Unistrut Rooftop Walkways

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Contractors have long hailed Unistrut framing channel as one of the most versatile building materials on the market. Building professionals choose Unistrut because it is easy to work with, and thanks to the material's innovative design, time-consuming fabrication steps such as cutting and welding are minimised during most installations. These same benefits cited by building professionals make Unistrut an even better choice for those with less building experience than the run-of-the-mill contractor.

The keys to any successful building project are two-fold: the right materials and an easy-to-follow plan. By partnering with a specialised Unistrut Support Company like ourselves, you can purchase all of the materials, engineering drawings, and systematic instructions needed to complete your project. If all of this sounds too good to be true, think again! Here is a rooftop walkway project completed for one of our clients as a case in point:

Walkways are common rooftop fixtures in areas requiring frequent inspection and maintenance. If you look at the roofs in any industrial park, you'll see HVAC units, air handling equipment, and pipe rack systems, just to name a few. Accessing these systems poses a number of challenges, including fall hazards and the potential for roof damage due to pedestrian foot traffic. Walking directly on the roofing surface can cause punctures and excessive wear on rubber roofs (which typically voids the manufacturers warranty on membrane roofing materials) and seam distortion with excessive stress on metal roof panels.

Identifying a solution providing safe rooftop access for our client was easy, but the real question centered on who should complete the build. Finding a local contractor was an option, but this route can be expensive. The other option was for the client to take ownership and complete the project.

The specifics of the actual project were pretty simple. Our client has a standing seam metal roof, and they wanted to ensure that installation would not require any penetration of the roof surface. This request is fairly common since even well sealed holes are prone to eventual leaks. Our client also required a skid-resistant walking surface, handrails, engineered drawings to satisfy any subsequent safety inspections, and easy-to-follow instruction plans.

Although the infinite adjustability of Unistrut channel eliminates most cutting, this design did call for some cut-to-length material. We performed this operation using our cutting facilities and then bundled all of the materials into clearly labeled lots so our customer could easily identify the needed pieces for each walkway section.

The finished 500ft walkway took about a week to complete. One of the challenges with roof walkways is finding a way to secure the walkway without penetrating the roof surface. Our non-penetrating design concept used Unistrut S-5 clamps to attach the base of the walkway to the roof. The clamps created a solid connection to the roof ribs, eliminating the need to drill holes that might cause leaks. Due to the flexibility of the Unistrut clamping system, walkways can be installed parallel, perpendicular, or diagonally to the rib pattern on a standing seam roof.

The railings and base framing was constructed using Unistrut Channel Strut and Channel Accessories. To ensure a safe walking surface that can stand up to snow and ice build-up, we specified Unistrut Anti-Skid Grating (G11282, G12282 G9128) attached with G714 recessed washers and P3007 Channel Nuts.

As is often the case with DIY installation projects, our client did hit a few bumps in the road. One section of the walkway required re-routing due to structural interferences that were not called out in the clients original hand-drawn sketches of the rooftop. Although this set-back might have been a major problem had the walkway been built with traditional steel fabricating techniques, the modular nature of Unistrut channel made overcoming the challenges presented by the in-the-field modifications a breeze.

By utilising our Partnership Program our client received everything needed to make this project a success. The next time your team is contemplating a building project, remember DP Building Systems is more than just a one stop shop for Unistrut Channel, Unistrut Cable Management, etc. By working together and working through your drawings, we can create an easy-to-build design that will help meet your rooftop access needs.

To find out more, Click Here or contact our Unistrut technical team for free support on unistrut@dpbuildingsystems.co.uk or 0121 706 7777.