Selecting the Right Roof Coating

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Selecting the right Roof Coating for your commercial roof!

Commercial roof coatings, like those that Conklin makes, are intended to protect and prolong the life of roof assemblies for new construction and, more often, for existing covers. Coatings guard roof membranes from ultraviolet (UV) rays and weathering, assist and enhance a system’s fire retardancy, and provide a waterproof layer to an existing roof. These covers can increase reflectivity and improve the aesthetics of the surface, reducing the building’s cooling capacity and heat island effect since the heat strain on the roof has decreased. Roof coatings also help to reduce expansion and contraction of the roof membrane, by lowering the membrane’s temperature fluctuations.

Roof coatings are denser than the traditional paint, and have a larger solids content; they are also used in greater amounts. They are made to resist weather for multiple years and are also remarkably elastic because they typically hold a level of high-quality resins that are added during manufacturing letting the material to keep its elastic properties. Once cured, the resins form a strong film, which provides an extra measure of waterproofing and allows the roof coating to bridge minor cracks and membrane seams. Perhaps the most dramatic advance in coating properties has come in the past 40 years, with the development of polymers.

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For years, building and facility managers have specified white elastomeric roof coatings such as those made by Conklin to protect their roofs. White roofing solutions grew exponentially in popularity over the last ten years, with growth propelled by the energy advantage that higher degrees of reflectivity can provide in particular environments, as well as the reduced cost, quicker installation schedule benefits for the contractors specially trained to install them.

Types of roof coatings:

The most basic types of roof coats are acrylic, asphalt, polyurethane, and silicone.


Acrylic water-based are suitable for high UV areas where a reflective roof is required. They can be colored, but most are sold in white, tan, and grey. Specialized versions are compatible with specific substrates.


Asphalt coatings are solvent-based ‘cut backs’ or emulsions; they can be either dark or aluminized. These coats are often the most useful when applied to other asphalt substrates. Able to be applied in cold and inclement weather, aluminized coatings are employed when a reflective and UV-stable asphalt surface is needed.


Polyurethane coatings are solvent-based and in most cases come in two main types: aromatic (which are less UV-stable) and aliphatic (extremely UV-stable). Urethanes have amazing mechanical properties and extreme abrasion resistance. These are best used in hail-prone areas and where the roof is exposed to the elements the most.


Surface and substrate preparation: Silicone coatings, same as acrylics, are amazing for high-UV environments where a reflective roof is needed. Silicone is used in areas where rain is an daily occurence, or if your roof is wet and experiences a large amount of ponded water.

Surface and substrate preparation:

The roof must be cleaned, and allowed to dry. This is a crucial step to make sure a good application. Dust, bitumen exudate, oil, and other loose debris have to be removed from the roof before the application. Care has to be taken when washing to not disturb the underlying roof membrane, in particulary the part where there are adhered seams. Roof coatings are never be applied to a frost, snow, and ice-covered surfaces. Additionally, with most solvent-based roof coatings, the surface must be fully dry unless the coating has been specifically made for adhesion to wet surfaces. It is best to apply coatings when there is a minimum of 24 hours before rain. Manufacturers have specific requirements for roof preparation.

Roof coats can provide a lot of benefits, from aesthetics to energy, and performance. There are a huge variety of choices for roofs, many considerations when picking and specifying roof coatings, and 13 reasons why coatings are used both on new and existing roof systems. It is crucial to understand why a roofing coating is used so it can be picked properly.

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Our Contractors here at White Roofing Systems prefer to use Acrylic Roof Coatings from Conklin! Conklin pioneered some of the first Acrylic Roof Coatings 40 years ago (1977).

Conklin Roofing Systems have been installed to over 2 billion square feet of roofing all throughout the United States since 1977. We are the first manufacturer of acrylic roof coatings in the US, which protect your investments from the elements and provide energy efficiency. Our top products have all met or exceeded the strictest possible standards for fire rating and code approvals.

White Roofing Systems

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