Product Profile: A Cool Alternative When a New Roof Is Not an Option

June 8, 2006
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Faced with the inevitable consideration of installing a new flat roof on one of his company's plants in Akron, Ohio, Paul Michalec, president and CEO of the Ruscoe Co., decided to avoid a tear-off and a new installation.

Ruscoe's Cool White Roof Restoration System consists of a primer and a white top coating with an initial solar reflectance rating of 0.83. The system is designed to extend the life of existing roofing systems and cut utility costs.


Faced with the inevitable consideration of installing a new flat roof on one of his company's plants in Akron, Ohio, Paul Michalec, president and CEO of the Ruscoe Co., decided to avoid a tear-off and a new installation.

Instead he opted for Ruscoe's Cool White Roof Restoration System.

And, why not? His company has been in the adhesives and sealants business since 1946 and it has been researching, manufacturing and marketing the unique roofing materials for almost a dozen years.

"Cool White is a complete, turnkey package that contactors can essentially get in a box and install with very little preliminary training," Michalec explains. "We've got tapes in various widths to manage tears or actual holes in existing roofs. Our nitrile rubber primer is designed to fill voids in even alligatored roofs while it dries to provide an excellent bonding surface for our final Cool White top coating."

"And," he says, "the market has come to realize that a white top surface is really the most desirable way to go."

According to Michalec, the primer and finish coat are prepared in consistencies that allow contractors to either roll them on or apply them with spray equipment. Company representatives are available for on-site training and advice, says Michalec. "Even when contractors are familiar with our product, but they are dealing with a different type of roof, we're happy to visit the site and offer advice to maximize the usefulness of the approach," he says.

In the case of the company's Akron plant, the application is part of the company's own maintenance program. "The product we applied to about a third of the roof at our 55,000-square-foot Plant Two in October is just the first we expect to do over the next several decades," says Michalec.

The nitrile rubber primer is designed to fill voids while it dries to provide an excellent bonding surface for the top coating. Use of the primer is advised with all asphalt and EPDM roofs.

Another Option

According to Michalec, with Cool White, contractors have another option to pose besides a reroof when a roof is in need of major restoration but is basically intact.

It can also give contractors' maintenance and repair programs a boost. As the roofing contractor is often the roofing professional who visits the jobsite over an extended period of time, he is in the perfect position to identify and repair minor problems before they develop into major ones. The company complements its line of coatings with sealants, flashing edge, and seam tape. The tape is an extruded EPDM tape for roofing applications with a woven polyester fabric on top specially designed to accept the roof coatings for dual protection. Properly applied, the Cool White restoration system can extend the service life of the roof for decades, says Michalec. "Unless a roof suffers some major catastrophe, there really isn't any reason why a building owner couldn't use and reuse and reuse our products, provided they ensure the roof surfaces are clean and free of dirt and debris before they do their applications."

One contractor familiar with the benefits of that approach is Guy Churchman, vice president of Statewide Commercial Roofing Inc., Dallas. The company has been in business 12 years, and its focus is on commercial retrofit work.

"We specialize in roof coatings," says Churchman, "and we like Cool White because it's so versatile. It can be used on almost anything."

He likes having Cool White in his arsenal for flat roofs that are not leaking but might be coming close to needing a replacement. "As it dries, it becomes one big, solid membrane," he says. "It stops deterioration of existing roofs. It protects the roof and reduces costs for the building owner. It's a win-win situation for both the contractor and the building owner, and it's a tax write-off for the owner in the first year."

Application

Proper surface preparation is crucial to the product's success, and the system must be applied to clean, dry surfaces free of dust or debris. The company recommends using two layers, each applied perpendicularly to the other to ensure consistent mil thickness.

According to Churchman, the biggest area for potential problems comes from improper surface preparation. After making sure that there's no grease from the mechanical systems and the roof is clean and dry, he brooms it, vacuums it, then blows it clean just before the application.

In some cases, when the underlying roof supported the decision, he has recommended Cool White in situations where the owners considered a reroof but just didn't have the money in the budget. But Churchman is careful to evaluate the roof, inside and out, to make sure it is up to the task.

He conducts an IR scan almost on every job to make sure that he doesn't trap moisture inside the roof system. "It protects me, it protects the building owner, and it protects the coating manufacturer," he says. If he detects moisture, he will cut out and repair the compromised section before beginning the coating process.

The primer is not needed in all cases, but it is recommended for use with all asphalt and EPDM roofs. The main ingredients include the nitrile rubbers, which resist petroleum. This provides a shield over the asphalt and helps protect the coating.

Churchman's applicators typically use sprayers, and they apply two coats of the top coat, sometimes three. They work in opposite directions, usually east to west, then north to south, depending on the building's layout.

At least two applications of both the primer and the topcoat are advised; these should be applied at right angles to each other.

After the Job

Ruscoe provides a seven-year material warranty, and Churchman provides a two-year labor warranty, noting that in most cases the tax write-off is 100 percent in the first year, as the application usually qualifies as a repair. Meanwhile, the owner saves money in lower utility bills. He notes that the Cool Roof Rating Council lists an initial reflectance rate of 0.83 and a thermal emittance rate of 0.85. "That reflectivity rate saves the building owner money and keeps the heat from destroying the roof material underneath."

Churchman conducts two annual inspections at no cost to the customer to make sure that everything is working well and that there have been no structural changes or unauthorized penetrations to the roof system. That way, he maintains his relationship with the building owner and makes sure other trades don't compromise the integrity of the roof. "Often I'll clean and inspect it after seven years and maybe only apply another gallon or two, and offer another seven-year warranty," he states.

He recommends Cool White not only for roof repairs, but also as part of a maintenance program to extend the life of newer roofing systems. "If you applied this within four to five years after a new roof, and checked it every seven years, the roof might never have to be replaced," he said. "You could lengthen the life span 50 or 60 years."

Churchman's coatings business has been so successful he has dropped his hot application methods altogether - which helped him lower his overhead. "My insurance rate dropped dramatically when I went to all cold applications," he notes.

For more information, call 330-253-8148 or visit www.ruscoe.com.

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