elastomeric roof coating installation

4 Ways Elastomeric Roof Coatings Save You Money

Greg PalyaSilicone Roof Coatings

Do you have a commercial roof with a warranty that’s about to expire? Or do you have a commercial roof that’s in good standing order (meaning less than 25% saturated) and you’re considering a complete roof replacement?

Hold up!

If you’re unaware, there’s an alternative to a complete roof replacement. It’s called an elastomeric roof coating, and today we’ll dive into how this can save you money.

At West Roofing Systems, we’ve been in business for more than 40 years and we cringe when we hear of building owners paying for a complete tear off when a more cost-effective option was available.

Let’s begin…


Reasons elastomeric roof coatings will save you money

But first, what exactly is an elastomeric roof coating?

If you’re unaware of what an elastomeric coating is, it’s an elastic (meaning it can stretch and move) coating that’s applied to a variety of roof types to protect and seal the underlying roofing material, help stop and prevent leaks, and limit future weathering.

Here’s a photo of a roof who’s had an elastomeric roof coating installed:
Elastomeric roof coating installed at Gorilla Glue
This building used to be a black rubber roof with multiple leaks. Now it’s watertight, has no leaks, and has a 15-year warranty.

But we came here to talk money savings, right?

An elastomeric roof coating was installed on this roof instead of completely tearing it off…saving the building owner 2.5 million dollars!

That brings us to reason #1…

Reason #1 – Using an elastomeric coating avoids completely tearing off your roof

Completely tearing off your roof is a very expense endeavor. Why? It takes many labor hours to remove your existing roof. It also costs money to transport your existing roofing materials to a nearby landfill.

On average, it costs 2-3x more money to perform a complete tear off, as opposed to installing an elastomeric coating.

For example, if you get a quote from a roofing contractor to completely tear off your roof, and your roof is 20,000 sq. ft., this can cost anywhere between $6-8 per square foot.

20,000 x $7 = $140,000.

If you chose to restore your roof using an elastomeric coating, this can cost anywhere between $2-4 per square foot.

20,000 x $3 = $60,000

Saving money up front is great, but how about long-term? Let’s get to reason #2…

Reason #2 – Added reflectivity saves on energy costs

Here is a video from energy.gov explaining energy costs when using an elastomeric coating:

When you go from a black roof to a white roof, it’s estimated that you can save between 15-35% on your energy costs per year.

How does reflectivity save you money on your energy costs?

If it’s 90 degrees F outside and you have a black roof, it can get as hot as 150 degrees F on your roof. With an elastomeric coating on your roof, the temperature on the roof will be about 95 degrees F.

150 degrees vs 95 degrees.

Roof temperature runs through your insulation and into your building. So, the hotter the air coming into the building, the more your HVAC unit will have to run in order to maintain a comfortable temperature.

Less HVAC use = money saved.

How much can you expect to save in your area?

Here is a cool roof calculator developed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

You can enter in your information such as city, state, R-value, energy source for heating, etc. and it will calculate your annual savings with a “cool roof” installed compared to a black roof.

“Cool roof” = a roof that has an elastomeric coating overtop, in which that coating has been tested by the Cool Roof Rating Council (CRRC) and has surpassed the threshold set by Energy Star.

Energy Star is a 3rd party accreditation that determines if elastomeric roof coatings have an acceptable level of reflectivity. You can see all approved products in Cool Roof’s directory.

I gave this a whirl for my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio and the calculator predicted I’d save 2c per square foot annually. Which, if I had a 20,000 sq. ft. facility, would be $400/yr. Not bad!

NOTE: I entered all the information as being average efficiency. Certainly, if your commercial building has low R-value (lower than a R10) or has an inefficient HVAC unit, your savings will be greater.

So, how else can elastomeric coatings save me money?

Reason #3 – Elastomeric coatings are considered roof maintenance

Did you know, per building codes, that a roof can only have two layers. If you’d like to add another layer of a roofing system, you’ll need to perform a complete tear off of at least one layer before putting another one on.

And we went over the costs of a complete tear off vs adding an elastomeric coating during Reason #1.

i.e. $140,000 for tear off vs $60,000 for elastomeric coating.

With elastomeric coatings being considered roof maintenance, you can make the necessary repairs to your current roof, and install the coatings overtop.

In summary, a roofing contractor will:

  1. Power wash the roof clean, so all seams are visible
  2. Perform an infrared survey to identify all areas of saturation
  3. Remove saturated areas and replace with the same material
  4. Treat all the seams with coating and polyester reinforced mesh, or use reinforcing tape
  5. Apply the elastomeric coating over the field of the roof

Installing an elastomeric roof coating is a quick operation, but how quick?

Reason #4 – An elastomeric roof coating installation is a quick operation

On average, a roofing contractor can install an elastomeric roof coating system in about 30% less time than a complete tear off.

This reduces labor cost, but also has other benefits to your building, such as:

  • There will be less workers needed for the job vs tear off
  • There will be less equipment needed for the job vs tear off

In short, there will be less interruption to your business.

Quick case study – commercial building in downtown Cleveland, Ohio

A commercial building downtown had roofs on multiple story levels. The rubber roofs had areas where the seams were slightly uplifted and there was minor leaking.

The current roof had a projected life span of 3-4 years.

After inspection, the roof had only one roofing layer (did not have to perform tear off), but if another roofing contractor wanted to perform tear off or overlay the existing materials to install a new roof, the project would’ve cost 2-3x more than the elastomeric roof coating system that was installed.

18 days later with only 6 guys, this building had a watertight roofing system and a 15-year warranty.

The competitions estimated project duration was more than three times as long.

Wrap Up: Elastomeric roof coatings and how it’ll save you money

Hopefully today you learned that elastomeric roof coatings can save you money by:

  • Eliminating the need to completely tear off your roof
  • Saving you money on future energy bills
  • They are considered maintenance
  • It’s a quicker installation than other roofing systems

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About the 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 teach others about spray foam roofing and silicone roof coatings, you can find him on the basketball court or golf course.