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What Can Cause Roof Coatings to Fail?

A coating system can be a great way to restore an old flat roof. If done incorrectly, this can be a waste of money for a home or building owner. This leads to the question, what can cause a roof coating system to fail prematurely?


The following factors can cause premature failure in roof coatings:

  1. Poor Roof Surface Preparation

  2. Moisture contamination

  3. Lack of Maintenance

  4. UV Exposure

  5. Improper application Techniques

  6. Poor Quality Materials

Read on as we dive further into how a roof coating system can fail if proper steps are not taken when installing one.




1. Poor Roof Surface Preparation


Surface preparation is the process of cleaning and preparing the roof membrane for the application of roof coatings. This step is critical because it ensures that roof coatings will adhere properly to the surface and provide the desired protection level.


The Consequences of Skipping Surface Preparation


If surface preparation is skipped or done poorly, roof coatings may not adhere properly to the surface, resulting in peeling, bubbling, and other forms of damage. These issues can not only detract from the appearance of your roof but can also leave it vulnerable to water intrusion and other types of damage.


The Importance of Proper Surface Preparation


Proper surface preparation is critical to ensuring that your roof coating provides the desired protection level. This step involves thoroughly cleaning the roof surface to remove any dirt, debris, or other contaminants that may interfere with the adhesion of roof coatings.


Proper surface preparation is the foundation of solid roof coatings. By cleaning and preparing the roof surface, you can help ensure that the entire coating system will provide the desired level of protection and will last for years.


2. Moisture Contamination


Moisture contamination refers to excess moisture in the roof coating system. Unaddressed standing water or moisture can cause blisters, cracking, and ultimately failure in your roof coating installation. If your roof coating is compromised by trapped moisture, a new roof will likely be the only option available.


Sources of Moisture Contamination


Understanding the dangers of moisture contamination is crucial for ensuring the longevity and effectiveness of your roof coating.


Moisture contamination can come from various sources, such as rain, condensation, and leaks in the roof. Knowing the sources of moisture contamination is the first step in preventing it. If left unaddressed, your roof deck can rot over and lead to other issues in the future.


Preventing Moisture Contamination During Installation


To prevent moisture contamination during the installation of your roof coating, it is crucial to properly clean the surface and allow it to dry, ensure no moisture is present on your roof deck, and properly reinforce any seams and joints. It is also essential to promptly address any leaks or moisture sources in the roof.


3. Lack of Maintenance on Roof Coatings


Regular maintenance is essential to the longevity and effectiveness of flat roof coatings. This includes regularly inspecting the coating for signs of wear and tear and addressing any issues as soon as they are identified. 

Regular maintenance includes cleaning the roof and removing any debris that may have accumulated on the surface.


Signs of Needed Maintenance


Some signs that your roof coating may need maintenance include peeling or flaking, cracking, and discoloration. If you notice any of these issues, it's essential to schedule a maintenance appointment as soon as possible.


Upon inspection, your roofing contractor can assess the damage and offer a price to perform necessary repairs to keep your roof coating in good condition.


The Consequences of Neglecting Maintenance


Neglecting regular maintenance can have severe consequences for roof coatings. Over time, the coating may degrade faster than it's supposed to, allowing water and other elements to compromise the roof's surface. This can lead to leaks, mold and mildew growth, and other problems that compromise your roof's structural integrity.


4. UV Exposure: The Sun's Impact on Roof Coatings


Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can cause significant damage to your roof coating over time. UV radiation can cause the roof coating to break down, fade, and become brittle, resulting in peeling and cracking.


The Consequences of UV Exposure


The consequences of UV exposure to roof coatings can be significant, as it can weaken the material and make it more vulnerable to other types of damage, such as moisture intrusion and temperature fluctuations. In addition, a faded or damaged roof coating can detract from the appearance of your roof and reduce your home's curb appeal.


Protecting Your Roof Against UV Exposure


To protect your roof against UV exposure, it's essential to choose a roof coating that provides adequate UV protection. Consider installing a reflective roof coating, which can reflect UV radiation away from your roof and help reduce the impact of UV exposure over time.


5. Improper Application Techniques


The success of your roof coating depends on many factors, including the type of coating you choose and how it is applied onto your roof membrane.


Improper application of a roof system can result in poor adhesion, improper coverage, and interior damages that can be caused by water infilitration.


Common Roof Coating Application Mistakes

  • Forgetting to clean or prime the roof membrane

  • Not reinforcing perimeters, seams, and other weak points prior to coating

  • Using the wrong type of coating system

  • Installing a coating system when moisture when the dew point is high

  • Coating shingles with silicone or acrylic coatings

  • Installing silicone roof coating to a metal roof

  • Applying the coating too thick or too thin

  • Not allowing sufficient time for the coating to cure

  • Metal roofing should not have a silicone coating system

  • Roof coatings are made for flat roofs and should not be installed on roofs with a pitch of 4:12 or higher

In addition, make sure your roofing contractor knows to follow the product sheet from the coating manufacturers carefully and to use the appropriate tools and techniques to ensure that the coating is applied to specification.


The Benefits of Roofing Professionals


It's not recommended to install a roof coating yourself. Installing a coating system yourself can save money ONLY if done correctly. Consider hiring a professional roofing contractor to handle the job for you, a roofing contractor should be able to provide you with quality work backed by a roof warranty.


A professional roofing or waterproofing contractor will have the skills and experience to apply the coating properly and will be able to diagnose and repair any issues that may arise.


6. Poor Quality Materials: Why Using High-Quality Products Matters


Using low-quality roof coating products can have serious consequences. These products are often made with subpar materials and may not provide the desired level of protection compared to well-known coating manufacturers.

In addition, a low-quality roof coating installation is more likely to fail sooner than high-quality products, which can result in costly repairs and potentially even the need for a complete roof replacement.


Choosing High-Quality Roof Coating Products


To ensure that your roof coating provides the desired level of protection, it's vital to make sure a high quality acrylic roof coating or silicone roof coating is used. A quality coating manufacturer should be able to offer a roofing system that is designed to withstand the elements and provide long-lasting protection.


This may mean asking what coating manufacturers your roofing contractors recommend as well as doing some research online.


GAF Hydrostop as well as Gaco are coating products that are well-known in the North American roofing industry.

In Hawaii, White Lava offers silicone roof coatings as well as acrylic coating system for home and building owners.

In addition, when choosing roof coating systems, it's essential to consider factors such as the manufacturer's reputation and the product's warranty.