Roof Coatings vs. Roof Paint

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Roof coatings and roof paint are sometimes confused, but they are very different materials.

Roof coatings can help protect buildings and keep them cool and energy-efficient for several years after application. But do roof coatings work the same as roof paint? The short answer is no — roof coatings work much better than simple roof paint because coatings are chemically designed to withstand changing temperatures and harsh external stresses and environmental conditions. Roof paint, in general, is applied thin and dries even thinner, with the intention focused on color over functionality.

In this article, we’ll dive deeper to explain what roof coatings are, how they are different from roof paint, and finally, why they are the best choice for your next roofing job.

What Are Roof Coatings?

Roof coatings are cured layers, often based of acrylic or silicone, that create a kind of sealed armor on a roof. These elastomeric coatings can be applied over a variety of existing roof types including Modified Bitumen, EPDM, TPO, PVC and metal. This makes roof coatings extremely adaptable.

Acrylic roof coatings are the most common due to their ease of application. However, they need multiple coats to ensure a complete seal and take longer to cure than silicone. In regions where weather conditions and temperatures are often harsh or extreme, silicone roof coatings are ideal. The application requires fewer installed layers, it does not freeze and the chemistry performs where some harsh roofing conditions are present, but require additional caution during application and limits products that can be used over the installed material to just silicone.

Application of Polyflash 1C

How Are Roof Coatings Different from Roof Paint?

Roof coatings are a specialized physical layer added to the roof to improve durability and, when using a white topcoat, energy efficiency as well. Roof paint is simply a thin layer of paint applied to change the color of the roof. Although applying a white roof paint may offer minor benefits in terms of reflecting the sun, that’s the limit of its usefulness.

Roof paint offers none of the other benefits that make roof coatings so useful. Paint doesn’t increase the durability of the roof, nor help it last longer. Paint will not help to stave off dampness or mold and isn’t waterproof. Any energy-saving benefits are short-lasting when using paint.

Paint has to be reapplied regularly, possibly as much as once a year. The thin layer of paint is liable to damage from weather conditions and heat and will often show signs of cracks and peeling.

Elastomeric Coatings

What are the Benefits of Roof Coatings?

Using white roof coatings keep the surface temperature within 15°F of the ambient temperature, greatly reducing thermal shock which can be detrimental to a roof. Having a cooler roof also helps to cut down on energy loss that is usually emitted through the roof as wasted heat. In turn, this helps to lower a building’s heating and energy costs.

A white roof coating reflects the sun’s UV rays, which reduces long-term damage to the roof surface caused by the sun. Reflecting these solar rays not only reduces the temperature of the building but it can also help lower the temperature of the surrounding area.

Because they form a sealed, monolithic membrane, roof coatings offer superior water resistance and can help prevent the encroachment of algae, damp, and mold into a roof, even in regions of high humidity. The strong seal of the coating can also help to avoid leaks.

Finally, roof coatings enhance the durability and performance of new and existing roofs — increasing their longevity and staving off the need to replace the roof completely.

To browse our extensive range of high-quality elastomeric roof coatings, download our Elastomeric Roof Coatings Line brochure. For more tips on commercial roofing, be sure to sign up for our newsletter below.