Decks Need Strength




Two Purposes: Roof and Deck

Roofing GTA
Decks are part of the roof because they protect the area below them.  They are designed to function as a roof with extra capacity for human traffic and all the heavy things that get piled on them.  So really, the deck provides two functions: a roof and an outdoor space for people. That is why they need so much strength.

Leak from a Deck

Earlier this year we attended a leak into a resident’s living room. There were buckets on the floor catching the drips which were coming down with increasing speed from the ceiling.  It appeared that water had accumulated above the ceiling for quite a while and caused the wood above to swell.


It took time for the ceiling to actually start ripping and peeling back.  This was not a fresh leak. We opened up the ceiling and found saturated decking above that was actively leaking onto the ceiling.

Water Entry Point

We went to the roof and found the source of the leak on the deck above.  It wasn’t easy to find.  We had to pull back a layer of pavers  and disassemble the roofing system to get to the membrane. Once there we found a small tear. The concrete underneath it was soaked.  It must have gone unnoticed for months.

Why Membrane Quality Matters

There are many types of roof membranes available to builders.  Often a single-ply membranes are used to save money. Trouble is, single-ply is not durable enough handle the furniture, barbecues, planters, pavers and people that occupy the deck. Single-ply membranes, or worse, vinyl, tear or get holes.  It only takes a small hole, which is difficult to notice without testing, to cause a terrible roof leak.

We recently investigated leaks from several units in the same building. As you can see from this photo, a dropped key was enough to puncture the “protective” membrane and allow water ingress to damage the building structure and unit contents.  Sadly that was not the only puncture on this deck.

Residents want to enjoy their deck as much as possible.  Whether entertaining, lounging in the sun or gardening: People  want to get as much use out of the deck as possible and they place heavy things on it.  Barbecues, planters and furniture that is built to withstand windy days and harsh weather: all heavy items that get lots of use.


Drainage, sloping and waterproofing are vitally important to a deck because it also functions as a roof.  As we always say:  regular roof maintenance is the best way to keep all parts of the roof in the best shape possible including the decks.

Right and Wrong: Two Roofs in a Parallel Universe

Two Roofs, Different Outcomes

Some movies use time travel to show how one decision leads to a different outcome in a parallel universe.
Books tell tales of characters choosing one of two possible routes and describe both outcomes. Hey even in school we could read “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. The technique is classic and we’re using it here to show how one choice – act fast or wait – can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. We’re here to talk about roofs – two roofs that were in the same situation that had very different outcomes.

Roof One

roof needs to be redone
In this case, the strata had their roof replaced seven years prior by a low-bid roofer. The material used for the roof was inexpensive and the work was done incorrectly.

roof leak
This client called us to investigate a leak in one of the units. We discovered the drywall was damp and investigated further. It didn’t take long to see what was happening.

saturated roof fibreboard
Due to incorrect vent and ducting installation, the fiberboard became saturated with water. We provided a quote to install breather vents to dry the roof without having to replace it.

The strata chose not to treat it as an emergency and it took a number of weeks for them to review the quote and make a decision. In that time the roof rotted and became unsalvageable. The difference between getting repairs done immediately and waiting four weeks will cost that strata almost $300k. And just think about that: that strata had just paid for a new roof seven years prior. This is going to hit them where it hurts.

Roof Two

water was found under the roof membrane
During a leak investigation we discovered water in the roof deck in 20 places. This was due to previous vent installations that were done incorrectly by a low-bid roofer.

water on roof vacuumed
We vacuumed the water and repaired the defected vents that were causing the water ingress.

breather vents
In this situation we were able to save the roof by installing breather vents. These vents are pulling moisture up out of the roof, drying it out, so the entire roof doesn’t have to be replaced.

It’s pretty obvious who made the right choice.  As a property manager, these choices can seem out of your control when a strata insists on putting off something that really is an emergency.

It’s also worth noting another lesson we can take from this story. In both cases, a low bid was chosen and the work done caused damage. Roof Two still had to pay around $40k for those breather vents. It’s not as expensive as having to get a roof replacement but if you add that to the original bill they paid the low-bidding roofer who incorrectly installed their roof vents, you’ll see the lowest bid is not the lowest cost.

