Keeping water out of a building is undoubtedly the primary function of a roof system. But one could argue that ensuring a building's roof stays in place during high-wind events is equally important. Let's face it, without a roof, it's hard to keep water out! This blog takes a look at one of the subsets of wind design of roof systems: Wall Zones 4 and 5 and their relationship with roof perimeters.
Architects, specifiers, and roof system designers are generally focused on the wind-uplift capacity of the roof system itself. Wind resistance of perimeter edges and parapets might not be front of mind, especially given the myriad roof-system Approval Listings that can be found through DORA, FM, and UL. However, rooftop perimeters and corner areas are most vulnerable to high wind, and perimeter edge metal and copings are part of the first line of defense. Codes now include wind-design and system testing for edge metal and copings. FM also just recently (late 2021) updated RoofNav's Wind Rating Calculator to include fascia, copings, and gutters.
Edge metal and copings
The term 'edge metal' encompasses three foundational shapes that are used at a roof's perimeter: L-shaped metal, gravel stop metal, and copings for parapets. The figures below show generic shapes; ones that are often contractor-fabricated. Additionally, there are many manufacturers that provide edge metal. Some of the manufacturer-fabricated shapes are similar to those shown below. However, some are a bit more distinct and some are extruded to achieve more unique shapes.
Graphic adapted from National Roofing Contractors Association
Some examples of GAF's metal details are shown here:
Steel and aluminum are common materials used for edge metal shapes and copings. Some are galvanized; some are painted. Commonly used thicknesses range from 20 gauge to 24 gauge for steel and 0.032" to 0.040" for aluminum. The continuous cleat is typically one gauge thicker than the edge metal and coping.
Why is wind design of edge metal important?
The roofing industry has been investigating high-wind events, primarily through a group called the Roofing Industry Committee on Weather Issues (RICOWI). RICOWI was established in 1990 and has published numerous reports based on post-wind-event investigations of damage caused by hurricanes. RICOWI's most recent report, released November 19, 2019, covers their investigation of the damage caused by Hurricane Michael. RICOWI has published five reports covering their investigations of 6 hurricanes since 2004.
One of the most consistent conclusions throughout the series of 5 reports of post-event investigations is that the majority of localized roof damage and roof system failures due to high winds commonly begin at perimeters and corners. This is not surprising as the highest wind loads are at rooftop perimeters and corners. This blog about wind design and ASCE-16, among other topics, discusses the process and factors used to determine wind loads, and it provides additional information about roof zone layout.
Localized roof damage and roof system failures due to high winds commonly begin at perimeters and corners.
Not recognizing the importance of edge metal design relative to the overall wind performance of a roof system can result in edge metal installations that may not have the appropriate wind-resistance capacity. This could possibly result in localized damage and/or system failures, even when the roof system (i.e., deck, insulation, membrane) is appropriately designed for design wind loads.
The following information is intended to supplement the wind design concepts that were discussed in GAF's earlier blog about wind design and ASCE 7-16.
Roof and Wall Zones
Wind design of metal edges and copings includes an upward and an outward component, unlike the primary roof system which includes an upward component only. (The Edge Metal Testing section of this blog has more information on that topic). ASCE 7 calls the outward pressures acting on metal edges and copings Wall Zones 4 and 5. Wall Zone 4 correlates and is aligned with Roof Zone 2 (the perimeter zones), and Wall Zone 5 is aligned with Roof Zone 3 (the corner zones). The figure shows one example of a building's roof and wall zones. Case studies from this blog provide more specific information related to the figure below.
What do the codes say?
The International Building Code (IBC) includes requirements for determining the wind-load capacity for metal edges and copings. This requirement has been included since the 2003 version of the IBC. In other words, edge metal and copings should have wind-resistance capacities greater than the design wind pressures. This concept is just like wind design for the primary roof system—the capacity of the system needs to be greater than the anticipated loads.
Chapter 15, Section 1504.5 from the 2015 IBC includes requirements for determining the capacity of metal edges and copings.
