Flat roofs will leak. It is a fact of science that can be attributed to the lack of slope to force water to run off of the surface quickly and allow it to penetrate any weakness in the surrounding area. Flat roof coatings can serve as an economical roof restoration option to identify any weaknesses and repair them accordingly to ensure the roof stays functional.
According to GAF, a leading roof material manufacturer, “A coating acts as a barrier to help protect the roof from the elements by increasing UV protection to fight against the sun’s harmful rays and helping to reduce the building’s energy costs.“ Aside from the environmental benefits of coatings, they can be used effectively in conjunction with roof repairs to restore a moderately-aged roof to a maintainable watertight condition.
However, roof coatings are not a catch-all repair option. A commercial roofing contractor registered with the Construction Industries Board in Oklahoma is a great resource to assist in determining pros and cons of a roof coating for your particular commercial roof system. Listed below you will find a general overview of the factors to keep in mind when considering a roof coating.
- Coatings should never be a substitute for a complete roof replacement. Although coatings can restore the water tightness of a highly deteriorated roof in the short term, its costs can represent 10-15 percent of the cost of a new 20-year old roof system.
- If the roof has no slope whatsoever, the ponding water that accumulates will reduce a coating’s service life. Problems such as material degradation, loss of adhesion and flaking can result.
- Coatings will not adhere properly, therefore reducing the effectiveness, if installed on top of a surface with excessive dust, debris, steam, liquid discharge or other contaminants. If the roof contaminants can’t be completely removed, poor adhesion, flaking or other deficiencies are likely to develop in the first few years of a coating’s life.
However, there are six situations where a roof coating is beneficial:
- To extend or maximize roof service life by reflecting harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation away from the roof membrane.
- To be used effectively in conjunction with roof repairs to restore a moderately-aged roof to a maintainable watertight condition.
- To re-coat when the existing coating deteriorates and no longer protects the underlying membrane.
- To minimize solar gain and, as a result, reduce a building’s cooling loads with reflective or light-colored coatings.
- To upgrade a building’s appearance where a particular roof is visible from the ground or from an adjacent building.
- Certain UL-classified coatings can increase a roof’s flame spread resistance.
There are many options available in roof coating materials. To choose the best option for your commercial roof, maintenance managers should become familiar with all their advantages and disadvantages, and most importantly, their ability to meet the long-term needs of your roof issues. Before deciding on a coating, be sure to consult with a professional roofing contractor first. This contractor will provide an expert approach to the general condition of your existing roof and assist in identifying viable options that fit your budgetary needs and project timeline.