Thursday, May 24, 2012

Cool savings from white roofs

No matter where you live, you can save energy and expenses by switching to a white “cool” roof for about the same cost (or less) as a conventional roof.

Cool roofs are a “hot” topic these days as a means to help stem global warming. Most of us know better than to wear black on a hot day, but when it comes to the roofs on our buildings, temperature often takes a back seat to aesthetics. Dark roofs mean higher air conditioning bills, and higher carbon dioxide emissions as a result. The good news is you can save money while protecting the planet by lightening the color (and therefore lowering the temperature) of your roof, or by switching to a white roof the next time your building requires it.

The Benefits of a White Roof
Switching to a white roof can actually reduce energy use by about 20% in hot, sunny weather, according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Heat Island Group in Berkeley, Calif. Hashem Akbari, the Heat Island Group’s lead scientist and a professor of Building, Civil and Environmental Engineering at Concordia University in Montreal, says that transitioning to reflective roofing and pavements in the world’s urban areas would offset the equivalent of emissions from the planet’s 600 million cars for the next 18 years. A 1,000-square-foot cool roof saves air conditioning use that otherwise would emit about half a ton of carbon dioxide per year.

In urban areas, white roofs also help lower smog levels by lowering local temperatures, which tend to be higher due to the large proportion of paved surfaces.

Critics have suggested white roofs do more harm than good in colder climates. But research shows that the heating benefits of a dark roof in the winter are negligible because days are shorter, skies are cloudier, the angle of the sun is low, and sometimes roofs are covered in snow. “The amount of heat savings you may lose in the winter would be, at the maximum, 30% of the summertime savings,” Akbari says. “If you need cooling in the summer and heating in the winter, no matter where you are, a white roof will most likely save you money.”

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Patton Services | (309) 303-3128 | |

Monday, May 21, 2012

A proactive approach to commercial roof maintenance

If you are a building owner or facility manager, roofing costs have always been among your major concerns.

Where to begin?
Owners and facility managers who react to problems as they occur pay an average of 25¢ per square foot annually for maintenance. Those who inspect and repair routinely (proactively, before problems happen) spend an average of only 14¢ per square foot annually. Proactively maintained roofs also last an average of 21 years compared to an average lifespan of 13 years for reactive maintenance. The longer you can extend your roof’s life before replacement, the more your overall savings increase and your life cycle costs decrease.

Dollars versus value
While it may seem counter-intuitive, per job pricing should not be the primary consideration when choosing between contractors and material manufacturers. Focus instead on the lowest roof life cycle cost. Fixating on the lowest one-time bid ignores the long-term roofing costs and typically results in a higher overall expense.

Repair or replace?
A roof undergoes serious wear and tear throughout its lifetime, with factors such as weathering and degeneration taking their toll. Through scientific testing and analysis, a roofing contractor can outline the current condition of your roof and to help you decide if roof repair or restoration is an option or whether roof replacement is necessary. The building should dictate the roofing system, so the roofing contractor must be familiar with building codes, energy solutions and roof systems to help you make the best decision for your building.

Choosing a roofing contractor that offers repair and restoration options (not just replacements) improves the likelihood of an accurate analysis and a successful plan for your roof and your budget. A good rule of thumb is to consider repairing your roof if it will survive its original service life expectancy without exceeding the cost of a new roof.

Experience matters
Surprisingly, weather is not the most common threat to a roof’s durability. Approximately 40% of all roof problems occur because of human error due to workers going on your roof for window washing, HVAC repair, faulty maintenance, or poor installation in the first place. Therefore, proper training, experience and consistent performance are all essential when choosing a roofing contractor.

Manufactured products
Advantages to choosing a roofing contractor closely associated with the manufacturer include: 

  • Increased knowledge about which products are best suited for your job.
  • They will have the right repair materials in their truck — materials that should be stronger than the original products used.
  • If there is an issue with a product, the manufacturer will know right away because their contractors are the ones installing it.
  • Because feedback is instant, they can also create cost-efficient application techniques and products that are easier to install with less chance of human error.

