Roof coating forensics

Identifying why a roof coating failed is a systematic process

Coatings have been around a long timeā€”even the more modern acrylic, urethane and silicone coatings have been used for more than four decades. There are coating solutions for every roof system, and their increased use means contractors, specifiers and consultants must understand how they work and why they sometimes fail.

Applications can be solely cosmetic or reflective though most coating applications use coatings as weather barriers to extend the lives of underlying membranes; some high-end coatings are combined into systems to make complete roof coverings. But when coatings fail, problems tend to fall into a few major areas linked to application.

What is forensics?

Coatings forensics is the scientific analysis of why a coating failed. It can address coatings at the end of their service lives or, what will be emphasized here, early or premature failures. From liability and reputational perspectives, early roof coating failures present the most financial risk to everyone involved in a roofing project. These can be understood and prevented. A forensic investigation begins by using science to find a problem's cause, but it ends when it provides enough information to establish a solution. It is not a research project. Its goal is not to establish blame. Rather, it is the science of finding a remedy that allows a coating to meet the project's initial requirements and expectations.