March 2023 - Giromax Technology
Does Installing Solar Panels Damage Your Industrial Roof

Does installing solar panels damage your industrial roof?

We recently surveyed a rooftop for a plastics printing company. This business was using approximately 3 million kw of energy each year and needed to reduce the cost of electricity. They want to install solar panels on their industrial roof, which offers a 25% reduction ontheir energy bill. Prior to the solar panel installation, work has started on preparing the sheets and the application of Giromax Roofcoat to protect their roof system.

Following the installation, we will inspect the roof again to check if the drilling process for thefixings has damaged the roof and exposed cut edges. We will then advise on whether anyrecoating and remedial work is needed to ensure the coating guarantee isn’t voided. There are various ways that an industrial roof can be damaged by a solar panel installation.

5 ways solar panels can damage industrial roofs

While solar panels provide excellent energy and cost savings, they can cause damage to industrial roofs if they are not installed properly. In some cases, the roof might not besuitable for solar panel installation. We look at a few ways solar panels can damage industrial roofs.

1. Weight and pressure

Solar panels can place a significant amount of weight on a roof. This weight can cause stress on older roof structures, which can lead to cracks and other forms of damage. Additionally, the pressure from the solar panels could cause weaker roofs to bow or warp, causing damage over time. Therefore, it’s important to check the roof integrity of older buildings, which should be covered in your roof survey.

2. Wind damage

Solar panels can also be damaged by strong winds. If the panels are not securely attached to the roof, they can lift off during high winds. This can cause damage not only to the panels but also to the roof surface itself. Always check your industrial roof after severe weather. Giromax roof coatings have been developed to withstand extreme weather conditions, including heavy rain, snow, ice and UV rays.

3. Water damage

As solar panel installations require penetration of the roof to secure the panels with fixings, this can create entry points for water ingress. The fixings should be watertight but if they are faulty or not affixed correctly, water could seep into the roof and cause a leak. Leaking water will lead to damage inside the building, including mould. Make sure the fixings seal correctly and the installation hasn’t damaged the surface.

4. Cut edge corrosion

As the installation involves penetrations through the surface, the cut edges of the metal sheeting can become exposed, which could lead to corrosion. The sheet lapsand lap joints need to be encapsulated with a suitable cut edge corrosion coating,such as Giromax Edgecoat. This market-leading cut edge corrosion repair system ismoisture tolerant and comes with a 15-year guarantee.

5. Maintenance issues

Installing solar panels on an industrial roof can create maintenance issues. If the panels are not installed intelligently, they can obstruct access to air conditioning units, vents and skylights. This can make it difficult for workers to carry out routine maintenance tasks and repairs. Additionally, if the panels are not cleaned regularly, they can become dirty, which will reduce the overall efficiency of the solar system.

Preparing an industrial roof for solar panels

Solar panels undoubtedly offer excellent energy and cost-saving benefits to businesses, as well as helping to tackle climate change. To avoid any issues, we always recommend working with a professional solar panel installer. If you’re a surveyor, your assessment of a roof’s suitability for solar panel installation will also be a useful factor in your client’s decision-making process. Your guidance on the weight limits of the roof could be crucial.

Before the installation, we recommend a full inspection of the roof surface. Our team will check for any signs of cut edge corrosion, looking at the sheet overlaps. We’ll also look forany corrosion on the heads of fixings and inspect any skylights and vents. We will then advise on whether the roof needs a recoat or any treatments to ensure the roof integrity.

After the solar panels are installed, we will reinspect the roof to see if there’s any damage to the coatings and whether any remedial work is required.

The Giromax team include Technical Services Managers, who provide expert advice to contractors. If you need technical guidance on our products, please call 01455 558969.

Technical Talk: How to spray paint and specialist coatings

About Tony

Tony has worked for Giromax since 2023, and he’s had a varied career over the past four decades. Tony had a brief spell in the Merchant Navy, followed by an apprenticeship with a painter and decorator. Their work focused on painting factories and steelwork, where Tony learned specialist skills in paint spraying.

After his apprenticeship, he went on to work with a high-end painting and decorating company. During this time in the 80s, Tony worked on industrial units, offices, shops and hotels, including the Savoy and the Dorchester.

At night-time, he would work on the supermarkets. When Key Markets were bought out by the Somerfield chain, Tony worked on the branding changeover. He also worked for the Berni Inn chain, when they added ensuites to all their rooms. His claim to fame is gold-leafing the mouldings around Big Ben.

Tony became well-known in the industry for his paint-spraying knowledge and high-end decorating expertise. In 1988, he started his own business working on dilapidations, including shops, offices and industrial units.

Tony and his two sons worked on industrial roof coatings and internal hygiene coatings. He sprayed a hygiene coating to the back of house kitchen walls of Gordon Ramsay’s Grill restaurant. Unfortunately, during this time, one of his sons fell through an asbestos roof. Consequently, Tony went on to develop a serious interest in coatings.

In 2001, Tony was introduced to Giromax coatings and became a preferred contractor, applying the Giromax Girosil range from 2018. He joined our team as a consultant on 1 March 2023. Three of Tony’s jobs using products from the Giromax range were featured in building magazines. Let’s hear what Tony has to say about best practice for paint spraying and health and safety.


