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Building-Code Changes in Florida Viewed as Blow to Roof Coatings

Monday, January 10, 2011

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Building-code regulations that place limits on the field application of coatings to asphalt-shingle roofs in Miami-Dade County in Florida will expand to other parts of the state, if a proposed revision in the state building code is finalized soon.

Unfairly so, says the manufacturer of a coating that has been used for this type of application for decades.

Garth Parker, owner of Somay Products Inc., based in Miami, says his company’s high-build elastomeric coatings have been used successfully on asphalt-shingle roofs since 1974.

“No one has ever complained to us about any damage to their roof by caused by our coating,” Parker said. “To the best of our knowledge, it’s never damaged any roof.”

But Parker says building-code officials in Miami-Dade County and now the state of Florida are presenting obstacles to the legitimate use of a material that greatly increases roof service life and boosts reflectivity, which reduces cooling-energy demand in buildings.

Parker says the technology was viewed as the “gold standard” for protection of roofs in Miami-Dade County for years, until the county’s building code was rewritten in the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Andrew in the early 1990s. He says the building-code revision was ill-conceived, and caters to shingle-roofing manufacturers who fear such technologies will cut into sales for roof replacements.

Durability + Design last week reported on controversy in Florida involving the use of field-applied coatings on asphalt-shingle roofs. The news stories included coverage of a lawsuit filed by a small group of homeowners against Florida Power & Light, based on allegations that roof coatings caused damage to their roofs.

A Florida Power & Light program has helped pay for such coating applications as a way to reduce customer energy costs. See Cool-Roof Coatings Generate Some Heat for Florida Utility Company and Industry Group Sees Dangers in Coating of Asphalt Roofing.

The news coverage has generated a flurry of comments from readers, many of whom have defended the application of coatings to asphalt shingles and cited the strong performance track record of these uses.

“My position is that no one has ever, in all years we’ve been making roof coatings, shown me any engineering or scientific data that shows my product hurts any roof,” Parker told Durability + Design. “It does not. It absolutely does not.”

He added that at least two major manufacturers of asphalt roofing offer such coatings themselves, for application to these types of roofs.

Parker emphasized, however, that Somay’s roof coating is a high-performance, all-acrylic high-build water-borne product with high volume solids of greater than 50%. He said these characteristics provide waterproofing protection and durability, with the high volume solids preventing shrinkage of the coating film that could adversely affect asphalt shingles. Such shrinkage during coating cure could case “curling“ of the shingles, he said.

Conventional thin-film, low-solids water-borne coatings would not perform adequately in roof-coating applications, he said.

Adoption of Miami-Dade Code Provision
Statewide Will Broaden Impact on Coatings

Michael Goolsby, director of the Board and Code Administration Division of the Miami-Dade County Building and Neighborhood Compliance Department, said the building code in Miami-Dade and Broward counties requires product approval for every component of a roof assembly. No approvals have been granted for elastomeric or maintenance coatings on asphalt-shingle roofs due to a section of the code that prohibits elastomeric or spray polyurethane foam (SPF) coatings from being applied to this type of roof, he said.

Goolsby said this code provision is based on several factors, with hurricane-force wind resistance being the primary consideration. Application of a coating alters the roof from being a “discontinuous” to a “continuous” surface, and the effect of this on wind resistance is seen as potentially contributing to the danger of roof blow-off, he said.

Goolsby noted that the building code does provide for field-applied coatings to many other roof types, including SPF, single-ply, built-up, and asphalt non-shingle roofs.

“Coatings are great products, and are wonderful in providing UV protection and reflectivity, and everybody’s conscious of the value of cool roofs,” Goolsby said. “It’s just that when it comes to asphalt shingles, we come to these challenges that are code-related.”

Goolsby said these same building-code provisions on application of coatings to asphalt shingle roofs in effect in Miami-Dade and Broward counties are proposed to go into effect statewide at the end of this year. A hearing on the proposed state building code, as modified, is scheduled for Feb. 1, he said.


Tagged categories: Building codes; Reflective roof coatings; Roof coatings; Somay Products

Comment from Karl Kardel, (1/11/2011, 11:21 AM)

Oh boy, Goolsby joins a long standing error mongering elite on building component. In California a building official using bath math determined copper gutters poisen the landscape,and many cities took this (along with green washing architects)as gospel and banned copper. It turned out the erosion rates were over scaled by a thousand times. Shingles are 'seal tab' that is they become somewhat monolithic after installation. Blow off occurs if wind gets under shingles. It would seem then that coating will help keep the lips from lifting. If they lift, they will blow off. Maybe they should just ban shingles. Karl Kardel Karl Kardel Consultancy Problem Buildings Solutions Since 1959

Comment from David Lawson, (1/11/2011, 3:26 PM)

This is a pretty feeble attempt by Goolsby to defend the roofing manufacturers industry. How short sighted can one be? Does this man really think people are so gullible? Goolsby appears to conveniently forget the method in which asphalt shingles are attached to the roof. They are attached by nails or staples! Have you ever taken an old asphalt roof off? You have to pry them off in some cases with considerable effort with a spade or pitch fork. They don't come off individually either. The shingles overlap and the nails or staples go through the shingle you are attaching and the ones you are overlapping then into the plywood deck. This plus the seal tabs pretty much makes a monolithic covering. It's designed to NOT blow off and designed to be monolithic so it doesn't LEAK!

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