Understanding roofing costs can be difficult, but when you know what to look for and are armed with the right questions, it is much easier to make the right choice for your needs to save you time and money in the end.

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Patton Services | (309) 303-3128 | |

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Options for coating asphalt roof systems

If you spend more money on cooling than on heating your commercial building, you can cut this coming summer's air conditioning bills significantly by investing in a reflective roof coating system.

The primary options for coating an asphalt roof are white polymers (like those manufactured by Conklin Roofing Systems and asphalt-like resins with reflective aluminum flakes. Both are reasonably priced, and offer a quick payback.

Why install a reflective roof coating?
Flat asphalt roofs can reach up to 200 degrees, absorbing up to 70% of the solar heat. By contrast, the best reflective roof coatings reflect up to 80% of solar heat, and can reduce roof surface temperatures by 80 degrees.

Reflecting a significant amount of solar heat can cut internal building temperatures by up to 10 degrees, increasing the effectiveness of the roof insulation and cutting cooling costs by 25-70%. It also makes the building more comfortable in areas that are not air conditioned, and the roof will last longer without the heat-related cracking and deterioration, which saves you money on labor and materials in the long run.

About white reflective roof coatings
High-quality white roof coatings like those from Conklin are made with acrylics or similar materials mixed with an opaque, white and reflective pigments. They are the most effective reflective coating for the majority of asphalt roof systems. There are also polymeric coatings that are tinted for aesthetic reasons, but they are less reflective and won't save as much on energy consumption.

Tests at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have consistently demonstrated that white elastomeric coatings offer about 60% solar reflectance, leaving the roof temperature only 36 degrees higher than the ambient air temperature - a much smaller difference than the surface temperatures on a black asphalt roof. All roof coatings must be chosen and applied carefully, particularly on rough asphalt roofs.

Calculate your potential savings from installing a white roof coating
The federal government does not offer energy saving rebates for reflective roof coatings (although some states do), but you can look for Energy Star-rated roof coatings, which guarantee a minimum level of reflectance.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory also have a roof savings calculator that uses weather data and your building information to estimate the cost of a new roofing system or coating and the potential energy savings. After you plug in data, the lab will email you results.

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Patton Services | (309) 303-3128 | |

Monday, May 14, 2012

Which type of coating is best for your existing roof system?

Once you determine the function of a roof coating, you must also consider the type of roof system you have that is going to be coated. Roof coating suppliers and manufacturers (like Conklin) generally offer two types of coatings: all-purpose, which are suitable for a range of substrates, and application-specific which tailored to one type or a limited range of substrates.

It is important to know that different substrates require different roof coatings. For example, it is more difficult for coatings to adhere to hard, smooth, chemically-inert surfaces, and much easier on rough, irregular, chemically-active surfaces.

Roof coating adhesion to a particular substrate improves when the installer applies a primer or base coat. Manufacturers like Conklin recommend very specific base coats (or primers) to match a specific top coat with a specific substrate. The installing roofing contractor should use only the base coat or primer specified by the coating manufacturer.

Coating primers and base coats for built-up roofs offer some very good examples. Manufacturers have designed products specifically to work on these surfaces - they work well on these often-hot surfaces by bonding to the asphalt and preventing it from bleeding into the white topcoat.

Enhancing the sustainability of a coated roof requires re-coating periodically to extend its service life. Most roof coatings are field-applied, and success depends on real-world conditions as well as the skill of the installer. To ensure proper curing, an experienced roofing contractor should pay careful attention to consistent application and changing weather conditions.

If you are considering a roof coating for your home or commercial building, make sure to ask the contractor why they are specifying the coating(s) being quoted and if that particular material is best suited for your roof.

