How Much Maintenance Does A Foam Coated Roof Really Need?

Some companies that provide roof coatings with a foam layer market their products as having no maintenance requirements at all. While foam coated roofs do need less care than many other types of low slope and reinforced roofing, there's still some occasional chores that are required to protect both the foam and the coatings above it. Maintain your foam coated roof properly to prevent leaks from developing for decades.

Regular Inspections

Start by checking your foam coated roof at least twice a year, preferably in the spring and fall. This allows you to catch damage from hail storms, falling branches, and birds before a leak develops. Look for exposed foam, which is often yellow, orange, or white, and changes in color to the visible coating. If your foam roof has a granular coating, make sure the material is still spread evenly over the surface and there is no exposed rubber coating.

For small roofs, it's easy enough to climb on a ladder and survey the entire surface yourself. For larger roofs with extensive square footage, you'll need to walk the roof and take an inventory. Make sure your roof has the right support system to allow you to walk over the surface without crushing the foam coating.

Long-Term Re-coating

Modern foam roof coatings are built to last, so there's no need to get up on the roof and spray sticky coating every year. Most manufacturers recommend an initial application of new rubber or acrylic coating at five years, then only advise re-coating every 20 years or so. This means you can usually miss the schedule by a year or two without ruining your roof. It's far more affordable to get the occasional re-coating than to pay for a crew to remove damaged foam and apply brand new layers over the entire roof.

You can save a lot of money by doing the re-coating yourself, but it is a complicated process. Getting a step wrong can leave you paying hundreds or thousands of dollars more to fix the problem before a leak puts your entire home at risk for structural damage. It's usually better to leave re-coating to the professionals unless you have experience or a very small roof and the right equipment.

Annual Patches

While you may not need a total re-coating every year, you do need to address any damaged areas or signs of wear you find during your inspections. Don't wait to deal with a crater or crack left by falling debris. Any sign of discoloration or chalking of exposed coatings should be checked by a professional as well to determine if the sealant is damaged and in need of a patch removal and repair. If any foam is exposed on the roof, it should be cut out and replaced rather than just patched over since moisture becomes trapped and ruins the rest of the surface.

Routine Cleaning

One other maintenance task you should practice on a yearly basis is basic cleaning. There's no need to scrub your coated roof or use chemical cleaners, but picking up debris and gently pressure washing away dirt can keep a sealed roof from degrading due to trapped moisture and the growth of moss and other plant life. Use a low pressure setting on a pressure washer so that you don't damage the coating or dent the foam underneath with excessive force. Avoid using any cleaning chemicals unless they're recommended by the manufacturer of the roof coating.

With a little annual care and re-coating every few decades, a foam coated roof can last for a generation without needing major repairs or a complete replacement.

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