Best practice for paint spraying

Tony works alongside our Technical Services Managers. As our Application Consultant, he attends onsite to ensure contractors complete the job to the required standard for our guarantees. If required, Tony will create a sample area as a reference to guide contractors and the site manager, so they can reflect this standard across the entire roof.

Take your time. Be conscientious. Look at what you’re doing, and don’t worry about the metreage because you have to do it properly the first time. You wont get a second time. Once you pull that trigger, whatever you’re spraying will be applied to the roof.”

Problems occur when contractors use people who either do not want to do the work or lack the skills to be able to spray the coatings to a high standard. Due to the vast size of industrial roofs, it’s too easy to become impatient. Good preparation is key. Contractors must prepare the substrate to the correct standards. Some contractors push the boundaries of a project to the point where the coverage isn’t adequate to obtain our Giromax guarantee.


Competency for paint sprayers

Tony’s qualifications, expertise and in-depth knowledge of the Giromax product range not only enhances our customer service but ensures the correct application of our coatings.Instead of offering a training centre, Tony delivers high-quality onsite training to contractors as required, which includes full assessment and the giving out of competency cards.

Tony has all the correct ancillaries and equipment available to provide expert paintspray training. He can immediately spot issues before they occur, for example, when contractors mistakenly add extra thinners to coatings. Tony will advise on the correct application, preparation and equipment needed to achieve a high standard of coating. This includes checking the environment and temperatures are within range to apply our products.


Paint spraying health and safety

When it comes to paint spraying, safety is a subject close to Tonys heart. When his son fell through an asbestos roof, he survived the fall. Since then, Tony has made health and safety a top priority in his practice. He has taken all available qualifications to manage a site, which is an added benefit for our contractors and surveyors.

Tony’s site manager qualifications include SMSTS (Site Manager’s Certificate), which involved a 5-day course, and he holds a black CSCS card. He also has IOSH qualifications covering lifting, moving at height and asbestos.

The most important thing for me is to pass on my 40 years of knowledge to improve the application of coatings, but above all, to keep contractors safe.

At Giromax, we’re very lucky to have Tony as our Application Consultant and to support our clients. Alongside our Technical Services Managers, Tony delivers expert training and advice to contractors. His onsite presence ensures your project is delivered without issues.

If you need technical guidance on our product range, please speak to the Giromax team or call 01455 558969.

How changing market conditions can affect your business

Market challenges range from chemical price rises and supply chain pressures to shortages and delays. These have all had a significant impact on the industry and its competitiveness. Understanding the challenges faced by the industry can help companies prepare and adapt to overcome them, as well as remaining competitive in the marketplace.


The effect of market challenges

One of the biggest challenges faced by the chemical industry has been the rising cost of raw materials. Over the past decade, the cost of key chemicals used in the production of industrial paint and roof coatings has increased significantly. For example, the cost of titanium dioxide, a common white pigment used in paint, has more than doubled in the past ten years due to increased demand, reduced supply, and environmental regulations.

The rise in chemical prices has a direct impact on the cost of production for companies and can make it difficult for them to remain competitive in the marketplace. In addition to chemical price rises, UK manufacturers that rely on the supply of chemicals from overseas have also faced significant supply chain pressures.


COVID and the chemical industry

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted global trade and created bottlenecks in the supply chain. This led to shortages of key chemicals used in the production of industrial paint and roof coatings. For several months, these shortages caused delays in production and the supply chain was significantly affected. For some, this increased costs, making it more difficult for companies to meet customer demands and remain competitive in the marketplace.


UK chemical industry

For many years, the UK chemical industry has faced challenges by rising competition from overseas producers. With the rise of China as a major chemical producer, some chemical companies face increased competition from low-cost overseas suppliers. This competition is driving down prices, making it more difficult for UK-based companies to compete on price alone.


Economic pressures

Economic changes in the marketplace are also having a significant impact on the UK chemical industry. According to the Chemistry Industry Association, the dramatic rise in inflation is “eating into margins and consumer prices”. Energy costs, raw material costs and shortages, and labour costs have all been cited as the four biggest pressures on UK manufacturers at the current time.


Environmental changes

Manufactures are also facing increased pressure from environmental regulations. Governments around the world are becoming more focused on reducing the environmental impact of industrial activities, and the chemical industry is no exception. Companies are being required to adopt more sustainable practices and reduce their use of hazardous chemicals. This can result in increased costs and less competition in the marketplace.

In conclusion, the UK roof coating industry needs to focus on innovation and efficiencies to overcome challenging market conditions. This is essential if they want to remain competitive in the marketplace. Companies can only succeed by focusing on the development of new coating technologies and by maintaining strong relationships with customers and partners.

At Giromax, we carry out continuous development and rigorous testing of all our roof coatings, cut edge corrosion treatment and gutter repair products. We manufacturer our roof coatings in the UK, making us much more resilient to global trends. We also have a trusted list of approved contractors, which we recommend to surveyors using our products.

We have always differentiated ourselves from our competitors. Giromax not only started the UK coatings market, but we have evolved to meet the needs of a changing marketplace. Last year, despite increased market competition, we offered a 20% price decrease, and yet we still lead the roof coatings market. This year, we have expanded our Technical Services Managers team, who are on hand to advise contractors and surveyors.

If you need advice or technical guidance on our product range, please speak to the Giromax team or call 01455 558969.

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Giromax® Data sheets + Specifications, Girocote Data sheets.