Innovative Approach Solves Re-Roofing Puzzle at Oceanside Resort

The existing metal roof of the Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove was removed and replaced with 30,000 square feet of the Sarnafil Decor PVC roofing system. Photos: Coating Application & Sealing Co.

Sometimes roofing projects are pretty simple. Others can present a complex puzzle. Sometimes looking at things in a different light can lead to an unexpected solution that turns out to be cheaper and less intrusive for the building and its residents.

The Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove in Miami, Florida is a great example. The hotel consists of two 26-story towers, each crowned with a metal roof with a standing seam and at the base of which steep sections merged into sloping roof sections.

When the original standing seam roof reached the end of its useful life, the owners asked for offers to replace it with a new metal standing seam roof. Large construction cranes would have to be installed near the property entrance for the installation.

Bill Devine, Area Manager for Coatings Application & Waterproofing Co., believed that a new metal roof was not the answer. He suggested installing the Sarnafil Décor PVC system as an alternative, claiming it was cheaper, more durable, and less invasive for hotel owners and guests.

Devine’s thorough knowledge of the construction site helped him draw up his plan. “We had an existing relationship at the Ritz,” he explains. “We repaired the metal roof that was up there about nine years ago. We patched it up after a couple of storms and painted it for them. We’ve helped them with a few other things over the years, and the consultants came in to talk to them about how to take the metal roof off and put a new metal roof back on. So I got involved to convince them of that. “

There were several key factors influencing Devine’s recommendation, including the harsh, corrosive seaside environment that is tough on metal. “I convinced them to use the Sarnafil PVC Decor Rib System, which looks like a metal roof with a standing seam,” says Devine. “The average person looking at it doesn’t know it’s not a metal roof, but it’s all PVC. The way I designed it, there isn’t a single exposed piece of metal left that can rust. “

With the PVC system, all roofing materials could be raised with the service lifts, so that no crane was required. To top it off, it would be cheaper than a new metal roof.

“What got us the job was when I gave him my price for the Sarnafil and told him I didn’t have to have a 200-300 foot crane in front of the Ritz Carlton for eight months,” notes Devine. “I took off the entire roof and put the entire new roof on with the service lift.”

Demanding installation

Coatings Application & Waterproofing (CAW) installed approximately 30,000 square feet of the PVC system. The steepness of the roof sections posed obvious challenges and CAW developed special pivoting steps to remove the existing metal roof and install the decor system. “That’s 250 feet in the air with a 23/12 pitch,” notes Devine. “It’s almost a wall.”

Coatings Application & Waterproofing used special pivoting steps to remove the existing roof and install the PVC system.

A detailed security plan was paramount. The crew had to be tied 100 percent and all tools were tied up. Anchor points were attached to the heavy-duty steel frame of the building on top of the towers. “We drilled that through and put anchors through those large beams and ran our safety lines and rocking steps through them,” says Devine.

The plan was to take everything through the skylights, including the rocking steps, which were designed to collapse for transport. Debris was removed in the same way.

“We peeled all the metal off one section at once and let it fall through the skylight,” explains Devine. “Each side had a skylight and we dropped them on the floor there. We had people inside separating the garbage from the metal and stacking it. We recycled all of the metal. “

The logistics on the construction site were very tight. “The property doesn’t really have a parking space – it has a parking garage – so we didn’t have any space for dumpsters. We only had a few spots in the parking lot to stack insulation and rolls, and we put supplies in the freight elevator whenever we were ready. “

Recycled metal and dirt were also removed via the freight elevator. “We brought it down on a Friday and we had a man with a truck who would meet us at the loading dock. We’d put all the trash in his truck and he’d take it to the dump, ”says Devine. “It wasn’t easy.”

Work on the project included installing new drains, tapered insulation and a PVC membrane in the internal gutters.

Since the metal roof was being torn down in sections, the roof surfaces were covered with 1.5-inch isocyanurate insulation, to which a quarter-inch DensDeck was bonded with adhesive. The pre-assembled 4 foot by 4 foot boards caused some trouble. “We had to make changes to the swing so they could stack the insulation on it,” notes Devine. “We dumped all of the rubbish through the skylight, but when we pulled up our insulation, it didn’t fit through the skylight. We cut a 5-foot-by-1-foot hole in the roof deck on each side of the building and had the guys run the insulation through the slot in the roof deck. They stacked it on the stage, recorded it, and started installing it. “

The isolation panels were attached to the 20-gauge steel ceiling with 3-inch # 15 screws and isolation panels, and a Sarnafil vapor barrier membrane was installed. The slots cut in the deck were repaired with flat steel.

The Patina Green PVC membrane was glued using Sarnacol 2170 adhesive. The crews on the swing stages worked top-down, holding about 2 feet each. “When they got down, they would go back upstairs with welders and weld the laps,” explains Devine.

Attaching the decor ribs with a hot air welder was the final part of the process. The swing levels also had to be modified for this step. “We had to be held back far enough to let our welder run and still keep him in a straight line,” recalls Devine. “It was fun.”

Work on the project included the internal gutter systems and mechanical areas. “Each corner has an internal gutter that extends 15 feet on one side and 15 feet down on the other. They were shot completely, ”says Devine. “The only thing that saved them was the concrete underneath. Everything above was shot. We had to build the conical insulation and the Sarnafil membrane into these and build in new drains. “

According to Devine, there was no exposed metal on the project. The hips and ridges were made of SarnaClad Patina Green metal wrapped in PVC, and the metal frame was also wrapped with a PVC membrane.

Award winning work

Work on the project began in February 2019 and was completed ahead of schedule in November 2019. The project was awarded the Sarnafil Project of the Year in 2019. “It feels pretty good to win this award,” says Devine. “We’ve been through a lot and Sarnafil was there to help us.”

Detailed planning was critical to the success of the project. “I had the luxury of having plenty of time to think about all the different things we had to do,” notes Devine. “We had to make some changes in the field, like cutting a hole in the deck, but most of it went pretty smoothly.”

Devine credits the experienced team at CAW for the success of the project. “I had a good crew,” he says, “our foreman Bob Hinojosa has been with me for 30 years and he’s just good.”

According to Devine, this project demonstrates CAW’s ability to carry out difficult projects. “We’re finding the best way to do this,” says Devine.


Roofer: Coatings Application & Waterproofing Co., St. Louis, Missouri,


PVC roof system: Sarnafil decor roof system, Sika Sarnafil,

Cover Board: DensDeck, Georgia-Pacific,

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