IS A LIQUID ROOF SOMETHING YOU’D CONSIDER FOR YOUR BUILDING?
Many people are unfamiliar with, and therefore uncomfortable with liquid roofs on their building. Most liquid systems are relatively new to the market when compared to more traditional systems, and that newness is often the cause for objection from building owners. However, building owners who have experience working with liquid roofs, and contractors who install liquid roofs, both say the same thing about this type of roof: they work very well. Liquid roofs make a lot of sense, considering the fact that other roofs are not custom-fitted to the building quite like liquid roofs are. Let’s dive in and learn about liquid roofs. Hopefully, after learning more about these systems, you’ll be more comfortable with the thought of having one on your building.
Types of Liquid Roofs
There are many different types of liquid roofs, though the two main categories are spray foam, tar, and coatings. Tar roofs are sort of an oddball in this group of three because they are not a new system. Tar has been used in the roofing industry for many years. It provides average performance, but there have been very few improvements made to tar roofs since their introduction. Spray foam and coatings, however, have been carefully engineered and meticulously improved since they entered the roofing market. Both of these systems continue to become better systems for building owners, while tar has basically stalled. Tar is also typically used as a standalone roof in new construction, whereas foam and coatings are generally used in retrofit applications. Due to these differences, we won’t discuss tar roofs further.
Spray foam roofs are made of two separate liquids, that are combined at the time of application directly on the roof surface. These two liquids interact with each other to form the rigid foam surface. When most people hear foam roofs, they think the roof is like a sponge. This is a logical line of thinking, but couldn’t be further from the truth. Spray foam roofs are made of closed cell foam, meaning there aren’t small holes as there are in sponges. Those holes are what make a sponge so soft. Without those holes, spray foam is extremely rigid and strong.
Silicones, acrylics, urethanes, and other coatings make up this family. There are many different types of coatings, but they all follow a similar premise: apply a thin layer of a liquid coating to an existing roof to make it more waterproof and last longer. Each system has its advantages, and there are supporters of every type of coating. We, of course, believe silicone coatings are the best, but we’ll look at coatings in general in this post.
Benefits of Liquid Roofs
Many of the benefits of coatings and spray foam roofs are shared between both systems. There are some benefits only realized by one roof type or the other, so we’ll look at those benefits as well.
Both systems can be installed over top of the old system, which means you avoid the roof tear-off process. This saves time, money, and prevents waste from going to the landfill. In addition, if there is no tear-off, existing roofs that contain asbestos can be replaced with a liquid roof without disturbing that harmful asbestos.
Because both systems are installed without tearing off the old roof, the interior of the building is never exposed to the elements. This is a major advantage for facilities that have visitors, expensive equipment, office files, etc.
Both systems provide energy savings, while spray foam provides much greater savings here. Coatings provide reflectivity for the building, meaning the sun doesn’t heat up the building as aggressively as it would a metal, non-reflective roof. Spray foam offers reflectivity, while also providing the highest R-value on the plant. Both types of systems will reduce your energy bill and keep you more comfortable.
Spray foam and roof coatings also offer quick installation with small crews. Again, this means your project is finished more quickly than with other systems, and it can be completed with fewer man-hours, saving you money.
Both spray foam and roof coatings are also extremely easy to repair. All you need is a rag to clean off the area and a tube of caulk to fill in the damaged area.
Spray Foam Benefits
Spray foam offers an entirely new, rigid roofing system that is usually stronger than the old roofing system. Once installed, spray foam rarely leaks and rarely requires repairs. Spray foam is a capable roof system as long as it has a complete substrate below to adhere to.
Roof Coating Benefits
The main benefit roof coatings provide that spray foam cannot is cost savings. A roof coating can replace a traditional roofing system for about 1/2 or 1/3 the cost of replacing the roof with a traditional system. An inexpensive system that also provides energy savings is a great way to save money in your facility while still getting a great project.
Liquid Roof Installation
The greatest benefit of liquid roofs is the way they are installed over top of your existing roof. While there are variations, the standard installation process consists of 1. Make necessary repairs to the roof, 2. Clean the roof surface, 3. Apply the liquid roof directly to the roof surface. That’s it. There might be individual steps within each of those main points (for instance, spray foam requires a protective coating over top of it), but that is the gist of most liquid roof installations. They are a time and money saving system that you’ll love on your building.
Performance of Liquid Roofs
As we already discussed briefly in the benefits section, liquid roofs of all types provide energy savings for your building. This is the most significant performance factor they provide. However, spray foam roofs help your building resist wind uplift and provide a safer surface for you to walk on when on the roof. Coating systems offer a leak-free warranty that is rarely compromised. Both systems have some individual performance factors that we’ll look at later in this blog post.
Lifespan of Liquid Roofs
The lifespan of assorted liquid roof systems is much more variable than some of the other aspects we have looked at. An individual post on the life span of spray foam and the wide array of roof coatings will be necessary to truly dig into this feature. However, the general thing to know about the lifespan of liquid roofs is that they can be reocated at the end of their life, which extends the life another 15-20 years. You can follow this recoat process indefinitely. A spray foam roof with a 25-year lifespan might actually last 65 years after two recoats. That is a major bump in lifespan.
Liquid roofs offer serious benefits in the form of performance, lifespan, installation, and energy savings. If you are still uneasy on these systems because they are some of the newer roofing systems available, please give us a call so that we can help you learn more. We truly believe that when building owners learn about liquid roofing systems and their benefits, they will rarely go back to a traditional roofing system. Thanks for reading!