Colorado is arguably one the most beautiful states in the country. We bask in countless sunny days – even during the winter months. But its not always butterflies and puppy dogs. One of those pesky Colorado weather events that can be so very destructive is hail, and we get a lot of it. During a strong hail event, you begin to truly appreciate how important your roof is. The type of roof you have – as well as the material components directly under your roof – can have a lot to do with whether or not your roof suffers damage during a hail storm. But if you’ve lived in Colorado for any length of time, you no doubt realize that no roof is completely safe from hail.
As a commercial and industrial roofing contractor, specializing in low-sloped and flat roofs, we see the devastating results of hail every year. It’s not just a residential problem. The fact that hail damage is so pervasive for all types of roofing systems (even metal roofs) is precisely why most roofing systems exclude hail damage from their warranties. Also, those roofing manufacturers that do provide hail coverage usually do so only at an additional cost. And that cost is in “addition” to the enhanced installation requirements that drive up the cost of the roofing system in the first place. So one way or another, we all pay for hail. That’s why we think hail is a 4-letter word.
So what determines whether or not your roof will be damaged by hail? Of course, the size of the hail is a huge determining factor – one that can’t be controlled. The larger the hail, the more impact it has when it hits your roof. It can also determine the velocity of the impact because larger pieces of hail are less reactive to the wind and thus they can hit your roof more directly; whereas lighter hail can be blown about by the wind upon its descent, which may allow it to hit your roof at an angle. But there is another related and contributing factor: the slope of your roof.
A sloped roof; i.e., a shingle roof, will handle hail more effectively. Imagine a piece of hail failing from the sky and hitting a roof that is sloped at a 45-degree angle. The impact is minimized because the hail is not hitting the roof full-on and therefore, the energy of the impact is much more of a glancing impact. To help understand this, consider a flat roof. That same piece of hail falling from the sky will it the flat roof dead-on, exactly perpendicular to the roof’s surface. All of the energy of that piece of hail must be absorbed by the roof. So in addition to the size of the hail, the angle of your roof’s slope can lessen or worsen the impact of the hail.
Now you may not be able to do anything about the size of the hail or the angle of your roof. But there are some things you can do to help minimize the damage that hail can cause. When it comes to low-sloped and flats roofs, using a quality roofing membrane is important. Some may say “the thicker the membrane the better.” While it can help, it is not always true for various reasons and therefore, should not be the sole determining factor. For example, a thin piece of steel can be significantly stronger than a thick piece of glass. The quality of the product is very important.
Also important is what is directly underneath the roofing membrane. A soft fiberboard can actually cause the hail to penetrate the membrane because of the “give” in the material underneath. On the other hand, a hard cover board; i.e., Dens Deck or even a high-density polyisocyanurate insulation board, will not allow the same type of give. In the latter case, the hail will be more apt to bounce up off of the roof without penetrating the membrane. This is due specifically to that harder material underneath.
Of course, if your roof has already been affected by hail, what do you do then? Is all lost? Not necessarily. In fact, a roof restoration can usually be done if action is taken quickly. To find out more about roof restorations and whether or not your roof would qualify, please visit our roof restoration page.