The terms "silver coating" and "silver paint" describe a family of roof coatings designed to protect rooftops from the elements, especially in dry weather. These coatings are not used on traditional sloping roof tops, but on a variety of traditional flat roofs. Their names come from the highly reflective, silver-tinted surface these coatings create when applied correctly.
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Silver coating is a type of specialized paint applied to the roof. This coating exists mostly on older rooftops. In new construction it has been replaced by options such as elastomeric coatings and other plastic-based alternatives. But silver coatings still are an adaptable protectant and can be used on asphalt, concrete, and plastic roofing materials. They often are made with aluminum particles that give them reflective capabilities, which is why they sometimes are referred to as "liquid metal."
Silver coating has two primary jobs. The first is reflection: the surface of the paint is so glossy that much of the sunlight that hits the roof is reflected away, keeping it cool. This helps keep the building cool and reduces air-conditioning bills, especially in hotter climates. Second, the silver coating can be used to fill in small cracks and extend the lifespan of roof membranes, which are protective coverings made from plastic.
These coatings primarily are used in two different areas. The first area is commercial building construction, where rooftops are typically wide and flat. These rooftops, because of their size, can absorb a large amount of heat from the sun. The silver coating helps lower energy bills for the businesses. Second, silver coatings are used on mobile homes and trailers that also have flat roofs.
While silver coatings reflect heat, they are not as durable as other options. In areas with frequent temperature fluctuations, silver paint can crack and peel after only a few years.