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How To Pick The Best Roof Coating For Your Commercial Roof

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We all know roofs don't last forever. Commercial roofs and commercial roof coating can generally last anywhere between 10 and 40 years. But there are many factors in play here including:

  • When the roof was installed
  • How well the roof is maintained
  • What materials the roof is made of
  • The local climate and weather events

All things equal, what if it were possible to extend the life of your commercial roof somehow? That's what we want to talk about today. Because it is possible, as well as practical, to extend the life of your commercial roof.

The answer to extending the life of your commercial roof is a roof coating.

In this article, we're going to share the "5 Ws" of roof coating. We'll explain the "who, what, when, where, and why". And we'll cover the "how" as well!

By the end of this article, you'll have a comprehensive understanding of roof coating which will allow you to determine if it's right for you—or when another option is better (more on this later).

At a high level, and more specifically, you're going to learn:

  • What roof coating is
  • What people are saying about roof coating
  • Benefits of roof coating
  • Types of roof coating
  • The best roof coating
  • How much roof coating costs
  • ...and more!

If there's a blog post you should read about roof coating it's this one. Here's why: Knowing what you can do to extend the life of your commercial roof can save you thousands of dollars. Talk about an easy way to save!

So let's get started and learn what commercial roof coating actually is.

This is and example of commercial roof coating

What is a Roof Coating?

In order to demystify the information surrounding roof coating, we'll start with a succinct definition.

Roof coating is a protective layer that is applied to the exterior of a roof. Think of a roof's purpose: to provide protection and shelter to the interior of a dwelling or commercial building.

A roof coating acts as a "cherry on top". This means that the coating:

  • Extends the life of the roof
  • Seals the roof to prevent leaks
  • Keeps heat out by acting as a reflective layer

It's important to understand that roof coating maintains a roof's current state. That means if the roof is new, it will stay that immaculate for a longer period of time. On the other hand, if a roof is old and near replacement, roof coating only acts as a temporary band-aid. Most roofs are somewhere between the two extremes.

Commercial roofs are infamous for standing water. This is because a lot of roofs are horizontally flat. Standing water breaks material down over time. A roof coating can help prevent leaks because the coating adds an additional layer between the water and the external roof.

We all know that in and around Atlanta can get very hot and humid in the summer. The rays of the sun heat roofs and some of this heat can transfer through; however, certain roof coatings can lower roof and interior temperature by reflecting the rays of the sun. This leads to immediate cost savings on your energy bills.

Next, let's see if commercial roof coatings are right for you.

Who is Commercial Roof Coating Made For?

There's residential roof coating and then there's commercial roof coating. In this article, we focus solely on the commercial perspective.

To put it briefly, commercial roof coating is for anyone who owns commercial property and wants to extend the life of their commercial roof. It's also for those who want to keep their roof cooler, which can keep their interior cooler.

If you want to extend the life of your commercial roof and keep it cool in the hot Atlanta summers, then roof coating would be beneficial for you.

There are others out there who, just like you, were curious to know if commercial roof coating was right for them. These people took the plunge and had it applied. In the next section, we're going to share what many people say about the results of their roof coating.

Roof Coating: What People are Saying

Our customer satisfaction resembles the rating for roof coating products. A quick glance at Home Depot roof coatings shows an overall score of about 4.5 stars out of 5 stars. Let's see what some customers are actually saying.

First up is EnviroWhite 100% Acrylic Reflective Elastomeric Roof Coating. Reg writes, "We have been using this product on the roofs of storage unit freight containers for several years and are very happy with the results. The white color and the thickness of the coating add heat insulation to the metal roofs as well as preventing rust from causing leaks." Read more about how roof coatings benefit metal roofs.

Reg is a commercial customer who was looking for heat insulation. This is exactly what so many others are looking for in the Atlanta area during the hot and humid summers. Additionally, Reg wanted to prevent rust from causing leaks. This is exactly what roof coating accomplishes.

Next up is Premium Fibered Aluminum Reflective Roof Coating. HomeDepotCustomer writes, "Works great!!! [I] Had some leaks that I tried to seal with another product that did not work. This stuff stopped them all with one coat! [It] was thin enough to get down into the cracks but thick enough to stay where you put it."

We are seeing a pattern with roof coating and leaks being fixed. Remember, however, the roof coating can fix small cracks. Larger cracks will need to be repaired in a different way. Even the product advertises that it "seals hairline cracks and pinholes". Translation: small cracks.

Roof coating seems like a miracle product. In many ways it is. But what's it made of? That's the topic of the next section.

What is Roof Coating Made Of?

