Why Should I Consider an Elastomeric Roof Coating for my Commercial Roof?

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Replacing an aging commercial roofing system is a big expense. Roof coatings are a great solution for older commercial roofs that are in otherwise good condition. A quality roof coating can save you the major expense of a commercial roof replacement, extending its functional life. There are several types of roof coatings, but today we are going to talk about silicone and acrylic elastomeric roof coatings. Keep reading to learn more about the benefit of roof coatings and to find out if they may be something you want to consider for commercial building.

What is an Elastomeric Roof Coating?

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An elastomeric roof coating is a liquid applied coating. The coating cures into a durable, elastic, seamless single layer membrane when it dries. Roof coatings fully adhere to the underlying roof system and fill in any imperfections in the existing commercial roof such as cracks, blisters, and seams. It’s important to note that the roof coating does not have the ability to improve the underlying roof system. The coating works by extending the life of the roof by giving it an added layer of protection from the elements.

Roof coatings are a good choice when a flat or low slope commercial roof is in good condition but needs added protection due to old age and normal wear and tear. The membrane acts as a protective layer that will extend the life of the existing roof, saving you the expense of a full roof replacement.

Elastomeric means that the roof coating has elastic properties. This means that the roof coating can expand and contract. We don’t often think of structures like roofs moving, but there are a lot of reasons a roof will move. A roof can expand and contract due to shifts in temperatures, known as thermal expansion and contraction. It may also move due to seismic expansion, vibrational effects, and weight. This means that the roof coating needs to be able to tolerate these movements.

In Texas we can experience sizeable temperature shifts on a daily basis. This is why thermal expansion and contraction is an important consideration when it comes to maintaining your commercial roofing system. Roof coatings are incredibly flexible and durable. In the summers, the roof coating has the capacity to expand during the heat of the day and contract after the sun goes down and it is cooler. In the winter, the roof coating returns to its original size. The expansion and contraction of the roof coating allows the roof to maintain its flexibility while providing protection from any of its pre-existing weaknesses.

How do Roof Coatings Protect my Commercial Roof?

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Silicone roof coatings are very flexible and durable due to their high concentrations of solids. The high concentration of solids and low amount of carrier in silicone roof coating products means that what is applied on your commercial roof will stay on your roof. It also means that it requires less material and can be put on in a single application.

Silicone elastomeric roof coatings can be used on virtually any type of commercial roof substrate, but they perform great on flat roofs. One of the biggest threats to a flat roofing system is ponding water. Silicone roof coatings provide excellent resistance to ponding water.

Like silicone roof coatings, acrylic roof coatings are very flexible and durable and can be used on almost any type of roof substrate. Acrylic roof coatings are water based and give off less odor than silicone roof coatings, which use a chemical solvent. Acrylic roof coatings ideal for sloped roofing systems where water runs off.

Acrylic polymers are transparent to UV radiation, meaning that they don’t absorb the sun’s radiation. The UV blocking properties of acrylic coatings help reduce its rate of degradation from sun exposure, enabling the coating to last longer.

What are the Benefits of Roof Coatings?

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Elastomeric roof coatings are also known as “cool roofs” because the membrane provides excellent UV protection. Roof coatings are most commonly white but are also available in other colors. The reflective properties characteristic of elastomeric roof coatings places a lower heat load on the roof. This has the potential to make the interior of the building more comfortable and reduce energy consumption. There are elastomeric roof coating products that carry the ENERGY STAR® mark. This ensures that the product your commercial roofing company is applying to your roof will have the important cooling benefits you are looking for.

Another benefit of elastomeric roof coatings is that they provide additional waterproofing and weathering protection for your roofing system. The coating creates a shield against rain, snow, and ice and can also provide more reinforcement for roofs that are subjected to high winds.

Elastomeric roof coatings are relatively easy to repair and maintain once they are installed. Minor damages to the roof membrane can be easily resealed by applying more coating directly to the damaged areas. It’s important to note that roof coatings, just like any type of roof, can collect dirt and dust which can stop the roof from being reflective. To maintain the membrane’s reflective qualities, the roof requires maintenance. Proper cleaning will allow the elastomeric membrane to maintain its “cool” properties. If a white roof coating degrades quickly, it loses the energy and cooling benefits it offered after application.

