Walk pads are placed on top of the roof membrane to protect the membrane from punctures caused by people walking or working on your roof when they service equipment (like HVAC units) or for other reasons. The pads are made of the same materials as the roof and they also come in rolls. They do a good job protecting the roof and can be easily removed if needed. Some are also recyclable.
However, there’s such a thing as too much of a good thing.
Sometimes our clients think they need more walk pads than they really do. Walk pads are expensive and can inhibit the flow of water off of the roof somewhat. There’s also the opportunity for error during installation — technicians hot weld them in place onto the roof covering. And, more often than not, equipment technicians don’t even use them. They just make a bee-line for the piece of equipment they need to service!
At Sentry, we believe the concept of adding walk pads to your roof is sound, especially for single-ply roofs. But we recommend you only install them in the areas where they are truly needed for access and around equipment that will be serviced. We also recommend you install them in a straight line that’s the shortest path from A to B because that’s the path technicians are going to take anyway. It’s OK if the walk pad pattern you end up with isn’t gorgeous from a bird’s eye view — your roof will be protected and that’s what counts.
If you’re concerned about rooftop traffic on your building because you have a lot of AC units or other machines that technicians will need to service, there’s an option to having a ton of walk pads. We’ve added high density cover board over the roof insulation for clients in this situation. The cover board prevents punctures underneath the roof membrane and it’s a lot less expensive that covering the roof with walk pads.
If the goal is to protect your roof from technicians’ foot traffic — and all of the tools and sharp objects they bring along with them — by all means add walk pads. But do it in a way that protects your roof AND your budget.