Please share this story with your stratas and encourage them to embrace emergency decision making.

Leak Investigations

When a tenant spots an obvious leak you have an emergency on your hands.  That roof leak could be something that built up over time and has finally come through, or it could be something sudden that had a clear cause.  Whatever the situation is, you know you need a technician in as soon as possible to do a roof leak investigation.

So what really happens when a technician shows up?

We perform an investigation by finding the leak and taking steps to trace it back to the source.  It depends on where it is, sometimes we have to look into attics or rafters, around windows and soffits. Lights, skylights and vents are also places our technicians look for water ingress.

roof leak repair


Here a tenant spotted a leak and put down a bucket with some tarp.  We were alerted.

Leak Area on Deck

We started the leak investigation by looking at the deck directly above the leak.

removed bricks above leak

We lifted the bricks and insulation and stacked them to the side so we could inspect the membrane underneath.

Plugged drain repair leak

We discovered a plugged drain and some ponding water.

Disposed of debris causing plug

The drain was plugged with debris so we removed that and relieved the ponding water.

roof membrane hole

We discovered a small penetration in the membrane.

deterioration of roof membrane

While there we found the membrane was deteriorating.

Applied water cut off mastic

We cleaned and prepared the membrane and  applied water-cut-off mastic to temporarily seal penetrations and deteriorated membrane found on the deck.

roof membrane failure

Upon further investigation we discovered the corner membrane had failed.

Used water-cut-off mastic

We applied water-cut-off mastic to temporarily seal the failed membrane in the corner of the deck.

SBS base shee to protect

We installed an SBS base sheet as an additional protective layer.

In this leak investigation there were a few reasons for the leak.  There was a small hole in the roof membrane and the drain was plugged.  The plugged drain caused water to pool, which found it’s way to that hole.  The other issues we discovered while there would have led to more leaks.  These temporary repairs need to be followed up with permanent repairs.

Roof Leaks Require Quick Response

We see complacency a lot when it comes to roof leaks.  A tenant will notice a stain on the ceiling but will choose to leave it because there’s no water pouring out.  This is costly.  The longer you leave a roof leak, the worse the damage will get.

Slow Roof Leaks

The problem with slow roof leaks is they go unnoticed. Even if they are small and quiet they can be a huge problem.  The frame rots and causes structural damage.  Mold grows and spreads; Even insulation can become moldy and need to be replaced.
stains on the ceiling from a leak
Take this story for example.  We were called in for an emergency roof leak at a multi-residential complex.

While we were investigating we found a second leak that hadn’t been discovered yet.

It had gone unnoticed because there were no ceiling stains yet.  This customer was lucky; Most slow leaks cause severe and irremediable damage.

low nail on roof leads to slow leak
We found several low and exposed nails in the roof membrane.  They were letting in small amounts of water and needed to be sealed to stop the leak temporarily.  (As a side note, this type of roof leak will reoccur, it’s a sign the roof needs to be replaced)

Signs There’s a Roof Leak

The most obvious sign there’s a roof leak is water ingress.
It could be a roof leak
Staining is another sure sign.  By the time staining shows up damage is being done.  Don’t wait for water to start dripping.  Call us ASAP.

Musty Odours

Musty smell is mold

If you smell mold – there’s mold.  Water must be present for mold to grow.  Don’t leave it.  Call.

When you see a sign or get a report from a tenant don’t wait another second.  Call us and stop it in it’s tracks.


Storm Season Starts

It’s here…storm season.  It usually spans from September until May or June.  The dark rainy days, wind storms and rain storms, falling trees and flying debris.  This is why it’s important to make sure that your buildings are protected by a solid, cared-for roof.  Book an assessment now.

We know maintenance is important.  We know it saves money.  Part of maintenance is getting the assessments done and now is the most important time of year to do so.

