air leakage. Lack of attention to detail can lead to both water leaks and air leaks, both impacting cold storage operations inside the building. Gaps in the insulation or lack of closed cell spray foam insulation at penetrations and roof-to-wall transitions creates thermal bridges allowing for escape of interior conditioned air, or infiltration of warmer exterior air. Where the warmer exterior air is able to meet with the cold interior air, condensation occurs, which often presents itself as icicles at the underside of the roof deck. Condensation that collects within the roof assembly can saturate the insulation, ultimately reducing the R-value and insulating ability of the insulation.

  4. Specify Material Compatibility

    Ensure the compatibility of all materials used within the roof system in order to achieve optimal performance and avoid potential issues during installation and throughout the life of the roof system. Specifying manufacturer tested assemblies, including proper attachment rates are crucial for ensuring that the roof system meets the wind uplift requirements. Additionally, manufacturer approved products and assemblies should be used to avoid compatibility issues, which may occur with installing dissimilar materials.

  5. Include Installation Guidelines

    Provide manufacturer's installation guidelines to ensure a successful installation of the roof system. For each component of the roof system, ensure there is proper detailing and an approved installation method that meets the design intent. Encourage communication between trades, including scheduling, particularly where the roof components interface with other building or exterior wall components. Additionally, requesting appropriate roof product and assembly submittals to confirm that the installation meets the specifications.

By focusing on the key areas of cold storage roofing design, designers can create thermally efficient and airtight roof systems that will provide a long-lasting roof for years to come. A well-designed and detailed roof plan will ensure the success of the project, promote energy efficiency, and ultimately lead to a high-performing cold storage roof.

Curious to learn more about cold storage buildings and the critical role roofing plays? Explore the GAF cold storage website, Read A Guide to Cold Storage Roof System Design, connect with the GAF Building & Roofing Sciences team, or send an email to for additional information.

Don't miss another GAF RoofViews post!
Whether it's time for a new roof or a repair, you'll need a roofing contractor to help you make the right choices for your home. But if you haven't hired a roofer before, you may not know what to look for.
Your roof protects you and your home from the outside elements. And while a quality roof may provide this protection for many years, unfortunately, no roof lasts forever. If your roof is in need of repair or replacement, it's time to gather a few roofing quotes to get started. Neglecting to fix your roof can lead to water damage and pest intrusion, among other challenges.
In 2022, GAF launched a first-of-its-kind initiative in Pacoima, one of the hottest neighborhoods in Los Angeles, to explore community-wide solutions to combat urban heat. The GAF Cool Community Project is addressing the complex issue of extreme heat through a research-driven approach: Take a hot, sun-exposed community with an abundance of heat-retaining surfaces. Then, apply solar-reflective coatings to its streets and public hardscapes. With resources and support from GAF and non-profit partners, more than 700,000 square feet worth of streets, parking lots, and other hardscapes were coated with StreetBond DuraShield with Invisible ShadeTM technology over a contiguous 10-block area. The formerly dark streets were transformed to a cool gray-blue, and colorful coatings brighten the basketball courts and other public gathering spaces.
Longtime fixtures of playgrounds and recreational areas, sports courts have a lot to offer. In addition to providing opportunities for children and adults to participate in physical activities, they can strengthen communities. There are also other benefits when courts are designed to reduce surface temperatures and protect substrate materials.
What is going on here? No, this roof does not have measles, it has a problem with thermal bridging through the roof fasteners holding its components in place, and this problem is not one to be ignored.
GAF is committed to building more resilient communities in the areas where we live and work. Working with our network of manufacturing communities, we can leverage our expertise, resources, and products to help protect the places we call home. Our local teams lend their time and talents to address the unique needs of each community, as we help support the fundamental needs of shelter, families and workforces.
This blog contains information created by a variety of sources, including internal and third party writers. The opinions and views expressed do not necessarily represent those of GAF. The content is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute financial, accounting, tax or legal advice. GAF does not guarantee the accuracy, reliability, and completeness of the information. In no event shall GAF be held responsible or liable for errors or omissions in the content or for the results, damages or losses caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on the content.

Interested in sharing or republishing our content? We kindly ask you to adhere to our guidelines.