Home inspection findings by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck, Professional Real Estate Inspector TREC# 9073

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Applying an Elastomeric Coating to a Roof

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Liquid roof coatings are becoming easier to find, and elastomeric coatings may be a wave of the future.

I often hear liquid roof coatings as roof paint. I am not using that term when I speak of my own efforts. I have discovered that certain neighbors of the Civic Cub are not happy with my choice of new roof covering. The options for a homeowner going to local stores are few, mainly aluminum and white. Other colors are available if you order the coatings through the net. My problems began when I chose white. I applied the elastomeric coating to my rear roof first. I wanted my wife’s approval before  going onto other sides. You have to understand that my wife is quite critical, so I felt that if she disapproved, I would have an indicator of other’s sentiment. My wife thought that the look was fine.
    Why go with the white roof color? Sure, I could have ordered a different color which would have achieved my goal: improving energy efficiency, but this would have been a lot of material to ship. I wanted to buy quickly as I worked my way around, and as I obtained payment from my inspections. The white material is being billed as energy efficient since it reflects the sun’s rays, keeping the attic cooler. Most neighbors who talked to me did not have a problem with the color or the material. Anything that makes the roof last longer and which may reduce utility bills is fine to them. One neighbor expressed reservations. I did not see the white color as strange, and I knew of a few other roofs in the area with white toned roofs; however, I knew that my roof would be more obvious.
    I knew that I would have a problem with a white roof one Sunday evening. My family came home from a birthday party when a group of women came to look at the side of my house. The side where the coating was beginning to be applied. One person of this party has frequently been past my home without a word. We greeted them, but they shunned us. The next day I had a visit from a representative from the Civic Club who tried to intimidate me. I continued on with applying the coating. That led to a nasty note being posted on my garage door. The roof is entirely covered at this time, but I do have to apply more material in spots. It has been raining, so completion is on hold.

My experience with applying the elastomeric coating

    People call the material paint, because it is liquid like paint.  The elastomeric coating is thicker than paint. I tried using my paint sprayer. It became quickly clogged. If I was going to use a spraying system, I should have rented a better one from the builder’s supply tool renting section. I decided upon a roller, since I was doing a section of roof at a time. Again, thinking paint did not help me. I used a tray to load my roller, which was a waste of time. I started pouring a line of coating to apply it. I found that pushing the liquid roof material across the shingles was the best method. Pushing is the correct term. The coating was forced into the nooks of the shingle,and it seemed to soak into the shingle. Once I found that pouring and pushing worked to obtain an even coating, the work went faster.
    I did pull out a paint brush to do touch up work. The brush also helped with the edges. The coating needs to go on thick, and that is a bit hard with a brush.I mentioned that I did coat the entire roof, but the job was not done. If I did not apply the material to thinly, I did not need a second coat. There were sections that I tried to stretch the material out, so you can see an obvious difference. The color listing on the tub said “brilliant white”. This is a bit misleading. When you hear brilliant, you may think gloss finish. Think flat finish. If the coating is not thick, the old roof color will show through.

The benefits of a white liquid roof coating

The big claim is that a white roof will reduce your electricity bill. I do not have enough data from my own project, but this is fairly well established. The days have been getting hotter, and my cooling system has not been working harder, so maybe the coating is already working. I have been working in the attic, which feels the same to me. I should really be more scientific by taking temperature measurements. Next sunny day will find me taking the temperature. I have been taking several steps to reduce my energy usage, so I really want to see what happens through the summer.
   Not mentioned as often, but elastomeric roof coatings do have other benefits. These coatings prolong the life of your existing roof covering. I did not have any leaks in my composite shingles, but they were nearing the end of their typical lifespan. The coating is said to last seven years. I find those numbers to be average life. Last year I did have three holes which appeared to be drilled into my roof. I am not sure how these holes occurred. I did seal them. Since many elastomeric coatings have a silicone or similar base, the coating seals the roof preventing leaks. Looking at how the material went on, I think that these holes would have been filled when I applied the liquid roof. There are liquid roof  materials which insulate. The product I used did not make such a claim. I could imagine  that it might have minimal insulating properties, but not enough for this to be mentioned for the advertising.

I did not go after a white roof to offend my neighbors. I thought that since I had my wife’s approval that others would not mind. As for the Civic Club, the woman who lead the group has never been very friendly to my family, so I should not expect anything different now. The Civic Club representative has been known for harassing neighbors with his rude, aggressive behavior. Other neighbors do not seem to mind. I think that maybe a white roof is a shock at first, since it is so different. White roofs are common in other parts of the world. Maybe familiarity would begin to change the minds of skeptics. I will see.

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© Frank Schulte-Ladbeck Professional Home Inspector Houston, Texas
Frank Theodor Schulte-Ladbeck
home inspector, TREC# 9073
Houston , Texas , 77063 United States

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