What are some of the most common commercial roofing myths?
There are a lot of misconceptions and myths around commercial roofing. It's important to know what's true and what's not so you can make an informed decision when it comes time to look at maintenance and repairs! Castagra's National Training Manager, Jef McCurdy, is here to debunk the 6 most common commercial roofing myths.
Myth #1: Your roof is fine if it is not leaking.
Many roofs will not leak until they are far beyond being salvageable. No matter the size or makeup of your roof, regular inspections are recommended to catch minor problems before they become major. When inspecting your roof, don’t ignore the details. Many problems can start at flashing, penetrations, and seams. The National Roofing Contractor’s Association recommends inspecting a roof in the spring and fall.
Beyond regular inspections, annual maintenance contracts can dramatically extend the life of a roof system and usually cost less than the savings they generate.
Also, proactively coating an aging roof system before it has reached advanced deterioration can be much less expensive and help your roof exceed typical lifespan expectations.
Myth #2: Leaks will appear directly below the failure area.
Even “flat” roofs are designed with some pitch to prevent water from ponding. We’ve all heard the saying that water follows the path of least resistance. Typically, that means that it will follow gravity and can easily migrate within a roofing system. Water can enter through the top layer of the roofing system and then flow between the other layers, finally entering the interior of the building many feet away from the damage to the surface.
Myth #3: This type of roof will make your building hotter.
This myth is most commonly stated about metal roofs, but has been said for other roof types as well. It is certainly true that darker colors will absorb more solar radiation and lighter colors will reflect it. But that is only part of the consideration. The type and thickness of the insulation used under your top surface have a major impact as well. With an R-value (the capacity of a material to resist heat flow) usually over 6/inch, 1.5” ISO board can reduce heat flow by over 90%. Combined with a reflective coating, this can make for a very energy-efficient roof.
Myth #4: All commercial roofing materials are the same.
Residential roofing manufacturers have done a much better job of highlighting the differences between different shingles and their expected lifespan. With the rise of warranties being used for marketing purposes, many commercial roofing systems are warrantied for much longer than the system is expected to last. The warranty exclusions typically exempt the exact types of failures that are common as the system ages. For example, many roofing systems come in sheets that are be welded, torched, or glued at the seams. On many systems, the seams are the weak spot and are typically excluded from the warranty.
Cheaper is not better. Like many investments, you tend to get what you pay for in roofing. While initial cost differences can look significant, consider the cost over the next 20-30 years if you intend to own your building long-term. Many cheaper roofing alternatives (even ones with 20-year warranties) are unlikely to last over 10 years, while higher-end options can last 40+ years with proper maintenance.
Another consideration on cost-over-time is maintainability. For example, many roof coatings (including Castagra’s Ecodur) can be recoated with minimal preparation, making them endlessly repairable. With regular inspections and routine maintenance, these roofs can last indefinitely.
Myth #5: Gravel roofs cannot be coated.
It is certainly true that gravel roofs require extra attention and present unique challenges, but BUR with gravel can be coated successfully with the right products and processes. Not all gravel roofs will be great candidates, but the professionals at Castagra can help you determine if your roof is suitable for coating.
Myth #6: Metal roofs cannot be coated.
Similar to gravel roofs, there is much talk about coatings being a bad idea on metal roofs. There is even a popular YouTube video dedicated to the topic.
While the YouTuber certainly makes some valid points and spots instances of poor workmanship, it is important to note that coatings have been used successfully on metal roofs for decades. Regardless of the substrate, poor project preparation, product selection, and improper application are likely to cause any project to fail. Regardless of the substrate, choosing the right contractor is extremely important.
I strongly encourage you to consider looking for the most knowledgeable and experienced contractor rather than the cheapest. As the famous tattoo artist Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins astutely stated, “Good work ain’t cheap. Cheap work ain’t good.”
Written by: Jef McCurdy
National Training Manager - Castagra