Cold-Applied Membranes are a Viable Alternative

Why Use Cold?

The overall application flexibility and control that cold systems provide in many cases make them the preferred membrane to the building owner and contractor. Some of the considerations that favor the use of cold-applied systems are mentioned in the following paragraphs.

The equipment used to apply cold membranes and materials is portable, simple to transport and easy to set up on a job site. Jobs that are small or have difficult access are well-suited for cold-process materials.

For example, a small roof at the top of a 10-story high-rise building would be an obvious application. Another would be a situation in which smell sections of membrane must be replaced in an otherwise good roof system.

Cold systems have a demonstrated history of good performance and offer certain installation advantages as well.

These systems favor the applicator in a number of ways. They do not have to be concerned that the coal tar or asphalt might cool too rapidly before the felts are placed into it or that the bitumen might overheat.

Cold materials have an open time that gives the installer some latitude in application. Less experienced applicators can install a cold process roof successfully.

Safety is another advantage with cold-process roofing. The danger of burns and fires is eliminated compared with hot-applied or torch-applied systems. No open flames are necessary on the job site and hazards to those in and around the building are reduced greatly.

Work on the cold systems is not delayed at the beginning of the day due to the need to melt bitumen. Because of the slower cure of cold systems, the roofing contractor has more flexibility when scheduling his applicators.

For example, applicators are able to handle many phases of a job individually without the need to tie up several other crew members. Also, morning dew and dampness do not delay job start-up if water-based materials are employed.

Coated Felt Systems

Although known in concept and practice for many years earlier, perhaps the first formal, broad marketing effort of a cold-process roof system began in the early 1970’s. This membrane was installed in a built-up configuration and based on very heavy, asphalt-coated organic felts.

Originally published in Contractors' Guide, August, 1990