With its distinctive bell shape rising to a height of 85 feet and a long, steep roof that ascends to vertical, the Kirkwood United Methodist Church near St. Louis is a dramatic structure. When it came time to replace the church’s 45-year-old roof, InSpire Roofing Products’ composite slate was chosen to add charm, texture and color.
“InSpire transformed the building and made it look 110 percent better,” says Bill Broeker Sr., owner of Old Style Roofing, the project contractor. “The whole building is essentially roof, and it really improved the appearance.”
Project designer Jim Diehl, Vice President of J & S Roofing Technologies, says the church’s eye-grabbing silhouette now has even further standout appeal, thanks to the added dimension and the vibrancy of the four InSpire colors selected by the client: Slate Grey, Charcoal Grey, Red Cedar and Forest Green. “The original roofing was very basic, and didn’t have any pattern to it, or multiple colors,” says Diehl. Now, you have the contrast, you have the texture, you have a roof system that just stands out among others. With multiple colors like these, the result is a beautiful building.” A 4’ x 8’ mock up with the various colors sealed the owner’s selection.
The roof’s design and its size – with a length of 140 feet and a rafter length over 50 feet – were a formidable challenge. A crew ranging from six to ten men worked on the job, removing the old, cracked shingles, then installing 140 squares of InSpire Roofing over a new 3-inch vented nail base along with new copper gutters and brass snow guards.
“We’ve done roofs that steep, but not that big. We tackle a lot of innovative and unusual projects, this being one of them,” Broeker says. “This is one of the more difficult roofs that I’ve done in more than 40 years of experience – not a job for a faint-hearted man.”
The efficiency of InSpire’s InFlex tile design was a deciding factor in the selection of the product. “The pre-curving in the tile is a big benefit and why we liked it for this roof. We figured it would hug the curved roofline better, and it did,” Broeker says.
“It saved on labor,” notes Bill Broeker Jr., Vice President of Old Style Roofing. “Just on shuffling and handling before the installation, it probably saved 20 percent. When slate tiles come out of the mold like that, it’s the absolute best way to do it. If they’re not pre-arched and you bend them on site, they don’t stay. With InSpire, we didn’t have to worry about having to make sure each one was arched.”
For the complex installation, Old Style Roofing Superintendent Kirk Bregg had to come up with a number of ideas. “We actually attached ladders to the roof deck with walk-boards stretched between and we also used an aerial lift for some of the installation. To transport the roofing, we devised a ramp system to get material up and over the snow guards,” Bregg says. The project’s large scope and the fact that the Kirkwood United Methodist Church has long been a recognized symbol around St. Louis, created a lot of interest in the job. “People would be driving down the road and they’d stop to look and watch. It caused traffic jams,” says Bill Broeker Sr.
While the church was Old Style Roofing’s first InSpire installation, the roofing has quickly become a preferred product. “We plan on using InSpire again,” he says. “InSpire is priced right and it’s a quality product. I don’t see a reason to use anything else unless it’s specified that we have to. It’s very attractive.”
As Broeker’s company was finishing work on the church, it also sold InSpire on a 50-square job for two structures on a large private estate, and also had plans to bid it on another large commercial job.
Bill Broeker Jr. says InSpire surpasses other composite slate with qualities including its durability and authenticity. “InSpire is a great-looking product. You can’t argue with the realism,” he notes. “It’s easy to install, and it is what it says it is. With other manufacturers, I can show you jobs that are five years old, but look like they’re 40 years old.”
Jim Diehl also cites InSpire’s value, good looks, warranty and pre-bending as considerations for future projects. “InSpire’s authenticity and aesthetics are excellent. It’s also competitively priced,” Diehl says. “Pictures really do not give the Kirkwood church justice. It’s gorgeous.”
With the many historical homes throughout Kirkwood, the church’s new roof is a good fit for the community, according to Bill Broeker Sr. “The importance of a roof is overlooked quite a bit, especially in a building of this nature. The roof is everything as far as the appearance of this building.” While commercial roofs make up two-thirds of his business, he says the look that InSpire brings will also make an enormous difference in enhancing residential curb appeal.
“In many cases, homeowners don’t know what color their roof is until they go out and take a look,” Broeker says. “When they want a new roof, they often put a 20-year or 25-year roof on and don’t think anything of it. That’s until a neighbor puts on a nice architectural roof, then they say ‘wow, wish I’d have done that.’”