Recently former U.S. President Bill Clinton penned a list of “

Fourteen Ways
to Put America Back to Work” for Newsweek. Check it out here:


No. 8 on the list was “Paint ’Em White.” Clinton was referring to white roofing.


I do not believe having a popular former president touting the idea that people spend money on roofing and roofing products is a bad thing. Roofing contractors and suppliers should expect a pickup in call volume from owners seeking relief from a long summer of sun beating on their low-slope roofs. Clinton’s comments continue a dialog that started with U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s proselytizing on the topic over two years ago.


Contractors may do well by picking up on the continuing trend as new commercial and industrial construction has slowed to a crawl and building owners are putting off new roofs like there will be no tomorrow. They will, if they believe Mr. Former President, see a very fast turnaround on their investment so it is possible they will let some dollars flow in the direction of the roof.


I do not have any statistics to argue, but I find it hard to believe that, as Clinton says, “In most of these places you could recover the cost of the paint and the labor in a week.” Hope your clients do not ask you to prove that one. I do, however, like the first part of his next sentence, “It’s the quickest, cheapest thing you can do (to lower energy costs, reduce the urban heat island effect, stop global warming and save the planet)”. I tossed in the last part but I think that is pretty much what he is after here.


The other problem I have with this is the idea that young people should be encouraged to get up on a roof and paint it. There are places, especially in Clinton’s adopted hometown of New York City, where tall parapets are the norm and access to low-slope roofs are built into the structure. But nearly everywhere else in the United States there are numerous safety concerns that should point this work to the professionals.


Speaking of professionals, if the substrate is not properly prepared and the right materials specified, the former president may be suggesting an idea that will turn into something very ugly, very fast. Noodling around I found a Website from a group called the White Roof Project. Read about it here:


Sounds scary to me, but I am more passionate about keeping my short Italian body above the dirt than I am about saving the planet.


So all in I think this is a plus for the roofing industry. For now your favorite thing to do may not be to sell roof coating projects, but it may be your brightest opportunity for the rest of 2011 and into 2012.