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Patton Services | (309) 303-3128 | |

Monday, May 7, 2012

How roofing manufacturers classify roof coatings

Roof coating systems are available for a variety of roofing systems. Manufacturers like Conklin are introducing new formulas to keep up with changing needs and roofing materials with water-based urethanes, bio-based materials, 100% solids silicones, and low volatile-organic-compound asphalt cutbacks currently in the pipeline. Also on the horizon are self-cross-linking water-based coatings, faster-setting water-based coatings, and a basecoat primers suitable for literally every roofing membrane on the market.

Manufacturers classify roof coatings according to the specific binder and carrier type, which also determine application methods and compatibility with existing roof surfaces.

A coating’s binder (or resin) is the basic matrix material - the part that actually adheres to an existing roof surface. Manufacturers use different binder chemistries to meet price and performance criteria, as well as to match specific roof substrates. The binder type dictates most of a coating’s primary physical properties including elongation, tensile strength, adhesion to a substrate material, permeance, water swelling, and low-temperature flexibility. They typically range from asphalts to a variety of elastomers (acrylics, urethanes, silicones, thermoset rubbers and various block polymers), as well as blends of these materials.

A coating’s carrier is the liquid that combines with the binder to reduce viscosity to a workable level. The carrier generally evaporates during curing. It also generally dictates a coating’s installation process and cure time. Manufacturers now more often use water as a carrier, in which case the binder is suspended in water as an emulsion though traditionally coating binders used a solvent as the carrier. Solvent-based coatings cure in a broader range of weather conditions and might be the best (or only) choice in freezing or wet conditions.

A coating’s cure rate varies greatly because it reacts to ambient humidity, temperature and sunlight. This reaction is especially true of water-based coatings. Coating installers must allow coatings to cure sufficiently to ensure they are waterproof.

Manufacturers can add pigments and fibers to binders to control physical properties and increase reflectivity. Because reflectivity and emittance are defining properties of cool roofs, organizations such as the Energy Star program and the Cool Roof Rating Council in California monitor and measure these coatings.

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Patton Services | (309) 303-3128 | |

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Why white roof coatings for low-slope roofs?

Reflective roof coatings like the ones manufactured by Conklin Roofing Systems are the fastest-growing product segment in the fluid-applied roofing market. White roof coatings lower a building's energy use and meet the more stringentperformance requirements for cool roofing in the building codes of many states. As if that wasn't enought, they also restore, protect and beautify most existing waterproofing systems and prolong the life of almost any low-slope roof system (including metal, concrete, EPDM, built-up, and many more).

Architects, legislators and property owners & managers are embracing the idea that building design has a significant impact on energy consumption and sustainability. They are also recognizing that reflective coatings offer huge benefits with few (if any) draw-backs. Energy reduction initiatives promote the use of cool roof materials, and some building codes are now requiring the installation of reflective roof systems.

Lowering energy consumption isn't the sole benefit of white roof coatings. They extend the life expectancy of several commercial roof systems by eliminating extreme roof surface temperatures resulting in extended exposure to the sun. Heavily insulated roof systems (like many in northern states) block radiation from penetrating the building as heat, but in summer months convective heat transfer to the surrounding air and radiant heat transfer are inefficient. The heat has nowhere to go, and roof surface temperatures can soar. Coatings also prevent premature roof deterioration by providing a “sacrificial” layer to take the punishment of weather extremes and events.

Cold weather climates can benefit from roof coatings as well. The NYC Dept of Buildings launched the volunteer-based NYC Cool Roofs Program in the spring of 2010 to install white coatings on 1 million square feet of roofs in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the city by 30% by 2030. states: “a cool roof absorbs 80% less heat than traditional dark colored roofs and can lower roof temperatures by up to 60 degrees and indoor temperatures by 10-20 degrees on hot days.”

Coatings also waterproof and extend the lives of older roofs, protecting the integrity of a roof by reducing thermal-shock roof damage. A cool roof coating moderates the excessive thermal expansion and contraction that otherwise could lead to fastener and seal failures.

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Patton Services | (309) 303-3128 | |