Friday, September 16, 2011

Pitfalls to Avoid with Roof Coatings

Roofs are expensive, and even coatings (which cost much less than a re-roofing job) are an investment that is expected to pay off for the building owner. That is why it is imperative for facility and property managers to ensure the coating is installed by a licensed professional roofing contractor experienced with roof coatings.

Below are a few suggestions if you are planning to have your building coated.

Everyone is not an Expert
If you are planning on having a newly constructed roof coated, bid the roof coating work separately - not all contractors have expertise in coatings.

Time of the Year
Fall and winter are not the best times to apply a water-based acrylic roof coating. Even though the coating will look dry, the shorter days and cooler nights will slow the cure of these types of coatings. Rain, dew and small amounts of standing water can delaminate an uncured coating. You are better off waiting until early summer the next year to apply the water-based coating so it has better conditions to cure. The first 30 days are critical.

Preparation and Adhesion
There is nothing worse than not adequately preparing the roof. Coatings must bond with the roof, so preparing the roof properly for adhesion is vital to coating success. Also, don't get hung up on just one aspect of coatings. There are times when a water-based coating would be nice, but above all else you have to make sure that the coating is compatible with the substrate. Sometimes solvent-based coatings are necessary to obtain the proper adhesion.

Heed the Label
Manufacturers caution you to read and understand the directions on the product labels. Along with over- or under-application of roof coatings, also ensure the contractor intends to apply it to a surface is was intended for.

Coating Old, Worn-Out Roofs
Aged roofs that have not been maintained since they were originally installed may be in such bad shape that a coating alone is insufficient to save the roof.

For buildings with known roof leaks, check the roof and the insulation for wetness and moisture. Leaks need to be fixed first, and wet insulation may need to be replaced. Your roofing contractors should not install coatings over roof systems where insulation is saturated with moisture. Eventually, that moisture needs to escape by evaporation and will blister or delaminate any coating applied over it.

Although coatings can help mitigate other roofing costs such as the environmental costs associated with disposal of the old roof, there is such a thing as coating too often. Most people look to coatings to extend the life of the roof, but re-coating your roof every 5 years to preserve waterproofing and avoid tearing off the old roof is expensive and can cause business disruption. Plus, keep in mind that coating costs generally are expensed the year they are applied, as they are not capital costs spread over a multiple-year timeline (which can be the case for re-roofing).

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