The importance of using a good quality adhesive on flat roof projects

The importance of using a good quality adhesive on flat roof projects

Adrian Buttress, managing director of EPDM rubber roofing specialists Permaroof, and John McMullan, general manager at Firestone Building Products UK & Ireland, discuss the importance of using a good quality adhesive on flat roof projects

EPDM roofing membranes have been developed as long-term solutions and, due to the optimal balancing of the key ingredients to give extended durability, you can expect the material to withstand the elements for more than 50 years.

So, it makes sense that the adhesive used to adhere the roof to the deck is of equally high performance – ensuring a robust, durable, and resilient system that requires minimal maintenance and adapts to current and future building needs.

Adrian says: “Rubber roofs can be applied using cold, water-based adhesives, which has resulted in a safer, faster application method – and this is why the single-ply roofing system has become increasingly popular in recent years.”

Temperature fluctuations

From the freezing temperatures of Russia to the desert sun of Saudi Arabia, a high-quality roofing solution must stand up to the Earth’s ever-changing elements.

“The world’s temperature isn’t static, and a good adhesive will be able to cope with this weather cycling and withstand climate fluctuations – something that is becoming increasingly important as a result of global warming,” says Adrian. It is not just about how a product lasts in its natural state. Roof covering surface temperatures change over a 24-hour period, meaning it will get warm during the day when it is exposed to direct sunlight and cold at night. As such, it’s no good for an adhesive and membrane to only be tested in the UK because it may not be able to withstand the heat in Dubai or the sub-zero temperatures of northern Finland.”

In 1980, the roof of Albo Manufacturing Co.’s warehouse in Wisconsin, USA, became the first project to use Firestone’s new roofing system, with a total of 750m2 being installed. “One of the main challenges for the new roofing system was that it had to cope efficiently with the extreme temperature fluctuations that are experienced in Wisconsin, which can reach -30C in winter and more than 40C in summer,” says John.

An upfront investment

Investing in a quality adhesive to properly adhere your roof to its deck will bear many long-term benefits. Not only will this protect your home from various weather conditions and keep it safe and secure, it will also make the system more cost effective in the long run. Adrian says: “Exposure to various difficulties such as heavy rains and strong winds will lead to wear and tear, reducing the longevity of the roof, which undoubtably means spending more money on maintenance or even replacement costs.

“However, if you are using a quality and genuine adhesive during the installation process, this will work to guarantee the long-term performance of the waterproofing – reducing upkeep costs in the long run. I’ve seen isolated cases where an adhesive has failed, and it’s turned out that the product a contractor was using wasn’t authentic.”

A full system approach

The best way to avoid problems and failures down the line is to ensure you are using a full waterproofing system, which consists of a membrane, adhesive, tape and primer – all from the same brand.

“The single system solution is hardly a revelation considering that the problem of unreliable results clearly stems from overly using a mix of products,” says Adrian. “But it’s important that it’s reiterated and heard clearly by the industry. It also helps to aid traceability, which is more important than ever before, and helps to keep a high standard of roofing in the UK.”

John adds: “Using a rubber membrane and its matching adhesive purchased from one source offers a reliable long-life solution. This industry-proven system has been designed to work together in harmony and it is critical that the adhesive is matched because it has been tested in a lab under various controlled conditions to prove its durability.

“Furthermore, choosing a full system from a reputable brand will usually mean the inclusion of a warranty. For example, Firestone offers a membrane warranty up to 20 years with every installation by a licensed or authorised installer.

“Things are designed and made to go together, and this is no different for a roofing system.”

As adhesives are unseen and hidden beneath the surface of the roofing membrane, it is easy to understand why some may choose to save on their cost. But ignoring the critical role adhesives play in a good quality roofing installation means the system may end up failing to a catastrophic – and expensive – effect.

For further information on Permaroof UK visit

For further information on Firestone EPDM Training Courses visit

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