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Restore or Replace a metal roof?

February 28, 2017

Coating (or restoring) a roof CANNOT save a badly deteriorated roof.

With that said IF the current substrate is in sound condition, restoring your roof can save time, energy, money, business interruption and WILL extend the life of your roof.

Leaks, corrosion and cooling the roof top surface are all problems that can be corrected with roof restoration. Restoration allows building owners and facility managers to maintain their roofs by providing an easy to apply, sustainable protective layer without hassling with the cost, business disruptions and landfill costs of tearing off and replacing the existing roof.

Regardless of the original finish, long-term exposure to the elements will deteriorate the protective finish. Rust will begin to form and over time will compromise the structural integrity of the roof, and negatively affect the aesthetics of the building. All metal roofs expand and contract with temperature fluctuations. This allows the seams to open up and lets moisture enter the building envelope. Proper repair compounds and re-coating products will restore a metal roof to like-new condition, using the original substrate as its base. (Metal Construction News Magazine)

Restoring a roof is a less costly option than re-roofing, if the roof is a good candidate. Coating helps extend the life of a roof and building owners and facility managers can see the dollar signs in the savings afforded by a restoration. Elastomeric coatings protect the roof system from the elements - UV particularly. Surface rust needs to be properly neutralized, leaks repaired and stopped and all seams and fasteners sealed prior to coating.

A word of caution, no coating is a “miracle in a bucket.” A metal roof should be replaced if it has not been maintained properly and has deteriorated beyond what a coating restoration can sufficiently remedy. A coating system would NOT be beneficial when the roof has deteriorated to the point that it is no longer structurally sound, metal panels have started to rust through, or the majority of existing roofing panels need to be replaced. Continuous attempts to repair the roof with improper or inferior products may also result in premature deterioration requiring replacement over restoration.

Restoring a metal roof helps keep the building weather-tight, lowering energy consumption and costs. White roof coatings are highly reflective and can reflect up to 87% of the sun's damaging rays. This exterior temperature reduction also reduces the constant thermal movement of the roof that eventually leads to leaks.

The EPA states: Cool roofs provide a number of benefits beyond urban heat island mitigation, including:

  • Reduced energy use: A cool roof transfers less heat to the building below, so the building stays cooler and uses less energy for air conditioning.
  • Reduced air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions: By lowering energy use, cool roofs decrease the production of associated air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Improved human health and comfort: Cool roofs can reduce air temperatures inside buildings with and without air conditioning, helping to prevent heat-related illnesses and deaths.

Cool roofs deflect some desired heat gain during the winter. In general, though, cool roofs result in net energy savings, especially in areas where electricity prices are high.

Another money saving tip - the IRS classified roof restoration as maintenance and, in most cases (check with your tax advisor for confirmation), it can be expensed in the accounting period in which it occurs. A new roof is a capital investment and must be amortized.

Do your due diligence! Make sure the coating contractor is credible and reputable. Make sure the coating system being used is the actual manufacturer of the product. Check the physical properties (elongation, tensile strength, and "aged" results) to compare what you are actually buying. There are many coating companies that promise low prices, warranties etc, but with no brick and mortar, they can be gone in a jiffy - leaving you and your customer with no recourse down the line. If you are considering more than one contractor and/or coating system, don't automatically select the lowest bid. A quality application with a quality product is always worth consideration.