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22 ROOF COATINGS 2017 COATINGSPROMAG.COM Photos Courtesy of GAF By Steven Heinje, Technical Manager for GAF's Liquid Applied Systems Roof Coatings… So Many Coatings… T he coatings market for spray polyurethane foam (SPF) has long been dominated by acrylic coatings, but it was not always so. Prior to 1980, urethane and silicone coatings were frequently specified, while butyl, neoprene, and even coal tar urethane coatings were notable alternatives. In the case of SPF, also called spray foam, the coating isn't an accessory; it's a dedicated system compo- nent. All SPF roofs need to be protected with a coating or gravel layer, although they don't necessarily need to be waterproofed. Acrylic coatings came into the market in a big way with the development of formulations that stayed much whiter over an extended lifespan. W hile the term "cool roof " did not yet exist, it became obvious that a white coating could make for a longer lasting, more energy-efficient roof. e elements of heat reduction, decreased thermal cycling, and high perme- ance proved invaluable in preserving the high R-value of SPF. e undeniable success of acrylic latex paint helped support the notion that good performance could be achieved with water-borne formulations, and acrylic chemistry quickly earned a front row seat in the spray foam roofing industry by the early 1980s. Still, silicone roof coatings, and to a lesser extent urethane coatings, maintained prominence in specific regions east of the Rockies. e rise of acrylic coatings also coincided with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) oil crisis and the resulting emphasis on reducing energy consump- tion, which clearly illustrated the fact that reflective SPF roofing is especially well suited to the needs of warm weather markets. In the past 10 years, the conversation about energy has centered on the role of peak energy and urban heat islands, with benefits targeting the sustainability demands of the urban societies. SPF roofing enjoys a special position due to its light- weight, monolithic, and renewable nature; it is one of the few systems that can be applied over most roofs without triggering the two-roof limit and required roof tear-off. As a result, the overall coating marketplace has seen consistent double-digit growth for at least the past 10 years. Hidden within that growth have come significant shifts in the way coatings are specified and installed. A key aspect in their success is their ability to turn any roof into a cool roof before the end of its service life, garnering interest from government agencies and sustainability advocates alike. The Three Main Technologies e broad strokes are these: • For acrylics coatings, safety is a key virtue; • Silicones coatings perform better in wet and cold climates; • Polyurethane coatings are the toughest of the three. When properly utilized, all three work well enough to be successful in projects across North America, so the reasons to choose one over another can be subtle. To better understand the process of coatings selection, it is fitting to evaluate why acrylics have been successful, then determine when another coating such as silicone or urethane/polyurea might be a better choice. Acrylic coatings are safe, easy to use, affordable, and ultraviolet (UV)-stable. ese attributes make them especially well-suited to roofs in the desert southwest. In general, SPF and cool roofs both tend to be focused on markets with warm, dry weather. Additionally, acrylics are among the most permeable roofing materials, allowing Roof Coatings There are three main rooftop coating technologies in the market today: acrylics, silicones, and polyurethanes. Each have benefits and drawbacks, making them better for some situations rather than others. To better understand the process of coatings selec tion, it is fitting to evaluate why acr ylic s have been successful, then determine when another coating such as silicone or urethane/ polyurea might be a better choice.

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