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Why Do Metal Roof Coatings Fail

January , 2024 | 6 min. read

By Joe Martinez

sea foam green house with metal roof

Does your metal roof coating have you down? Listen, we get it, and you’re not alone. Sometimes, these coatings can fail due to a variety of reasons, usually due to improper installation. If the coating isn't applied correctly, it can lead to issues like blistering, peeling, or even early deterioration. This can be due to insufficient cleaning of the roof surface prior to application, or not applying the coating in the right weather conditions.

At RoofCrafters, operating in the Southeast means we see these coatings fail especially due to environmental factors. Exposure to harsh weather conditions, such as extreme temperatures, heavy rain, or strong winds can cause the coating to crack or peel off. Over time, these conditions can degrade the coating, reducing its effectiveness and lifespan. Especially in Florida! 

Not all coatings are created equal, and if your current application is giving you grief, you’re in the right place. In just a few short moments, you’ll learn exactly what metal roof coatings are, why they fail, and if this means they’re unreliable as a whole. Let’s get started, shall we?

What Are Metal Roof Coatings?


six types and colors of metal roofing styles

Metal roof coatings serve as protective layers applied to metal roofs, enhancing their resilience and longevity. These coatings play a vital role in preventing issues like rust, corrosion, and leaks, while also providing insulation and reflecting sunlight to maintain a cooler building environment.

Available in various types, including acrylic, silicone, and elastomeric coatings, applying a metal roof coating proves to be an effective strategy for preserving and extending the roof's life. When considering metal roof coatings, homeowners should be aware of five key factors:

Protection: These coatings add an extra layer of defense against rust, corrosion, and leaks, contributing to the prolonged lifespan of the roof.

Energy efficiency: Some coatings possess reflective properties, reducing energy consumption by reflecting sunlight and cooling the building.

Cost savings: By preventing damage and extending the roof's life, coatings lead to cost savings for homeowners by minimizing the need for repairs and replacements.

Compatibility: It is crucial to select a coating compatible with the specific type of metal roof to ensure proper adhesion and effectiveness.

Maintenance: Coatings may require periodic maintenance and reapplication over time to sustain effectiveness.

All in all, metal roof coatings offer significant benefits for diverse homeowners. They are particularly advantageous for those seeking to safeguard and prolong the life of their metal roofs. Whether aiming to prevent rust and corrosion, reduce energy consumption, or save on repair costs, metal roof coatings prove to be a valuable option. Their added durability and insulation make them ideal for homeowners prioritizing long-term roof maintenance and energy efficiency.

Why Do Metal Roof Coatings Fail?


large home with colonial red, aluminum standing seam metal roof

Metal roof coatings can fail for various reasons. Here are the 8 most common factors that contribute to the failure of metal roof coatings:

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Improper surface preparation: Inadequate surface preparation is a leading cause of coating failure. If the metal surface is not properly cleaned, degreased, and primed before applying the coating, it may not adhere well, leading to premature failure.

Moisture: Moisture trapped beneath the coating can cause it to lose adhesion and peel off. Metal roofs are prone to condensation, and if moisture is not addressed before coating, it can lead to failure.

Incompatible coating: Using a coating that is not compatible with the metal substrate can result in poor adhesion and premature failure. It's essential to choose a coating specifically designed for metal roofs.

Application errors: Incorrect application of the coating, such as applying it too thick or too thin, uneven application, or not following the manufacturer's guidelines, can lead to coating failure.

Environmental conditions: Extreme weather conditions, exposure to UV radiation, temperature fluctuations, and harsh climates can impact the longevity of metal roof coatings. High UV exposure can cause degradation over time.

Substrate movement: Metal roofs can expand and contract due to temperature changes. If the coating cannot accommodate these movements, it may crack and peel.

Low-quality coating material: The quality of the coating material itself plays a crucial role. Using low-quality or expired coatings may result in a shorter lifespan and increased susceptibility to failure.

Lack of maintenance: Neglecting regular maintenance, such as cleaning and recoating when necessary, can contribute to the deterioration of the coating over time.

To prevent coating failure, it's important to follow proper application procedures, choose high-quality coatings, and address any issues with the metal substrate before applying the coating. Regular inspections and maintenance can also help identify and address potential problems early on.

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Are Metal Roof Coatings Unreliable? 


Home in Tampa Florida with a brown metal roof

So, does this mean that metal roof coatings are unreliable? Not necessarily! Metal roof coatings, when applied correctly and under suitable conditions, can be reliable and provide several benefits. These benefits include increased durability, protection against rust and corrosion, energy efficiency, and extended roof life. However, like any roofing system or coating, reliability depends on various factors, starting with the quality of the coating itself.

High-quality coatings, designed for specific metal roof types and conditions, are more likely to perform well and have a longer lifespan. Correct application is also crucial for the success of metal roof coatings. Following manufacturer guidelines, proper surface preparation, and applying the coating at the recommended thickness are essential for ensuring reliability.

Another consideration is the local climate and environmental conditions can impact the performance of metal roof coatings. Exposure to harsh weather, UV radiation, and pollutants may affect the coating's longevity. Also, as with any roofing application, regular maintenance is key to ensuring the ongoing reliability of metal roof coatings. Inspections, cleaning, and addressing any issues promptly can help prevent deterioration and extend the coating's life.

Your roofer should also detail that the coating should be compatible with the specific metal substrate it’s applied to. Incompatibility can lead to adhesion issues and reduced reliability. So, while metal roof coatings can be reliable, it's essential to choose the right coating for the specific application and to follow proper installation and maintenance practices. If you're considering a metal roof coating, consulting with roofing professionals and following the manufacturer's recommendations will contribute to the overall reliability and performance of the coating.

Understanding Metal Roof Coating Failure


As you now know, metal roof coatings can experience failure due to a combination of factors that range from inadequate surface preparation and application errors to environmental conditions and substrate issues. The reliability of metal roof coatings hinges on the quality of the coating material, proper application procedures, and compatibility with the specific metal substrate.

Environmental factors, including exposure to harsh weather conditions and UV radiation, can contribute to degradation over time. Regular maintenance is crucial to address potential issues and ensure the longevity of the coating. Despite the potential for failure, when applied correctly and under suitable conditions, metal roof coatings can be reliable, offering benefits such as increased durability and protection against rust and corrosion.

So, understanding and addressing any complications early on with a professional roofer can help your metal roof coatings live to their full potential. If you’re experiencing issues with your current coating, be sure to hit the “Schedule an Inspection” button down below, and one of our experts will walk you through the process of how to remedy the situation. We’ve got your back!

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Joe Martinez

At RoofCrafters, our mission is to provide job opportunities for others to thrive and grow while making a meaningful impact within our communities.