"1504.5 Edge securement for low-slope roofs. Low-slope built-up, modified bitumen and single-ply roof system metal edge securement, except gutters, shall be designed and installed for wind loads in accordance with Chapter 16 and tested for resistance in accordance with Test Methods RE-1, RE-2 and RE-3 of ANSI/SPRI ES-1, except Vu1t wind speed shall be determined from Figure 1609A, 1609B, or 1609C as applicable."
Chapter 16 of the IBC indirectly includes requirements for determining the wind loads acting on metal edges and copings. In Section 1609.1 Applications, the IBC states "Buildings, structures and parts thereof shall be designed to withstand the minimum wind loads…" The "parts thereof" encompasses metal edges and copings. The requirement in Chapter 15 to design and install metal edges and copings means the outward pressures for Wall Zones 4 and 5 need to be determined.
It's worth noting that the scope of the ANSI/SPRI ES-1 test method does not include gutters, which is why gutters are specifically excluded in the code language through 2018. However, SPRI, in 2016, published ANSI/SPRI GT-1, Test Standard for Gutters, which was first included in model codes in the 2021 IBC.
Edge metal testing
Determining the design wind pressures (in pounds per square foot) for Wall Zones 4 and 5 is generally the responsibility of the design professional, such as the architect or structural engineer. On the other hand, determining the capacity of metal edges and copings is generally the responsibility of the manufacturer, which may be a manufacturing company or a roofing contractor that fabricates their own metal edges, coping, and clips and cleats.
The IBC specifically lists ANSI SPRI ES-1, Test Standard for Edge Systems Used with Low Slope Roofing, as the test method to be used to determine capacity for metal edges and copings. ES-1 includes three (3) test methods (RE-1, RE-2, RE-3), each for a different edge condition.
The RE-1 test method is for 'dependently terminated roof membrane systems'. Essentially, a mechanically attached or ballasted membrane is considered to be dependently terminated if a "peel stop" or row of fasteners is not included within 12" from the roof edge. Without a peel stop or a row of fasteners close to the edge of the roof, the edge metal is acting as the mechanical attachment of the perimeter of the membrane. (The RE-1 figure below is rotated clockwise 115 degrees to show the as-tested configuration of the metal edge. ES-1 presumes a ballasted or mechanically attached membrane will flutter and apply load to the metal edge at 25 degrees. The rotated configuration accommodates a hanging load.)
The RE-2 test method is for essentially all metal edge types as long as the "horizontal component" is 4" wide or less.
The RE-3 test method is for copings, and RE-3 includes two tests. One test includes an upward load and a 'face' load; the second test includes an upward load and the 'back leg' load.
The wind-resistance capacity of metal edges and copings is provided in "pounds per square foot" (psf). This is appropriate because the design wind pressures are also in PSF values which makes the comparison of design wind pressures to wind-resistance capacity simple.
Where to find Approval Listings for edge metal
Similar to approval listings for roof systems, there are approval listings for metal edges and copings. Approval Listings are found on FM's RoofNav and UL's Product IQ. An account (free) is required for both. Additionally, NRCA has Approval Listings for contractor-fabricated metal edges and copings which are housed on UL's Product IQ and Intertek's Directory of Building Products.
Knowing UL's Category Control Number is key to navigating UL's Product IQ. . For metal edges and coping, UL's Category Control Number is "TGJZ". After logging in, performing a search using "TGJZ" provides a list of the manufacturers that have Approval Listings with UL. Clicking on GAF's Approval Listings allows users to easy find rated Roof-edge Systems, Metal, for Use with Low-slope Roofing Systems.
Within UL's TGJZ category, GAF has 16 metal-edge products rated using the RE-2 test method and 8 coping products rated using the RE-3 test method. For example (as shown in item 3 in the screen capture above), GAF's M-Weld Gravel Stop MB Fascia B made with aluminum is rated "190 psf". That means this product can be used when the design wind pressures, which include a safety factor, for Wall Zones 4 and 5 are less than or equal to 190 psf.
