Automotive dealerships in Toronto have some special considerations when planning for a new roof. Some examples include how to handle extreme weather conditions, be aesthetically appealing, protect expensive inventory and customer vehicles, and operate safely in areas with many flammable liquids and chemicals.
Here are some areas that auto dealerships in the Toronto area should consider and discuss with their roofing contractor before beginning any project.
1. Wind Blow-Off for Commercial Roof Structures
Winter storms in Toronto can even blow off roofs. On March 23 of last year, part of the roof of the Mercedes-Benz dealership in Regent Park, Toronto, blew off and landed on a nearby roadway. Even when the situation isn’t as extreme, strong winds and storms can damage roof membranes and leak water into the service area and showroom.
Tips: A roofer should firmly attach the membrane with a mechanical fastening system (rather than simply use stone ballast to weigh down the roof assembly) and bond it to the substrate below.
2. Handling Hail Storms for your Auto Dealership Roofing
Imagine a golf ball sized ice ball hurtling toward a roof membrane at 110 kph–in other words, hail. Large hailstones can be catastrophic to a dealership:
In August of 2023 , a powerful hailstorm in central Ontario caused extreme damage to the entire inventory of a dealership. More than 50 dealership and customer cars were totaled, with the dealer estimating that completing insurance claims and repairs could take months.
A similar storm in Colorado damaged 100 percent of inventory. In total, 400 cars totaled, amounting to $4 million in damages, and the dealership was forced to close for nine days.
Hail can damage vehicles parked outside in the open air, and in some cases even cars under covered areas can take a hit. When hailstones are large enough, they can even break windows to the showroom.
Tips: Know the rating of your shingles, with Class 3 or Class 4 offering the strongest protection. Also, protect expensive equipment outside—such as HVAC units, exhaust fans, and vents—with hail guards or hail netting. Finally ensure that employees and customers take shelter inside and away from windows.
3. Fire Hazards
Fire is the most common hazard for auto repair and body shops—not a surprise given all the flammable liquids, combustible materials, electrical tools, electrical systems (and even EVs), and in service areas and showrooms. Never underestimate the importance of proper safety procedures and good housekeeping.
Tips: Take special care with areas with activities and in locations at high risk of starting or spreading fires, including:
- Take steps to reduce paint residue and vapours in spray booths.
- Always use a safety-equipped gas caddy for transferring gasoline.
- Train employees on battery procedures, including installation, removal, charging, maintenance, storage, handling, and transporting.
- Provide easy access to portable fire extinguishers, choose the correct classification and size, and inspect them monthly for damage.
- Label, store, and include handling information for all hazardous liquids and chemicals. Wear safety goggles and gloves during handling. Provide training and protective gear for workers using power tools.
- Implement a fire watch for roofing projects where an open flame is used on the roof.
4. Interior Appearance
For aesthetic reasons, a dealership may want to paint the underside of the substrate of a corrugated metal deck, especially if the screws are unattractive. The downside is that screws can trigger peeling paint if not properly primed.
Tips: Instead of fastening insulation or a membrane with screws and plates, consider using properly secured adhesives and low-rise foam. While these options are more expensive than screws and fasteners, they can be more pleasing to the eye.
5. Skylights on the New Dealership Roof
Skylights let in light to show off inventory. However, the acrylic used for skylights is not heavy duty and can present a falling hazard. Take the case of the 44-year old demolition worker who stepped backwards onto a skylight while removing roofing components. He fell about 19 feet, landed on a concrete floor, and died at the scene.
Tips: Elite Roofing’s process is to remove the skylight, put plywood and self-adhesive membrane over it, setting it aside, then put the skylight back on after replacement. Assess and plan for job hazards, provide PPE, and train workers to recognize hazards and follow proper procedures.
6. ACM Panels
ACM panels have become popular in the construction of automotive dealerships. They are sleek, durable, flexible, and are available in many colors for matching brand identity.
However, the panels often cover the outside vertical walls and sometimes extend over the top of the parapet wall, making it difficult for the roofer to use traditional metal copings and place them in the best location. If there is a roof leak where the roof interfaces with the ACM panels, there may be finger-pointing about whether the ACM company or the roofer is responsible.
Tips: Such problems can be avoided if the architect, designer, ACM company, and roofer consider relevant issues in advance. The roofer can ask to review the ACM shop drawings before the work begins. While a redesign is not always possible, a roofer can make suggestions to avoid problems down the road and improve the weathertight quality.
7. Rooftop Space on Automotive Dealership Roofing
Rooftop parking at dealerships have become more common, especially in inner city locations. Two specific roofing concerns are special waterproofing requirements and the potential need for structural enhancement. In addition, plans need to consider walkways and stairwells, pedestrian and vehicle safety, appropriate drainage systems, and leaving space around roofing equipment (such as HVAC) for accessing flashing or roof repair areas.
Tips: Other key considerations when planning for rooftop parking include:
- Roof membrane details especially at upturns to parapet walls, stairwell and penthouse roofs, exit doors and drains.
- Structural capacity of your parking garage
- Aesthetic considerations
- Compatibility with other installed equipment and fittings
- Provisions for weather conditions, such as hail and heat
- Industry and local design codes and standards
Elite Roofing is the Expert Roofer for Toronto’s Automotive Dealerships
Automotive showrooms and shops have special roofing considerations when they are designing a new showroom or remodeling one. The kind of roof and the skill of the installer can make all the difference between an aesthetic pleasing, high-performing roof and one that leaks into your showroom, causes damage to inventory, or harms employees and customers. Elite Roofing has experience in the automotive industry, the expertise to install a roof that is stylish and safe, and the knowledge of how to work with architects, designers, and other contractors.
For expert roofing of your complex commercial automotive dealership roofing projects, contact Elite Roofing today.