Roofing Facts

Things you should know before you purchase a new roof system!

Your roof is important

You don’t need a new roof often, but when you do, you want it done right! Roof type and contractor selection are the most important decisions an owner has to make when installing a new roof, or when replacing an old one. A roof constitutes only about 5% of the construction cost of a building, but provides protection for 95% of the balance of an owners investment.

What should an owner expect from a quality roof?

Protect your investment by prolonging the life of your building. Save energy by lowering heat loss. Assure lower maintenance costs. Provide a long term trouble free roof system.

A new roof is a big investment. Our association would like to help you get a good roof at a fair price from a quality roofing contractor. We trust the information provided will help make you more knowledgeable when purchasing a roof.

Roofing options

There are several types of roof systems available for commercial and industrial type structures. It is important that you select the proper roof system to match your building needs.

Built-Up Roofs – Also called BUR, are constructed or “Built-Up” on the roof surface, and consist of roof plies mopped in place with bitumen. Roof plies consist of alternating layers of organic felt or fiberglass membranes. Top surfacing choices include mineral aggregate, bituminous materials, a liquid-applied coating or a granule-surfaced cap sheet.

Single Ply Roofs – Can be subdivided into two basic type membranes – thermoset and thermoplastic. Thermoset membranes are “rubber” like materials such as EPDM. Thermoplastic membranes are “plastic” type materials such as PVC and TPO.

Both thermoset and thermoplastic roof membranes are manufactured in 30 to 60 mil thickness, and are available in reinforced and non-reinforced sheets. Installation methods include loose-laid ballasted, fully adhered (glue down) and mechanically attached.

Modified Bitumen Roofs – Modified bitumen membranes are pre-manufactured sheets consisting of
modified asphalt or coal tar systems with a rubber added to “modify” the sheet asphalt to improve its properties. Modified bitumen membranes are generally “torched” in place with a direct flame, “mopped” in place with hot asphalt bitumen or cold applied bitumen.

Modified bitumen membranes are usually installed over layers of fiberglass membrane adhered in place with bitumen. Modified bitumen membranes are manufactured with a variety of factory applied surfaces, such as mineral granules, metal foil, and smooth. Smooth surfaced sheets may be coated with cold roof coatings.

Green Roofs – Available in two types:
Extensive – Typically uses a thin layer of growing media soil and plantings on top of the roof assembly.
Intensive – uses a heavier layer of soil and larger plants including shrubs, trees and other plants.

Green roofs serve several purposes for a building, such as absorbing rainwater, providing insulation, creating a habitat for wildlife, and helping to lower urban air temperatures.

Photovoltaic Roofs – When installed on a roof, it converts solar energy to electricity reducing the demand for power from fossil fuel and nuclear power plants.

Miscellaneous Roof Systems – Low slope roof systems described in brief above, represent generalcategories of roof systems. There exists variations of the above membranes in the form of “Inverted Roof Membrane Systems”, as well as additional roof systems such as CSPE, PIB, CPE and other prefabricated sheet applied membranes.

The most important element is Good Workmanship!

Roof application is not an exact science. It is a “craft” involving people, dealing with a broad range of building materials, designs, techniques, and weather. Roof application is a construction process involving the skillful arrangement of several components that constitute a roof “system”. The level of workmanship quality during the application process is the critical element of a successful roof installation.

Roofing Expertise – With the myriad of roof membranes, insulation boards, and application methods in the market place today, roof construction has become a very complex business. Roofing contractors must have the expertise to know the value of roof systems, from the roof deck up. They must have the skills to install all the components in compliance with industry standards, and with the least disruption to an owners normal business operation.

Sheet Metal Expertise – Architectural sheet metal, which is utilized to address water drainage systems, fascias and flashings, is an integral part of a roofing system. A roofing contractor must be able to expertly fabricate and combine project architectural sheet metal components into the roof system to insure a complete and watertight installation.

Expertise is “Know How” – “Know How” is learned through education, training and experience. You can not afford to have your roof system installed by amateurs or by a company with “pick-up” workers. Good workmanship directly affects the quality of a roof installation.

Why hire an SMRCA contractor?

Hiring an SMRCA Member Contractor represents “added value”, which translates into dollar savings to building owners. There is a difference between contractors. SMRCA contractors employ only union tradesmen, who are school trained through the SMRCA/Roofers Union Local #149 roofing apprentice training program. SMRCA contractors are dedicated to quality, safety and customer satisfaction.

