What are Cold-Applied Roof Coatings and Cements?

Cold-applied coatings and cements are those that are designed to be used at ambient temperatures, requiring little, if any, heating to facilitate application. Typically, they are comprised of a resin, a carrier solvent, reinforcing fillers, and optional reflective pigments. Upon application, the carrier solvent evaporates from the coating, leaving a cured, water resistant film.

Formulation Options

Roof coatings and cements are available with a wide range of properties and consistencies to fit a multitude of purposes. Low viscosity, non-fibered coatings are formulated as penetrating primers and damp proofing coatings. Medium viscosity, fibered and non-fibered coatings and cements are formulated as interply adhesives and top coatings for use on commercial, industrial, and residential roofs. Some of these coatings incorporate pigments (aluminum, titanium dioxide and others) to reflect the damaging rays of the sun, creating a longer performing and more energy-efficient roof. High viscosity, heavy bodied cements are designed for adhering waterproofing membranes and components, and for patching and repairing leaks.

Product Advantages

The primary advantages of roof coatings and cements are their economical, proven performance life, and ease of use. Roof coatings and cements are generally one-component products that can be applied directly from the container. Today’s coating and cements are versatile and applicator friendly. Non-flammable products are also available.

Bituminous Roof Coatings and Cements

Traditional bituminous roof coatings and cements are made from “cutback” bitumen. Distillate bitumen residue is further refined to various specific physical properties through vacuum distillation or oxidization. This refined bitumen is then blended with a petroleum solvent, such as mineral spirits, to make the cutback bitumen. This blend of bituminous resin and solvent is further combined in various type mixing or dispersing vessels with special clay fillers, surfactants, fibers or fillers to create a gelled coating. Reflective aluminum pigments may also be incorporated into the mixture to formulate a coating that provides protection against the damaging effects of the sun’s rays. The proportions of each of these components ultimately determine the consistency and properties of the coating or cement.

Polymeric Roof Coatings and Cements

Coatings and cements can also be formulated with a variety of synthetic resins such as acrylic, neoprene, styrene butadiene, urethane, polyvinyl acetate and others. The enhanced performance properties achieved by using these resins include, but are not limited to: low temperature flexibility, chemical resistance and elasticity. Like bituminous coatings, polymeric coatings can be either solvent or waterborne. In addition, they can also incorporate fibers, fillers, clays and pigments to achieve the desired consistencies and properties.

Polymer Modified Roof Coatings and Cements

These coatings and cements are a hybrid of the previously discussed groups. They are manufactured by combining a portion of the polymeric technology with bitumen technology. The resultant coating or cement exhibits an economical blend of performance properties and characteristics. These coatings and cements are also available in solvent and water borne versions, with a selection of consistencies and properties.

Roof coatings, in all their various forms — bituminous [asphalt or coal-tar] and non-bituminous [acrylic or elastomeric]; brush, spray or trowel grade; petroleum solvent or water thinned; furnished in cans, pails, drums or tank wagons — are all quality products that are easy to use and economical.

Types of Cold Applied Roof Coatings

The term “cold applied roofing system” is traditionally taken to mean a built-up roofing system assembled using solvent-borne bituminous (liquid) adhesives and multiple plies of reinforcement. There are, however, several other types of roof membrane systems that do not require heating are now on the market (single-ply, spray foam, etc.) so it is necessary to be more specific. RCMA members manufacture the following specific types of cold-applied roofing.

Product Advantages

The primary advantages of roof coatings and cements are their economical, proven performance life, and ease of use. Roof coatings and cements are generally one-component products that can be applied directly from the container. Today’s coating and cements are versatile and applicator friendly. Non-flammable products are also available.

Cold-Process Built-Up Roofing System

This type of roof can now be constructed a variety of ways. The predominant technique is to use heavyweight asphalt coating fiberglass “base” sheets and adhere them with solvent-borne asphalt adhesives in multiple plies. The first sheet is usually mechanically attached to the substrate (insulation) and subsequent plies (usually three or four total) are embedded in an application of adhesive at a rate typically between 1.5 and 2.5 gallons per square (100sq. ft.) The membrane is then covered with an aggregate surface or roof coating.

Cold process built-up roofing systems now exist that use coated or uncoated polyester reinforcements, or composite (polyester/fiberglass) reinforcements, in conjunction with either solvent-borne or waterborne adhesives. The combination of reinforcement and adhesive is typically proprietary to the system provider and compatibility should be verified with the manufacturer.

Cold process built-up roofing systems are available as complete systems or as repair system for new construction or re-roofing, and they are available in a variety of constructions to meet all budgets. Roof rated by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and Factory Mutual (FM) are now available.

Adhesive Application of Modified Bitumen

Membranes Modified Bitumen roofing is similar to built-up roofing in that it employs reinforcing materials coated with bitumen. The primary difference is the use of “modification” or addition of polymers to the bitumen to achieve improved characteristics. Like built-up roofing, modified bitumen roofs were typically installed using moppings of hot asphalt. An alternate approach for some types of modified bitumen was to use a propane torch to melt the back of the sheet, creating a molten adhesive in which the roll could be embedded.

Perhaps the fastest growing segment of cold-process roofing is the application of modified bitumen roofing in bituminous cold-process adhesives. For obvious safety reasons, use of cold-applied roofing has provided an attractive alternative to the use of hot asphalt or open flame. These roofs typically have a mechanically attached base sheet, and one or two plies of modified bitumen membrane installed in bituminous adhesives.

Liquid-Applied Monolithic Membrane Systems

A third type of cold-applied roof now exists which blurs the line between roof coating and roof membrane system. That is the liquid-applied monolithic roof system. Typically made of high-tech polymeric resins such as urethanes, or bitumens which have been modified with polymers such as SEBS, these roof are applied as a liquid and may not rely on reinforcing material, but cure to form a tough, rubber-like membrane. These types of roof are monolithic (no seams) and are typically considered self-flashing.