When an elastomeric roof coating is well applied and maintained, it is extremely durable and can extend the life of your roof by many years.

How Elastomeric Roof Coatings are Applied

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Before applying a roof coating, the current roofing system needs to be thoroughly inspected. Any deficiencies to the commercial roofing system need to be addressed before the elastomeric membrane is applied. Common areas where reinforcement to the existing roof is necessary include rust or leaks at the metal seams and flashings, reinforcing pipe penetrations, and reinforcing inside and outside corners.

The surface of the roof also needs to be prepped before application. Any debris that could inhibit the adhesion of the roof membrane to the existing substrate needs to removed. If necessary, a primer is used. Roof coatings have a viscosity similar to paint and can be sprayed or even rolled over the entire surface of the existing roof.

When to Coat your Commercial Roof

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There are two points in a commercial roof’s life cycle that an elastomeric roof coating can be applied. The first is when the roof is new or recently installed. Elastomeric coatings can be applied over new roofs to provide an extra layer of weatherproofing.

Then next point is when the roof begins to show signs of aging. If you choose to apply a roof coating to an aging roof, you should apply it at the first signs of aging in order to get the best value from your roof membrane. By applying a coating early in the roof’s aging process, you are installing a full protective barrier that will save you a lot of money. Think of it as a preventative measure. If you wait too long, your roof may not be a good candidate for a roof coating and you will need to invest in a full roof replacement.

What to Consider When Choosing an Elastomeric Roof Coating

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There are a lot of factors that will determine which roof coating product is right for your roof, including your roof’s location, construction, amount of direct sunlight, and weather among other things. There are some properties of roof coating products to take into account when choosing the coating that’s right for your job.

First you want to consider the elasticity or elongation of the product. This is the material’s ability to stretch and recover with the expansion and contraction of the roof without cracking. The higher the elasticity of the product, the more likely it will be able to endure the changes in your roof’s structure. Tensile strength is the ability of the product to hold together without breaking. It’s best to select a product whose tensile strength measurement have been recorded when they have been exposed to the elements. Weather and age can greatly affect the tensile strength of a roof coating.

As you know, pooling water can be the biggest problem for flat and low slope roofing systems. There are a couple of factors that measure how moisture affects a roof coating. Perm factor measures the roof coating’s resistance to moisture vapor passing through it. The lower the perm factor, the less moisture that can pass through it. You will also want to be aware of the product’s moisture gain by weight. This measures the membrane’s ability to absorb water rather than repel water and protect the roof substrate. It’s important for the membrane to repel water away from the roof. Water absorption can accelerate aging and therefore the deterioration of the roof.

You’ve read that the elastomeric roof membrane adheres to the existing roof surface. Peel adhesion measures the ability of the roof coating to remain adhered to the roof surface under adverse conditions. For your commercial roof to be properly protected by your roof coating system, the roof coating must stay firmly attached to your roof.

There are times when service people will need access to your roof, and it will have to be walked on. Any damage that occurs from foot traffic can be referred to as mechanical damage. The tear resistance of a roof coating is the membrane’s ability to resist tearing due to mechanical damage, as well as roof movement, and other changes in the roof’s environment.

We discussed the reflective quality of elastomeric roof coatings. The product’s reflectivity measures how much solar heat is reflected away from the roof by the roof membrane. A properly maintained, cool and reflective surface allows all of the building’s components to function more efficiently, reducing premature roof failure caused by UV damage.

Hiring a Commercial Roofing Company to Apply an Elastomeric Roof Coating

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It’s important to hire a local roofing company that understands your needs and goals for your commercial roofing system. Temperature fluctuations, sun exposure, and moisture are big factors that greatly affect the life of any roof, and roof coatings are no different. A local roofing company will be well aware of local weather patterns and the demands placed on your building.

At Orbit Roofing, we only use high quality elastomeric roof coating products to effectively seal and protect your commercial roofing system. We work efficiently to minimize your roof project’s impact on your daily operations, helping you to get back to business as quickly as possible. Call us today to discuss your roof coating needs and we’ll be happy to answer any of your questions!

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