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Use the following learning
objectives to focus your study while reading this
month’s ARCHITECTURAL RECORD / AIA Continuing Education
After reading this article, you will be able to:
Examine the types of walkable roof decks, waterproofing
options, and common problems.
Analyze the characteristics, advantages and applications
of walkable roof deck, and outdoor flooring systems.
Explore design and installation considerations
for walkable roof decks, balconies, and outdoor
Understand key issues in specifying waterproof
PVC-based roof deck and flooring membranes.
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This article is available in
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Roof decks offer inexpensive living space
geared to relaxation and socializing and, especially in urban
environments, often afford views over a glittering cityscape.
Yet because these outdoor rooms can quickly become unsightly
and even unsafe if they are not built of the proper materials,
they can be particularly challenging for architects. Roofing
products are not intended for pedestrian traffic. Protective
carpet or wood can be placed over the roofing, but are susceptible
to damage from the elements. Applied coatings and fiberglass
have been used with limited success due to the inherent deficiencies
in the materials themselves. With walkable, waterproof decks
being so problematic, many architects and building officials
have shied away from them.
However, walkable decks finished with heavy-duty polyvinyl
chloride (PVC) thermoplastic waterproofing membranes are one
way to ensure that outdoor spaces remain livable for years
to come. The surface has its origins in the 1960s when it
was used in small boats to provide an attractive, slip-resistant
flooring that would clean easily and stand up to the abuses
to which a fishing or water ski boat may be subjected. PVC
membranes were adapted and introduced as a waterproofing roofing
material in Canada, and have been growing in popularity in
the U.S. market ever since.
PVC membranes were
specified for roof decks at a Baltimore-area
town house development. Bond Street Townes,
Fells Point, Maryland. Architect: Architecture
Typically applied with heat-welded seams, and formulated
for long-term, direct exposure to the elements, PVC membranes
have distinct advantages over traditional waterproofing methods.
This article will detail the differences between the traditional
and the PVC approach to waterproofing and provide an overview
of design and installation considerations, as well as introduce
the basics involved in specification of PVC-based membranes.