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Roofing Is a 'Wild Ride': Q&A with Mark Rutherford of Atlanta Roofing Specialists

By Dawn Killough

May 25, 2023

Mark Rutherford and team from Atlanta Roofing Specialist

Mark Rutherford is one of the founders and current co-owner of Atlanta Roofing Specialists, where he's responsible for production and commercial sales. The company provides new roofs and repair services for residential and commercial buildings in the Atlanta area, and has been a part of the community for 30 years.

Rutherford started his journey in roofing at age 17 when he began working for his then-girlfriend's, now wife's, father's roofing company. He worked there after school and on weekends until he joined the Army. Rutherford was stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia, so he was able to continue doing roofing work on weekends and days off.

In May of 1993 after completing his military service, he formed Atlanta Roofing Specialists with his uncle Kevin King. They started the company with the goal of providing top-quality work and service, using superior products. Rutherford recently discussed his experience as a roofing professional and business owner as the company celebrates its 30 year anniversary.

Q: What Do You Wish You'd Known before You Started?

I wish I'd known how much work it was starting your own business. I knew the roofing business was hard, difficult, backbreaking work at times, but running a business is a whole other level of difficulty. Especially meeting all the government and state regulations we have to meet.

In the early days, we were working 12 to 14 hours a day, six days a week—and sometimes seven if times required. It's a lot more work than I realized it was going to be, but it's all worked out pretty well.

I'm the kind of person that has to learn things hands-on, and by doing all of these things by myself, I learned by trial and error. What was the easier way? What lasted longer? I feel like if I hadn't done the hands-on part myself for so long, I wouldn't have come up with the process that we have now.

Q: How Did You Become a GAF Master Elite® Contractor?

We already liked GAF products and were familiar with them when GAF developed their certified contractor program*. We were one of the very first contractors in the Atlanta area to participate in the program when we became certified in 1997.

Q: What is it Like Being a GAF-Certified Contractor?

First, they provide a lot of resources that help us run our business properly. For example, they provide plenty of training that helped us learn about GAF products and installation techniques and procedures. In addition, as a GAF Master Elite® contractor, we're able to offer the strongest GAF warranty available — the Golden Pledge Limited Warranty, which provides 25-years of workmanship coverage on qualifying GAF roofing systems**.

They've been an innovator with products and warranties. I think they offer better-looking products than some of their competitors. They're always testing and coming up with new technologies. I think that they're leaders and innovators in the industry.

Q: How Has GAF Supported Your Business Growth?

We have regular meetings with our sales rep where he asks us what we're doing and where we want to be and if there's anything they can do to help us get there. They distribute all types of product literature and samples, plus they have great marketing that helps us advertise their products.

We have to take the GAF certification test every year and they offer refresher training, both online and in person. They also have a variety of training opportunities through GAF CARE, which is the Center for Advancement of Roofing Excellence. They have all types of instructional videos on everything from how to install a better roof to how to run a company better. So, there's lots of support.

Q: What Classes or Education That GAF Offers Have Been the Most Beneficial?

The CARE program is great. They even have YouTube videos that I can distribute throughout my sales force by just hitting the share button. A good example is with some of the shingles that we don't apply every day, some of the really high-end products that we might install only a few times a year. I always have my workers, the foreman, and the supervisor go over the videos for those products the day before and go through the installation instructions to make sure that they are following all the procedures. This is pretty important. If we're going to be offering their warranties, we want to make sure the products are installed correctly.

Q: What Advice Do You Have for Those Interested in a Roofing Career?

Buckle up and hang on because it can be a wild ride at times, but it's worth it. I would say get involved in the industry, learn everything you can to be the best you can be, and try to make the industry better for everybody.

Also, stay humble. Don't concentrate on making money. I say concentrate on being the best at what you're doing, and the rewards will come.

Grow Your Roofing Career

If you're interested in starting a rewarding career in either commercial or residential roofing, there's room for you—with 19,000 new jobs expected by 2028! To start your roofing career journey, explore classes with the GAF Roofing Academy for training, along with a pathway to new opportunities. And if you're already in the roofing trade, check out what a GAF certification could mean for your business and its future growth.

*Contractors enrolled in GAF certification programs are not employees or agents of GAF, and GAF does not control or otherwise supervise these independent businesses. Contractors may receive benefits, such as loyalty rewards points and discounts on marketing tools from GAF for participating in the program and offering GAF enhanced warranties, which require the use of a minimum amount of GAF products.

