Roof Coatings Product Development
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: The Benefits and Challenges of Roof CoatingsPt. 2: Examining Roof Coatings ConcernsPt. 3: This Page
As manufacturers of roof coatings continues to expand product lines and respond to the increased emphasis on white roofs and sustainability, managers need to consider that new, untested coatings with limited track records will enter the market. New installers with limited experience also might begin installing roof coatings. Using untested or unproven products and inexperienced installers can increase the risk of installing a roof coating system that fails to meet customer expectations.
Some coating suppliers and applicators also tend to offer long-term warranties in an effort to build customer confidence and differentiate themselves from competitors. While warranties have their place, pre-qualifying manufacturers, specific products, and applicators is a more reliable means to control — and ensure the success of — the selection process. Managers also need to consider the following questions in making decisions:
- How long has the formulation been in use?
- Does the supplier make the coating, or do they have their products private-labeled?
- What is the oldest application of the formulation?
- Will the manufacturer provide mock-ups and adhesion testing to assist with system selection?
- Do nearby facilities have the proposed products in place?
- Can the manufacturer provide references who are available for interviews?
Besides the performance and sustainability benefits of roof coatings, they also offer economic benefits that managers must consider. Energy savings, reduced life-cycle costs, and, in some cases, federal, state, and local incentives might be available.
As regulations related to the roofing industry and concern for the environment continue to evolve, companies searching for sustainable roofing options can consider reflective roof coatings. When specified, installed and maintained properly, roof coatings offer an economical option to consider as part of a sound, overall roof-management program.
Tom Irvine, RRC, CDT, is a senior consultant and project manager with Benchmark Inc., a roof and pavement consulting company with headquarters in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Eric Hasselbusch is the firm's marketing director.
Roof Coatings: Focus on VOCs
One additional challenge facing the roof-coatings industry is the increasing emphasis on reduction of volatile organic compounds (VOC) in construction materials, including coatings, adhesives, primers, and sealants. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set standards limiting the amount of VOCs in products.
The intent of these regulations is to reduce the amounts of ozone-depleting compounds entering the earth's atmosphere. Although many roof coatings feature low- or no-VOC formulations, some coatings cannot be used in all areas of the country.
Some state and local governing bodies have VOC standards that surpass EPA requirements. For example, some California air-quality districts limit VOCs. The Ozone Transport Commission (OTC), which is made up of 13 northeast and mid-Atlantic states, also has developed standards for VOC limitations, and it is expected more states will adopt these or similar models in the future.
It is important for managers to research these requirements and ensure that all primers, sealants, base coats, and topcoats used within a roof coating system meet applicable VOC requirements.
As manufacturers of specific products strive to meet evolving VOC regulations, coating formulations, installation procedures, material compatibility, application requirements, and curing periods might be impacted to varying degrees. As a result of these changes, product prequalification, material selection, applicator training, and quality assurance during installation will require increased attention from managers.
— Tom Irvine and Eric Hasselbusch