Residential Articles

Architectural West Magazine

Cover story March 2013
‘Star Spangled’ Roof
Creative Use of Colored Roof Membrane in Colorado Springs

There have been many creative uses of colored single-ply roof membranes over the years, but Colorado Springs, Colorado’s “star spangled” TPO roof stands out as a marvel of craftsmanship. The construction of the 117’ x 65’ American flag meets federal specifications and became a morale booster for Colorado Springs residents. Roofing contractor, Scott Riopelle, and foreman, Don Doubleday, had been looking for a roof to accommodate a U.S. flag for some time. Then, on June 6, 2012, a severe hailstorm damaged the modified bitumen roof of a building on Academy Avenue, as well as many others. It looked like Riopelle’s company, Interstate Roofing, had found a potential home for its 76-square U.S. flag.

IntelliTec Medical Institute had leased the building for about 15 years from property owner Ernest Dill when its custodian noticed water pouring in from the roof. Dill’s attorney contacted Interstate Roofing in Denver for a quote on the roofing work. The surprise came when project manager, Jake Reid, broached the idea of the huge flag while walking the roof with the owner’s representative.

“For me, the idea of a flag was a no-brainer,” says property owner Dill. “It was a patriotic gesture that is needed in Colorado Springs and throughout the country. Fortunately, our roof was clear of equipment and was the right dimensions to fit a flag of that size.”

It turned out that the roof was in the flight line of military aircraft from Peterson Air Force Base. The U.S. Air Force Academy and Fort Carson (U.S. Army) are also located nearby. “The roof gave us an opportunity to thank our people in the military service every day,” says Dill, who is a retired president of Western Colorado College.

However, a second natural disaster of much greater magnitude than the roof-killing hailstorm was to impact Colorado Springs just a few weeks later. The Waldo Canyon forest fire started ten miles northwest of Colorado Springs on June 23, 2012. It took almost three weeks to contain the wildfire, which was the most destructive in Colorado history. More than 32,000 people were evacuated from the area at the peak of the fire. The fire killed two people and destroyed nearly 350 homes. “The fires were still smoldering when Interstate Roofing committed to a start date (August 28, 2012) for the flag roof,” says project manager, Roland Gonzalez. “It still looked like ‘ground zero’ as we worked, but the finished flag became a strong morale booster for a community that had really suffered.”

The wildfire was so intense that insurance adjusters could not safely enter the area until the end of September, 2012, and the Mountain Shadows subdivision is still being rebuilt today. However, the flag roof was completed on Sept. 11, 2012, just in time to be included in Colorado Spring’s 9/11 memorial. Interviews with Interstate Roofing crews were aired by a local NBC affiliate later that day. “The response from the town has been amazing,” says Interstate general manager, Dustin DeVito. “As the project was nearing completion, military jets would fly overhead and dip one wing toward the building in a symbolic salute. Naturally, the roofing crew was ecstatic.”

Battling the Wind and Rain

The roofing crew had to battle some of the worst summer weather in Colorado Springs history when installing the new roof. The company took the most experienced members from each of its in-house crews and created one seven-man “super” crew under the watchful eye of job superintendent Rene Gallegos, among others. However, none of those hard-bitten roofing veterans envied their boss, Interstate Roofing president and owner, Riopelle, who had to calculate the dimensions for the flag, its stripes, and 50 stars before work began. “Proportionally, the flag on this roof matches a federal-spec U.S. flag on a flagpole,” says Riopelle. “It required converting the roofing square footage into decimals, which was just the beginning of the calculations we needed to make.”

First, the roofing crew tore off the hail-damaged, three-ply modified bitumen membrane down to the concrete deck. A 2” layer of GAF EnergyGuard(TM) polyiso insulation was adhered to the deck with OlyBond500 SpotShot low-rise foam adhesive. The flag was bordered with 5’ rolls of EverGuard® 60 mil Energy Gray TPO fully adhered to the insulation and heat welded. Half sheets were used around the perimeter of the roof to meet both GAF’s and El Paso County’s wind uplift requirements. The red and blue stripes of the flag were created using 5’ x 100’ colored 60-mil TPO welded together with a Leister automatic welder. The extra length of the stripes meant the cutting of additional rolls of TPO to meet the 117’ length requirements.

When the crew reached the “Union” or blue portion of the flag, blue-colored TPO was fully adhered to the insulation. Fifty 4’ x 4’ stars were hand cut from 60-mil white TPO, lined up precisely and adhered to the blue TPO with bonding adhesive and welded seams. “We also added 16’ crickets to enhance roof drainage,” says Gonzalez. “There was evidence that the existing modified bitumen roof had been ponding water before the hailstorm damaged it.”