** See GAF Golden Pledge Limited Warranty for complete coverage and restrictions.

About the Author

Dawn Killough is a freelance writer in the construction, finance, and accounting fields. She is the author of an ebook about green building and writes for construction tech and green building websites. She lives in Salem, Oregon with her husband and four cats.

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GAF Community Contractor Program Celebrates Success in Seattle

When communities come together, incredible things happen. That's exactly the case in the city of Seattle, Washington, where the GAF Community Contractor Program has made lasting impacts on those in need through partnerships with Habitat for Humanity and ReBuilding Together. Both nonprofit organizations focus on working with homeowners to build new homes and revitalize communities in need of rebuilding, respectively.GAF's partnership with Habitat for Humanity began in 2011. From the start, it felt like a natural pairing. Habitat for Humanity's vision of "building strength, stability and self-reliance in partnership with families in need of decent and affordable housing" aligns perfectly with GAF's commitment to building resiliency in communities across the U.S.GAF recently became involved in ReBuilding Together in the Pacific Northwest through GAF Territory Manager Donovan Gladstone, whose involvement with the board of Roofing Contractors Association of Washington created an opportunity for community partnership. ReBuilding Together's mission of "repairing homes, revitalizing communities, rebuilding lives" is an excellent fit with GAF's commitment to helping neighbors.Helping Contractors Support their CommunitiesGAF invests in the areas where it has manufacturing operations, aiming to lift up the communities where team members live and work. This ideal extends to the GAF Community Contractor Program, where GAF certified contractors can partner with GAF and give back through the following initiatives:GAF Habitat for Humanity Program. With over 1,500 local Habitat for Humanity affiliates in the U.S., GAF-certified contractors can partner with their local chapter to provide the labor to install fully-donated GAF roofing systems. Volunteers don't work alone. Homeowners invest hundreds of hours of their own labor into building their Habitat house.GAF Affordable Housing Reroof Program. This initiative encourages contractors to partner with any 501c3 nonprofit organization in their community for a reroof project, for which GAF will donate the shingles.GAF Roofs for Heroes. GAF-certified contractors can partner with a local 501c3 to perform roof repairs or replacements for local heroes. These heroes include healthcare workers, first responders, veterans, police, fire, and EMTs.As part of the Community Contractor Program's progress in Washington state, more than 20 GAF certified contractors were able to provide over 100 new roofs to those in need of a new roof in the Seattle region, working with Habitat for Humanity and ReBuilding Together. "Giving back is at the core of what GAF does, but bringing in and partnering with our contractors is something that makes us unique," explains GAF Director of Corporate Social Responsibility Arlene Marks.Celebrating Giving Back While Giving Back AgainMarks and Gladstone wanted to host an event to thank the contractors who donated their time and labor to install those roofs and came up with a unique and fun way to extend the spirit of giving through Welcome Home Toolkits. "This was Arlene's idea, and it was such a great one," Gladstone notes.Marks shares, "We try to make all of our events meaningful, so what was the best way that we could reach back out to these homeowners that we've already helped? The Welcome Home Kits were the answer."The contractors attending the event assembled toolkits containing basic items like screwdrivers, nut drivers, adjustable wrenches, pliers, hammers, safety glasses, and more. The kits also include a video message of encouragement from the program participants.Most of the individuals who are helped through the roof donations are first-time homeowners. Accordingly, many don't have the basic tools needed to maintain their homes. The gift of a Welcome Home Toolkit provides so much more than drivers and wrenches, it offers confidence, resilience, and peace of mind.Building Community Among ContractorsIncredible things happen when communities come together—not only for the recipients of the donations, but for the participants as well. GAF-certified contractors in the Seattle region came together to give back to the community while building new professional relationships and friendships at the same time."You're bringing together like-minded people," Marks notes. "While they are competitors in the field, they already have the compassion to help their communities. It was an opportunity to work together toward a common goal to meet, share ideas, and talk about the market in a very safe and non-competitive environment."Impacting the CommunityA representative from Habitat for Humanity attended the appreciation event in Seattle to say thank you and share how much of an impact ReBuilding Together and the contractors' work have had on the community. The Welcome Home Toolkits were provided to both organizations and have gone a long way toward welcoming and inspiring the new homeowners.Looking to get involved in giving back to your community? Visit the GAF Community Matters page to explore different opportunities and get started.

By Authors Karen L Edwards

March 01, 2024

Contractor installing a residential roof
Residential Roofing

When Is the Best Time to Replace a Roof?

