It goes without saying that your roof is one of the most important, in fact maybe THE most important thing on your house so if your roof has problems, do you call a qualified roofer, or a wall coating company who offer roof coatings in their range?
We are always looking for new products to offer our client base and a few years ago we heard about roof coatings from one of our suppliers.
A couple of our contractors had also installed one of these coatings but we needed to look into it in greater detail before we were decided whether it was a good idea or not.
We are taking of course about coatings for pitched roofs and not flat roof coatings.
It goes without saying that If you don’t keep your roof in good condition, it is going to fail.
When faced with a bill for £20,000 for a new roof, and possible weeks or months of disruption, and then a flyer comes through the door promising a renovated roof for a couple of grand, you can imagine if money is tight it sounds tempting, but are they really something that would prolong the life of the roof or just a big scam?
Roof coating scams and how to avoid being duped
The media seems to think so, and pretend builder “Jeff Howells” from the Telegraph, who I admit I am NOT a big fan of (!) and the only “builder” who is a member of the National union of journalists (!) did actually offer some advice that I agreed with for once. (18th May 2010)
He noted that companies are telling people there are government grants for these weatherproof roof coatings, but of course it’s a scam and this is NOT the case at all.
The green deal scheme does NOT offer roof coatings.
If you reply to one of the glossy adverts that may drop through your letterbox, you will be visited by a high pressure salesman, who will run through the supposed benefits then give you a price, usually very expensive, but wait, hey ho, if you agree today, you get 50% off! DON’T BELIEVE IT, IT’S A CON.
What do trade professionals think about roof coatings?
A bit of research online found a very honest trade opinion from someone called johnjamesroofing.com who tells his story about taking on cheap roof coatings in his line of work, and the results which were far from satisfactory.
I would advise you to read his site, it’s very good and a real honest opinion, with photo evidence included, that some cheap roof coatings are in the main, unnecessary and if lower quality coatings are used, they often do not last the timespan specified, lasting at best about 5 years, by which time the company has gone bust, along with your warranty.
The better quality roof coatings, like the one in the photo below, have on average a 10 year lifespan, but we do NOT promise they will lower heating bills, and they are certainly NOT available under the Green deal scheme.
UPDATED JULY 2018, THE GREEN DEAL SCHEME ENDED SOME TIME AGO.
Do roof coatings insulate and lower heating bills?
The best and cheapest way to do this is to have loft insulation fitted, which in some areas can be done FREE via a grant from the government.
What if your roof actually does seem in bad condition?
Well, a typical roof will last at least 70 years, so if you live in a 1970’s bungalow, it’s unlikely that some moss on the tiles means the roof will come crashing down at any minute.
A typical easy to fix problem like a slipped tile or slate letting in water instead of repelling it into the gutters, is to get a roofer to fix it, but if left unfixed, it allows rainwater to seep into the roof space, potentially rotting timbers, roof joists and so on.
A reputable company will advise you if your roof needs genuine repair, and they will also tell you if your roof is unsuitable for a coloured coating.
This also means if a roof problem is not attended to, and you get a lot of rain, it can collect at the base of the roof joists in the loft and ruin your ceilings underneath, causing damp, and a very big bill from the local builder!
Roof cleaning and restoration
Whatever you do to your roof, and let’s face it, you DO take it for granted, you must keep it in good condition, however if you can take a look up at it, then what sort of condition is it in?
Can you see anything missing or broken? Is the roof covered in moss?
Of course don’t get up on a ladder if at all possible, ask a professional to take a look or it may be possible to view your roof from a neighbours house?
What does the roofing profession say about cheap roof coatings?
The NFRC (National Federation of Roofing Contractors) released a statement about removing roof moss and applying roof paints and roof coatings.
They said that .
Most ‘techniques’ that we have come across to remove moss, are often achieved by ‘violent’ means such as power-washing, which may cause damage to the roof, especially when combined with unnecessary foot traffic often leading to cracked or broken roof tiles.
The statement also questions claims about “thermal” roof coatings:
The removal of the moss is often followed up by painting the roof tiles.
There are claims that this can increase the thermal efficiency of roofs as well as extending the life of the roof tiles, but unless the products carry credible UK based, third party accreditation [such as a BBA certificate or PRA approval] we would urge members of the public to view any claims with extreme caution.
In fact aggressive pressure washing roof tiles by untrained operatives can flood the loft space, saturate roof joists and instigate rot inside the roof making more problems than were there before.
Moss removal from the roof is a good idea if DONE CORRECTLY AND SYMPATHETICALLY even for the sake of appearance or more importantly, to make sure the moss does not build up and start to block pipes and gutters, which can cause other problems.
So are ALL roof coatings a scam?
No, not at all.
Roof coatings DO have their uses in some occasions and a scruffy looking roof can be made to LOOK very nice, for a few years at least, but beware because poor quality roof coatings will NOT prolong the roofs life, will NOT insulate your home, they are NOT “Green” and there are no government grants available for roof coatings.
If you are approached by a company making these false promises you should contact trading standards in the first instance.
So what are GOOD roof coatings?
Despite some of the evidence above there ARE some good roof coating products available that can enhance the appearance of a tired roof but it is important that the RIGHT product is used by your contractor, one with a proven track record and assessed independently by someone like the PAINT RESEARCH ASSOCIATION to validate any claims of longevity promised by the manufacturer.
It is also important that the coating is installed in the correct manner by people like ourselves who have done the work before with success and know what they are doing.
What roof coatings have we used personally?
We used Andura roofgard on one project, which has been independently tested and approved by the paint research association, and whenever we get asked to provide a roof coating, we only use experienced roofing contractors to install the system.
Andura state that…
“[The PRA agreed that] ….Roofgard is exceptionally durable and will perform well, with good colour stability for more than 10 years.”. Source: andura.com/Roofgard.html
They go on to state that the Andura Roofgard product is
- Highly Durable
- Weatherproof and breathable
- Colour Fast
- Acid Rain and pollution Resistant
- Alkali Resistant
- Resists Moss and Lichen Growth
Which is why we used their system whenever a client wants to have a change of appearance on the roof.
You can see it really finished the whole job off and made the paint work on the external walls really stand out. We carry out any repairs that are needed to the roof, such as missing tiles, lead flashing or chimney repairs, before we apply the coating and great care is taken to sympathetically repair and restore the roof.
It is possible in some cases to waterproof your chimney at the same, using our Clear wall coating system, however this does often entail the hiring of a chimney scaffold for safety, which of course we have to add to the overall cost, but please speak to us if any of this interests you at all.
In summary a roof coating will NOT save energy, you need loft insulation for that, and it will not really prolong the life of the roof for much longer than 10 years, unless we are tasked by you to carry out roof repairs at the same time, which we are happy to quote you on.
A roof coating however can be a good way to have a professional inspection, repair and clean of your roof, with the added benefit of it being made to look great and its available in many colours too!