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Silicone vs. Acrylic – A Coatings Choice Checklist

Posted: 11/10/2023
Silicone vs. Acrylic – A Coatings Choice Checklist

Coatings are the fastest-growing segment of the low-slope roofing market, and they show no sign of relinquishing that top spot any time soon. Building owners and managers are recognizing that restoring their existing roof is a smart investment in their property, extending the roof’s life, potentially enhancing the building’s energy efficiency and reducing the building’s environmental footprint.

There are two primary roof coating types – silicone and acrylic. So, which to choose? Following is a checklist highlighting their shared benefits and individual advantages.

Advantage: Tie

Roof Life Extension: Both will extend the life of a still-sound roof, restoring it to near-new condition and delaying for years (possibly decades) the day when a far more costly and disruptive replacement is necessary.

Recoatable: Both offer the potential to be recoated, further extending the life of the roof.

Energy Efficiency: Both are available in reflective white, which can help boost a building’s energy efficiency and reduce cooling costs while keeping building occupants comfortable. The coatings reflect much of the sun’s energy away from the roof, reducing temperatures on the rooftop and inside the building. And, much of the energy that is absorbed into the building is emitted back into the atmosphere. The building remains cooler, HVAC units operate more efficiently and energy costs are lowered.

Warranty: Mule-Hide Products offers No Dollar Limit system warranties of up to 20 years on its silicone and acrylic coatings.

Application: Both can be applied with rollers or sprayers. Application is easy, but for a project to be successful, the crew must follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and preparing the roof prior coating and then for applying the coating. Training also is required in how to correctly assess a roof to ensure that it is a good candidate for restoration.

Environmental Impact: Roofing materials are the third-largest contributor to landfill waste. Coating a roof delays the day when it must be replaced and disposed of.

Advantage: Silicone

Ponding Water: Silicone coatings will stand up better to periodic ponding water. They are not designed to withstand ponding water on a regular basis, though. In those cases, the underlying issues causing the problem should be identified and addressed prior to coating.

Application in Humid Climates: Silicone coatings are moisture-cure. They absorb moisture from the atmosphere to fuel the chemical reaction that turns the coating into a protective film. They will, therefore, cure much more quickly in humid environments.

Perception: Silicone coatings are generally perceived as a more premium product. If the building owner is considering selling the building in the near future, a silicone-coated roof can be a strong selling point among prospective buyers. 

Advantage: Acrylic

Recoating Versatility: Acrylic coatings and acrylic-based adhesives and sealants will not adhere to silicone coatings. A roof that was coated with an acrylic coating can be re-coated with either acrylic or silicone, but a roof that was coated with silicone can only be recoated with silicone.

Cost: Acrylic coatings typically cost less than silicone coatings.

Application in Arid Climates: Acrylic coatings cure as the moisture in the coating evaporates. They will, therefore, cure much more quickly in dry climates.

Restoring a still-sound roof by coating it can be a smart investment in the property, delivering big returns for the building owner’s bottom line, building occupants, and the environment. Learn more about Mule-Hide Products’ industry-leading silicone and acrylic coatings.

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