Benefits of hiring a SMRCA Contractor

  • Installation of your roofing and waterproofing system by school trained journeymen.
  • Roof installation by safety minded contractors with an active industry safety program.
  • Your roof installed properly, in accordance with industry standards, the first time.
  • A contractor suitably equipped to complete your job on-time.
  • A roof installed correctly to better realize the designed life expectancy of the system.
  • A competent roofing contractor with complete insurance coverage.
  • Roofing contractors dedicated to the SMRCA “Principals of Excellence”.
  • Contractors who offer meaningful warranties recommended by the Michigan Roofing Contractors Association.

Be wary of contractors with very low bids – they may have to cut corners to make a profit. They may employ untrained labor, or may subcontract their work to unknown workers. Remember, price is only one criteria for selecting a roofing contractor. We suggest you examine the life cycle cost of the roof you are buying – the cost of the roof divided by its life expectancy. Life cycle cost analysis, together with selection of a quality contractor, can result in cost savings to you. It pays to hire a qualified SMRCA member contractor.


What is SMRCA?

The Southeastern Michigan Roofing Contractors Association (SMRCA), represents a concerned group of locally based professional roofing contractors. They are dedicated to maintaining high industry standards through roofing expertise and quality workmanship.

The SMRCA was created over 50 years ago by roofing contractors in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties. Through the association many innovations were initiated, such as the Apprentice Training Program, Technical Seminars, and the Association Safety Plan.

Today the SMRCA has established presence with all elements of the construction industry locally and nationally. Building owners, architects and general contractors have learned to rely on SMRCA contractors for dependability and quality workmanship.


Provide a source of competent and qualified roofing and waterproofing contractors who are professionals in the art of roofing and waterproofing installation. Publicize the extent of services available through our member roofing contractors. Advance industry standards for roof construction and maintenance. Offer technical and practical roofing assistance to architects, engineers, specification writers, general contractors and building owners/managers.

Disseminate new product research information.

Sponsor the training of apprentices for the roofing and waterproofing industry. Expose fraudulent practices and misleading advertising which victimize the purchaser of roofing
products and services.

SMRCA Advantages

Apprentice Program

The SMRCA together with the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers Local #149 have formulated standards of education for the Roofers Apprentice School which was founded in 1958. The program is approved by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training. The four year apprentice program combines 4500 hours of on-the-job training and classroom studies. The Roofers Union and the SMRCA member contractors jointly support the program, which provides highly trained journeymen roofers to our members.


The SMRCA office has an extensive library of technical roofing information, and manufacturers literature. The SMRCA audio visual library contains many technical, safety and information video and slide programs for use by the construction industry.

Contractor Recommendations

The SMRCA office can recommend qualified roofing contractors to submit quotations on your roof project. The SMRCA office will be pleased to provide a roster of SMRCA member roofing contractors. The contractors are “Professional Contractors”, qualified to satisfy any of your roofing and waterproofing needs. They have proven records of performance and stand behind their work. To insure that you obtain the good workmanship that you deserve on your roofing project, hire a qualified SMRCA Member Contractor! Insist on a PROFESSIONAL Roofing Contractor!

Roof Consultants

The SMRCA office can provide a list of qualified roof consultants in the area. These consultants can conduct roof surveys and in-depth investigations of problem roofs through scientific roof analysis methods. Consultants can prepare new and re-roof specifications, assist with the bidding process, and perform on-site quality control monitoring during installation. SMRCA contractors welcome qualified roof consultant quality control, to assure the best possible roof.

SMRCA Membership

The Southeastern Michigan Roofing Contractors Association is a member of:

  • National Roofing Contractors Association
  • Midwest Roofing Contractors Association
  • Michigan Roofing Contractors Association
  • Construction Association of Michigan
  • Michigan School Business Officials
  • Michigan Municipal League

Browse our website

Browse our website at for roofing related information and a list of member roofing contractors. Each of our qualified member contractors have a company web page on our site to help explain the products and services that they provide.

Each company web page provides the location, address, phone and fax numbers and a brief historical background of the company. Their page outlines the type of roof systems which they are qualified to install as well as any specialty work that they perform.

The SMRCA website contains roofing educational information as well as industry news. The SMRCA website is linked to other roof related websites.

The website included basic information concerning waterproofing and dampproofing, and provides a list of qualified contractors who specialize in the trade of waterproofing.

You can email the SMRCA directly from the website to request further information.