In 2015, nature knocked on our door, (or…roofs) earlier than usual.  Remember the big storm on August 29? People lost power for days.  Trees flew. Roofs were torn apart.  Floods resulted.  Our emergency line lit up and our roofers worked around the clock. Read more about last year’s storm.

The condition of the roof membrane is important.  Here are some common issues we find and fix and in doing so, save our customers money.

Roof debris

Heavy debris, including tree branches on the roof surface. This should be removed to prevent build up and damage.

december 2, 2015 30224 pm pst-resized-640

Moss retains water which leads to granule loss and deterioration of the roof system. The debris, including tree branches and the loose heavy moss It should be removed and a zinc sulphate solution should be applied to help inhibit future moss growth.

leaves in eavestrough

Clogged drain causes water build up

Debris clogging drains  and gutters prevents proper drainage and may cause leaks at these locations. The debris should be removed and the gutter drains checked to ensure that they are clear and free flowing.

Rust on roof hatch

Rust leads to holes.  Holes let in water.  Water damages.

rust on roof vent can lead to leaks

Rust forming on roof hatches and vents require re-sealing and waterproofing with RC2000 coating. This re-seals the rusted areas.

missing caulking on roof

Deteriorated caulking can be in a number of places and requires replacement to help prevent rusting and leaks. The deteriorated caulking should be removed and replaced with new caulking.

exposed fasteners will rust

Exposed nails or  fasteners require caulking to seal them to prevent rusting and leaks. Granules should be applied over the caulking to exposed fasteners on shingled roofs surfaces.

roof shingle is damaged

Damaged shingles need to be replaced in order to prevent leaks.

december 3, 2015 112445 am pst-resized-640

Dryer lint on the roof surface and vents is a fire hazard and is considered unsafe. The dryer lint needs to be removed to help mitigate the fire hazard.

These are the common things we find.  There are many other situations that can lead to roof damage and we find them when we assess the roof.


The Importance of Drain Cleaning and Maintenance

The Importance of Drain Cleaning and Maintenance

Drainage on flat and sloped roofs

All roofs have some kind of drainage system to prevent your roof from holding water and debris which can cause damage and deterioration to the roofs membrane often leading to leaks. On a sloped roof the concept is straight forward, the water runs down hill and the gutters control the direction and flow of the water to downpipes as it leaves the roof system. On flat roofs the system is not as straight forward and can often require more attention. There are different types of drainage systems including scupper, overflow and internal drains for flat roofs. Most flat roofs have an internal drainage system that is placed strategically throughout the roofs surface to allow the water to leave. These drains are connected to pipes that run through the building taking water to the ground.

a roof system that is holding water

Flooded Roof System

Why should you have your drains cleaned?

This time of year with falling leaves landing on your roofs your drains are especially susceptible to getting clogged. Despite what you might read online it is very important that you don’t attempt to unclog roof drains on your own. Snaking a drain without the proper knowledge can dislodge and loosen internal pipes causing leaks and internal damage. Something as simple as removing leaves and debris from around your drains improperly can cause pipes to burst and in turn unimaginable internal damage can occur.  Some things are best left to the professionals!

a clean drain

Debris Removed From A Drain

clogged drain

Debris Blocking A Drain

Whether you have a flat or sloped roof system it is important to have your drains inspected and cleaned on a regular basis. Just as flat roof drains can get clogged, drains in gutter systems and downpipes on sloped roofs can get clogged with debris as well. This can cause your gutter system to hold water which is never a good thing. When gutters hold water and gutter drains are plugged you are no longer able to control the flow and direction of water leaving your roofs system. This will often lead to gutters over flowing and depending on the severity this can cause leaks on sloped roof systems.

debris in gutters

Debris Clogging A Gutter System

How should you prevent roof damage caused by clogged drains?

