Can You Restore a Metal Roof?

Published February 20, 2015 by Whirlwind Team

restoring a metal roofIt's all well and good to read about how durable metal roofs are, but who cares about that when your metal roof resembles a piece of uncoated sheet metal exposed to one too many rains? Whether you've recently purchased a building that needs metal roof repairs, your own metal roof is at the end of its average 25-year lifespan or you're learning a harsh lesson about the value of purchasing high-quality metal building products the first time around, we're here to tell you that all can be restored.

Yes, You Can Restore a Metal Roof

Restoring your metal roof is an incredibly cost-efficient way to maintain it. As long as you select the right products for your application, and choose a reputable contractor to do the work for you, your metal roof restoration process will save you the cost of a new metal roof replacement, which is simultaneously conserving our planet's resources.

To begin a metal roof restoration, there are a handful of questions you'll need to ask. The type of metal roof you have, your geographic location, its exposure to the elements, your building's purpose - all are keys to the type of restoration that will work best for your product.

Before you round up contractor quotes, be armed with answers to the questions they are going to ask. These include:

  • How old is your roof?
  • How big is the roof?
  • How is the building used (agricultural, residential, commercial, etc.)
  • What is the slope of the roof ( ½"/12", 1"/12", 4"/12", etc.)
  • What problems are you experiencing? (leaks, corrosion, rust, structural issues, etc.)
  • What color or finish is the roof (silver, white, reflective...)
  • Has the roof been restored with a single-ply before?
  • Has it ever been recoated?
  • What type of roof do you have? ("R" Panel, Architectural Standing Seam, Corrugated...)

Get your free copy of our Metal Roofing Guide today »

General Process for Restoring a Metal Roof

There are a few more questions to consider before moving forward with product selections and the restoration process:

How would you categorize the environment the roof "lives" in? While moisture is one of the biggest detriments to steel and metal building products, environmental chemicals and toxins can wreak their own fair share of havoc, most specifically the chemical reactions they cause with the ingredients in your roof's coating materials that lead to corrosion. Any chemical build-up needs to be removed before the restoration commences, and this requires a general knowledge of potential contaminants so you can choose the best mode of roof clean up. Potential offenders include things like jet fuel dumped from airplanes as they approach an airport, airborne toxins, paint mist from exhaust vents, grease from restaurant vents, caustic materials from concrete manufacturing, pesticides, dirt, salt air versus inland air, etc. Consider your potential contaminants and then come up with an applicable clean-up plan.

Climate is also a factor. Metal roofs in cooler climates require a more elastic coating than those in warmer climates so seams and joints have more flexibility to expand and contract in regards to temperature changes. Buildings in warmer climates will be better served by coatings that reflect the sun's rays back into the atmosphere and keep the building more comfortable year-round.

What's the status of the roof's structural integrity? Safety is always the top priority for any building project, both for the workers and the future building occupants. Therefore, you may want to have your roof's integrity inspected by a professional. This is especially true if components have been added to the original metal roof system. You may find some of your panels or roof components need to be replaced before you can restore the rest.

Now you're ready to restore the roof.

  1. Stop the Leaks. Your first mission is to use replace compromised panels, refasten any loose panels or parts and seal any holes or loose seams using a thick-bodied sealant or acrylic mastic, or other manufacturer recommended reinforcement materials. Always adhere to products' manufacturer's instructions.
  2. Prepare the Surface. How you do this depends on the type/condition of your roof as well as the coating product you will be using. Always follow manufacturer's instructions. If your roof has rust, a rust inhibiting product should be used after the roof is prepared and before you apply the protective coating.
  3. Apply the Right Coating Product(s). Check with your local building department. You may find there is a rebate for one product over another. For example, many building departments provide rebates for white and/or reflective coatings that act as cool roof products. If you're aiming for a green building certification, you may find that water-based coatings are the way to go. They are affordable and are offered with low-voc options.

Have questions about your own metal roof restoration? Or, are you interested in buying metal roofing products that won't need restoration for decades? Contact Whirlwind Steel today. 

Metal Roofing Guide

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