Restore Rather Than Re-roof: Fluid-applied restoration makes sense and saves dollars
Building owners and facility managers must balance short-term budget realities with the need to maintain properties for the long term. Advancements in fluid-applied roofing membranes can help reduce capital costs by restoring rather than replacing roofs.
Roof condition, age, material type, and climate zone can influence whether a commercial roof can be restored or whether it should be completely removed and replaced—the latter of which is a costly and disruptive solution. Operational realities also can influence the decision about whether to re-roof or restore the existing roof. Re-roofing typically shuts down, or at least severely interrupts, productivity.
Another growing concern in the roofing industry is the amount of waste generated by the re-roofing process. Fluid-applied roof restoration solutions significantly reduces waste materials headed to landfills. Additionally, new lighter-colored roof materials reflect the sun’s radiation instead of absorbing it—this helps lower roof temperatures and reduce a building’s energy load.
According to the Roof Coatings Manufacturers Association’s (RCMA’s) Solar Reflective Coatings Council, white roof coatings can provide three key attributes to a building when installed:
- assistance in shedding water and keeping interiors dry;
- reduction of cooling costs for buildings with air-conditioning units, as well as reduction of interior temperatures in buildings with no cooling units; and
- ability to protect and prolong the roof system’s life cycle by reducing the stress of thermal shock associated with large changes in temperature.
White coatings can help protect a roof against excessive temperatures by reflecting visible light and stopping ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Expansion and contraction of roofing materials, especially with metal roofs, can lead to additional problems and ultimately result in leaks. Applying a light-colored coating to a low-slope roof can help reflect sunlight and reduce temperatures on the surface of the roof. These lower temperatures should extend roof life, according to the RCMA findings.
Reasons to restore
The decision to restore or re-roof ultimately depends on how much useful life remains in the existing materials. Shortened roof life occurs as a result of thermal failure caused by high roof temperatures. Mitigating those roof temperatures can help prevent the need for re-roofing by maximizing the useful life of the materials.
Restoration costs less
A complete roof replacement can be expensive in labor and materials, particularly if the existing roof must be removed first. Depending on the roofing system selected, costs average between $18 and $22/sf. Restoration, on the other hand, requires less labor and materials, and thus costs about $6 to $9/sf.
Restoration extends your roof’s life
Commercial roofs typically last about 20 years—restoration can add 10 to 15 years of life. This means deferring complete replacement can give building owners more time to make plans for the expenditure in the capital budget.
Restoration is more sustainable
Millions of tons of roofing waste end up in landfills annually. Restoration is a much more environmentally responsible option because it allows the existing roof to be reused. Further, it can make the building more energy-efficient, potentially helping it qualify for credits under the ENERGY STAR or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) programs.
Restoration provides tax benefits
Roof restoration is classified as a ‘maintenance expenditure,’ while replacement is considered a ‘capital expense.’ In most cases, an owner pays less tax on maintenance by taking the current deduction versus capitalizing the expense and recovering the cost through depreciation. According to federal rules, commercial roofs are depreciated on a 39-year schedule. Since roofs have an average life of 20 years, it is wise to extend the system’s useful life as long as possible.
Restoration helps prevent catastrophic loss
Ignoring the roof’s deterioration does not make the problem go away—it can only get worse. The more time passes, the greater the potential damage and the more it costs to restore it. At some point, the only option will be total replacement. Continued neglect can put a business, its employees, and its tenants at risk.
The best starting point in determining whether your roof can be restored is a simple visual inspection. Things to look for include:
- pools of standing water;
- tears or bubbles in the roof cover;
- wet insulation;
- cracking seams; and
- gaps in flashing.
These issues can accelerate the deterioration of the roof cover and lead to leaks, mold growth, and failure during a windstorm. Problems can also be detected from inside the building—water stains, mold growth, and unusual odors are indicators of possible roofing issues.
If any of these issues are present, it is a good idea to bring in a professional who can conduct a thorough inspection. This inspection should include use of equipment to locate moisture beneath the surface, a core analysis of underlying materials, and an examination of the roof’s slope. It should be followed with a report on the roof’s condition and recommended solutions, including a cost/benefit analysis of restoration versus replacement. If damage is minimal, or confined to a small area, restoration is likely the best option. Replacement is usually required if damage is extensive or the roof is nearing the end of its lifespan.
Tropical Roofing Products
Tropical Roofing Products is a national manufacturer of a full range of innovative solutions and system technologies that effectively seal, waterproof, and maintain the roof for the life of the building. It has been providing innovative fluid-applied roofing solutions for more than 60 years.
Tropical Roofing Products’ Division 07 56 00 content is now featured on ARCAT. Tropical offers fluid-applied roof restoration coatings and systems for every substrate, allowing building owners and facility managers to avoid costly, time-consuming, and disruptive roof tear-offs, and to realize their goal of achieving long-term roof performance and the lowest roof life cycle cost.
All information listed in this section was submitted by Tropical Roofing.
Kenilworth Media Inc. cannot assume responsibility for errors of relevance,
fact or omission. The publisher does not endorse any products featured in this article.