Roof coatings are a cost-effective and affordable way to maintain or restore your commercial roof. When professional roofers apply a coating, it can protect your roof against harsh natural elements such as water, wind and UV light, all of which compromise your roof’s integrity over time. Roof coatings are also environmentally friendly and provide significant energy savings.
This article covers the benefits of roof coatings, their composition and the various types available.
How Commercial Roof Coatings Reduce Environmental Impact
More companies are making their business as eco-friendly as possible, both in terms of their manufacturing methods and the construction of their buildings. In response to this trend, many roofing services are making their products more environmentally friendly. One way that roofing companies are helping businesses become greener is through their roof coating services, which help reduce the environmental impact of a roof.
A coating for your commercial roof, when applied properly, can prolong the lifespan of your roof system, putting off costly repairs or replacements for potentially many years. A roof coating can extend your roof’s useful life by protecting it from UV light, water and wind.
Prolonging the lifespan of your roof means that that fewer resources must be used for repairs or replacements. By using fewer resources, you’re helping the environment.
What Are Commercial Roof Coatings?
Commercial roof coating systems protect roofs and extend their useful life, whether they are new or existing constructions. The coatings are applied to roofs with low slopes and prevent water, physical and chemical damage. A roof coating is the most effective and affordable way to help buildings save money and improve sustainability.
A roof coating is formulated to provide roofs with long-term protection against UV light, strong winds, excessive water and other potentially harmful elements.
A roof coating is thicker than paint and contains a higher solids content. Whereas paint is usually applied in portions of a gallon for every 100 square feet, several gallons of roof coating are used for the same area.
The protection offered by a roof coating also lasts many years and is very elastic due to the high-quality resins it usually contains. These resins allow the coating to stay elastic throughout its life. Once they’ve cured, these resins form a durable, elastomeric film that enhances the coating’s waterproofing capabilities by allowing it to bridge tiny membrane seams and cracks on roofs.
The application of cold-process coatings dates back five thousand years when Egyptians started using enamels and varnishes made of gelatin, beeswax and clay to waterproof wooden boats. Later, they started using balsam and pitch for their protective coatings.
In the 2nd century B.C., ancient Asian civilizations independently developed the use of varnishes and lacquers, which were used for protective coverings for buildings, furnishings and artwork in Japan, China and Korea. The Early Greeks also used varnishes and paints on homes, artwork and ships, and they even added colors to their coatings.
The earliest documented homes in Asia, Europe and the Americas mostly used a variety of cold-applied mixtures of water, soil and clay as well as stucco pastes of sand, water and gypsum or limestone to make their walls and roofs waterproof.
In Babylon, mud walls were made waterproof using mineral pitch from rivers. Many of these materials are still used in protective coatings today.
The latter half of the 1700s saw a great improvement in the quality of protective coatings when a chemist from Germany discovered that coal tar could be applied to ropes and wood as a protective coating. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, scientists developed various new synthetic, organic and inorganic materials for use in binders, solvents and coatings. The most significant advance in coatings came more recently when polymers were developed.
Hot- and Cold-Applied Roofing Systems
Halfway through the 19th century, a new type of roofing was developed by dipping rag felt in coal tar or pine tar and layering the felts with hot tar moppings and covering everything in gravel. Eventually, asphalt would mostly replace the tar and the fiberglass mat would replace the rag felt, creating the Built-up roof (BUR) we know today. For almost a hundred years, if a structure had to have a low-slope roof, the hot-applied BUR was the only option. However, in the middle of the 20th century, as coatings for roofs were becoming more common, someone figured out that a cold-applied roof coating could be used to adhere the roofing felt plies, thereby eliminating the need for roofing kettles and hot asphalt. This was the invention of the cold-applied membrane roofing system.
Since then, roofing technology has quickly evolved, and you can use numerous materials to make a roof. Cold-applied roofing systems are more popular now than ever before.
Types of Commercial Roof Coatings
The most popular roof coating types are acrylic, asphalt, polyurethane and silicone:
- Acrylic: These water-based coatings are most suitable for high-UV environments where a reflective roof is needed. Although sometimes colored, acrylic roofs are most commonly sold in white, grey and tan. There are many specialized versions developed to work with certain substrates.
- Asphalt: Asphalt coatings come in two types — solvent-based “cut backs” and emulsions. They can be aluminized or black and can be used in cold and inclement weather. Aluminum coatings are reflective and UV-stable.
- Polyurethane: Polyurethane coatings are generally solvent-based and are available in two main types — aliphatic, which is exceptionally UV stable, and aromatic, which is less UV stable. Urethanes have good abrasion resistance and mechanical properties. They are good choices for areas prone to hail or if the roof experiences lots of foot traffic.
- Silicone: Like acrylic coatings, silicone coatings are known for performing well in intense UV environments where a reflective roof is wanted. It’s also used in places where it rains daily or in cases when the roof is frequently wet.