Within RoofNav, Approval Listings for metal edges and copings can be found under "Product Search" using the "Flashing" category. Most likely, users of RoofNav are familiar with the "Assembly Search" function which is regularly used to locate roof systems based on their wind-uplift ratings.
The search can be further refined within "Subcategory" by selecting Expansion Joint, Gutter, or Perimeter Flashing.
Currently, GAF has 59 Approval Listings in RoofNav: 12 for Coping, 41 for Fascia, and 6 for Gutter products. A screen capture from RoofNav shows GAF's first 20 products.
Looking closely at the Listing, the EverGuard EZ Fascia AR – Steel provides detailed information about the product itself and the installation requirements. As shown below, the listing includes multiple Ratings (i.e., wind-uplift capacity) based on material type and thickness, and face height.
While the Listing is for a steel fascia, an aluminum fascia is also shown in the detailed information. It's important to note that the chart with the "steel" listing's detailed information is the same chart that is available for EverGuard EZ Fascia AR – Aluminum, as well. Therefore, it's prudent for designers and specifiers to provide appropriate information in the specification to avoid mis-communiction about intended product use.
Take note of the material and gauge of the "retainer" (i.e., the continuous cleat). The continuous cleat is required to be 0.50 aluminum, regardless of fascia material type for this Listing. Because the strength of the cleat is a significant factor to the overall wind-uplift capacity of the metal edge (or coping), increasing the thickness of the cleat proves to be an effective method to increase performance.
FM RoofNav and Edge Securement
FM announced on its website on October 28, 2021 that "The Wind Ratings Calculator has been updated to return separate flashing ratings for roofs." The red-highlighted area shows the required capacity for Fascia, Coping, and Gutter products.
Comparison of the Minimum Wind Uplift Approval Ratings Needed (1-75, 1-90) to the Perimeter and Corner Ratings of the EverGuard EZ Fascia shows that each product type provides the required capacity, and in most cases the required capacity greatly exceeds the required rating.
The 3 test methods included in ANSI/SPRI ES-1 standard determine the wind-resistance capacity of edge metal attached to a substrate. In other words, the measured capacity (Rating) is of the metal edge or coping attached to the wood blocking; the tests do not measure the capacity of the attachment of the wood blocking to any substrate. The National Roofing Contractors provide information on this topic. The NRCA Roofing Manual: Membrane Roof Systems—2019, on page 289 states:
"Wood Nailers and Blocking: Many of the construction details illustrated in this manual depict wood nailers and blocking at roof edges and other points of roof termination. Wood nailers must be adequately fastened to the substrate below to resist uplift loads. This especially is true at parapet walls/copings and roof edges where edge-metal shapes are fastened to wood blocking.
Among other advantages, the nailers provide protection for the edges of rigid board insulation and provide a substrate for anchoring flashing materials. Wood nailers should be a minimum of 2 x 6 nominal-dimension lumber. To provide an adequate base, nailers should be securely attached to a roof deck, wall and/or structural framing. In the design of specific details for a project, a designer should describe and clearly indicate the manner in which wood nailers and/or blocking should be incorporated into construction details. A designer should specify the means of attachment, as well as the fastening schedule for all wood nailers and blocking."
To that end, FM Global Property Loss Prevention Data Sheet 1-49, Perimeter Flashings, provides a number of recommendations for anchoring wood blocking to various types of walls and structural framing. One example of a roof/wall intersection shows the bottom nailer bolted to the bar joists to ensure an adequate load path.
Architects, specifiers, and roof system designers are required by code (always check specific local requirements) to determine wind loads not only for the primary roofing system, but for the metal edges and copings as well. Manufacturers and fabricators are responsible for determining the wind-uplift capacity of their metal edge and coping products, as well as their primary roofing systems.
Given the relatively new requirements in the IBC for edge securement, designers, consultants, and specifiers should become familiar with both UL's and FM's approval listings for metal edges and copings. Manufacturers of metal edge and coping products are available to assist designers with selection of edge securement.