If every day was sunny, mild, and a pleasant 75 degrees, there'd be little reason to wonder about the best time to replace a roof. Of course, not everyone lives in areas with ideal weather conditions, as climates vary greatly across the country.So if a client ever asks, "When is the best time to replace a roof?" your answer will likely vary based on where they live and what each season is like. However, you can share some general pointers in response. Here's what to consider for each season to help answer the question, "when is the best time to replace a roof?"SpringSpringtime is traditionally recognized as the kickoff of roofing season, as outside temperatures begin to warm and activity increases. Thanks to melting ice and snow, it's also the time of year that homeowners may want to have their roofs checked out for damage.While spring offers outdoor temperatures that are more friendly for workers, the season also typically comes with an increased chance of severe thunderstorms (and potentially tornados, depending on the region). Spring is usually a good time to schedule a roof replacement if you just monitor the weather forecast for major events to help reduce the chance of delays.SummerWith spring showers in the rearview, most areas of the country see longer stretches of nice weather during summertime, which lends itself well to working outside. Accordingly, summer tends to be the most ideal time for installing a new roof.But with potentially hot days, when is the best time to replace a roof in the summer? Workers will need to start as early in the day as possible because temperatures are usually cooler in the morning. Depending on the forecast temperatures, the job may need to be spread over a few days, so most of the work can be done in the morning hours before it gets too hot. It's also wise to remind customers that workers will need to have breaks in the shade and access to water to stay hydrated.FallThe autumn months can be an equally good time for a roof replacement as summer, as the hot and hazy days have passed, and severe weather isn't as common. The only exception to this is if you're working in an area prone to hurricanes. Hurricane season runs through the end of November and can cause project delays.In addition to the favorable weather, fall is a popular season for roof replacement because many property owners want to fortify their homes and buildings with a new roof before the winter months.WinterIn some areas of the country, it may be possible to continue roofing installations year-round, including during the winter. In southern regions, for example, roofing replacements can often be completed in the winter, as there's less chance of inclement weather. Temperatures may drop, but not as drastically as in areas that see ice and snow more regularly. Of course, it's still important to reference the relevant local forecast when scheduling upcoming work.Sustained stretches of very cold weather does not constitute suitable weather for the installation of asphalt shingles. All self-sealing shingles must be exposed to warm, sunny conditions for several days before they completely seal. Before sealing occurs, shingles are vulnerable to blow-offs and wind damage. Shingles installed in fall or winter may not seal until the following spring. Shingles that are not exposed to direct sunlight, adequate surface temperatures, or that are not fastened or installed properly may never seal. Failures to seal, blow-offs, and wind damage under these circumstances result from the nature of self-sealing shingles, and are not covered under most manufacturer's warranties. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper installation. While most provide guidance about cold weather installations, it will ultimately be up to you to exercise discretion about when to move forward with an installation vs. postponing the work until more favorable weather conditions are present.Other Factors That May Affect Project TimingWhile weather is likely the leading factor that can disrupt scheduled roofing work, if you want to best answer your client's question of "when is the best time to replace a roof?" you'll need to take other factors into account when setting timeline expectations for property owners. One such consideration is the lead time needed for materials. If your customer chooses an uncommon color or a specialty product, it may take longer for materials to arrive.Another factor to weigh is your own backlog. If your production calendar is booked weeks out, clearly communicate the timing to your customers with the knowledge that weather events could impact the schedule. Regularly communicating with customers and setting accurate expectations are key to a positive experience.Looking to learn more roofing best practices and further expand your knowledge base? Check out GAF's CARE Contractor Training Center to help build your skill set and receive valuable training.

By Authors Karen L Edwards

February 12, 2024

Cold storage facility for fresh produce
Building Science

Is your Cold Storage energy use through the roof?

