What coating is right for my roof? (Silicone vs. Acrylic)

As a manufacturer of many high end acrylic roof coatings and a distributer of a variety of silicone roof coatings, here at Acrylux we are often in the middle of a very familiar topic of discussion - will acrylic or silicone be a better fit for my roof?

In order to address this question, we must first examine the pros and cons of each waterproof coating. A few of the performance indicators that we will begin to compare are product cost, coating sheen, ease of use, environmental safety, and ponding water resistance.

Cost

The recent emergence of silicone products to the roof coating market has come along with one predominant issue, the extremely high costs. Silicone products cost on average between 2 and 3 times the amount of their acrylic counterparts. Acrylux’s best selling acrylic Flat Roof Mastic, retails at under $130 compared to competing silicone based products starting at over $275. Considering the young nature of silicone coatings, more suppliers are beginning to enter the market. This increase in competition has begun to spur a decrease in silicone’s price, but a noticeable decrease in quality is evident in these products.

Sheen

Both products will lay down a beautiful coat the week of application, but how will each coating hold up years down the road? A major benefit of working with acrylic roof coatings is they will retain their white luster for a longer period of time than silicone. The nature of silicone products causes them to start compiling a dirty, yellow appearance after only a couple years of application. Acrylic products resilient properties allow it to hold up its reflectivity for years, keeping houses cooler and saving AC costs. The tendency for silicone products to collect dirt and grime kills reflectivity and reduces the roof’s aesthetic appeal.

Silicone coating on a flat roof next to the tile portion which was done in acrylic.  Both roofs were done at the same time.

Silicone coating on a flat roof next to the tile portion which was done in acrylic.  Both roofs were done at the same time.

Application

A major selling point for silicone roof coatings is the claim that these coatings can be applied extremely thick at a high millage, and may only require one coat. Although silicone products do provide a very high millage, this makes them noticeably more difficult to apply while also often requiring a second coat. Silicone coatings are very thick and sticky, which is quite difficult for applicators to roll out. If attempting to spray the material, it requires heavy duty equipment that many contractors may not have on hand. In addition to the difficult application conditions, silicone based products also require a solvent clean up, with a solution such as mineral spirits, that is more toxic than the water clean-up alternative. Due to silicone being moisture activated, applicators must be careful of opening expensive silicone buckets on high moisture days due to the risk of the product drying up and solidifying within the bucket. Acrylic roof coatings roll out smoothly, spray with basic sprayer equipment, require basic water clean -up, and can be saved in the bucket for 5 years of future use.

Environment

When conducting the environmentally friendly argument between these two products, acrylic coatings come out as the clear winner. The fundamental difference between these coatings is that silicone products are made up of a chemical solvent, while this solvent is replaced by water in acrylic products. Acrylic coatings have VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) levels almost 3 times lower than silicone competitors, and also have much less odor given off. Acrylux’s Roof Mastic product advertises a VOC of around 75 g/L compared to a comparable silicone coating being listed as 240 g/L.

Ponding Water

Due to their water base makeup, acrylic roof coatings have one main deficiency: withstanding ponding water. Silicone roof coatings excel in this environment. Silicone coatings will remain perfectly intact under large amounts of ponding water, and can even be applied properly being applied on a humid, moist day. Here at Acrylux, we recommend a combination of acrylic coatings for any flat roofs with proper drainage or less than 3/8 an inch of ponding water. A flat roof with any ponding water greater than this amount will require the use of acrylic coatings with fabric embedded or a silicone coating for optimal performance.

Everyone’s situation is unique and will require specialized advice to come up with the perfect coating to fit the job. After considering the properties of both acrylic and silicone products, we arrive at the conclusion that acrylic roof coatings are the far more cost efficient, long-lasting, and effective method of roof sealing. Silicone is great for addressing severe ponding water… but almost everything else about it is a potential negative.

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Acrylux Paint Manufacturing Co., Inc. was started by the original owner and founder, William C. Riedesel, in 1959.  Prior to that time, Riedesel was a roof painting contractor.  He started painting roofs in 1956, one month after he arrived in South Florida, from Rochester, New York.

At that time, almost all roofs were either not painted or painted with various combinations of cement and lime.  The idea was that lime and cement would gradually shed itself over time while taking the dirt and mildew with it.  "This material didn't work very well" says Riedesel, "because it had poor adhesion and very little resistance to mildew".

"In my search to find a better roof paint, one day, I found an article in one of the paint journals concerning a test made by one of the largest manufacturers of acrylic resin".  The test was based on using 100% acrylic paint on roofs in South Florida.  The results shown were far superior to anything being used at the time".

"Now that I had found the right paint for South Florida, I was still faced with another problem:  The few major brands of acrylic paint on the market were priced so high that the paint costs alone to do a roof was above and beyond the price normally charged to clean and paint a roof.  Consumers were not willing to spend the extra money to have their roofs done in a more efficient longer lasting way."

"This began my search for a means of reducing the cost of labor and materials so that I could give my customers a far superior job than anyone else.  So with this in mind, I began investigating all the different avenues available to me concerning the use of acrylic paint.  After exhausting every avenue, I found that I could keep the costs down by manufacturing my own acrylic paint."

"I started manufacturing paint in 1959 in a small rented area consisting of only 300 square feet behind a steel warehouse in Dania, Florida.  At first, I made paint only for myself, but eventually other painters found that I was not only making superior paint, but the results were excellent.  Not only could I save them money by offering them a reasonable price, but the paint quality was better than anything on the market."

"After three years, I needed more space, so I rented a larger facility by the airport.  Then again in approximately four years the business had outgrown itself.  This time I bought a 5,000 square foot warehouse located near Sears town, just north of Sunrise Boulevard.  Soon after I added another 1,600 square feet to this location only to find that one year later we had already outgrown the addition.  At that time in 1981 I began to look for property for a new modern paint facility".

"In 1982, I began my search for land that was suitable for manufacturing and had easy access to the major highways.  In February, 1983 I found the land that fit my current needs and also had room for growth.  The property was located near I-95 and Cypress Creek Road where we constructed a 12,000 square foot plant including offices and a showroom.  On April 9th 1984 we opened the doors of our new facility".

"Acrylux Paint manufactures not only superior acrylic roof paint, but interior and exterior wall paints, waterproof coatings for roofs and walls, paver sealer, clear roof tile sealer and many other products.  My goal as a paint manufacturer was to make sure the public received quality materials at a reasonable cost."

Acrylux continues to serve the contractor, homeowner and do-it-yourselfer with innovative products at a reasonable price.