Commercial and Industrial Roof Coatings in the 21st Century ​

Roof coatings have been enjoying a revival of sorts over the last decade.  Roof coatings of different types have been in use for thousands of years. Records of pitch being used in roofing can be dated back over 4500 years.  New advancements in elastomerics and chemical based coatings have brought advancements in commercial and industrial roof coatings that were not possible just 20 years ago.  They can flow into cracks and splits that other roof repairs have attempted to fix but were not able to.  Some roof coatings have the ability to flex and float to accommodate movement in structures. Some coatings reflect heat back into the atmosphere, reducing surface ozone levels and decreasing temperatures inside buildings.  All roof coatings, if applied correctly on a suitable surface, will extend the life of your roof.

With that being said, no particular type of commercial roof coating will work on every roof.  Some considerations that need to be taken into are…

The type of roof.  Metal roofs move much more than a low slope roof like an EPDM due to thermal shock and building movement.  The movement of a roof, among other factors, will determine if you can coat the roof, and what type of coating you should use.

The slope of the roof.  The slope of the roof should be taken into consideration when determining what type of coating should be used.  Low slope roofs almost always have some degree of water ponding. Water sitting on a water based coating over the long term will speed up the eventual failure of the coating system.  Generally speaking, solvent based coatings should be preferred over water based on low slope roofs.

The condition of the roof.  The roof needs to be thoroughly inspected before a coating is installed.  In the case of a metal roof, if the roof is rusty and can be punctured with an ink pen, repairs are necessary before the coating is applied.  The coating will not stick to the surface if excessive rust is present.  There is also the potential of injury.  If there are soft spots present which are merely covered up, a person walking on the roof could step on the soft spot and fall through. ​

Each roof is different. A roofing professional with a history of coatings work needs to give each roof a thorough inspection before any coating project should be considered.  There are several different variables to consider beyond just the ones mentioned in this article.  Everything from FDA requirements in an industrial food processing plant to odors from solvent based coatings in a hospital setting must be considered.  If all due diligence is performed and the work is executed by a professional, you will likely reap the benefits of your coatings project for years to come.