Roofs generally tend to be “out of sight, out of mind…” until you have a leak. Maintenance will help prolong the life of your roof and minimize the chance of leaks, just like getting regular maintenance on your car can lessen the likelihood of you getting stuck in the middle of the freeway.
Every roof needs maintenance at some point. The frequency of maintenance is determined by a few factors: type of roof, age, surrounding conditions, and how it was originally constructed.
Generally speaking, flat roofs require more maintenance then sloped roofs, and tile roofs more than shingle roofs. If you have a lot of leaves on your roof, regular cleaning will help positive drainage on your roof, and it will also stop exhilarated deterioration of the roof caused by trapped moisture under leaves.
Roofs are a system of different materials such as shingles, rolls, flashing, nails and sealant. Sealants are generally the weakest link in the roof system, and maintenance address that weak link. During maintenance, we usually start off by cleaning the roof, then we do a full inspection and seal all the vulnerable areas of the roof.
In recent years, roof coatings are becoming a popular solution on low slope roofs. While coatings have their place, they are not a cure-all, magic product; yet we feel that is how they are being used by a lot of roofers. When it comes to roofing, there is no single best option—every roof is different, as well as the needs of that roof’s owner. If you hear someone say silicone coating is the best option, period, that should be a red flag.
Below is some basic information about the most popular coating options in SoCal.
Elastomeric Coating (Acrylic)
Description: Elastomeric, a.k.a. Acrylic Coatings, are water-based products that work great for high UV environments (i.e. Los Angeles). These coatings generally come in white; however, they can be tinted.
- Inexpensive compared to other coatings
- Reflect UV Rays
- Help prevent shedding of granules
- Prolong the life of the roof
- Cool the building down
- Not waterproof
- They will not stop leaks
- They don’t hold up well under ponding water
- Wear out and need to be recoated every 5-10 years
Ideal Candidate: A rolled granulated cap sheet roof with granule loss of no more than 30-40% with minimal ponding.
Description: As implied by the name, silicone coatings are silicone-based and not water-based. They generally come in white and can be tinted slightly.
Important note: Silicone has become a popular coating in the last few years, and we believe it is being incorrectly represented not only by contractors, but even by manufacturers. Some manufacturers claim 20 year warranties with a single coat of silicone—sounds great, right? Read the fine print! When you do, you will see most manufacturers exclude failures caused by the base roofing membrane. Meaning, if the seam (joint) of the roof splits open or a crack occurs at the joint with flashing and it leaks, that is not covered by the warranty. Those items are pretty much the only reason a roof will leak, yet they are excluded from the warranty!
Don’t get us wrong, there are ways to apply silicone coating that will possibly last for 20 years, but it’s not as simple as rolling it on the roof and calling it a day. The best silicone systems require a thick primer base with a fully embedded polyester mesh, with silicone mastic applied at penetration using a 3 coarse method with polyester, then a final thick coat of silicone. A system like that will last for a long time. The issue is that by the time you are done with all that work, you essentially spent the same amount as you would have to install a brand new roof. There are times that this may make sense: if you have multiple built up layers, equipment on the roof, extremely difficult access, or tenants you can not disturb. It is case by case and not a perfect solution for everyone, so if you would like one of our trained experts to come out for a consultation, give us a call.
- Waterproof product
- Holds well under ponding water
- Does not wear out or deteriorate
- Substantially more expensive than acrylic
- Future adhesion is a concern (nothing really sticks to silicone)
- Dirt tends to stick
- Sometimes bubbles occur
- Must use stain blocking primer
Ideal Candidates: A rolled granulated cap sheet roof with granule loss of no more than 30%. Ponding water. Owner has long term plans for the building.
FYI: we do not do emulsion systems—not because they are not good, we just don’t have the training and expertise in that specific system.
Description: Emulsion is a coating that should be paired with a polyester mat and applied in multiple coats. It is a black asphalt-based coating that itself is relatively inexpensive; however, a large volume is used per square foot. It is an actual roof restoration, meaning the existing roof can be in poor condition, and with an emulsion system done correctly, the roof can be properly restored.
- Restores your roof
- Can be applied over uneven surfaces such as a spudded rock roof
- Multi-layered system coupled with polyester
- A proper system is relatively expensive
- Not UV Stable (needs a top coat of acrylic)
- Projects take a long time as they require multiple layers and dry time
Ideal Candidate: Deteriorated roofs, uneven roofs (rock or gravel) spudded clean, roofs that tear-off is not a viable option
Aluminum coatings, while a decent solution, are not allowed in LA county due to environmental regulations.
Other coating options include rubber, cold apply, resins, and epoxies. We recommend doing thorough research on any other product you consider using. There are a lot of products on the market which don’t stand the test of time.