Everything You Need to Know About Commercial Roof Restorations in 2021

Good news, building owners and managers: your roof may have more life in it yet! By conducting major repairs or applying a tried-and-true liquid applied roofing system “coating” to your existing roofing system, you can prolong the life of your roof by 10, 15, or even 20 years before needing a full replacement, while keeping maintenance costs and safety hazards low.

Commercial roof restorations are one of the most economical, sustainable, and environmentally friendly options for roofs in need, and below we’ve outlined everything you need to know about their benefits, advantages, and compatible roofing systems.

How can building owners/managers save money by restoring their roofs?

The costs of commercial roofing projects almost always boil down to materials and labor. On the most basic level, roof restorations traditionally require less of each, meaning restorations are noticeably more cost-effective than roof replacements.

But beyond the cost of the service itself, restorations provide a much longer service life for your existing roof, meaning you continue to save in the long run by paying for low-cost maintenance instead of expensive ongoing repairs or replacements.

“Roof restorations” generally fall into two buckets: 1) extensive repairs on roofs in run-down but salvageable condition where major repairs can add at least a few years of additional service life, and 2) liquid-applied roof coatings.

Most restorations fall into the second bucket, where liquid-applied roof coatings are installed on existing roofing systems, and often include new manufacturer’s warranties for up to 20 years.

Is my roof a good candidate for a restoration?

Liquid applied roofing systems are only as good as the roofs they’re being applied to.

One of the biggest factors in determining whether a roof can be restored or not is whether or not there’s been an extensive documented history of water intrusion in the existing roof system.

A roof with a bad history of leaks may not be not a good candidate because saturated insulation and decking will compromise the long term effectiveness of a liquid applied roofing system. Our roofing experts will test for this by taking either infrared scans or core samples that determine the moisture level of the underlying deck.

Assuming there’s no existing moisture trapped in the roofing system, singly-ply membrane roofs like TPO, EPDM, and PVC are ideal candidates for roof coatings (so long as they’re not ballasted). Smooth and granular modified bitumen, as well as smooth BUR, can also have roof coatings applied to prolong their lives.

Generally speaking, all roof types are eligible for roof restorations, however roof coatings cannot be applied to most built-up roofs, gravel roofs, or ballasted roof systems. The composition of built-up and gravel roofs is simply incompatible with liquid-applied roof coatings. Ballasted roofs, on the other hand, aren’t secured to the deck tightly enough for manufacturers to provide warranties, making it an unsustainable option for owners.

Roof coatings are also a great option for buildings with difficult roof access, simply because it’s easier to bring up primer and coatings to a limited-access roof rather than hauling and installing full-on roof rolls.

Because applying a roof coating is essentially providing a new roof system, your existing roof still needs to be in generally good condition in order to serve as a foundation for a roof coating and sustain itself for another 10-20 years.

What are the pros and cons of a commercial roof restoration vs a commercial roof replacement?

Compared to full roof replacements, roof restorations are less invasive, more economical, more environmentally-friendly, and more sustainable.

Smaller-scoped projects like roof restorations require fewer laborers and materials, so the work is less invasive and costs are lower. By preventing a full tear-off of material that’s then trucked off to a landfill, restorations preserve existing roof materials and remain more environmentally friendly. Not to mention, in many cases a restored roof with a liquid-applied roof coating can be sustainably maintained and recoated every 10-15 years, meaning you may never have to fully replace your roof again!

So, what’s the catch? Honestly, not much. Some of the products can be quite smelly and some less reputable roofing contractors get into trouble by not performing due diligence by ensuring a lack of moisture in the existing system.

How does a roof restoration affect my warranty?

The cost of the restorations themselves will nearly always be paid out of the owner’s pocket and not covered by the warranty of their existing roof system. That said, roof coatings are installed with their own warranties that replace your existing warranties. The standard warranty length for roof coatings is 10 years, but sometimes warranties can be as long as 20 or sometimes 25 years.

What else do I need to know about roof restorations?

Unless you have a history of commercial roofing experience, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to determine for yourself if your existing roof is a good candidate for a restoration. That’s why we encourage you to schedule an inspection with one of our experts to conduct a roof walk, provide a detailed and personalized report, and decide if this is the best option for you.

Roof coatings are more than just repairs; they are the installation of a brand new waterproofing system. A full restoration includes coating all major components of the roofing system (i.e field, flashing, penetrations, drain details, etc.) so it’s easier (and more accurate) to think of these as brand new roofs.

Although roof restorations are often cheaper than replacements, they aren’t always guaranteed money-savers. If your existing roof is extremely dirty and requires extensive time to clean and prep for a liquid-applied coating, it may be more cost-effective to replace the roof.

Like everything with commercial roofing, the best outcomes are determined on a case-by-case basis, so it’s best if one of our professionals takes a careful look and prescribes the best treatment.

Are there any other major benefits of commercial roof restorations?

Because roof restorations are less invasive, they’re also significantly safer. Conducting a full tear-off and installation with hot rubberized or asphalt BUR, for example, carries a host of additional hazards compared to restoring a roof with fabric and liquid.

There also may be tax advantages to roof restorations. When you replace a roof, it’s considered a capital expenditure, or something that you can write-off over time through tax amortization. We’re obviously not a CPA firm and strongly encourage you to confirm these details with your tax advisor!

However, restorations generally fall into the same bucket as roof maintenance, which can be written-off in full within the first tax year. Again please confirm with your CPA before making a decision.

There is no one-size-fits all solution for any commercial roofing need. That’s why we encourage any and everyone to schedule a FREE roof inspection with one of our professionals so that they can diagnose and prescribe sustainable solutions that are best for you and your existing roof and building.

Assuming you have a compatible roofing system and in sustainable condition, roof restorations could be a time saver and budget preserver that extends its lifetime for years to come.


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