Although colored coatings would have made the creation of the flag easier, the roofing contractor immediately rejected this option. “The flag is an integral part of this roof, which is backed by a 20-year NDL guarantee from GAF, Wayne, New Jersey; so we insisted on using pre-formulated ‘color-through’ TPO membrane,” says Riopelle. “We also cut and fabricated our own TPO colored flashings. Using white flashing materials would have ruined the continuity of the flag.”

GAF territory manager, Chris Marano, was given the job of hunting down the colored TPO membrane. He searched company inventories from California to Florida to find existing materials so the contractor could avoid ordering custom colors that could take up to two months to deliver. “When I shared our idea with Chris Marano, I think he was more excited than we were,” says Riopelle. “The work he did was essential and allowed us to follow through quickly on this project.”

“The roofing manufacturer exceeded our expectations through delivery of the products, site inspections, TPO color availability, immediate response times, and competitive pricing, just to name a few issues,” adds DeVito. Interstate has completed thousands of residential and commercial roofing projects since it was founded in Denver in 1994. The company has also earned GAF Master Elite roofing contractor status. “We’ve answered the call for more efficient, sustainable, and innovative roofing solutions,” says Riopelle. “But it’s really our employees who have made us a leader in the roofing market.” •••


About GAF Founded in 1886, GAF has grown to become the largest manufacturer of roofing products for both residential and commercial customers in North America. Throughout its more than 125 years, the company has adapted its products to changes in technology and materials, but has never compromised on quality and workmanship. As the 21st century unfolds, GAF will continue to provide the superior quality products and service that both homeowners and businesses demand.

American owned and American made, GAF employs more than 3,000 workers in 24 plants across the country. An additional 4,000 factory certified contractors ensure that the installation of your roof is done right Home improvement television networks such as HGTV as well as leading home and garden publications regularly seek out the expertise of GAF professionals.

GAF is also a proud supporter of CARE – the Center for the Advancement of Roofing Excellence. CARE is a nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to providing roofing education. Throughout its existence, CARE has provided classroom and hands-on roofing education to over 125,000 industry members, including roofing contractors, distributors, architects, specifiers, property owners and managers, and insurance industry personnel.

Going Green

GAF has also embraced the sustainability movement with an extensive variety of environmentally friendly products for both residential and commercial properties. GAF is proud to utilize recycled materials and recovered roofing materials to minimize landfill waste. GAF has also incorporated solar roofing products and “cool” reflective roofing into its product line, along with sustainable manufacturing processes and a Zero to Landfill target benchmark for each job site.

GAF has also developed the innovative Advanced Protection Shingle Technology, which minimizes the use of scarce natural resources without compromising on durability and wind resistance. GAF was also first manufacturer to have all of its shingles pass the industry’s two toughest wind resistance tests: ASTM D3161 Class F 110 mph and ASTM 7158 Class H 150 mph (per UL public listing).

GAF’s Certified Green Dealer Program is the only program of its kind in the country for training and certifying building materials dealerships in using green building products and practices. Our Certified Green Roofer program recognizes contractors who effectively incorporate recycling .Through the Certified Green Roofer Program, GAF has trained more than 250 professional roofing contractors nationwide in shingle recycling. GAF has also been a longtime sponsor of, which helps contractors and distributors connect with qualified shingle recyclers across the U.S. and Canada.

Innovation and Excellence

GAF is rated number one in innovation, ridge ventilation and shingle quality by home contractors and builders. Timberline Cool Series (originally called Cool Color Series) shingles were the first to combine rich colors with energy efficient asphalt construction. GAF products have also received the following awards and recognition for excellence:
  • First In Quality in the 2012 and 2013 BUILDER Brand Use Study, Roofing: Asphalt/Fiberglass Shingles Category; Winner 8 of Past 9 Years
  • Winner of 2012 Women’s Choice Award, with 9 of 10 Female Customers Highly Recommending the Brand to Others
  • Winner of 2012 Building Products Brand Survey for Asphalt Roofing from Peninsula Publishing
  • Winner of 2012 Gold Innovation Award for Asphalt Roofing Shingles for Monaco Lifetime Designer Shingles
  • Two Time Recipient of the Architects’ Choice For Excellence Award for Premium Designer Shingles
  • Winner Of 2011 And 2012 Gold Innovation Awards for Asphalt Roofing Shingles
  • Winner Of The 2011 Product Innovation Award for Everguard Extreme® TPO

  • GAF Shingles – the Best for Your Home

    No matter what your budget dictates, there is a GAF roofing solution that is right for your home. For a limited budget, basic 3-tab shingles don’t skimp on quality or good looks. Whether you choose the Royal Sovereign line with a 25 year warranty or the Marquis Weather Max with a 30 year warranty, you can choose from a variety of colors and be secure that your roof will stand the test of time.

