Flat roofing has come a long way in the last 20 years. While hot tar still has its place, it’s slowly becoming a dinosaur. One of the more exciting roofing alternatives is silicone. We’ve all heard of silicone, but little is broadly known about its application as a roofing system. That’s mostly because there have been few manufacturers making liquid silicone products making it very expensive. However there are several manufactures now, prices have subsequently come down. Why should you consider silicone? Here are a few reasons:
A silicone flat roof is almost always cheaper than a traditional tear off and re-roof – particularly where an ultra-reflective roof material is mandated as with most commercial, air-conditioned structures. Silicone flat roofing is pretty close to, if not the most ultra-reflective roof on earth, which can save money on the AC bill in warmer climates. Also, because of its nature, it remains ultra-reflective whereas most other reflective roofs (acrylic-elastomeric) deteriorate over time and become far less reflective.
Because of its ultra-reflectivity, many people are eligible for rebates from various energy saving entities (your electrical provider, the City, the Fed, etc – you’ll have to check as the programs come and go). Because it’s a repair, usually no permit is needed. For some entities (HOAs) a silicone flat roof can be a full tax write off in the year it’s done, whereas often re-roofs must be amortized over 39 years for full tax benefit. Since the existing roofing is not torn off there’s no major noise, dirt, dust. The roof deck does not need to be left exposed for an entire night/day/night for the city inspection so there’s less exposure and liability.
It’s important that you choose a real silicone flat roof system and have it installed by someone who is actually certified to install the given system. Do not just opt to have someone cheaply coat a dirty flat roof with a single coating of silicone. This will not be effective nor will it likely last very long and will still be a very expensive mistake (the silicone product itself is not cheap, so get it done right). Generally it involves a thorough cleaning, some repairs such as drain replacement, an entire epoxy coating and then two coatings of silicone.
Most coatings you have heard about over the last 30 years are acrylic and frankly, I have not seen them perform well as systems though if re-coated regularly, can last a long time. A good quality acrylic elastomeric coating can go a long way to restoring a roof and extending its life but will require expensive re-coatings at least every 10 years. If you view costs long term (over 15-20 years), silicone flat roof is the way to go. It is also the only roofing product that is impervious to ponding water which can be a big deal for many dead flat or ponding roofs and silicone coating have been known to last many decades.