In addition to these four common types, roof coatings can also be made using other resins or combinations, including:
- Butyl resins
- Silyl terminated polyester
Pros of Roof Coatings
The primary advantage of roof coatings is, as mentioned above, to prolong your roof’s lifespan, meaning you’ll be paying less for maintenance and repair costs. This coating functions as a protective layer between the roof and the harsh elements, including water, UV rays and heat.
Other benefits of roof coatings include:
1. Environmentally Friendliness
Extending the lifespan of your roof’s materials means you’re creating less waste, which helps the environment.
Roof coatings today also contain no dangerous chemicals, so you won’t have to worry about the roof itself harming the environment. The production and installation of your roof coating don’t involve any harmful processes. Also, as your roof coating can help reduce the temperature of your roof, you’re helping out the environment by keeping the temperature of the vicinity lower, thereby reducing your area’s heat impact.
2. Cooler Temperatures
A roof coating’s ability to keep temperatures cool doesn’t just benefit the environment — it also benefits you financially. A cooler roof means a cooler building, so you won’t have to spend as much on utility bills in the summertime.
With the right coating, both your roof and the interior temperature of your building can be decreased by up to 10 degrees.
3. Prevention of Roof Damage
Sealing your roof will prevent damage, which can require expensive repairs. However, before applying the coating, ensure that minor repairs such as tiny leaks are fixed first.
If your roof has suffered minor damage and you’re thinking about a replacement, consider instead having it repaired and then coated. This costs significantly less than a replacement and can last almost as long.
Replacing a roof is quite a hassle and can be a financial burden, as it involves removing the old one, buying new materials for the new one, and paying for the labor for the installation. Having your roof coated is a much more affordable and sustainable way to fix a damaged roof and prevent harm in the future.
4. Compatibility With Any Surface
If you’re unsure whether a coating will adhere to your roof, don’t worry. Roof coatings are designed to be compatible with practically any type of roof surface, including:
- Galvalume metal
If your roof is shingles, however, you’ll want to confirm whether using the sealing product will void your warranty.
5. Simple Installation
The process of applying the coating won’t cause any disruptions to your business. Whereas a roof replacement often requires you to halt your operations, a roof coating allows you to continue business as usual. The application of roof sealant isn’t a noisy process either, and it doesn’t give off a strong smell.
6. 100% Waterproofing
Once the roof coating is applied, you won’t ever have to worry about a leaky roof again, even in the worst storms. This is because the coating melds together with the roof to form a thorough seal that water can’t penetrate. There will be no seams or weak points that allow a leak to form.
Every 10 years or so, your roof coating can be renewed, which will allow you to continue enjoying the benefits without having to replace the roof. This renewed coat will refresh its reflectivity, extend its lifespan and make sure it remains 100% waterproof.
8. Retention of Roof Color
A roof coating doesn’t just enhance its performance — it also makes it look better. Over time, roofs can fade in color and start to look dingy, but with a proper coat, the beautiful color on your roof can be maintained.
Even if your commercial roof has a more conservative color, the coating will still help it look new. A new-looking roof reflects well on your business and will invite customers.
Potential Cons of Roof Coating
Despite the multitude of benefits, a roof coating may not be the most practical solution for your commercial roofing system in certain situations. Be aware of the following before deciding to get your roof coated:
- Coating does not fix structural issues: If your commercial roof has structural problems, a coating is simply out of the question — your roof will instead need to be repaired or replaced as soon as possible to avoid endangering occupants below.
- Significant prep work may be required: Before your roof is coated, some prep work may need to be done to ensure the best coating adherence possible, which may involve cleaning the surface and removing any loose materials.
- Weather-sensitive: Applying a roof coating will require several days of good weather, ideally dry, sunny and warm weather. For residents in most parts of the country, this means that a roof coating may be limited to certain times of the year.
Environmental Impact and Energy Use With Commercial Roof Coatings
If you’re hoping to reduce your commercial building’s energy use and environmental impact, roof coatings are reflective and emissive, meaning that, in addition to reducing debris from construction, they can also enhance your building’s energy efficiency. This is possible due to the coating’s ability to lower the temperature of the roof and energy use needs during the day, which decreases the amount of work your HVAC system has to do.
Choose Scro’s for Your Commercial Roof Coating
Scro’s Roofing Company has been providing commercial and residential roofing solutions since 1995 to businesses and homeowners in Raleigh, North Carolina, and many surrounding cities in the Triangle. Our professional team of roofers has been trained to keep your roof structurally sound, safe and aesthetically pleasing.
To ensure top-quality, long-lasting results, we are up to date with the industry’s latest methods and use world-class brands like Versico, Mule Hide, GenFlex and Carlisle. Our team members are also all insured and licensed, and we also hold a GAF Master Elite status — a certification that less than 2% of American roofing companies hold.
We also have a exceptional support system to make your customer experience as easy and enjoyable as possible. From our sales managers and logistics coordinators to insurance claims specialists and administration professionals, our team will ensure that everything goes smoothly. To learn more about our services or request a free estimate, contact us online or by phone at (919) 551-5104.