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WSRCA TECHNICAL BULLETIN 2017-2-SIS: Self‐Adhering Underlayment Slip‐Resistance Research and Testing Project

Posted By WSRCA, Wednesday, November 8, 2017


Greetings to Members of Western States Roofing Contractors Association:


Steep‐slope roofing safety requirements and regulations continue to evolve and have become more stringent in an effort to provide safe working conditions. Agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) strive to regulate exposure to hazards through the development of workplace health and safety standards. Steep‐slope roof environments can pose numerous challenges and work on steep‐slope roofs has become more and more scrutinized as governmental regulations have been tightened.


Our roofing industry is well aware of the challenges with maintaining safe working environments, and in our on‐going work with WSRCA’s Self‐Adhering Underlayment Slip‐Resistance Research and Testing Project, we have performed slip‐resistance testing of numerous steep‐slope roofing underlayments. This research and testing project was initiated in response to ASTM’s removal of slip resistance criteria from ASTM D 1970, the standard for Self‐Adhering Polymer Modified Bituminous Sheet Materials Used as

Steep Roofing Underlayment for Ice Dam Protection.


WSRCA’s Steep, Industry Issues, and Safety Committees’ preliminary test data confirms, in our opinion, that the value and importance of this testing project, with the goal of reintroducing slip‐resistance criteria back into ASTM D‐1970 Standard, as well as other underlayment material standards, simply is a matter of worker safety. WSRCA’s slip‐resistance testing has been conducted using a British Pendulum Tester, following the procedures outlined in ASTM E303‐2008 Standard Test Method for Measuring Surface Frictional Properties Using the British Pendulum Tester, which appears to be a very suitable test method.


To date, we have tested ten (10) commonly used and widely distributed roofing underlayment materials available in the Western U.S. market. Each underlayment was tested both dry and wet per the ASTM E303 test protocol. Table No. 1 below provides initial test data and is intended to provide a basis of comparison of general slip resistance for various commonly used roofing underlayment materials. Because the slip‐resistance test measures friction, the higher readings indicate a more slip‐resistant underlayment surface and low readings indicate a less slip‐resistant (i.e., more slippery) surface.




WSRCA’s Steep‐Slope Roofing Committee believes that all roofing underlayment products, including ice‐dam protection membrane underlayments, should have a required series of select physical properties to be tested and/or rated, and published in manufacturers’ Product Data Sheets, including slip‐resistance, similar to other characteristics that are already standard underlayment tests, such as:


o Tensile Tear – tested per ASTM D4073 – Standard Test Method for Tensile‐Tear Strength of Bituminous Roofing Membranes.


o Cold Bend – tested per ASTM D2136 – Standard Test Method for Coated Fabrics—Low‐Temperature Bend Test.


o Permeability – tested per ASTM E96 / E96M – Standard Test Methods for Water Vapor Transmission of Materials.


o Shower Test – tested per ASTM D4869 / D4869M – Standard Specification for Asphalt‐Saturated Organic Felt Underlayment Used in Steep Slope Roofing.


o Dimensional Stability – tested per ASTM D4869 / D4869M – Standard Specification for Asphalt‐Saturated Organic Felt Underlayment Used in Steep Slope Roofing.


Initial Slip‐Resistance Testing Results:

Concerned with the removal of slip‐resistance criteria from ASTM D 1970 Self‐Adhering Polymer Modified Bituminous Sheet Materials Used as Steep Roofing Underlayment for Ice Dam Protection, WSRCA has embarked on this Slip‐Resistance Testing and Research Project with the desire to have the industry participate and assist with the development of updated ASTM roofing underlayment standards. Table No.1 below documents WSRCA’s preliminary slip‐resistance testing data of commonly used and commercially‐available steep‐slope roofing underlayments. Please be aware that the ASTM E303‐2008 testing protocol states that the first test result from the pendulum swing is not recorded, as indicated in Table’s testing data below.



WSRCA Recommendations and Summary:

With the importance of safety in mind, WSRCA encourages manufacturers of steep‐slope roofing underlayments to conduct slip‐resistant testing of their products and provide the test data/information to the Industry in their product data sheets, in effort to work with associations such as WSRCA to incorporate slip resistance into ASTM roofing underlayment standards as one of the physical property attributes that are tested and measured. It is with this WSRCA research, pro‐active testing work, and solid data that WSRCA representatives intend to lobby ASTM Underlayment Task Groups and the D08.02 Sub‐Committee to incorporate slip‐resistance criteria into all roofing underlayment material standards.


In Closing:

Thank you for your participation in the western roofing industry and for counting on WSRCA to provide our Members with industry‐leading technical work, and member assistance, for use on your roofing and reroofing projects. WSRCA endeavors to promote quality and help maintain safe work environments.


Thank you for continuing your membership to support Western States Roofing Contractors Association in our active efforts with research and testing to strengthen and advance technology and science into the art of roofing.



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