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Reflective Coatings

Reflective roof coatings can provide a pleasantly indoor environment

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Reflective Coating construction roof

Reflective Coating being used to reduce energy consumption

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Reflective Coatings

Reflective coatings come in a wide variety of paints, membranes, and textures to reflect solar and ultraviolet heat. The use of reflective coating can reduce interior temperatures of a building 7 to 10 degrees and has a life expectancy of ten times that of normal paint. Using reflective coatings will reduce energy needed to cool homes, offices, and shopping centers and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Energy star reflective coatings are composed mainly from acrylic or urethane. Reflective coatings should be applied by a certified contractor because they might require special surface preparation, repair of leaks or damaged areas and proper selection of materials.

Reflective Roof Coatings

You can lower cooling costs and extend roof life by putting a light colored coating (also called cool-coating system) over an existing roof. Reflective roof coatings can provide a water tight surface as well as reflecting heat and reducing heat transfer to the inside of the building. This extends the life of HVAC systems and reduces maintenance costs.

Reflective coatings are measured in terms of their albedo. The higher the albedo of a surface, the more heat it reflects and the better its performance in reducing interior temperatures. Built-up roofing such as bitumen and tar and gravel with albedos from 0.1 to 0.20 can absorb almost 80% of the heat they received, transferring the heat to the building’s interior.

Typical coating costs can vary from $0.50 to $1.50 per square foot depending on quality of coating and roof condition. Reflective coatings are categorized by the IRS as restoration, not capital improvement, allowing deduction of its expense in one year instead of amortization over the life of the roof.

Reflective Roof Coating Benefits

The use of reflective coatings on roof surfaces is a simple solution construction professionals can specify to increase building endurance and save money for building owners. Below is a list of possible benefits:

  • Reduces interior temperature by 7-10 degrees

  • Applies toward LEED credit

  • Reduces roof surface temperature by 20 to 60 degrees

  • Increases effective ‘R’ value

  • Extends life of HVAC systems

  • Reduces energy consumption

  • Can reduce the size of original HVAC design system

  • Creates a more comfortable interior environment

  • Can help reduce the ‘urban heat island’ effect

  • Can be applied over almost any roof surface

  • Extends life of roofing systems

  • Easier installation when compare to other alternative surface materials

  • Reduces the carbon footprint of the building

  • Wide variety of colors to choose from

The reflectiveness of the coating must be measured by test methods ASTM E424-71, E903-96, C1549-04, E1918-97 or a solar spectrum reflectometer, and have a minimum reflectivity of 75%. The U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory has an online system that will assist you better when evaluating the benefits that you will get when applying reflective coatings. You can calculate reflective coating energy savings and peak demand saving by clicking here.

Reflective Roof Coating Manufacturers

There are many reflective coating manufactures, but here is a small list:

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