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As the owner of a commercial building, you may have heard that reflective roof coatings can help lower air conditioning costs by preventing absorption of the sun's rays. Applying the right type of coating can help lower the temperature of your roof and increase its durability.
So, you're sold on making your roof white. But there is more to saving money on building cooling costs than simply slapping a white coat of paint on your roof. Here's how to prepare the roof so your coating works right and lasts longer.
Choose the Right Product
Some reflective roof coatings are little more than white paint. Coatings that truly reflect the sun's rays will have a high percentage of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.
To be sure you are purchasing an effective product, look for a coating that is rated by the Cool Roof Rating Council, a non-profit organization that evaluates the performance of various types and brands of reflective roof coatings.
Start with a Clean, Maintained Roof
As with most painting projects, you can't get good adhesion if you're starting with a dirty, rusty or damaged surface.
Begin by having your roofing contractor inspect the roof for damage. Roof insulation that is wet or improperly installed could mold or at best, not help to repel heat -- which is the main reason why you're applying a new coating. There should be no large gaps or holes anywhere in the roof, and the substrate should be in reasonable condition. If you spot any problems, have them repaired first.
Next, you'll want to tighten any screws or pound down any roofing nails that are loose or sticking up.
Follow that with a high pressure wash to remove dirt and oil that are adhering to your roof. Depending on your roof's construction, it may be best to have a knowledgeable contractor perform this pressure wash, as the wrong pressure on certain types of asphalt or bitumen roofs can do damage.
Fill holes and any seams with a high-quality caulk and/or seam tape. An application of crack sealer might be necessary depending on the type of roof. Allow this to dry and harden as needed. Anything that comes up through the roof, such as a vent or skylight, should be properly sealed where it meets the roof.
If you have a metal roof, applying a primer to minimize rust is often recommended by roof coating manufacturers. Other types of roofs that may require a primer coat include concrete, gypsum and some types of asphalt. Some coatings, particularly those made of elastomeric material, may not require a primer. Read the directions carefully on the product you plan to use.
Apply Under the Right Conditions
Most roof coating products have a temperature range for application. Choose a dry day with moderate temperatures for the best results in applying the coating.
You'll also want to use the right applicators for the type of coating you have chosen. Most reflective roof coatings can be used in a sprayer designed for that purpose, or you can apply manually with heavy-duty rollers. Put on two coats unless the product instructions specifically state that one coat is enough.
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