Silicone Roof Coating Problems

As time goes on, we’ve seen more and more roof coating solutions enter the market.  One variety of these are silicone-based roof coatings.  There is a lot of positive things said about silicone coatings, with some calling them the Cadillac of roof coatings.  Others advertisers are touting their ability to handle ponding water.  While silicone roof coatings can certainly be useful in some applications, they are not without their drawbacks.

Here are several common problems of silicone roof coatings:

silicone roof coatings

  • Lack of abrasion and tear resistance –  While it does have some advantages, silicone is not a particularly durable surface.  Not only can it get very slippery when wet, it’s also easy to tear.  Roofs that have some foot traffic on them are often not kind to a silicone coating.  However, most roofs often need to have maintenance personnel on them for various reasons.  Electricians, HVAC repairmen, and even something as simple as tracking back and forth to clean leaves out of a drain can damage a silicone roof coating.
  • A tendency to attract dirt – Silicone coated roofs can be a magnet for air-borne dust and dirt.  In more arid climates, these particles collect on the surface of a silicone coated roof and darken it.  This can decrease the energy reflective nature of the coating, making the building underneath more susceptible to excess solar heating which then increases your A/C bill. 
  • Silicone coatings are typically more expensive – Although not as expensive as a complete tear-off, silicone coatings are usually more expensive than their acrylic counterparts.  They also require solvent clean up and more specialized equipment than other types of roof coatings, such as Conklin Roof Coatings.
  • They can only be re-coated with compatible silicone –  The initial high cost of silicone roof coatings extends to the re-coating process.  The only thing that will adhere to a silicone coating is a similar silicone coating.  Although some claim this does not need to be done as often as other coating systems, once a silicone-based coating is applied, the roof system is committed to staying within those types of systems.
  • Silicone coatings are difficult to remove – Even though the adhesion characteristics of silicone normally act in its favor, they can pose a problem if the coating must be removed. It can be a very costly and labor-intensive process.

But what about the ponding water advantage?

ponding water roof
Silicone coated roofs have one notable advantage, their ability to deal with ponding water for quite a while.  Because silicone is not water-based, it can contain water for quite a long time without breaking down. This creates the temptation to use them as a “quick fix” when more in-depth work needs to be done, but this is not necessarily the best way to address roofs with ponding water.

Ponding water is a bigger problem than just a potential leak where the water accumulates.  All roofs should be positively drained within 48 hrs, and when this does not occur structural issues will likely need to be addressed in the future.  For instance, insulation materials and roof boards can sag under wet conditions.  Over time, this deterioration as a result of prolonged water exposure will make the ponding problem even more severe.

Because silicone coatings can handle the prolonged exposure to ponded water, there can be a temptation to use them as a stop-gap measure when the real issue is structural.  If the structural issues are not repaired, other long-term damage can result.  As the water continues to accumulate, the excess weight can continue to stretch the roofing material, bow the support structures, and unbalance the roof even if the water leakage is stopped.

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This added pressure can pull the roof material away from the edges of the roof encouraging new leaks to form.  If silicone coatings are used in this way, their much renowned ability to deal with ponded water becomes a liability instead of a benefit.

The variety and characteristics of roof coatings can be bewildering at times.  As a building owner, you can contact a member of the Choice Roof Contractor Group for assistance with all of your commercial roofing needs.  Not only can our network of qualified commercial roofing contractors answer any of your questions pertaining to roof coatings, they can also perform on-site surveys.  This network of local roofing contractors can personally help you determine what type of coating will suit your needs.

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Choice Roof Contractors offer many benefits:

  • Members are part of a network that pools their knowledge and expertise to provide the best solutions to their clients
  • All members use coating products that have a 40 year reputation for performance and durability, and have received warranty training on all the systems offered by the manufacturer
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For more information, please call us at (800) 670-5883 and we’ll connect you with a member.  We would love to hear from you!



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Written by: Cami Cox
Cami Cox
Cami is one of the main writers at Choice Roof Contractor Group. Leveraging her unique background in the space and more than a decade of professional writing experience, she has written countless articles on the various aspects of commercial roofs and has gained the respect of building owners and contractors across the country.