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The Interesting History of Roof Coatings

If you are considering repairing or replacing your commercial roof, you may have heard about the popularity of roof coatings. While this solution has only been used for the last several decades, we can look back thousands of years to the beginning of cold-process coatings. 

Approximately 5,000 years ago, Egyptian builders began to make varnishes and enamels from beeswax, gelatin, and clay to waterproof their boats. Subsequently, protective coatings of pitch and balsam were developed to seal the materials and prevent water intrusion. Across the globe, artisans in China, Japan, and Korea used lacquers and varnishes to cover and seal buildings, artwork, and furnishings, and the early Greeks and Romans also used paints and varnishes on their homes and ships. 

Waterproofing for commercial roofs

Most of the earliest known homes in Europe, Asia, and the Americas employed cold-applied mixtures of clay, soil, and water to waterproof their walls and roofs. Additional methods included pastes made of water, sand, and limestone or gypsum. In Babylon, mud walls were waterproofed with mineral pitch from the river. Interestingly, many of these early materials are still used worldwide in more contemporary configurations. 

Towards the end of the 17th century, a German chemist formulated the beginnings of modern roof coatings when he utilized coal tar to protect wood and ropes. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, scientists created various organic, inorganic, and synthetic materials for coatings, binders, and solvents. However, it was in the last few decades that the development of polymers allowed the industry to evolve into its current state. 

Today’s silicone roof coating systems are an affordable option for extending the life of your commercial roof. The process applies a seamless, waterproof layer that effectively fills in any cracks and seams and repairs vulnerable areas on the roof. Roof coatings are considered the best solution for an older roof that is still in good condition, as they avoid the cost and hassle of a new roof. Generally speaking, silicone roof coatings will last several decades. However, the life cycle of a silicone roof coating depends on many different factors, including whether annual inspections and necessary maintenance are taking place.

Suppose a roofing professional has determined that a silicone roof coating is appropriate for your building. In that case, the roof is in decent condition – roof coatings cannot be applied to structurally unsound roofs. For most roof coating projects, the first step is an infrared survey. This process examines the condition of the insulation and detects areas where the insulation is wet underneath the membrane. However, your roofing contractor might locate some areas (typically less than 25% of the surface) that need attention before the coating application.

How Much Do Silicone Roof Coatings Cost?

The total expense of a silicone roof coating system will depend on whether any roof repairs will be required, your region and climate, and the roof size. Typically, it costs between $2.00 and $4.00 per square foot to apply coating to a 20,000-square-foot commercial roof when labor and materials are included in the total. Costs will vary depending on region and type of roof.

Your roof must be cleaned thoroughly before the coating is applied to ensure it adheres correctly to the roof surface. Many contractors use power washers and powerful driers to complete this step. The final step before the silicone coating application is to reinforce the existing roof seams to help prevent leaks in the most vulnerable areas. Finally, the silicone coating is applied to your roof, either by rolling or spraying it onto the surface to help protect the seams, repairs, and roof structure from water damage and intrusion. Whether one or two coatings are required and how thick the layers should be will depend on the type and brand of material used by your roofing contractor.


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