Responding to recent litigation and controversy about the use of field-applied, solar-reflective roof coatings on asphalt-shingle roofs, the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA) has issued an advisory on the “correct use” of “cool-roofing technologies.”
A representative of the association has also suggested to the Florida Building Commission that thorough evaluation of specific coatings—and not an outright prohibition—is the best approach to setting building-code standards on the use of field-applied coatings on asphalt-shingle roofs.
James Baker, ARMA executive director, said the association issued the advisory in part as a response to the controversy surrounding the issue in Florida. But he said the timing of the announcement also was related to seasonal considerations, as roofing and roof-coating activities are starting up or are close to gearing up for the busy season in much of the country.
The ARMA advisory reflects a similar stance taken by another roofing-industry group, the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA). The contractors group says asphalt-shingle roofs are not designed to accept or require field-applied surfacing (see Industry Group Sees Dangers in Coating of Asphalt Roofing).
The Florida Building Commission has been considering new code provisions addressing the use of coatings on asphalt-shingle roofs, and a decision on a revision in the code could be made as early as next month, said Mike Fischer, ARMA director of codes. Fischer recently appeared before a building-commission panel to convey the association’s opinion on the issue.
A prohibition on the use of field-applied coatings on asphalt-shingle roofs is among the options the commission has weighed. But sources say the commission appears headed for a “compromise” that would leave the code “silent” on the issue. In that case, the sources say, coatings manufacturers would need to demonstrate—in cooperation with asphalt-roofing makers—that application of their coating products would meet code provisions addressing resistance to wind, water and fire.
The use of field-applied coatings on asphalt-shingle roofs has generated considerable controversy in Florida, and a lawsuit filed by a group of homeowners alleges that application of coatings to their roofs was responsible for roof deterioration and leaks (see Cool-Roof Coatings Generate Some Heat for Florida Utility Co.).
Coatings manufacturers and contractors, on the other hand, say coatings can be successfully applied to asphalt-shingle roofs, where they can extend roof service life and add reflectivity that reduces heating of the roof and heat transfer into the building (see Code Changes Viewed as Blow to Roof Coatings).
Coverage of the issue in Durability + Design also generated considerable comment by readers, with a number of contractors stating that they have successfully applied coatings to asphalt-shingle roofs for many years.
ARMA’s ‘Caution’ Signal
In issuing an advisory on the application of coatings to asphalt-shingle roofs, ARMA said conventional “house or other ordinary paints should never be applied on a roof surface. Roof coatings are specifically formulated for application to certain types of roofing systems and address external climatic conditions.”
The ARMA statement went on to say that the association and its members “strongly advise caution when considering the application of any type of field-applied coating over installed asphalt shingles.”
When considering coating of installed asphalt roof shingles, ARMA said it is “critical” to:
• obtain approval from the asphalt-shingle manufacturer before proceeding with a specific roof coating, and
• check with the local building department to determine whether the particular application is allowed.
The statement also referred to an ARMA technical bulletin—Field Applied Coating of Installed Asphalt Shingles—for more specific recommendations.
Fischer, the ARMA director of codes, said the association is not urging any kind of outright prohibition on the use of field-applied coatings on asphalt-shingle roofs. He said the group believes that any modification to an installed roof product, including asphalt shingles, has to be done in accordance with documented test data showing that it can meet code requirements for fire, wind load, and water resistance.
“If the roofing manufacture and the coatings manufacturer want to work together to meet the requirements of the code, that’s appropriate,” Fischer said. “But beyond that, ARMA doesn’t believe the code gives de-facto approval of applying paint to a shingle roof without regard for wind, water and fire protection.”