During the past decade, a number of new roofing materials have
entered the low-slope marketplace, providing building owners with a
bewildering array of choices. Many single-ply membranes, such as
EPDM, TPO and PVC, and spray polyurethane foam now cover buildings
that originally had asphalt built-up roof (BUR) systems. Even
"traditional" hot-applied asphalt is meeting increased competition
from its own ranks. Modified bitumen membranes and cold-applied
bitumen materials also compete for building owners' attention.
In addition, during the past two years, the low-slope commercial
roofing market has experienced unprecedented cost pressure relative
to raw materials. Asphalt is no exception: volatility in pricing,
as well as its perceived availability, have created a swell of
concern as to whether hot-applied systems will remain a sound
economic choice in the future. The reality is that at any time,
asphalt must provide a sufficient return relative to fuels and
other possible outputs. As long as this is the case, it is logical
to assume refiners will continue to produce asphalt. The good news
is recent cost pressures on asphalt have had little effect on
overall installed cost of these systems to building owners.
Generally, the cost of asphalt remains a small percentage of total
Despite these increased challenges, millions of square feet of
commercial buildings still feature hot-applied asphalt BUR systems.
There is a solid core of building owners, along with a network of
roofing professionals, who continue to advocate...
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