The best way to prevent clogged roof drains, be it flat or sloped roofs, is to have regular maintenance performed on your roofs. This will included drain cleaning and inspection to make sure that your drains and drain screens are secured and functioning properly. Now that we are into the winter season it is especially important to speak to your roofing contactor to see if you require additional semi annual drain inspection and cleaning, especially after storms with heavy wind or rain. In doing so you will help mitigate the effects of clogged drains and in turn flooded roofs which leads to damage of your roof system.

water ingress at plywood decking

Internal Damage On Plywood

water ingress at leak location

Internal Damage

A Temporary Roof Repair Only Buys Time

Fall is Here

It’s starting…the rain.  Our 24 hour phone line is ringing and we’re dispatching for emergency leaks.  Fall is here.

When we send a crew on a leak call, they investigate the leak and make a temporary roof repair.  It’s unusual that we can fix the problem when it’s raining so we do a temporary repair and schedule a time to come back and fix the problem, so it doesn’t happen again.

Temporary Roof Repairs are Only Temporary

It’s important to understand that temporary roof repairs are just bandaid solutions and there’s no way to guarantee how long they will last.  Always follow through with a proper repair.

Here’s a situation that we sometimes see happen because the temporary repair was left as is and never properly fixed.

failure of a temporary repair

So we put another temporary repair on it.

bandaid over bandaid

If this customer had let us back to fix that temporary repair, they would have saved themselves from having to deal with another leak, the damages from that leak and us coming back to put in another temporary repair.

Get the Drain Replaced

This is what happened when a drain that had a temporary repair wasn’t replaced in time.

New Drain not installed. Leak ensued.

We located the problem drain and found a temporary repair that wasn’t dealt with.  It needed a new drain.

A new drain after a temporary repair on a drain would have been good.

We couldn’t properly install a new drain while it was raining so we put in a temporary repair.  Since the real drain was never installed, another leak happened.

This drain needs to be replaced.

Of course it was raining when the second leak happened so we put in another temporary repair.  We still need to install a new drain.

Watch the Weather Forecast

Temporary roof repairs are just temporary and need to be followed through with a proper repair.  Keep an eye on the weather.  We need a dry day to do a proper fix because the materials we use need to dry and set.  That won’t happen on a rainy day.  We keep a close eye on the weather every day of the year so we know what days we can do permanent repairs, and which days we will be reacting to leaks.

Get it Fixed ASAP

The length of time that a temporary roof repair will hold depends on many many factors, most of them are out of everyone’s control.  There’s just no way to guarantee how many days or weeks it will last.  That’s why it’s important to get it fixed ASAP.


Proactive vs. Reactive Assessments

Introducing 30 Weeks of Roofing Tips! Design Roofing was founded in September of 1984. To celebrate our 30th anniversary, we are sharing some of our wisdom with all of you for the next 30 weeks.

For many people, the roof is something out of site and out of mind. Unlike your car that everyone knows requires regular maintenance; most of us do not consider the roof as something requiring regular maintenance.

In fact, when you think of it, your roof is the main thing that covers you, your belongings, business documents, equipment and so on. So why would you not want a sturdy, well installed and maintained roof covering all of this?

This takes us to our first tip.

Do not wait until you feel a drip of water on your head while inside. A proactive approach, is the best approach. Just like your car, making sure your roof gets a regular check up and tune up is vital to protecting your investments inside and out. Not only do regular assessments and maintenance help ensure your roof is working as intended, they uphold your warranties and in the long run; extend the life span of your roof.

While roof assessments can be done throughout the year, the most common times to have them done are in the spring and fall months. In the spring, it is done to check and see if the roof has sustained damage during the cold winter months. If there are any splits, loose membrane or improperly sealed areas, water can easily get in. When that water freezes, it causes expansion which causes those issues to get bigger which you will most likely notice as a drip inside your building. In the spring and summer months, repairs can be scheduled and performed quicker and easier due to more favorable weather. Less time is spent waiting for the rain to stop in order to fix your roof. So being proactive and knowing the condition of your roof will help prevent unwanted leaks.

Similarly in the fall months, assessments are done in order to make sure your roof did not sustain damage from the summer heat. The constant heat and stress put on your roof during the summer can cause issues during the rainy fall months. Emergency leak calls have a tendency to sharply increase in the fall; less rain in the summer means you are less likely to be aware of an issue with your roof in the form of a leak until it is too late.

