Friday, September 13, 2013

Miami Roofers Tarp a Flat Roof

In Miami roofers face a daunting task whenever they must replace a flat roof in the middle of rainy season. Many of these are backyard residential low-slope roofs tied in to a sloped roof - usually a concrete or clay tile roof - creating problems when protecting the home. To avoid a catastrophic flooding of the house during a low-slope replacement we follow these basic steps. Two rules of thumb I’ve picked up over the years when dealing with flat roofs in Miami can be summed up like this: plan ahead and don’t be cheap!!

Pick the right day to tear off the roof. Give yourself the best possible chance to have a day free of the drama that comes with having a flat roof half torn off in the face of a fast-approaching thunderstorm. I simply will not open a roof when rain chances are 40% or more. This is all an exercise in patience not only for you but the customer who should be briefed on the importance of choosing the right day.

Tearing off , drying in & torching - be ready 
Remove roof tiles in advance of the tear-off at the tie-in. Usually we tear off two rows of tile to accommodate the tie-in. When the flat roof is complete we put one row back, ensuring we’ll have enough. This can be time-consuming so it is helpful to have it done in advance.

Make the cut at the tie-in right away. On the morning of the tear-off the cut should be made 18” – 24” above the break at the slope transition. Explore the tie-in area and find where the existing tin-caps are. They are typically installed in rows so if the cut is made immediately above a row there will be plenty of free space to slide in the base sheet for a head-lap of at least 4” or, when necessary, a tarp. Once a flat roof has been significantly torn off there is no choice but to tarp it when a thunderstorm pops up – be ready. Having a phone that will give you real-time animated radar shots is mandatory – you must to be able to see the storm coming.

Tarped flat roof - didn't spill a drop . . .
Use a good tarp – blue won’t do!! When buying a tarp there are basically two rules. RULE 1: DON’T BE CHEAP!! Tarps are color-coded, blue tarps are light duty (5-6 mil) and a too thin to trust here. They puncture easily and that is a disaster on a flat roof full of water. I like the silver tarps. At 12 mils they are heavy duty and UV resistant so you can get more use out of them. RULE 2: DON’T BE CHEAP!! Make sure you buy a tarp big enough to extend over the eaves. The roof shown here was L-shaped so we used two tarps with a 3 foot lap. Placing 2 x 4s under the lap and weighing the tarp down on each side has worked well for me.

I know, the big orange box and roof suppliers have mostly blue tarps and heavy duty tarps are hard to find with a limited selection. has all the tarps you can possibly imagine at great prices with fast and free shipping. With a little planning you can always have the right tarp for the job.

By Michael R. Slattery


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