What is a Self-Adhered Membrane?

Self-adhered membranes have revolutionized the roofing industry in recent decades, but what exactly are they, and how do they work?

In this post, we’ll explain exactly what a self-adhered membrane is and how this technique differs from other types of membranes. We’ll also take a look at the history of self-adhered membranes and delve into their benefits as a roofing system.

What is a Self-Adhered Roofing Membrane?

Often used on low-slope roofing, self-adhered modified bitumen roofing membranes contain an adhesive bottom layer that sticks the membrane onto the roofing surface.

There are two main configurations of modified bitumen membranes used in the industry: APP membranes and SBS membranes. Within these two types, extra components are added to the modified bitumen base to enhance certain characteristics.

APP membranes contain atactic polypropylene plastics within their construction. This makes them more rigid compared to SBS membranes, which contain a type of synthetic rubber known as styrene-butadiene-styrene.

Polyglass is an industry-leading innovator of self-adhered roofing membranes and underlayments. These products utilize advanced technologies such as ADESO® Self-Adhered Technology and innovations such as FASTLap and SEALLap Ultra. We’ll explore these in more detail later on.

The History of Self-Adhered Membranes

The roofing industry has undergone several drastic changes since the turn of the 20th Century. Initially, roofs were laid using asphalt and pitch, which gave off extremely unpleasant odors and toxic fumes during installation.

During the 1970s and 1980s, modified bitumen began to displace older materials. Modified bitumen was easier to use and could be applied directly to the surface of the roof. However, it still suffered from producing harmful fumes and posing safety risks due to torch application.

Self-adhered membranes began to emerge in the 1990s thanks to pioneers like Polyglass, who unveiled a patented innovation called ADESO Self-Adhered Technology. This development set the standard for self-adhered modified bitumen membranes, which are now increasingly common across the roofing industry.

Polyglass has continued to develop ADESO technology for decades and now offers a huge range of self-adhered membranes and underlayments bolstered by further innovations such as FASTLap® and SEALLap® Ultra.

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Self-Adhered vs. Membrane Application Methods

Self-adhered membranes differ from other types of roofing membranes due to the methods used during installation. Rolls of self-adhered membrane sheets are spread across the roof in overlapping layers and sealed in place using an adhesive layer on the bottom of the sheet. No dangerous tools, such as open-flame torches, are required.

The other main application method for laying a roofing system is heat-welded application. This is often used for both APP and SBS membranes. The membrane roll is heated using a torch with an open flame and then laid onto the roof. The membrane is fused to the roof as certain compounds within the sheet melt to provide an adhesive layer.

The torch application method involves risks. A naked flame can be dangerous to both occupants and workers and requires a form of gas, which presents a fire risk. This process also often creates toxic fumes, which can be hazardous to the environment.

Another technique used to install a roofing system is the cold-applied adhesive method. This technique doesn’t require the use of a naked flame. Instead, a solvent or water-based liquid product is applied to the roof. As the liquid evaporates, the material cures to form a sealed layer on the roof.

This method removes the need for open flames and reduces the toxic fumes given off during a torch-applied installation. However, cold-process methods can be fiddly and do not suit certain climates or roofing layouts.

The Benefits of Self-Adhered Membranes

Compared to other application methods, self-adhered roofing membranes have several benefits that make them an ideal choice for most roofing projects.

1. Cost-effective

The initial labor costs are lower because self-adhered membranes are much quicker and easier to install than torch-applied membranes. Self-adhered membranes also cost less over the long term as they will need to be repaired and replaced less often than torch-applied membranes.

Some building insurers will also refuse to protect roofs that have been installed using methods such as torch application due to the risk involved. Self-adhered membranes carry a much lower risk.

2. Durability

Self-adhered membranes are also more durable than other types of roofing. Self-adhered membranes offer exceptional seam security, creating a stronger waterproofing membrane for the roof. Self-adhered membranes will last for over 20 years, compared to about 15 years for torch-applied roofing.

Self-adhered membranes can also handle extreme weather conditions better than other roofing techniques and are often available with specialized coatings such as Polyglass’s Elastoflex SA V Polar Base Sheets.

3. Ease of installation

Self-adhered roofing membranes are the easiest type of roofing to install. This helps save you time as a contractor and also decreases labor costs. Self-adhered membranes are also much safer to install than other methods that require the use of naked flames.

4. Environmentally friendly

Because of the absence of torches, self-adhered membranes are a much more environmentally friendly method. Self-adhered roofing doesn’t give off any harmful and toxic fumes during the installation process.

Spotlight on ADESO Self-Adhered Technology

For the pinnacle of self-adhered roofing membranes, look no further than Polyglass’s industry-leading ADESO Technology. This astounding innovation is available across the majority of Polyglass’s roofing membrane range as well as the entirety of their Polystick underlayment line.

ADESO SA modified bitumen membranes utilize a dual-compound construction that features APP or SBS membranes on the upper weathering layer alongside a powerful adhesive bottom layer. Ground-breaking innovations such as FASTLap and SEALLap create robust watertight seams whilst making each sheet incredibly easy to install.

ADESO Technology is used to great effect throughout the Polyglass range, from the Elastobase SA base sheets and Elastoflex SA P cap sheets to underlayments like Polystick® XFR.

For more information on Polyglass’s ADESO product range, click here to find the perfect self-adhered membrane or underlayment for your next client project.