    Our Timberline series is our most popular line of shingles. This architectural quality line is Energy Star certified. Timberline shingles form an integral part of the GAF Lifetime Roofing System that includes lifetime shingles, roof deck protection, leak barrier, starter strip shingles, Cobra attic ventilation and ridge cap shingles. GAF Timberline shingles are available in a variety of colors and styles to coordinate with the look of your home:
  • Timberline Ultra
  • American Harvest
  • Timberline HD
  • Timberline Natural Shadow
  • Timberline Cool Series
  • Timberline Armor Shield II impact resistant shingles

  • For the ultimate in shingles, choose from the Lifetime Designer shingles line. These top of the line shingles combine the durability and quality of GAF shingles with the look of wood shakes or slate. Whether your home is a historically significant treasure or an ultramodern estate, there is a Lifetime Designer shingle that is perfectly suited.

    Ultra-Premium Designer Shingles
  • Camelot
  • Country Mansion – with the look of hand crafted slate; ideal for historic properties
  • Grand Slate
  • Grand Canyon – rugged wood shake look

  • Value Collection Designer Shingles – Upscale Looks at an Affordable Price
  • Camelot II
  • Country Mansion II
  • Grand Slate II
  • Slateline
  • Grand Sequoia
  • Grand Sequoia IR – impact resistant shingles
  • Woodland
  • Monoco – with the look of clay tile at a fraction of the price
  • Sienna
  • GAF Roofing – a Smart Business Investment

    GAF offers all major low-slope roofing technologies and new roofing systems to its commercial and industrial clients. GAF also provides repair and maintenance options that can save half the cost of a new roof. Our state of the art ISO plant located in Statesboro, Georgia is equipped to handle every phase of your roofing job. GAF Roofing works with each customer to determine optimal materials for the job, provides architectural and design support, and of course, provides factory certified Master Select roofing contractors to ensure that the installation is done right. Whether a building has a metal deck, wood deck or a concrete deck – is built-up, single ply, modified bitumen or liquid applied membrane – GAF has a roofing solution that will work. GAF can also handle specialty roofing and insulation.

    EverGuard Extreme, a high performance TPO product, is suitable for solar and other extreme applications. GAF also offers a variety of energy smart options, including EnergyStar and Title24 compliant products design to take advantage of the growing trend in white reflective roofing. GAF’s Well Roof Guarantee Extension through Certified Maintenance Professionals extends a low-slope roof guarantee for up to 25 percent beyond the regular warranty, if regular maintenance is performed. The All-American Pledge Guarantee is the first NDl guarantee for both low-slope and steep-slope roofs located on a single property.

    Other GAF Products

    GAF handles more than residential, commercial and industrial roofing materials and installation. GAF can also handle ductwork, including heavy gauge ductwork, in-wall duct systems, rooftop venting, appliance vents and flexible ductwork. Our Ennis, Texas facility is specially fitted out to produce non-woven fabrics, including fiberglass and polyester mat, carpet tile, filtration materials and composites. GAF WeatherSide fiber cement siding carries a 25 year warranty, contains no asbestos and is ideal for repairs and new construction. GAF also produces tough, durable, yet attractive ornamental railings and columns.


    For sheer impressiveness, there are few things that can compete with the beauty and durability of a natural slate roof.

    The use of slate as a roofing material goes back 700 years or more, and slate has been used on roofs in North America since the early days of colonization. At that time all slate had to be imported from Europe, a practice that continued until the 1840′s, when high quality slate began to be quarried in Vermont.

    Slate shingles reached the height of their popularity in the United States in the first fifteen years of the twentieth century. At that time there were over 200 slate quarries active in the US. The decline in the application of slate roofs coincided with the rise of asphalt shingles as the roofing material of choice.

    You can expect a slate roof to last from 60 – 125 years depending on a variety of factors, including the quality of the slate used and the style of the roof being shingled. With proper maintenance and repair they can actually last quite a bit longer than that. There are slate roofs in Europe that are still in good shape after 400 years.

