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Roofing Systems: A Primer for Engineers

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Instructor Information: Alexander Newman, P.E., F.ASCE

Course Length: 1.5 Hours

This webinar was co-sponsored by ASCE's Structural Engineering Institute and ASCE Continuing Education

Purpose and Background

Structural engineers rarely specify building roofing beyond designing the supporting structure. And yet a contemporary roofing assembly could be a relatively complex construction system. Its design often involves technical issues that call for engineering expertise. When the roofing specifiers are ignorant of these issues, roofing problems tend to follow.

These problems are very common. According to one source, while the cost of the roofing is typically less than 10 percent of the total building cost, roofs generate more than half of all the construction complaints. Many roofs fail prematurely. With proper training, structural engineers can help the architects avoid these problems – and expand their traditional scope of services in the process.

There are many different roofing systems on the market today, and it is important to understand how these products differ from one another. The webinar provides an overview of the various systems and materials available in the United States. The emphasis is on the technical topics, such as the minimum slope required for each type of roofing, attachments to the substrate to achieve the desired wind resistance, the pros and cons of the available wind-uplift testing methods, and the required rigidity of the substrate.

The main objective of the webinar is to enable engineers to navigate these technical topics with confidence and to advise other design professionals of any potential problems.

Learning Outcomes

  • Learn about the differences between the low-slope and steep-slope roofs
  • Become familiar with the engineering aspects of various roofing systems

Webinar Benefits

  • Explore the advantages and disadvantages of various types of roofing
  • Find out which minimum slope is required by the building codes for each roofing system and how the desired slope is influenced by the building’s location
  • Discover the common type of roofing that tends to perform better when installed at a slope that exceeds the minimum required by code
  • Find out how various types of roof insulation influence the product selection
  • Examine the main reasons for roof failures
  • Learn about the most common areas of roof damage in service

Intended Audience

Structural and civil engineers, architects, and building officials seeking to broaden their knowledge of the engineering aspects of various roofing systems will benefit from this webinar.

Webinar Outline

  • Introduction: Why engineers need to learn about roofing
  • Various types of roofing and their uses
  • Low-slope roofing
    – Typical components
    – Built-up roofing
    – Single-ply roofing
    – Other
  • Steep-slope roofing
    – Typical components
    – Shingles
    – Tile
  • Metal roofing