The Pros and Cons of Silicone Roof Coatings
Our roofing experts see it every day – a facility manager realizes their roof warranty is coming to an end, but their roof isn’t in bad shape. A few repairs over the years, but no devastating damage or visible leaks.
To get a new warranty, most think they will have to pay for a complete roof replacement.
What if I told you there are other options?
In this article, we’ll explain:
- What a silicone roof coating system is?
- How does a silicone roof coating system get installed?
- What are the pros and cons of silicone coating systems?
And just so you’re aware, West Roofing Systems has been in commercial roofing since 1979. We specialize in spray polyurethane foam roofing, which uses silicone roof coatings for protection from UV rays. Since around 2008, using silicone roof coating systems on their own has been an attractive, low-cost option for certain situations.
Every article written at West Roofing Systems is produced in-house and is reviewed and approved by a spray foam and coating expert with more than 30 years of experience.
Let’s get started.
What is a Silicone Roof Coating System?
A silicone roof coating system is a single layer (applied in one or two coats) of silicone that’s rolled or sprayed on as a liquid to fill in cracks, blisters, and seams.
The process does not improve the insulation or underlying system, but it does add an extra layer of protection from the elements.
Facility owners tend to opt for a roof coating system when their roof is in good shape but just needs to be renewed from older age and normal wear and tear.
How Does a Silicone Roof Coating System Get Installed?
The process of installing a coating system is straightforward.
- First, an infrared inspection should be performed to see if there are any saturated areas of insulation under the membrane. After those saturated areas have been removed and replaced, the entire roof surface is power washed clean to remove any contaminants.
- After the primer has been installed (if needed), the seams of the membrane are then reinforced.
- Once all of the miscellaneous repairs have been performed to the existing roof system, silicone is sprayed, or roller applied over the entire surface of the roof.
- After the silicone coating system has been completed, a final inspection will be performed by a third-party or the manufacturer’s representative to verify all the necessary repairs were performed properly and the silicone is applied with the right amount of thickness. When the repairs and silicone coating applications are approved, the final warranty is issued.
Pros to Silicone Roof Coating Systems
The #1 benefit of a silicone roof coating system is the cost savings versus completely tearing off and installing a new roof system.
A silicone coating system usually costs between $2 and $3.50 per square foot. A complete roof tear-off and installation can cost $4 – $10 per square foot.
As long as the existing roof substrate is dry and stable, no roof removal is required.
If there are some wet areas of the roof, these can be removed and installed with new, dry material before silicone is installed.
Extended Life Roof
If your roof is in relatively good condition, you can extend the life of your commercial roof by protecting it from the elements. Since the silicone is applied as a liquid, it fills in any seams, cracks, or other vulnerable areas of your roof.
Warranties come in 10, 15, and 20-year increments
Reduced Energy Expenses
Silicone roof coatings are often referred to as “cool roofs” due to their ability to keep facilities cool. The bright white color reflects UV rays, saving up to 35% in energy costs by reducing air conditioning usage to keep the facilities cool.
Short Project Duration
One of the biggest issues with having work done on your facility is the interruptions to the daily functions of your building. A silicone coating installation can cut the down project duration up to 30%. This is not only more convenient, but it can also save money on labor expenses.
Backed by Manufacturer’s Warranty
A silicone roof coating system is backed by a manufacturer’s warranty. These usually come in 10, 15, and 20-year warranties.
The coating will prevent any roof leaks unless there’s interference by third parties (such as another contractor damaging the roof), acts of God (such as a tornado), structural changes to the building, or a change in operations.
For more information about silicone warranties, please contact us and we’ll reply as fast as we can.
Cons to Silicone Roof Coating
Here are some cons of silicone roof coating systems.
Difficult to Adhere to Silicone
They say that nothing sticks to silicone, besides silicone. This is true. You’ll most likely need to remove the silicone layer before installing a different roofing system.
Having a silicone roof system is a long-term investment.
To be eligible for a silicone roof coating system, your roof needs to be:
- Less than 25% saturated
- Have seams that are in good/decent condition
- Needs to have been maintained year after year
Unfortunately, most building owners only seek roof help once the roof is leaking. In this case, the roof may not be eligible.
To find out, a roofing contractor will perform a roof inspection to determine the health of your roof.
Silicone Coating Expertise
It may appear easy to install silicone coating because it’s similar to painting the walls in your home, but the coating will not last if the roof isn’t prepared correctly.
Here are some questions that come up when talking about preparing a roof for silicone coating:
- Will the coating adhere correctly to the existing roof?
- Is a primer needed?
- Should the coating be rolled on or spray applied?
- Is the right thickness of coating applied so the warranty is granted?
- Are the seams treated appropriately?
Having the wrong answer to these questions can be the difference in coating lasting for 2 months or 20 years.
Increased Safety Concerns
Another risk from using a waterproof material such as silicone to coat your commercial roof is when the surface gets wet, it tends to be more slippery than a typical roof system. This can be an added risk for personnel tending to units, skylights, or roofing issues on the roof.
Loss of Reflective Properties
Like any roofing solution, over time the natural elements will wear the silicone coating down. The layer of silicone is prone to hold dirt and allow the rain to wash it away. This means that over time you will lose some of the reflective properties that contribute to your facility’s energy savings.
Smell During Application
If silicone is installed on a roof with a large number of fresh air intakes, like a hospital, these intakes need to be sealed during installation.
This is because silicone has an unpleasant smell when it’s curing.
It’s not a huge negative, as the smell doesn’t last very long, but it’s something a roofing contractor needs to take caution with during installation.
Learn more about silicone roof coating systems
Silicone roof coating systems are great alternatives to replacing your roof system. You can restore your commercial roof to working condition in less time, with less cost, and while keeping your building under warranty.
West Roofing Systems has been restoring, replacing, and repairing commercial roofing systems for more than 40 years.
Would you like to learn more about silicone roof coating systems?
Please view Your Complete Guide to Silicone Roof Coatings.