Brunton’s Blog – What makes Single Ply Systems?


What makes Single Ply Systems?


In the course of my work over the last few months I have had the opportunity to visit a number of ongoing roofing projects of various single ply systems. The projects visited were being installed by our contractor or prospective contractor members. I was there to carry out audit work which is at the heart of SPRA membership. I consider this to be a real perk of the job, getting to discuss issues with installers and see how they have tackled a particular detail or problem on site. Difficult details or problems requiring solutions are always the most interesting as they should take us back to first principals and call on our experience, knowledge and skills to come up with the right solution. So, I thank our manufacturer and contractor members for always being willing to discuss these issues on and offsite.


However, during the course of carrying out site visits it’s good to get an understanding and appreciation of the range of accessories and the quality that is now available for single ply roofing systems. Indeed, accessory products are an integral part of any single ply roofing system and we are lucky within SPRA to have so many accessory manufacturer members represented. This has clearly brought a broader, deeper and therefore better understanding regarding how a single ply roofing system can be completed for any given situation.


Accessory products have evolved in recent years to allow better single ply systems to be developed. These include enhanced performance in the components required in a roofing system such as insulation (including cut-to-falls), attachment systems including range of fixings, seam and insulation plates, range of adhesive types and improved methods of application for both mechanically fastened and adhesive technologies. Other necessary system components for example a range of different types of air and vapour control layers (AVCL’s) that allow specific selection depending on any given factors that the system or building type has to cope with.


An often ‘unsung’ hero in the accessory discussion is the system ‘protection’ products. The obvious components here are the walkway products. Again, there is such a variety available to ensure the correct type of protection to the system in regular access areas for maintenance as well as H&S provision. Protection systems come into play in ballasted, inverted and green roofs also and again there are purpose designed components to provide the right level of protection. There are excellent products for ensuring lateral pipelines and plant are suspended properly protecting the finished system. In addition to plant at roof level we see an increasing amount of PV arrays post-installed covering the finished roof and again it is critical that the correct accessory specific to the PV array support and single ply membrane for waterproof detailing is used.


This blog was inspired by a discussion recently with a roofer on site who was explaining to me the approach he was taking to install the array waterproof detailing and the excellent propriety product he was using which was fully complimentary to the waterproofing membrane system. The overall detailing as well as the accessory product and the skill of the worker made that roof look so professional, a credit to all the companies involved really promoting single ply roofing. The good thing was the accessory product manufacturer had taken the time previously to explain to the roofer exactly how the product should be installed. System in action!


Single ply systems are enhanced systems today that allow specific component choice for any project to get the specification right. Accessory products really do compliment the system as a whole and provide a better system overall. The excellent outlook is that having a broad spectrum of accessory components with manufacturers continually improving their products through research and development allows continual improvement of the single ply roof.


In closing it is superb that we have a vibrant and growing representation within SPRA of quality accessory product manufacturers. Ensuring that this continues is important as is the training and instruction given to the roofers who will install these components and accessories. Above case in point.When you see examples of such co-operation between manufacturers and specialist contractors a good single ply roof is hard, if not impossible to beat.


Dr Ronan Brunton B.Sc MBA GMICE, Technical Manager