College Reroof

87-Year-Old Roof gets a New Lease on Life in Tucson, Ariz.

by Marc Dodson, editor

From Western Roofing Mar/Apr ’09


This old Arizona schoolhouse has been around awhile, since 1921 to be exact. It started out life as the Roosevelt School in Tucson, just nine years after Arizona achieved statehood. In 1969, Pima Community College took over the property as their Downtown Campus; however, they left the original building in place. The college expanded the campus by adding more land and more buildings as enrollment increased, but the Roosevelt building remained standing as the campus’ centerpiece.

The old schoolhouse has seen several renovations over the years, this most recent involving a major reroof. The plan for the reroof project was quite involved. All of the existing tile had to come off intact and saved to be reapplied. Then new a tile underlayment had to be installed, a new surface applied on the low-slope portion of the roof, and finally, the old tile had to be reattached. Basically, the college wanted a new roof that didn’t look like a new roof.

Taking on this project was Custom Roofing, which has offices in Phoenix and Tucson. While the bidding was handled from the Phoenix office, the Tucson office supplied the manpower. Bob Hill of Custom Roofing noted that the building had experienced several additions over the years, and now needed attention. “The original deck was tongue and grove. Some areas were rotten and had to be replaced completely. Other areas we were able to repair. There was a courtyard area that butted up against a brick wall that need a lot of attention,” Hill said.

The total area of the reroof project was 240 squares, which included 210 squares of steep slope at a 4:12 pitch, and 30 squares of low slope. Tony Romero, Custom Roofing, was the superintendent on the project.

“Replacement of the old tile underlayment was pretty straight-forward. We were able to remove the old tile one section at a time. We stacked it on another portion of the roof while we removed the original underlayment, which was pretty well shot. We then applied the Bitec Mat-40 tile underlayment and reapplied the old tile,” stated Hill. Hill noted that not all of the tiles could be removed intact, and a few were inevitably broken during the process. Other tiles had been broken over the life of the roof.

Hill stated that they replaced the broken pieces with a similar tile from U.S. Tile. “The new tile was a close match, but not exact. The color and shape were the same, but each tile piece was little longer. To compensate, we increased to head-lap to make up the difference,” added Hill.

In addition of this latest reroof, some tiles had been replaced during minor repair work about 15 years ago. Following this latest project, it was estimated by the college that about 85% of the tile was still the original, first applied in 1921.

The existing cold-applied system on the low-slope portion of the roof was torn off and replaced with a new Bitec 3-ply self-adhering system. The Bitec system was placed over one layer of two-inch ISO and one layer of quarter-inch DensDeck. Matthew Smith, western region manager for Bitec, stated that, “Two plies of Bitec Imperflex USA-SBS underlayment base sheet was applied followed by an Imperflex MSA-SBS mineral surfaced cap sheet. Since the Bitec self-adhered system has no fumes, the project could be completed with minimal interruption to the campus activities.” The low-slope system came with a 15-year warranty.

John Bracamonte, structural systems manager, in charge of plant operations and maintenance for Pima Community College, said that he was very pleased with the project results and the contractor. “The Bitec self-adhered system worked out fine and we really liked the fact hat it had no fumes. It worked out better for the faculty and the students. It’s a really good product and we’re now using it for maintenance on other projects,” said Bracamonte.

“I was really surprised at how quickly the roofing crews worked, and the amount of work they completed every day. The crews were very professional. They did an excellent job, took care of the jobsite, and kept everything clean. We’re very happy with the way everything turned out,” concluded Bracamonte.

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