This piece is co-written by Jennifer Keegan, AAIA. The headaches of Cold Storage facility operations extend beyond making sure the ice cream doesn't melt. Owners and Operators are regularly challenged with: Selecting a cost-effective roof system that is going to be long-lasting Working around unsafe areas in the interior due to ice accumulation Struggling to reduce monthly energy bills For Owners who are looking to increase energy savings and safety records, your roof not only keeps the weather out, but can help resolve these operational issues. _____________ Cold Storage buildings are designed to maintain cold temperatures, much colder temperatures than a typical building. Cold storage facilities, such as blast freezers, may be required to maintain an interior temperature of minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Having a structure that is properly insulated and sealed to maintain the required temperature and minimize ice build-up is important not only for the products being stored inside, but also for potential energy savings over the life of the facility. How can roofing materials impact energy savings? Think of the walls of the Cold Storage facility as a jacket, and the roof as a hat. When it is cold outside, you want to make sure that you have a jacket and a hat to insulate and keep you warm. The same idea applies to a Cold Storage facility — the roof and walls of the structure insulate the products inside. But in this case, when it's warm outside, they keep the products inside cold. Not having enough insulation, on either the walls or the roof, will make your mechanical systems work harder to maintain the interior temperatures, which increases energy use, and can result in higher energy bills. The effectiveness of roof insulation is determined by its R-value. According to Energy Star, R-value is a measure of an insulation's ability to resist heat traveling through it. The higher the R-value, the better the thermal performance of the insulation and its effectiveness at maintaining interior temperatures. R-value is typically expressed as a value per inch of insulation, and the recommended R-value of Cold Storage spaces will vary based on the interior temperature, although they are much higher than typically recommended for a traditional building. For comparison, a traditional office building may require an R-value of 30. In the 2018 edition of the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers' ASHRAE Handbook – Refrigeration, there are suggested minimum R-values for Roof Insulation between 30 and 60, depending on the cold storage type. R-values will vary by product, including factors such as thickness and density. When calculating the total R-value of a multilayered installation, adding the R-values of the individual layers will provide the total R-value in the system. Particularly in Cold Storage, it makes sense to select an insulation that provides a higher R-value per inch, such as Polyisocyanurate (Polyiso, R-5.6 per inch), Extruded Polystyrene (XPS R-5.0 per inch), or Expanded Polystyrene (EPS R-3.8 per inch). While insulations come in many thicknesses, it is a best practice to install several layers of thinner insulation rather than one or two layers of thicker insulation in order to reduce thermal bridging. Thermal bridging occurs when insulation is discontinuous between joints, allowing for air and thermal movement between the joints or gaps between boards. During installation, the use of several layers of insulation allows for staggering and offsetting the insulation joints, and blocks the passages that allow for air to bypass the insulation. Limiting thermal bridging can increase energy efficiency as it limits air movement between insulation boards. Figure 1: Lower energy efficiency resulting from air movement between boards and fasteners acting as a thermal bridge. Adding the adequate amount of insulation will prevent uncontrolled loss of the interior conditioned air, as well as assist in maintaining the required interior temperatures. Better maintaining the interior conditioned temperatures means that the cooling systems are required to run less often, which can equate to energy savings. While there may be an additional upfront cost to install an additional layer of insulation to increase the overall R-value of the roof, the cost should be minimal compared to the long-term savings of the added insulation. Of course, energy cost savings are not guaranteed and the amount of savings may vary based on climate zone, utility rates, radiative properties of roofing products, insulation levels, HVAC equipment efficiency and other factors. What about the roof membrane? While there are many choices when it comes to the type of membrane, the most common discussion revolves around the color of the membrane. For a typical building, maintaining a comfortable space involves both heating and cooling, depending on the season. For the typical building, the color selection of the membrane has a greater effect when the interior of the building is being cooled. A highly reflective (light colored) roof membrane offers extra benefits when the interior is being cooled, because it will reflect heat from the sun. Similarly, for a Cold Storage building, it is beneficial to select a lighter-colored roof in order to reflect the heat from the sun to assist in reducing the already high costs related to cooling the building. Reflecting heat from the sun will decrease the heat radiating into the interior, which means the cooling equipment will not have to work as hard to maintain interior temperatures, and will ultimately work more efficiently. What about roof attachment? We discussed the concept of thermal bridging and how energy loss occurs at discontinuities between the joints of the insulation, but thermal bridging can also occur where there are fastener penetrations through the roof system, as seen in Figure 1. Fasteners are used to attach the insulation and the membrane to the roof deck, which is referred to as a mechanically attached system. A way to reduce the thermal bridging that occurs at fastener penetrations is to bury them in the system or eliminate them altogether and install an adhered roof system. An adhered roof system typically fastens the bottom layer of insulation to the deck level and then subsequent layers of insulation, membrane and coverboard, are adhered. By eliminating the fasteners, the path for air to travel into the roof system is also