Roof coating is essentially a composite made of numerous materials. Here are the main materials that roof coating can be made of:

  • Acrylics
  • Asphalt
  • Butyl
  • Coal tar pitch
  • Polyurea
  • Polyurethanes
  • Polyvinylidene
  • Fluoride
  • Silicones
  • Styrene-butadiene

Many of these minerals or materials probably seem foreign to you, with the exception of a couple. Asphalt quickly comes to mind because our roads are made with asphalt. And fluoride may seem familiar because it's a major ingredient in toothpaste.

Common coating bases you'll find are acrylic, aluminum, and asphalt. We'll talk more about these materials later and describe which might be best for you.

How Roof Coating is Installed

Installing roof coating correctly will guarantee that the product works as promised; however, skipping a step or installing it the wrong way will make it less effective (or not effective at all).

There are three primary steps you need to take when installing roof coating. They are:

  1. Clean the roof
  2. Prep the roof
  3. Coat the roof

Cleaning the roof means using a pressure washer to remove dirt, gunk, and grime. Prepping the roof means repairing areas that need repair such as larger cracks. And finally, coating the roof means applying the roof coating by using a spray, roller, or brush.

Thankfully, you won't have to do any of this yourself if you hire us. We do it all for you!

Pros and Cons of Roof Coatings

Thus far, we've explained many of the benefits of roof coating. We'll share a few more pros in this section. On the other hand, we'll share some of the cons you should keep in mind. Taking the good and the bad will help you decide if roof coating is a great option for you and your specific needs.

The three pros we covered are that roof coatings:

  • Extend the life of your roof
  • Keep more heat out
  • Seal small cracks

The end benefit of each of these pros is that you save money. You save money when you don't have to replace your roof so soon. And you save money on the electric bill since roof coatings reflect the rays of the run.

But what about some drawbacks of roof coatings? Well, it depends on the type of coating you have installed.

For example, silicone coatings attract dirt. Over time, if enough dirt and dust (etc.) are trapped on the roof, the roof coating will lose some of its reflective benefits. This means the roof (and interior) will not be as cool in the hot Atlanta summer. Silicone is great for "water ponding" situations, however.

What about polyurethane roof coatings? While these are fantastic for keeping roofs cool, they have a strong odor compared to other coatings.

Acrylic roof coatings are known for their perfect balance of cost of performance. The drawback, however, with acrylic roof coatings is that they lose mil thickness with weathering.

Like any product, there will be the best option for you. And we would be glad to walk you through which would be best for your commercial property.

Financial, Invasiveness, and Longevity Aspects of Roof Coating

As we mentioned before, roof coating will likely save you money on your electric bill. This is because of the coating's reflective property, allowing it to keep the roof cooler in the summer.

One major benefit of roof coating versus roof replacement is that roof coating is non-invasive. That means that you won't have to pause your operations while we work to install the roof coating. Because you can continue operations during the installation, this saves you money.

How long does roof coating last? Roof coating generally lasts anywhere between 10-20 years. And here's the big payoff: Roof coating can extend the life of your entire roof for around 10 years. That means you have a decade's worth of savings when it comes to roof replacement costs!

Types of Commercial Roof Coatings

In this section, we're going to give you a better idea of how types of roof coatings are different from each other. This will help you decide which one is best for you.

We want to focus on the following types of roof coatings we prefer:

  • Acrylic
  • Silicone
  • SEBS
  • Polyurethane
  • Butyl

We want to make a note that each of these types is elastomeric. Elastomeric means that the roof coating has properties that allow them to stretch. This means that it won't be damaged if the building moves over time. Additionally, when a roof expands during a hot and humid Atlanta summer, the elastic nature of these roof coatings allows them to maintain effectiveness.

Let's jump into the first type of roof coating: acrylic.

An example of how an acrylic coating is performed.

Acrylic Roof Coating

Acrylic roof coatings are made of:

  • Water
  • Calcium carbonate (or other extender pigment)
  • Acrylic polymer resin
  • Titanium dioxide (or other prime pigment)

According to the Roof Coatings Manufacturers Association, "Acrylic water-based coatings are ideal for high UV environments where a reflective roof is desired. They can be colored, but generally are sold in white, tan, and grey. Many specialized versions are made to be compatible with specific substrates."

Acrylic roof coating is one of the most inexpensive coatings; however, it doesn't handle significant water ponding well. A benefit to them is that acrylic roof coatings are effective when applied on top of almost all types of roof materials.

Silicone Roof Coating

Silicone roof coatings are made of:

  • Crystalline silica
  • Titanium dioxide (or other prime pigment)
  • Petroleum hydrocarbon distillates
  • Methyl oximino silane

Silicone coatings are similar to acrylic coatings because they have great reflective properties. If you want to keep your roof cooler in the hot Atlanta summer, silicone (or acrylic) might be a good choice for you.

