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History of Roof Coatings

The roots of industrial coatings can be traced back thousands of years to ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. In the Middle Ages the use of bitumen as a waterproofing material became widespread in Europe. However, it would not be until the 1950’s that elastomeric roof coatings based on new polymeric technology would come into use.

Elastomeric Roof Coatings – A new technology

In the 1950’s the Dupont Company promoted the use of their new synthetic polymers, Neoprene and Hypalon, for use in elastomeric coatings for roofing applications. Our company, at the time known as Chemical Coatings and Engineering Co. Inc, was an early adopter of this concept and added roof coatings to the solutions we offer our clients.

In a dynamic world where fluctuations in temperatures cause structures and roofs to expand and contract these liquid applied elastomeric materials offered performance characteristics that were ideally suited for roofing applications. The flexibility that elastomerics brought to the table led to their use in a wide range of projects.

VOC’s and Roof Coatings – Then and Now

In 1998, the EPA published the first national VOC regulations under the Clean Air Act (CAA) for several types of products. This included the National Volatile Organic Compound Emission Standards for Architectural Coatings. Prior to this rule solvents used in coatings were basically unregulated on a national level.

A roof coating based on Hypalon synthetic rubber was typically 25% solids by volume. We supplied the Hypalon coating materials to coat the 500,000 square foot Chicago Bulk Mail Center roof back in the 1980’s. Total material requirements were 7500 gallons. The primary solvents in this coating were xylol and toluol, flammable solvents that are involved in the formation of ground-level ozone and represent a considerable health hazard. The total VOC’s for this application were over 40,000 pounds! Fast forward to today and the same project done with an elastomeric acrylic coating would release less than 1000 pounds. Quite an environmental improvement/

The paint and coatings industry has been in the forefront of efforts to reduce VOC’s for decades. The shift towards waterborne coatings systems has yielded dramatic results in reducing pollution. In the late 1970’s a new roof coating technology was introduced by Rohm & Haas Company in Philadelphia. This technology offered a flexible polymer that did not require external plasticizers and made possible the formulation of high-performance coatings that were waterborne and high solids that retain their physical properties over time. Our company was one of the first in the nation to offer coatings based on this technology.

Standards for Acrylic Roof Coatings and Systems

Acrymax acrylic coating systems are engineered to meet the highest standards. Specific coatings are available to achieve compliance with ASTM 6083, Factory Mutual 4470, and Miami Dade Acceptance, among others.

ASTM 6083 Standard Specification for Liquid-Applied Acrylic Coating Used in Roofing

This specification sets minimum standards for various coating properties including for the liquid form and the cured film. For the liquid coating the properties established include viscosity and percent solids (by volume and by weight). For the cured film the properties established include tensile strength, elongation, permeance, and water swelling.

It is important to remember that these standards set minimum requirements and improved properties are possible and, in many cases, desirable. All of our elastomeric coatings are designed to meet the needs of specific applications.

Waterborne Acrylic Roof Coating Technology

Building on the advances in technology from the 1970’s improvements have continually been made over the past 4 decades in polymers for roof applications. This includes advances in 100% acrylic technology and the more recent introduction of waterborne fluoropolymers. Specialized additives to enhance performance are also being developed and utilized.

Our line of superior quality roof coatings are engineered to offer specific performance characteristics depending on their end use. They offer exceptional performance over time as proven by the many projects that have been performing for decades. Our oldest project is now close to 40 years old and continues to provide leak free protection!

The Future

With advances in polymer technology and performance enhancing additives it is expected that performance of waterborne roof coating systems will continue to improve. We are very excited about the possibilities of fluoropolymer technology. These extremely weather resistant hybrid polymers bring a new dimension to waterborne roof coating performance. Acymax is a licensed manufacturer of coatings based on Kynar Aquatec® Fluoropolymers.

Kynar Aquatec® is a registered trademark of Arkema Inc.