by Stella Amador / Published October 2014
As a property manager, building owner, association board member, etc., you are often entrusted to find the best solutions for the properties you care for. A roof is one of the most important components of a building, and when it comes to replacing the roof versus restoring it, you have many things to consider—and that can be overwhelming.
These days it seems that most decisions are based on budgets. In most cases, a roof restoration can cost significantly less than total roof replacement. Therefore, roof coatings are recommended often as a restoration and are one option that can be both cost-effective and energy efficient.
The most common roof coatings are acrylic and silicone. Acrylic coatings, which are water-based, can be affected by moisture in at least two critical ways: they can be worn away by rain or heavy dew, or they can experience diminished adhesion to damp surfaces. These risks are reduced by using silicone coatings, which are not water based.
In Florida, another concern is algae and mildew, which can create serious problems, resulting in damage if left unchecked. Silicone is the most effective coating for resisting biological growth because it contributes no food source and resists microbial attachment. Coatings made from urethanes, asphaltics, and acrylics can support growth and must be specially formulated for warm, damp environments. Therefore, they are not recommended for all applications.
Traditional built-up, modified bitumen and many single-ply roof systems can benefit from the protection of UV-resistant silicone coatings that can also provide added energy savings and most importantly waterproofing.
The application of the proper coating system can restore the function and extend the longevity of roofing systems for many years to come. With current budget pressures, proper coating makes sound, economic sense. As all roofs age, the effects of weathering will include loss of flexibility, shrinkage, eroded surfaces, and increased porosity. A reflective silicone coating will increase roof performance by reflecting sunlight, keeping the building cooler, and reducing air conditioning and energy costs—making it a sustainable, environmentally friendly solution. If you are able to extend the life of a roof, while enhancing its performance and adding energy savings—this might be a great way to go.
EMERALD HILLS CASE STUDY
In 2011, Emerald Hills Condominiums replaced the shingle roofs on four of their three-story buildings. The flat roofs also needed to be replaced. However, as it happens more often than not, the budget did not allow for both the shingle and flat roof replacement. For three years, Florida Quality Roofing maintained the flat built-up roofs in order to allow the community association to come up with the funding needed to address the issue. Roofing maintenance was performed twice a year, before and after hurricane season, and consisted of diligent inspections of the membrane, removing all blisters, and installing “sacrificial layers” on areas where the water would pond.
In January 2014, the President and General Manager of the board of directors for Emerald Hills met on numerous occasions to discuss their aging, flat roofs. Their roof system is composed of a metal and concrete roof deck, with a base layer of 12-inch polyisocyanurate, a top layer of high density (HD) wood fiberboard, three fiberglass ply IVs, and a modified bitumen cap sheet. As a result of the roof system, the re-roofing option proved too extensive, costly, and simply out of their budget—instead, a silicone coating roof restoration was recommended.
The first step was to order a roof moisture survey to locate any areas where moisture might have been concentrated. Upon reviewing the survey, several wet areas were identified that needed to be removed prior to applying the coating. This is a crucial step that is often overlooked and can determine the effectiveness and longevity of the coating.
After removing the wet areas, the roof was power washed to remove dirt and debris. The next step in the process was to apply the epoxy primer that prepares the surface for proper adhesion and prevents asphalt migration (“tobacco-staining”), which was followed by two coats of silicone in order to achieve a total of 20 dry mils (per manufacturer requirement for a 10 year warranty).
In essence, through the silicone roof coating, the roof was restored and at least 10 more useful, protective years were added to its lifespan, in which the buildings will also benefit from a cooler, more energy-efficient environment.
Additionally, as part of the FPL (Florida Power and Light) energy savings envelope program—this reflective silicone coating qualified Emerald Hills Condominiums to receive energy saving rebates.“The silicone roof coating has been a true solution; we have seen a dramatic change in our roofs—from aging to restored. We couldn’t have done it three years ago with our budget, and we are grateful that Florida Quality Roofing was able to maintain the roofs until this year,” says Ron Daeumler, General Manager for the board of directors.
A silicone roof coating restoration can be a great option, but finding the right company and making sure that all the right steps are taken are key components for a successful restoration project. Not all roofs are candidates for a roof restoration, however, if the association budget is a concern, then it is an option worth exploring.