History of Coatings

Cold-applied roof coatings and cements have been successfully used as a part of roofing system for well over 50 years, gaining both recognition and market share.

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Ancient Beginnings

The use of cold-process coatings dates back to at least the year 3000 BC, when Egyptians began using varnishes and enamels made of beeswax, gelatin and clay–and later protective coatings of pitch and balsam to waterproof their wooden boats. Around 1000 BC, the Egyptians created varnishes from gum Arabic.

Independently, the ancient Asian cultures developed the use of lacquers and varnishes and by the 2nd century BC, were being used as coverings on a variety of buildings, artwork and furnishings in China, Japan and Korea. The Early Greeks and Romans also relied on paints and varnishes, adding colors to these coatings and applying them on homes, ships, and artwork.

In addition, most of the earliest recorded dwellings in Europe, Asia and the Americas used various cold-applied mixtures of clay, soil and water, as well as stucco pastes of water, sand, and limestone or gypsum to waterproof their roofs and walls. In Babylon, the surface of mud walls was made waterproof with ìmineral pitchî brought from the river. Many of these early coating materials are still used in the coatings of today.

Historical Advances

The development of more sophisticated protective coatings appears to have begun in the latter half of the 17th century, when a German chemist found a way to use the stickiness of coal tar as a protective coating on woods and ropes. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, scientists developed a variety of new organic, inorganic and synthetic materials for use in coatings, binders and solvents. Perhaps the most dramatic advance in coating properties has come in the past 40 years, with the development of polymers.

Information on Cold-Applied Roofing Systems

During the middle of the 19th Century, a new type of roofing was created by soaking rag felt in tar (pine tar or coal tar) and layering these felts with moppings of hot tar and covering the assembly with gravel. The tar was eventually (mostly) replaced by asphalt, and the rag felt with fiberglass mat to create the modern Built-Up Roof (BUR). For the better part of a century, if a low-slope roof was called for, the hot-applied Built-Up Roof was the only choice. In the middle part of the 20th century, as roof coatings became more popular, someone discovered that cold-applied roof coatings could be used to adhere the plies of roofing felt, and the use of hot asphalt and roofing kettles could be avoided. The first cold-applied membrane roofing system was invented.

Roofing technology has evolved rapidly since then, and there are dozens of different materials that can be used to create a roof today. Cold applied roofing systems have advanced in step and are more popular today than ever.