How To Determine The Best Flat Roof Coating

The decision tree for a commercial building manager facing roof issues need not be complicated. Your first move, of course, is to contact your local commercial roofer. When you have an ongoing, trusting relationship with a reliable roofer, much of the decision-making burden shifts to that partner. What does your roofer do to determine, for example, the best flat roof coating for your building? 

Why Use a Roof Coating At All?

Roof coatings are relatively inexpensive methods of waterproofing and preserving a roof. They help increase life span and decrease energy consumption.

An aging commercial roof may have crazing, cracking, or stretched seams. A roof coating can provide a few vital years between repair and replacement so you can plan for effective roof replacement

Depending on the application, roof coatings can reflect tremendous amounts of infrared heat back into the atmosphere, lowering cooling costs for the building interior. 

Additionally, as Facilities Net describes, these roof coatings can reduce ultraviolet light (UV) degradation, serving as a topcoat on traditional roofing materials such as single-ply, EPDM, BUR, or even metal. 

Existing Surface

The material and wear patterns of your existing roof lay the groundwork for deciding the optimal roof coating. Your low-slope roof may have so much surface area exposed directly to the elements that it has aged prematurely. It could show many signs of distress:

  • Crazing, crackling, buckling, splitting, blistering
  • Open, failing, or lifted seams
  • Elongated holes for mechanical fasteners, caused by heating and cooling cycles that force the material to expand and contract
  • Rips or tears from workers’ boots, wind-borne debris, or aging

If your existing surface is intact, free of major wear and tear, and still water-resistant, it is an ideal candidate for a roof coating that preserves the surface while reflecting light (infrared and UV). The roof coating in this case largely serves to save energy, not repair damage. 

If your existing surface is aging, has water infiltration already, or is prone to leaks after Florida storms, your roof coating may be more along the lines of flat roof sealant for leaks. Here the goal is roof preservation and waterproofing. 

Building Design

Many commercial properties do not have low-slope roofs at all. These buildings may use metal panel roofing or even residential shingles (think fast-service restaurants, Mom-n-Pops, real estate agents, and similar buildings). Here roof coatings may focus on preserving appearances and increasing waterproofing without altering the visual appeal of the roof. 

For low-slope roofs, your local environment can dictate the ideal roof coating:

  • Rooftop additions such as HVAC systems, radio masts, billboards, cell phone towers
  • Roof penetrations: electrical cables, plumbing, sanitary stacks, ventilators
  • Overhanging or shadowing structures: surrounding trees, other buildings, or natural formations can cast your roof in uneven light, causing more wear on the sunlit areas than the shaded portions

Consult with your commercial roofer to help determine what conditions affect your building type, and then select a roof coating to answer the challenge. 

Available Products

You may wonder, “What is the best flat roof coating?” Many commercial contractors will readily say it is whatever particular product they have on hand! This, though, is flat-out wrong. For your flat roof, the ideal roof coating may be completely different from the right product for your neighbor’s building. In a typical Land O Lakes industrial park, a half dozen commercial properties could have a half dozen different roof coatings. 

Imperial Roofing Contractor frequently answers the need for roof coating with the HydroStop Renewal Roof System. This innovative solution comes from GAF, a leader in commercial roofing products. It is a liquid-applied acrylic elastomeric multi-layer coating. It can be installed over various types of existing roofs:

  • Single ply
  • Built-up roofing (BUR)
  • Insulation board
  • Structural concrete
  • Metal

The HydroStop system can be finish coated with a highly reflective HydroStop® PremiumCoat® in a light color for maximum reflectivity. 

Other products are available in the Florida market. As Facilities Net outlines, the emergence of liquid-applied coatings as membranes themselves has led to more possibilities for the facilities manager:

  • Liquid-applied coatings to protect existing water-resistant and waterproof surfaces while increasing reflectivity to save energy costs
  • High-performance membrane products like liquid polyesters, polymethyl methacrylates, and hot-fluid-applied rubberized asphalt
  • Waterproofing layers of polyurethanes, silicones, and some polymer-modified bitumen products

The best time to consult with your commercial roofing partner is before trouble starts. Roof coatings work best when applied early in your roof’s life. 

One of the first decisions you should make with your low-slope roof is to contact a local commercial roofer ready to help. Contact us at Imperial Roofing Contractor and see what service really looks like. We will help you decide on the best roof coating for your particular needs. We will help you design a schedule for inspection, maintenance, and eventual replacement of your commercial property’s low-slope roof.