Project Details

Project Name

Mainstay Inn

Project Location

Cape May, NJ

Completion Date

Mid 1990’s

Involved Parties

Acrymax Systems

HP-1

“Architecturally, no inn, anywhere, quite matches the Mainstay,” says Paul Grimes of Conde Nast Traveler. Built in 1872, the Mainstay Inn was originally a gentlemen’s gambling club and hotel. This Italianate structure has been meticulously preserved, offering guests a glimpse into a bygone era while providing modern amenities. 

Recognized for its historical significance, the innkeepers’, Tom and Susan Carroll, faced quite the challenge in maintaining the integrity of the building’s iconic tin roof in the mid 1990’s. This challenge would ultimately lead them to discover an innovative solution in the form of elastomeric coating systems. 

The Challenge

As the years passed, the original tin roof of the Mainstay Inn reached and then exceeded its lifespan. “Our tin roof was well past the 100-year life expectancy of such roofs,” says Carroll. “For 20 years we kept repairing the Inn’s roof, scraping, patching, and repainting. It just got to the point where we knew we had to do something more.” 

Despite their continuous repair efforts, the roof’s condition continued to deteriorate. Replacing the complex, multi-level tin roof was expected to be prohibitively expensive, estimated to be between $75,000 and $100,000 (1990’s dollars!!). Tom Carroll, deeply committed to historic preservation as the chairman of the New Jersey Historic Trust, was determined to find a solution that would respect the building’s architectural heritage while addressing the practical need for a long-lasting and cost-effective roof replacement.

“We take good care of this landmark building and we certainly take our work on it very seriously,” Carroll added.

The Solution 

In their search for a suitable alternative, the Carrolls attended a trade show for restoration products in Baltimore, where they encountered the Acrymax Elastomeric Roof Coatings system. Acrymax is an elastomeric, protective coating widely used in historic preservation projects, particularly for tin roofs. Initially skeptical, Tom Carroll expressed concerns about the potential damage. 

“I have to admit that I was very skeptical about trying Acrymax coating products,” Carroll said. “A lot of historic tin roofs these days get destroyed by tar and other coatings, which tend to damage the roof underneath over a period of time. Besides,” he added, “I’m a purist when it comes to historical accuracy. I didn’t want to slap just any old material onto my roof without considering what it would do to the aesthetics of the Inn.”

However, after extensive research and conversations with other local building owners, many of whom had trusted Acrymax with their own restoration projects, the Carrolls changed their minds. They found that others had successfully implemented Acrymax roof coating products and Acrymax had developed a reputation for durability and its ability to maintain the aesthetic appeal of historic structures. 

The Results

Convinced by the positive feedback and Acrymax’s proven track record in the demanding coastal environment of Cape May, the Carrolls invested $20,000 (a significant reduction from the initial $75,000 – again 1990’s dollars) in the Acrymax roof coating system. The application process was seamless, allowing the inn to remain operational without disruptions. Four years after the original install, the Acrymax roof coating products exceeded Carroll’s expectations. 

“I cannot say enough about the performance and aesthetics of this product. It’s like having an extra thick coat of quality paint on the tin roof,” he says. “And it looks so much like the original, that unless you looked very closely, you would never know it was coated at all. In my opinion, Acrymax is ideal for anyone with a preservationist approach to protecting an old roof,” Carroll concluded with a smile. “It certainly worked well for us.” 

Conclusion

Today – nearly 30 years post original installation, the Mainstay Inn continues to be a success story with Acrymax roof coating products. It is a wonderful presentation of the flexibility of elastomeric roof coatings. 

Caroll has passed the torch to a new owner – Peter Scalone – who continues to maintain the Inn with preservationist enthusiasm, and Acrymax coatings continue to be an important part of his tool box in maintaining this historic structure.

The southern tip of New Jersey presents particular challenges, from the continual use of the inn, the corrosive saltwater, the risk of hurricanes, and dramatic weather changes from season to season. Acrymax has withstood them all. As preservationists and building owners grapple with the challenges of maintaining their historic structures, the Mainstay Inn, with its new elastomeric coating, is the perfect example of balancing authenticity with practical considerations.

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