How Long Do Silicone Roof Coatings Last?
Determining how long something lasts is key to any financial decision.
This brings me to a financial decision I made regarding my used car. I have 82,000 miles on my Subaru, and 3 more years left to pay on it. I bought the car with 40,000 miles, so it looks like I drive about 14,000 miles per year. If I’m expecting the car to last until 120,000 miles, then the car may die out before I’m done paying for it:
I either need to cut down on the miles or pay the car off sooner.
The same decision goes through the minds of building owners when they’re determining how long their roof is going to last.
Just like using full-synthetic oil to extend the life of a vehicle, a popular option in the roofing industry is to install a silicone restoration membrane over an existing roofing system.
Doing so can extend your roof’s life, get you a new 10-20-year warranty, and be completed in 25-33% of what a full tear off and replacement would cost.
Quick recap of what a silicone restoration membrane even is
A Silicone Restoration Membrane (SRM) is a fluid applied silicone coating sprayed or back-rolled directly onto an existing roof system.
Usually these roofs are in good working order with minimal leaks, and their warranty is about to expire.
A building owner uses a SRM system for a few reasons:
- it’s more cost-effective than a complete tear off
- it’s considered maintenance (is not considered another roof layer)
- it adds a seamless, monolithic waterproof layer
- it’s white in color, therefore it saves on energy costs compared to a dark colored roof
But how long do silicone roof coatings last?
Silicone roof coatings will perform for 10-20 years depending on the initial application thickness, and that is based on what the owner is looking for. If someone needs a 15-year warranty, a roofing contractor will work with a roof coatings manufacturer and make that happen.
As an example, a manufacturer might grant a 15-year warranty if the existing roof is in good condition, the roof is treated with two coats of coating at 20 mils thick, and the topcoat has embedded granules.
As another example, a manufacturer might grant a 20-year warranty if the existing roof is in good condition, the roof is treated with two coats of coating at 35 mils thick, and the topcoat has embedded granules.
Can silicone roof coatings last longer than their warranty?
Yes, and most of them do. It isn’t extraordinary to see a 15-year warrantied silicone coated roof still be in great condition after the warranty has expired.
In fact, Brian Chavalia (30+ years of commercial roofing experience at West Roofing Systems), has seen this personally. He has inspected a roof 15 years after a silicone restoration and saw that the topcoat still had all the granules embedded.
If the granules are still embedded, all that silicone is still underneath, otherwise the granules would be gone.
An important fact to note is silicone will last longer with proper annual maintenance and inspection of the roof, as well as after weather impacting events, such as bad thunderstorms and hail storms.
Many coating manufacturers have warranties that require a building owner to have inspections periodically, and maintenance performed regularly on their roofing systems.
What maintenance is done to extend how long silicone roof coatings last?
Most roofing maintenance programs begin with a visual inspection and reporting. They are looking for early signs of significant damage. Damage can be caused by numerous events such as wind, rain, debris, or any foot traffic having access to the roof.
Maintenance also includes special attention to areas that impact water travel, such as gutters, drains and scuppers. A roofing contractor wants to make sure that when it rains, that water is moving the way it’s designed to off the roof.
NOTE: A maintenance contract is a great way to keep your facility in good shape while holding your contractor accountable for the performance of their work.
Has silicone coating ever NOT lasted it’s intended lifetime?
No. And if it ever didn’t last as long as it was intended too, it would’ve been applicator error. Some forms of applicator error would be:
- Coating too thinly
- Substrate preparation, poor adhesion
- Mixing improperly
- Applying before a rainstorm
- Applying in too cold of weather
Just shows that if your going to be investing into your roof, to make sure to use a reputable roofing contractor.
That’s equivalent to trusting anybody but a Subaru technician to handle complicated repairs to my vehicle.
Does High Solids Silicone last longer than solvent-based silicone?
Newer to the industry than traditional solvent-based silicone is what’s called High Solids Silicone.
Without getting too technical into what the differences are between them, roofing contractors are noticing the high solids showing fewer signs of deterioration that the solvent-based silicone does.
Some tendencies include an increased rate of wear and chalking.
Roofing contractors are using high solids more and more every day. At West Roofing Systems, we are at an approximate rate of 90% high solids/10% solvent-based.
Summary of roof coatings and how long they last
Silicone roof coatings last 10-20 years if they’re installed properly AND have a maintenance contract in place with a reputable roofing contractor.
Typical maintenance that’s done on silicone roofs are visual inspections meant to notice signs of significant damage, to fix minor repairs, and to clean debris away from waterways so the water streams the way it’s designed to off your roof.
Roofing contractors are beginning to use a “high solids” type of silicone for roofing purposes. The first time we put high solids down was in 2007, probably about the same time other roofing contractors were doing the same thing.
There are no studies out there that provide evidence high solids silicone is a better roofing product than solvent-based silicone.
However, high solids are showing no signs of the typical tendencies solvent-based silicones are showing, like extensive wear and chalkiness.
Below is a free guide about SRM’s where you can learn about:
- how SRM’s are installed
- and much more!
Author: Greg Palya
Greg Palya is the Digital Content Manager of West Roofing Systems, Inc. He has a B.S. in Marketing from the University of Akron and an MBA in Marketing from Walsh University. When he’s not trying to increase website traffic, you can find him on the basketball court or golf course.