reduced. Figures 2 and 3 illustrate good and better scenarios, in terms of limiting thermal bridging and reducing air flow into the roof assembly. In Figure 2, labeled as the 'good' scenario, there are multiple layers of insulation, staggered and offset, but they are mechanically attached to the deck. While the staggered insulation layers limit some of the air flow into the roof assembly, air is still able to travel throughout the roof. In Figure 3, labeled as the 'better' scenario, only the first layer of insulation is mechanically attached and subsequent layers are adhered. By adhering the subsequent layers, air flow into the roof assembly is greatly reduced. Reducing air flow assists in maintaining interior temperatures, which can result in energy savings for the facility. Figure 2: "Good Scenario" with staggered and offset insulation and a mechanically attached roof membrane. Figure 3: "Better Scenario" with the first layer of insulation mechanically attached and subsequent layers of the roof system adhered, greatly reducing the air flow into the roof assembly. The Devil is in the Details The result of limiting air flow through the roof assembly of a Cold Storage facility is not a matter of occupant comfort, but a matter of occupant safety. In a traditional building, such as an office building, a poorly detailed roof termination could result in drafty offices or temperature complaints. In a Cold Storage facility, those same drafts condense due to the large temperature differential between the interior and exterior and the condensation can turn into ice. The ice can form on various surfaces including locations where air leakage is occurring, such as at roof-to-wall interfaces, but also on the Cold Storage floors where the surface of the floor is cooler than the air above it. When ice forms on the floors, it can cause slips, trips, or falls, and can also impact operations if a particular area of the facility has to be avoided. Ice formation inside a Cold Storage facility is the result of improperly designed or executed details. Details, such as those at the wall-to-roof interface, or sealing around penetrations, are crucial to not only keep out rain, but to conserve energy within the facility. Similar to the loss of energy created by thermal bridging, air flow through the roof created by poor detailing results in considerable loss of the cooled temperatures required in the space below. Additionally, air flow that condenses can collect within the roof assembly, including within the insulation, and freeze. Frozen insulation is a common side effect of a Cold Storage roof that is not functioning properly. Frozen insulation is exactly what it sounds like — insulation that has had moisture accumulate within it and then freezes. Frozen insulation has properties similar to wet insulation and is ineffective, since it provides virtually no insulating properties. A frozen roof is almost like having no insulation at all, and the energy used to maintain the interior temperatures goes through the roof! Proper detailing of a Cold Storage facility begins during the planning stage. Determining the type of interior spaces, the sizes, and the overall usage of the facility should be taken into consideration. Once the overall layout of the Cold Storage facility is decided, the construction materials, including the roof assembly, will need to be determined. Once the roof assembly is selected, design of the roof details is crucial. Typical details, including roof-to-wall interface and penetrations, must be meticulously thought out and designed. Roof-to-wall interfaces and penetrations must be sealed to prevent air from entering into the roof assembly. Even the smallest gap that allows air flow can have detrimental effects on the roof assembly. The most common method of ensuring sealed terminations and penetrations is the use of a closed-cell spray foam. Closed-cell spray foam is typically installed at the intersection of the exterior walls and the roof insulation at a width of one inch and extends from the deck level to the top of the insulation. At wall-to-steel deck intersections, it is also best practice to install spray foam in the deck flutes a minimum of 12 inches from the wall. The closed cell spray foam helps to seal the interface so air cannot enter into the roof assembly. Figure 4: GAF Detail 201C Coated Metal Roof Edge at Insulated Wall Panel Proper execution of the roof installation is critical and requires a contractor with Cold Storage construction experience. Having the right partner who understands the importance of their role in the project and collaborates with the team can make or break the project. A future article will dive into these details. In the meantime, for information on GAF-certified contractors, talk to GAF first. The benefits outweigh the risks. Seemingly insignificant decisions made during the design and construction of the roof of a Cold Storage facility can impact the functionality and energy usage of the building for the lifetime of the roof system, which is typically 25-35 years. Once air leakage occurs into a roof assembly, the damage that occurs is often irreversible. Ice accumulation on the floor can be a serious hazard for occupants and workers. The challenge of identifying where the breaches in the roof assembly occur, let alone remediation, can be difficult and costly. Remediation of the identified problems generally includes removal of frozen insulation as well as addressing the identified problem areas which are often attributed to detailing and air leakage. The associated consequence of a poorly designed and installed roof is the cost of the energy loss. Mechanical equipment having to work harder to maintain temperatures will result in higher costs due to an increase in energy use, and the effect of the equipment working harder often leads to premature mechanical failures. The benefits associated with designing and installing a proper Cold Storage roof far outweigh the risks. A properly designed and constructed roof will save energy, prolong the life of mechanical equipment, and protect both the building's occupants and the goods being stored inside the facility. Need to talk to an expert regarding Cold Storage roof design? Talk to GAF first. Email us at coldstorage.assistance@gaf.com for design questions, detailing assistance, and expert advice.

By Authors Kristin Westover

January 26, 2024

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