One of the most important parts of a commercial roofing project or new installation is making sure the right coatings are applied and then reapplied when needed for maintenance. Many materials can stand up to the elements, especially rain, for at least a little while, but no roof will hold up without waterproof coatings to repel moisture away and keep the building protected. While there didn’t used to be as wide of variety available, in terms of commercial roof coatings, as there are now, the selection makes is a bit harder to figure out which coating is going to be best for your roof. Instead of just trusting the professionals to know exactly what is best for your commercial roofing needs, let us help you learn about the options available to you. Even armed with this information, it’s probably still best to trust experienced professionals with your roofing needs, but you’ll be able to have a better understanding of the process, life expectancy, and cost of your new roof coatings.
Built-Up Roof (BUR)
As the oldest style of commercial roof coating, the BUR system has been a go-to option for many builders for years. Along with being a cost effective, BUR coating systems are exceptionally durable against foot traffic and provide a visually pleasing final result. A built-up roof involves multiple layers of material to be added to the roof construction before the coating is finalized. First goes down several layers of tar, followed by a thick layer of gravel. Because of the many layers, this type of roof coating can also provide a substantial amount of insulation compared to others. The one drawback of BUR roof coatings is that the many layers can get quite heavy, and if the building is not constructed in a very sturdy manner to handle the weight, then the roof could cave in. Understanding that a building needs to be constructed with a BUR roof in mind, or if the roof has previously had one, is important in deciding which roof coating is right for your building.
This particular commercial roof coating is a bit like if you had to install an asphalt road by rolling it out in sheets. This coating is a material made in a single layer that has to be heated to high temperatures and then rolled out. As you go through this process, it allows the material to adhere to the roof and creates a tight seal. This particular coating is lightweight, easy for roofers to install, and will help reflect heat away from the building. On the flip side, modified bitumen does not hold up to foot traffic well, so only opt for it on commercial roofs where there is little access or need to be on the roof.
Often, when you think about PVC, you think about piping. PVC piping has been used all over, from plumbing to sprinkler systems. PVC pipes are very popular because they’re affordable and exceptionally durable. This commercial roof coating has become one of the go-to options, because of the many benefits that it can provide. Much like the pipes, PVC coatings are exceptionally durable, but they’re also energy efficient as they reflect light, and therefore heat, away from the roof. Additionally, they are waterproof, making sure that moisture cannot permeate the layer. However, PVC also has one drawback. It is installed similar to modified bitumen, as it is made in sheets. These sheets have seams that have to be sealed in order to make a fully-sealed roof coating. These seals wear down much quicker than the rest of the roof coating, which could cause it to fail faster than a seamless roof coating system.
An EPDM roof coating is very similar to PVC, however, the main material component is rubber. This allows for the coating to be very durable and visually appealing. However, much like the PVC, the EPDM coating has to have seams sealed in order for it to protect the building from moisture. EPDM is the most maintenance intensive roof coating, because these seams have to be resealed regularly, versus a coating that will be more self-maintaining. However, with their super long lifespan overall and the fact that they are environmentally sustainable makes them a great option for most any roof.
Spray coatings made of a silicone product are one of the most optimal coatings available for commercial roofs. With the ease of application and the seamless installation, it’s an affordable and very durable option. There are two small concerns with a spray-on silicone roof. The first is that it is very easy to miss spots in the application process. While spray-on roof coatings can cover oddly shaped areas, they can also easily miss the simplest of spots if the person doing the work isn’t very meticulous. Additionally, spray-on silicone roof coatings remain sticky for quite some time. This means that they easily collect dirt and other debris, and hold on to it. Simply put, they aren’t as visually appealing as other roof coating options.