Durability Equates to Performance

When purchasing a roof system one of the most important considerations is whether or not the product will be durable.  Durability can often be a subjective term and is often subverted by all the marketing hype that surrounds a given product.  So how do you know if the roof you’re purchasing will perform as expected and actually be “durable” over time?

The Merriam-Webster Online dictionary defines durable as follows.  Durable:  able to exist for a long time without significant deterioration

Notice that there is no mention of tensile properties, tear strength or even thickness.  It doesn’t get any simpler than “able to exist for a long time….”  Time is the operative word in the definition.

In 2012, NSF introduced NSF/ANSI 347 Sustainability Assessment for Single Ply Roofing Membranes.  The assessment deals with a number of issues regarding the overall sustainability of single ply roofing and has a specific reference to durability or ability to exist for a long time in Section Service Life in Field Functionality Determination.  Points are awarded for a manufacturer’s ability to demonstrate that their product will exist for a long time without significant deterioration, loss of water-tightness and maintain the ability to make repairs on the aged roofing membrane.

The determination cannot be made just by taking the manufacturer’s word for performance.  The assessment requires that:

The documentation shall be confirmed or attested to by a competent individual or organization as a third-party. Third party representatives can include Professional Engineers, Registered Roof Consultants, or Registered Architects with experience inspecting roofs, evaluating them, and reporting their condition.

In the summer of 2012, in an effort to substantiate FiberTite’s  general durability, three individual registered roof consultants were commissioned by Seaman Corporation to evaluate 24 and 27-year old nominal 36-mil FiberTite Roof Systems in Ohio, Arizona and Florida.

The summaries from the consultants’ reports speak volumes to the overall durability of the nominal 36-mil FiberTite Roofing System.

Ohio – Mays Consulting & Evaluation Services, Inc.

The 36-mil FiberTite membrane has performed for approximately 27 years and has required little-to-no patching to maintain the water-tightness of the roof system. In addition, the membrane surface did not appear to have any cracking or crazing when visibly inspected.

A test cut was performed to document the composition of the roof assembly and to demonstrate the repair-ability of the roof membrane. The membrane was cleaned with acetone and was easily repaired by welding to the top surface.

Based on the condition and ease of repair, we would expect this roof system to continue to provide several years of additional service life.

Arizona – Professional Roof Management, LLC

The roof area was inspected for signs of patching and repairing that occurred over the service life of the membrane since its 1988 installation. Patches observed were approximately one per 5,000 square feet. Number of patches would have been less had a sheet metal exhaust hood not blown across the roof during a storm causing damage. Four areas were tested for the ability to weld new membrane to existing membrane. This included welding to both top and underside of the existing sheet. All four test welds provided sound, strong welds without issues. Test areas welded on June 16, 2011 were inspected for secure bond with no signs of delamination. Based on inspecting test areas performed on June 16, 2011 and observing the four tests performed on July 17, 2012 it appears that with proper preparation welding to the existing membrane is easily achieved. Based on current appearance of the roof membrane, ability to perform repairs to the membrane if needed and, the observance of a low ratio of roof patches per total square footage of roof membrane indicates a successful history of performance. With the roof membrane exhibiting the ability to continue to perform it is certain that many more years of service life can be expected.

Florida – REI Engineers

Upon review of the existing FiberTite KEE 36 mil single-ply roof system, it is REI’s opinion that with the exception of the missing draw-bands/sealants at the conduit penetrations and rusting edge metal and housings noted above, the roof membrane and membrane flashings are in generally good condition and still functioning as intended.

At the test cut location, the membrane sample exhibited that it is still in flexible/pliable state after 24 years of service and exposure to the elements, particularly UV exposure as it relates to this region. The membrane was easily prepared and cleaned with acetone and no issues were observed with the heat welded test patch while probing for voids afterwards.

With repair the above noted items, it is our opinion that an additional 5-7 years of service life can be expected of this roof system.

To find out more about FiberTite Roofing Systems, visit: www.fibertite.com.


Dear Mr.FiberTite:    I believe all that you report here because I know first hand that Summit BSR Roofing installed 8-1/2 acres of 36 mil FiberTite over 1-1/2" thick Isocyanurate on a new 22 ga steel deck for a Manufacturing facility in Maryville, Tn and the owners of the building have confirmed that not more than $250 of total repairs have been made in the 26 years since it was completed. No leaks!  Even looks new! 

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About Mr FiberTite

After 10-years in Local 88 out of Canton Ohio, the opportunity to drink the FiberTite Kool Aid came in 1984.  Since then I've been a student as well as a teacher in all manner of roofing with a focus on the engineering, design and installation of thermoplastic single ply roofing systems.  The industry is growing in complexity so there's plenty of opportunity to learn and sharpen your skills no matter who you are.  Hence, one of the most important things I've learned is that "to sharpen the blade, you have to rub steel with steel".


FiberTite® is a Registered Trademark of Seaman Corporation.  The views and opinions expressed on this site are not necessarily those of Seaman Corporation.

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