Aside from storing your HVAC systems and building generators, you can design your rooftop with other features to make it more efficient and improve your building’s overall aesthetics. Many home and business owners have transformed their dull and ordinary rooftops into something more cozy and functional such as an outdoor living or entertainment space.
Gone are the days when the maintenance personnel or roofer only had access to the roof. More and more people now have regular access to their rooftop — but how do they gain access to the rooftop? There’s only one possible way to earn easy and convenient access to the roof, and that is by installing roof hatches.
Having a roof hatch presents many functional benefits aside from providing access. It now comes to various styles, designs, and materials that allow the hatch to blend perfectly with its immediate surroundings. Other roof panels also have a near-invisible finish, seamlessly blending into walls, ceilings, and floors. With the variety of designs that many roof hatches offer, designers can easily incorporate them into interior and roof deck designs.
However, roof hatches are primarily known for their functionality. While not all hatches offer many design options, you still need to prioritize their use over external features. To determine which roof hatch to purchase, you need to consider some factors.
Selecting A Roof Hatch That Meets Your Needs
There are a variety of roof panels available to accommodate the entry requirements of a commercial building. Your chosen roof hatch will fundamentally depend on many considerations, including the following:
- Purpose – Determining your reason for purchasing a roof hatch can significantly affect your buying decision and the size of the hatch. If you need it for personal use only, you can settle for a small single-cover unit with a fixed ladder or ship stair for added support. On the other hand, more extensive roof access with a wide opening is ideal for facilities that often require workers to carry equipment on the roof.
- New vs. Retrofit – While many roof hatch purchases are for new installations, there are instances for replacing an old and damaged hatch. A low-profile replacement roof panel is preferred for retrofit applications since it can perfectly mount over an existing curb, thus eliminating the need to replace roofing materials.
- Type of Facility – The type of facility where the roof hatch will be used can significantly influence your product selection. For example, high-security facilities such as correctional facilities, banks, and storage units require hatches that offer heavy security and anti-corrosion. Highly corrosive facilities such as chemical plants or coastal areas require weather-resistant roof hatches such as aluminum and steel, which also have the highest level of corrosion resistance. To summarize, it is critical to address the specific needs of different environments.
- Cost – Pricing is almost a priority for many business owners. Hatches made from galvanized steel are in demand from a cost perspective. They offer a basic level of corrosion resistance and typically have a primer paint finish. On the other hand, aluminum hatches are slightly more expensive since they require minimal maintenance and have a higher level of corrosion resistance. Stainless steel and copper-made hatches are the most expensive options.
- Quality – When searching for a roof hatch, you must also consider a product’s design elements to select the best one for your needs. Ease of operation is one of the fundamental design elements to consider when choosing roof access. Maintenance personnel need to open the cover upward from the inside since, quickly, most of the time, they have several pieces of tools on hand. Choose a roof hatch with automatic lift assistance or compression springs to ensure smooth operation. In addition, hatches also help improve your building’s energy performance. Therefore, choose fully welded corners and a full curb and cover insulation model.
Selecting the ideal roof hatch for your facility is a significant decision that can ultimately affect your roofing system’s performance and lifespan. Find a reliable supplier and contractor who understands your needs and presents all necessary details so that they can make a tailored recommendation.
Roof Hatch Design Improvements
Roof hatches have gone a long way. The initial design came to fruition around 50 years ago when roofers and building designers recognized the insurmountable danger in accessing the roof with a ladder. Since their inception, roof hatches have undergone several design improvements due to consumers’ changing needs. Here are some of the latest roof hatch design improvements:
- Enhanced Safety – Thanks to several innovations, we can now consider an improved roof hatch with ease of operation as its key design feature. A roof hatch that is difficult to operate can compromise the user’s safety — not to mention it can also increase the risk of a falling hazard. An automatic hold-open feature is significantly better than a hatch that requires two-hand operation while atop a ladder. In addition, OSHA guidelines now require the use of guard rails and walkways to mitigate the risk of falling hazards. These guidelines promote the use and implementation of personal arrest and fall protection railing systems to prevent anyone from falling inside an open hatch.
- Designed For Convenience – Identifying your property’s access requirements is the first step in choosing a roof hatch. Whether it’s for personal or equipment use, design innovations have paved the way for more personalized and reliable types of roof panels. Several units also offer lock customization, where customers can choose among different lock and latch options.
- Increased Energy Efficiency – Sustainability is now more critical than ever. From large corporations to daily consumers, the need for energy-efficient products has steadily grown over the years to the point where roof hatches are now designed to be efficient. Many hatches offer improved thermal performance with polyisocyanurate (polyiso) insulation on the cover and curb. Polyiso insulation helps enhance a product’s RSI (R-value) and maintain a similar efficiency level as modern roofing systems. There are now several hatches that also offer reliable gaskets to minimize air infiltration and leakage.
- Natural Daylight – Aside from insulation, many roof hatch units promote efficiency by acting as a skylight which allows users to use daylight as an efficient source of internal light naturally. Skylights reduce the need for artificial lighting during the day, which is a practical way of reducing energy costs. Roof hatches can also help office spaces as studies suggest that natural daylight boosts employees’ morale and well-being leading to higher productivity.
Over the years, consumers and the construction industry have seen a dramatic improvement in the design and features of roof hatches. With the variety of units available, roof hatches have surpassed their initial purpose of providing roof access by being a key contributor in reducing fall incidents, safety compliance, improving your building’s overall efficiency, etc. You can expect that as times and needs change, manufacturers will ensure that their roof hatches can keep up by improving their design and functionality.