The Milwaukee Public Schools network consists of 178 schools. Combined, they account for more than 86 million square feet of roofing.
The roofing division at MPS (Milwaukee Public Schools) is responsible for keeping all these roofs in shape, and had been looking for a coating to solve a specific challenge for years. 20 years ago, roughly 250,000 sq.ft. of skylights had been coated with 2” of spray polyurethane foam (SPF). Over the last 5 to 10 years the SPF has been cratered by UV and the elements. It began absorbing water like a sponge. Year after year, more and more SPF was failing. The saturated foam was getting dangerously heavy on top of the glass skylights. They wanted to find a way around the labour of tearing off the foam and the dangers of breaking the glass substrate in the process.
Because of frequent summer thunderstorms, the SPF was always wet, causing numerous attempted coatings to blister, pop, and fail.
Neptune Coatings (WetSuit) advised MPS to pressure wash the skylights clean, remove the delaminating topcoat from the foam, and tarp the skylights to allow them to dry out prior to the first job. The foremen, Dennis, chose to disregard all prep on the first 8000 sq.ft. and challenge WetSuit® with a “worst case scenario” situation. The soggy, dirty foam received only a “once over” with a leaf blower. On heavily cratered foam, the WetSuit® 1-Part material was used because of its slow cure and self levelling properties. On the smoother faced foam, WetSuit® 2-Part was used because of its instant cure.
As Neptune Coatings predicted, the WetSuit® blistered rapidly in the summer heat, vaporizing the water that was saturating the SPF. Dennis just smiled and nodded his head with satisfaction. “I knew the WetSuit® would blister because of the conditions, all the other coatings did too, but WetSuit® was the first product that blistered but didn’t pop!!” Indeed, the 1600% elongation simply ballooned out, vaporizing the water upwards and allowing it to pass out the vents that were installed around the skylights. When all the water vapours were out, the blisters just settled out and the WetSuit® was silver top coated. The ease of application and small crew, gave MPS the labour savings they were looking for as well as a lightweight, monolithic membrane that solved a problem that had been nagging them for years. MPS was so happy with the product that they have begun using it in other roofing and waterproofing applications throughout the school district.
Dennis and Jim agree, “the thing we like about WetSuit® is that there are so many ways to use it. We always test products under worst case scenarios to expose their weak points, that way we know how to limit human error and get the best results in the future. WetSuit® really proved itself to us over this last winter. Being water based and having no VOC’s we can apply the product while school is in session and we also like how when it burns, it carbonizes and doesn’t drip, providing an added safety for the kids.”