The Best Roof Coatings


To determine what makes a roof coating material good, consider three qualities. First, how long the material will last before it has to be replaced; note that the warranty terms give some indication as to the anticipated durability of the material. Second, how appropriate it is for the architectural style of the building and roof pitch. Finally, how much it costs to purchase and install. Pick the roof treatment that works for roof pitch and combines the best in longevity, cost, and style; these 2010 calculations assume pre-existing roofing does not need to be removed.

Vinyl or Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Roofs

  • Known as PVC membrane roofing, this roof coating system is reflective and reduces heat transfer to the building interior. It is considered by the Consumer Energy Center to be a "cool roof"; tax credits are often available for installation of energy efficient roofing systems. Hot-air welded PVC panels work on flat to low-pitch rooflines for most architectural styles, and are anticipated to last 30-plus years. Plan to spend $7,000 to $8,000 for materials and installation for a 1,000-square-foot roof.

Rubber/Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM) Roofs

  • This rubber roofing also qualifies as a cool roof and lends itself to "green" or garden roofing, which gives even more tax relief for roofing systems. With a number of installation configurations, it works on flat to steep-pitch roofs. It is not particularly aesthetically pleasing so is most often used in commercial construction or flat to low-pitch domestic roofs. For 1,000 feet of roofing, anticipate an expense of $6,000 to $7,000 fully installed.

Thermoplastic (Olefin) Roofs

  • This sheet material is also heat welded and can be readily resealed if the weld separates. It is reflective so is eligible for energy credits. Like PVC roofing, it should last 30-plus years and is best suited to flat and low-pitch roofs. Like EPDM, it is not particularly attractive. Expect to spend $6,000 to $7,000 for 1,000 square feet installed.

Tar and Gravel Roofs

  • Tar and gravel can be reflective to a certain degree if the gravel is light and none of the black shows through. These roofs are heavy so need good support and only work on flat or low pitches. They typically last 50 years or more and will cost $6,000 to $7,000 per 1,000 square feet with installation.

Asphalt Shingle Roofs

  • Well suited for low to steep-slope roofs, this material comes in many colors; the lighter colors are more energy efficient. These roofing systems come in two categories: 30-year shingles and 50-year shingles. Expect to pay $2,500 to $3,000 for 30-year and $3,000 to $3,500 for 50-year for a 1,000-square-foot project installed.

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