Once again, being proactive with regular roof check ups and assessments will help prevent unexpected leaks. If any issues are found, or if your roof simply needs its regular maintenance, it is always best to perform the corrective actions as soon as possible and limit the potential for a leaking roof and subsequent interior damage.

Regional Challenges in Roof Maintenance: Vancouver and Surrounding Area

When it comes to the upkeep and proper care of property, whether commercial or industrial, one of the most often overlooked areas is roof maintenance. Vancouver, and most of British Columbia for that matter, have some of the highest annual rainfall totals in all of North America, which means that for residents of this particular stretch of Pacific coastline, the stakes are simply higher when it comes to potential damage resulting from faulty rooftops.

When considering the main risk factors for damage resulting from improper roof maintenance, Vancouver and its surrounding areas consistently appear near the top of the list. Whether it is the mountainous terrain that surrounds the area, causing moist weather fronts to linger, or the unpredictable climate (which ranges from sub-zero to near tropical), there is simply more precipitation and moisture in Vancouver than most cities are forced to deal with. Of course, other factors such as the nesting of birds and animals also contribute greatly to the downfall of many roofs, and the Pacific Canadian coastline is well known for its abundance of wildlife. Simply put, the West coast is a just plain difficult place to ensure proper roof maintenance.

Vancouver may be a difficult place to maintain a rooftop, but these unique conditions have also led to the development of some of the most reputable roofing experts in the business. Some companies, like Port Coquitlam’s Design Roofing, have been managing the West coast weather for the better part of three decades and have developed a simple, biannual maintenance plan that works for nearly every type of property.

The key is thorough upkeep and expert inspection twice each year, preferably in the early spring and late fall, when accumulated damage from winter and summer respectively, are at their peak. By nipping any small problems in the bud, costly repairs and even total replacements can be easily avoided. Looking for the earliest signs of lifting and bubbling beneath the roof’s membrane takes a well-trained eye, but that combined with thorough removal of debris, such as moss and animal’s nests, can easily save hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages and lost property.

As with most things, the key to managing Vancouver’s susceptible climate is proper attention to detail and the willingness to perform preventative maintenance. And when it comes to keeping the roof over your head, minor proactive spending will decrease reactive spending on emergency repairs and extend the service life of your roof.

Source: Flickr's Andrew Ressa

Source: Flickr’s Andrew Ressa

Now is the Time to Schedule Flat Roof Repairs

With spring fast approaching, the time to perform flat roof repairs and maintenance is on the horizon and gaining speed quickly. With the melting of snow and ice comes an abundance of water flow, meaning that any and all perforations in the Lower Mainland’s rooftops will soon be exposed. From mild water damage to structural collapse, the problems caused by an improperly functioning roof run the gamut from slightly annoying all the way to devastating.

When you factor in the increased rainfall that inevitably accompanies warmer weather patterns, the need for proper upkeep on commercial and residential roof tops becomes even more apparent. The unfortunate reality is that most building owners do not factor in flat roof repairs and maintenance until it is too late. By waiting until the first signs of trouble, people let the problem fester, accumulating far more damage than is necessary when compared to the bi-annual maintenance checks (which are recommended by most industry professionals).

In fact, most experts recommend holding a standing appointment with a reputable roofing company not only during the early part of spring each year, but also once in the fall. This approach ensures that melting snow and ice, along with accumulated rainfall, do not cause unnecessary damage in the spring, and that small fractures and permeations are repaired in the fall, before winter moisture has a chance to penetrate the openings. Once this occurs, the water will inevitably freeze and expand, causing a massive increase in the total cost of repairs.

Whether working with a standard rooftop or a flat roof, repairs and maintenance are the key to avoiding long-term issues that can eventually lead to tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars in damages. From lost stock to lost operational hours, there are very few businesses that can afford to sustain the damage incurred by a faulty or damaged roof. As is the case with so many other of life’s problems, ‘out of sight, out of mind’ is a dangerous mentality to take when it comes to rooftop repairs.

Source: Flickr's sean dreilinger

Source: Flickr’s sean dreilinger