Roof replacement is an expensive proposition for building owners and facility professionals. Material costs have escalated for material manufacturers, making replacement costs as expensive as ever. The result is professionals in charge of roofing are more proactive in seeking the most cost-effective means of meeting their roofing needs.
If the roof system is leaking or approaching the end of its service life, a building owner or facility manager has more options today to explore than ever before. One of the great advantages of the Internet age in which we live is that the research for the solution can begin without that building professional ever leaving his office. However, many times this research can raise as many questions as it answers. There is a wide range of roofing systems and restoration products available, and not all are appropriate for every situation.
In addition to answering these questions, most building professionals will want to defer the cost of complete roof replacement if possible. This is only an option if the existing roof system has service life remaining. A thorough inspection by an industry professional can accurately make this assessment.
Consider the project illustrated in the before-and-after photos labeled Figures 1 and 2. The building had an older gravel built-up roof (BUR) over an office and manufacturing facility. The owner could not afford the downtime involved in a tear-off and roof replacement project. He was also seeking a way to increase the insulation capability of this almost 80-year-old building. The choice of a spray polyurethane foam roof covered with a bright white acrylic coating was an ideal solution.
After a thermal scan was performed to determine no extensive trapped moisture existed in the current roof system, the decision to proceed was made. As part of the prep process, all of the older aggregate was removed. The owner made use of the gravel to shore up his gravel parking area so the product removed from the roof never left the property. The older wood deck, still in good shape, was relieved of the weight of the aggregate as well.
Metal roofs are also excellent candidates for a reflective coating system. The project featured in Figure 3 was a 100,000-square-foot commercial warehouse building with multiple tenants. Once the roof leaks became widespread, the owner was forced into coming up with a solution quickly or risk losing monthly rental revenue.
The decision to have an elastomeric, reflective coating installed proved to be the correct one for this owner. The roof was effectively prepared by thorough cleaning and sealing all penetrations, skylights and fasteners with an acrylic seam sealer. Only limited areas of rust were present, and therefore only spot priming was necessary. A two-coat application of an acrylic elastomeric not only restored the roof to a leak-free state, it resulted in lowering the surface temperature as well. The tenants noticed a more comfortable environment in the non-climate controlled warehouse areas, as well as lower utility bills in the air conditioned office areas. Furthermore, the new white roof surface will greatly reduce thermal shock, ultimately extending the service life of the roof.
These two projects underscore the advantages of using reflective roof coatings in suitable applications. The roof coating industry today features state-of-the-art chemistry in product formulation and decades of field application experience. This combination has resulted in another revenue stream for roofing contractors while providing quality solutions that meet the needs of their clients. And, while the overall commercial roofing industry may see some challenges during the coming year, look for opportunities with reflective roof coatings to continue their growth.