    In addition to the quality of the slate itself, a critical factor affecting the life expectancy of a slate roof is the quality of the installation. Installing a slate roof properly is a craft that takes years to learn and longer to master. It is very important that the installer be experienced in working with slate. It’s definitely not a task to be left to an amateur.

    If you are planning on having a slate roof installed there is another factor you will have to keep in mind. It’s obvious once you think about it – if you plan on installing a roofing material that is expected to last for 125 years or more, all the structure supporting it will need to last that long as well. It does no good to have a perfectly good roof on top of a deteriorating structure.

    That structure will also have to be extremely beefy. Slate shingles weigh four to six times as much as standard asphalt shingles. You do not decide midstream that slate will be your roofing material of choice.

    As with so many roofing choices, there are new versions of slate shingles on the market. They combine traditional slate with new high tech roofing materials – cutting the costs associated with traditional slate. The newer examples also cut the weight of a slate roof, which cuts the cost of the heavier framing needed to support old-fashioned slate.

    Now it’s possible to have a real slate roof at a cost comparable to that of cheap imitations, and have warranty periods unmatched by most other roofing materials.

    If you are considering using slate to roof your home, it’s hard to see where you can go wrong. A slate roof offers beauty to last a lifetime.


    Heating and cooling costs account for nearly one-half of the average residential electric bill. When the weather is frigid, most of the heat generated by your furnace or heat pump rises directly to the attic, where it dissipates through the roof. In warm weather, many types of roofing material can pull solar heat into interior spaces, making your air conditioning equipment work harder and use more energy.

    If you are planning to reroof your house, consider energy efficient roofing products. Two main factors determine the material’s ability to enhance rather than detract from ambient indoor temperatures: thermal emittance and solar reflective index.

    Thermal emittance is the quantity of absorbed heat from sunlight given off by a roofing material. The higher a product’s thermal emittance, the more warmth it releases into the outdoor air rather than pulling it inside your home. Shingles with high thermal emittance – up to 80 percent — include asphalt and composition. Thus, they are relatively energy efficient choices.

    Your roof’s solar reflective index is the degree to which it reflects the heat of the sun instead of absorbing it. Typically, roofing materials that are lighter in hue have a higher index than the same shingles in darker colors.

    Manufacturers in the roofing industry have developed high index reflective shingles designed to keep your home cooler during the hottest part of the year. Look for roofing that is certified by Energy Star for the best energy efficiency. These high-tech materials are available in a palette of colors that transcends the lighter shades of the spectrum.

    Energy Star certified shingles minimize the transfer of summer heat from your roof to the inside of your house. One way they do this is by maintaining a surface temperature that is up to 100 degrees cooler than traditional roofing materials. As a result, an Energy Star roof reduces your demand for air conditioning by up to to 15 percent during those peak periods when other homeowners are turning down their thermostats. You will see savings on your utility bills that compensate for the higher cost of highly efficient shingles.

    Cool roofs are composed of specially designed asphalt materials coated with a reflective, granular surface. This material redirects the heat of the sun away from your home to minimize heat transfer. Cool roofs are approximately four times more effective in shielding your home from solar heat than standard roofing fabrics. Also, their granular coating makes them less vulnerable to heat damage so they are more durable than their standard counterparts.

    Cool roofs reduce greenhouse gas emissions in two ways. First, by lowering your demand for air conditioning, they save electricity produced in coal-powered plants. These types of generating plants emit harmful greenhouse gases. Secondly, cool roofs last longer and reduce the demand for new manufacture of roofing materials, a process that also produces greenhouse gas emissions.

    Light-colored metal is another energy efficient roofing material with a significant solar reflective index. Clay tile roofs encourage airflow with their corrugated profiles. The air provides natural cooling that reduces your roof’s surface temperature and any thermal transfer into your interior spaces.

    Even if you are not ready to replace your existing roof with more energy efficient materials, you can increase its reflective index. Manufacturers have developed several coatings that make your roofing more reflective and minimize surface temperatures. Such protective coatings repel much of the heat that makes your home cooling system work overtime.

    Inside your home, adding attic insulation helps keep warm air inside during cold weather. If you add an attic fan to recirculate your air, you and your family can enjoy the full benefit of your heating system. A well-insulated attic also adds to the efficiency of reflective roofing too, adding a second heat shield to keep your home’s interior cooler. Be sure to use the type of insulation best suited to your climate and structural specifics.

    Your roof does more than just keep out the rain. It can save electricity and help your HVAC system work more efficiently. Whether you are replacing your roof or just looking for ways to save on your utility bills, look into the new high-tech products now available.

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