Of all the places in the United States, Florida has some of the toughest building codes around—at least where roofing is concerned. It’s something born out of necessity. Since Florida is a hurricane-prone state with a history of big storms making landfall, these codes are in place to offer as much protection as possible.
Recently, Florida has made the news again—though not for a major storm, but rather a major change to their building code. These new requirements stand to change some things about how roofers approach the job. That’s on top of the changing climate—2021, like 2020, is forecasted to be another above-average hurricane season, which means these new rules are timed right to offer increased protection on new construction. Read below to learn more about the changes to Florida’s building code and the upcoming storm season.
New Florida Building Code: What’s Changed for Roofers?
The driving force behind this change, apart from worsening hurricane seasons, is Florida law itself, which requires the Florida Building Commission to update code every three years. This latest revision is the 7th Edition of the Florida Building Code, which took effect on January 1, 2021. For roofers, some of the big changes to note are as follows:
- Underlayment types and installation for roof coverings must now be consistent with IBHS recommendations for creating a sealed roof deck.
- When using felt underlayment, it must be 30# or equivalent (which would be ASTM D 226 Type II or ASTM D4869 Types III and IV).
- Rules for the number of plies, lapping, and fastener spacing have been strengthened.
- When using tape or self-adhesive strips on roof deck joints, installers are required to use a 30# felt equivalent underlayment featuring enhanced fastening.
- New requirements are available for the types of underlayment, lapping, and fasteners that can be used when self-adhering tape is applied to roof deck joints.
There is also a new set of requirements for the types of underlayment that can be used. These include self-adhering polymer-modified bitumen, two layers of ASTM D226 Type II or ASTM D4869 Types III or IV felt, or two layers of reinforced synthetic underlayment certified to comply with ASTM D226 Type II standards.
Epilay Meets Florida’s New Building Code Requirements
That’s a lot to take in all at once—but the good news is, all Epilay products are approved for use as per these changes to Florida’s new building code. Builders and homeowners are starting to take note, too. That’s because Epilay products, with their multi-layered, reinforced design, feature higher wind resistance and tear strength than traditional felt products, which is crucial in hurricane-prone areas like Florida.
What’s more, Epilay products can be exposed to UV rays longer than felt, which must be covered immediately. That’s 180 days for Plystik Plus or up to one year for Protectite products. This is another reason why synthetic underlayment is gaining ground. In the wake of a damaging storm, roofing materials are often at a premium, and roofing contractors are stretched to the limit. There are often delays between damage to the roof and the time it takes to repair it. Epilay products can protect the roof while you wait.
What about the 2021 Hurricane Season?
It’s expected to be a big one this year, which is why updated roofing codes couldn’t have come at a better time. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says that as many as 10 hurricanes could form in the Atlantic, whereas an average season sees seven hurricanes. If this forecast comes true, it would mark the sixth straight season with higher than usual storm activity.
That’s what is happening in the roofing world right now—at least in Florida. Expect to see more and more roofers turning to synthetic underlayments like Epilay’s products over traditional felt, not only to meet Florida’s new building code but to better protect roof decks against damaging storms.