There is an argument to be made that a functioning roof is the single most important aspect of any facility. Water intrusion goes far beyond the leak itself. Insulation becomes compromised, while ceilings and drywall can be ruined, and this is before any property damage is calculated.
As the owner or operator of a storage facility, this becomes even more critical. There are individuals trusting your facilities with family keepsakes and treasures, collections and antiques, and furniture and appliances. The expectation is that the items enter the facility and leave the facility in the same condition. As storage units often go months without being opened, undetected leaks and water intrusion have the potential to cause some serious havoc within a unit.
Roofing contractors often understand the headache and cost associated with roofing projects. Material costs of metal and roofing membrane are higher than they have ever been. Labor costs will continue to rise. The supply chain is incredibly volatile. However, as an owner, operator, or manager, the need for leak-free storage facilities remains unchanged.
There is a niche forming in the roofing industry utilizing roof coatings as a restoration method rather than having to replace the entire roof. There is no “one-size-fits-all” roofing solution, which has traditionally been the approach to roofing. Roof restorations, especially over metal roofs, are gaining popularity across the entire United States in recent years. The main factors in this movement include the non-invasive nature of the projects, the cost effectiveness of the system, and the reduced waste.
What Is A Roof Coating?
The installation of a silicone roof coating is incredibly simple. There is no tear out of the existing roof required. The current roof substrate is power washed to remove all dirt and debris present on the surface. This will allow the silicone roof coating to achieve the proper adhesion. Secondly, all seams or exposed roof fasteners are sealed with a high viscosity roof silicone. These are the potential points of failure, so these specific areas are completely sealed before the topcoat is applied. Finally, the entire roof surface is coated with an inorganic, high solids roofing silicone. This new membrane will encapsulate the entire roofing substrate and eliminate leaks and flashing failures while providing the storage facility with a new, warranted roof.
Above is an example of the metal lap seam and fasteners that have been prepped to prepare for the coating.
The Three Whys
Roofing contractors often see the good, the bad, and the ugly of existing roofs. Typically, the biggest challenge a building owner or operator expresses is damaged caused by water intrusion. Most often, the cost of repairing a roof leak is 25 percent the cost of the roof repair and 75 percent the cost of remediating the inside and replacing the personal property damaged below. The roof replacement process can cause a very similar headache inside the facility. Tearing out old roofing materials, especially metal panels that are old and rusty, is no glamorous process. There is dust, debris, and likely rusty metal crumbles that will fall into the units throughout the process. This is where the most valuable part of a coating comes into play. There is no tear out of any previous metal or roofing materials. With proper due diligence on the front end to assure the strength of the panels has not been compromised, the newly installed coating goes directly over the previous roof with zero disruption on the interior of the facility.
The second large benefit to silicone roof coatings is the cost effectiveness of the system compared to a traditional full replacement. The coating process takes approximately half the time of a full roof replacement. With labor costs rising across the entire United States, this will save many labor hours, keeping money in your pocket. From a material standpoint, silicone is approximately 70 percent less expensive per square foot than new metal panels. It’s also much easier to navigate around your facility. With metal panels, there are additional labor hours tied to caring for the panels and assuring they do not get damaged while handling. With silicone, the product comes as fluid applied in two-gallon, five-gallon, or 55-gallon drums, depending on the project. When you combine the savings of lower labor costs and lower material expenses, it is not uncommon for building owners to save 60 percent to 70 percent on a silicone coating versus a traditional metal replacement.
Below is an example of a metal panel that has been fully coated with roofing silicone.
As previously mentioned, there is no tear out required with a silicone coating, which eliminates the need to haul waste to the landfill. Not only does this save on the total project by not having the disposal cost, but there’s also value in reducing the waste footprint. It is hard to put an exact number to it, but estimates have shown that each year millions of tons of roofing materials end up in landfills. It takes between 300 and 400 years for these materials to break down once in the landfill. By transitioning to a roof coating, this eliminates the need to continue to fill our landfills with roofing materials that will be there for years to come.
One of the most important benefits is the makeup of the silicone itself. Silicone is an inorganic material, which means that it will not break down under the relentless abuse of the sun and UV rays. In fact, the silicone will reflect 87 percent of these UV rays. Once a roof is coated with silicone, most roofs will experience surface temperatures up to 50 degrees cooler. This helps reduce heat gain into the building and cut energy costs in climate-controlled units. There’s also the option for custom color silicones to match the color scheme of the facility.
Here is a side-by-side example of a metal roof where you can see the difference before and after the coating.
Roof failures are inevitable. As much as they tend to be overlooked, because putting money into a roof is not exciting, there will be a time where your roof begins to leak and ultimately fails. Finding a roofing partner that specializes in silicone coatings is one of the most important things to consider when looking at silicone options for facilities. Lastly, any silicone roof coating you are considering should be accompanied by a manufacturer’s full system warranty. Next time you experience roofing problems, exploring a fully warranted, silicone restoration should be at the top of your list.
Alex Miller is the Business Development Manager for Seamless Roofing, based in Indianapolis, Indiana.