Another major benefit of silicone coatings is that these coatings do very well under ponding water. If your commercial roof is flat and often has puddles, silicone coating may be a great choice for you. Learn more about our flat roof repair solutions.

Silicone roof coating works best on top of the following types of roof materials:

  • Metal
  • EPDM
  • Hypalon
  • PVC
  • TPO
  • Existing roof coatings
  • Spray polyurethane foam

SEBS Roof Coating

SEBS stands for styrene ethylene butadiene styrene. These coats are made of:

  • Calcium carbonate
  • Mineral spirits
  • Hydrocarbon resin
  • Styrene/butadiene copolymer

SEBS coating primary comes in white, black, or gray but you can sometimes find it in other colors like brown.

As mentioned before, one of the drawbacks of SEBS is that it has a strong odor. You'll benefit from SEBS, however, if you have a steel roof due to their great compatibility with each other. Besides steel, SEBS works well on top of:

  • Hypalon
  • Metal
  • TPO

Polyurethane Roof Coating

Polyurethane roof coatings are made of:

  • Polyoxypropylene glycol
  • Cyclohexane
  • Aliphatic hydrocarbon
  • Titanium dioxide (or other prime pigment)
  • Hexamethylene diisocyanate
  • Xylene
  • Ethylbenzene

According to the Roof Coatings Manufacturers Association, "Polyurethane coatings are typically solvent-based and come in two main types, aromatic (less UV stable) and aliphatic (very UV stable). Urethanes have good mechanical properties and high abrasion resistance. They are suggested for use in hail-prone regions or where a roof is exposed to heavy foot traffic."

Polyurethane coating can be applied on top of the following roofing materials:

  • Spray polyurethane foam
  • EPDM
  • Hypalon
  • PVC
  • TPO
  • Smooth-surfaced built-up roofing
  • Metal
  • Modified bitumen
  • Concrete

So, as you can see, polyurethane is one of the most versatile types of coating due to the high number of materials it can be applied to.

Butyl Roof Coating

Butyl roof coatings are made of:

  • Aliphatic hydrocarbon
  • Petroleum resin
  • Polybutene
  • Titanium dioxide
  • Styrene
  • Butadiene
  • Xylene

Like silicone roof coating, Butyl coating performs exceptionally well under standing water (also known as ponding water). So, if you have a flat commercial roof where water ponds, Butyl would be a fantastic option for you.

Butyl works great on top of the following rood materials:

  • Metal
  • Spray polyurethane foam
  • Smooth-surfaced built-up roofing
  • Modified bitumen
  • EPDM
  • PVC
  • TPO

Next, let's look at some other factors you should take into consideration when deciding if commercial roof coating is best for you.

Deciding if Roof Coating is Best For You

There are numerous factors to consider when determining if roof coating is the best option for you. Four of these factors are:

  • Your current roof condition
  • Your budget
  • Your timeline
  • Any potential tax incentives

We want to share a few words for each of these factors. Let's start with how your current roof looks.

Your Current Roof Condition

As we've said throughout this article, roof coating can extend the life of your roof; however, your roof should generally be in good condition.

If your roof is old, has very large cracks, or is sagging, the best option would be to either start with a repair or full replacement. If the roof has smaller cracks, roof coating can fix those. We are happy to come out and help you determine the condition of your roof and if coating is the best option.

Your Budget

Roof repair, roof replacement, roof coating—these are your three major options when it comes to improving your roof.

Budget is always an important factor for those considering roof improvements. And here's the great news: Roof coating is more economical than a full roof replacement.

Whereas a roof replacement can cost anywhere from $3.50 to $5.00 per square foot, roof coating generally costs anywhere between $0.55 and $4.50 per square foot.

Your Timeline

Applying a roof coating takes less time than a full roof replacement. As mentioned above, unlike a roof replacement, you won't have to pause operations if you choose the roof coating option.

How long does a roof coating application take? We can generally complete a full roof coating in one or two days depending on the size of your roof. So it's definitely faster than replacing a whole roof.

Tax Benefits

Here's another advantage of choosing to go with commercial roof coating: potential tax benefits.

Section 179 of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act covers tax deductions and benefits for commercial buildings. According to Section179.org, "certain improvements to existing non-residential buildings: fire suppression, alarms and security systems, HVAC, and roofing."

Check with your accountant to determine what benefits and/or credits are available to you for commercial roof coating.

Contact Us

We at Colony Roofers are experts at installing commercial roof coatings. If you choose us, you'll experience the same exceptional quality and value that so many others have.

Colony Roofers offers free estimates on roof coatings; therefore, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by learning what is necessary to improve the quality of your roof.

Take the next step: Give us a call at (678) 365-3138 or head over to our contact page. We look forward to meeting you and providing exceptional service to your business.