Creeping Vines Creeping Right Into A Rooftop

Should you let creeping vines creep to the roof?

In the past, one of our partner companies, Infinity Design Solutions, also known as ideas, has talked significantly about the damage that plants and biocolonization can cause to masonry surfaces and brick and motor assemblies.  Plants can essentially take root into these building materials and as the plants develop, they can accelerate and exacerbate the damage to the building assemblies.

For reference, you can see some of the articles from IDS at the following links,  touching on problems related to biocolonization.:

Bio-colonization of stone and masonry

Spalling and Exploding Bricks Part II

How Rain Affects a Brick Facade Part II

Top 10+ Prevalent Threats to Masonry Structures – PART II

What is Biocononization?

Biocononization is the propagation and growth or development of plant systems in building facades or building assemblies.   Plant growth almost always damages buildings. There are some rare exceptions where plant growth is integral to the building design.  There are the well established areas of green roofs and living roofs, and there are also fascinating newer areas of building science focused on research and development in biomimicry and botanic building.  Aside from these areas though, unwanted plants entering building systems are generally destructive nuisances. 

The picture below shows a local city rowhome roof covered with vine growth.  We took this photo a few weeks ago, right before the 2023 spring came into bloom.  In a non-green state, you can clearly see the vine network structure.  

biocononization creeping vines

Roofs and drain components are built with intentional laps and extensions or projections where the roof surface, for example, will extend beyond the top of a supporting wall.  These areas are built in overlapping layers so that flowing water, guided by the direction of gravity alone, will predictably travel in a controlled manner.   Ice damming, though, can be a problem in these areas.  As well, rodents and creeping vines, aggressive plants can be a problem in these same areas.

The next picture shows the same roof areas more closely.  The vines enshroud the roof over the rear addition of the building and the gutter and downspout.   Fascia and rake boards terminate and create the transition between the roof and exterior walls of the buildings, and these areas are susceptible to vines.

creeping vines on rooftop

Dangers of Creeping Vines Creeping On Rooftop  

As vines and plant growth creep into and between these areas of the building, the plants create greater damage. Essentially the damage is nonlinear and increases more and more as the plants grow because as the plants grow, they push the building elements farther apart and allow greater gapage and space for other plants to grow into the same crevices and interstitial spaces. The picture below shows an example of a power line connection covered by vines and plant growth. The potential danger here is obvious and the vines make access for service difficult and dangerous.

dangers of creeping vines on rooftop

Maintaining A Flat Roof System

Smart proactive replacement, construction, upkeep and maintenance of low slope roof systems requires an enthusiastic interest and understanding of waterproofing principles and building science.   Here in Washington DC, historic and modern residential and commercial buildings are extremely expensive and the roof and related systems provide the shield that preserves the building. 

We encourage all of our clients, and all readers of this article and to our blog in general, to prioritize the value of quality construction and building maintenance, and develop a relationship with our company.  You can learn a lot more on our blog.  Feel free to check it out.  If you have questions about the roof and related systems of your building in Washington DC, contact us or fill out the webform below and drop us a line.  We will be in touch if we can help.

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