The Importance of Professional Roof Caulking

Many of us are closely acquainted with this occurrence. Maybe too acquainted. I am talking about wetness. This is a condition which appears under a plethora of circumstances, and it has many and varied outcomes: from a small and nearly-invisible wet spot to a thoroughly soaked ceiling crashing suddenly into your living room in the middle of the day. I am not exaggerating since I have seen it happen with my own eyes.

Wetness, in all its forms, will almost always involve headaches, heartaches, and emotional and financial damages.

In minor cases, it’s a petty nuisance, which can be solved in a quick and easy manner. With more complex cases – especially ones which last for years – dampness can become a real health concern and financial liability.

The best solution to such issues is professional caulking. In this article, we will look at the different types of caulking designed for roofs, and try to evaluate them.

What is Caulking?

Caulking

We see so many advertisements for different caulking companies – on the radio, on the television, online, and on buses – and they all convey the same idea: the best caulking for the best price. Is this actually the case? Well, not necessarily. This is an industry which makes a lot of money, but in all honesty, some materials and companies are better than others. Furthermore, caulking which suits a structure or roof of one kind, may not be suitable for another type of roof or structure, so everything goes on a case-by-case basis. The guiding question of roof caulking should be: “what is the best material, which will also last the longest?”. Unfortunately, some clients and companies are guided by the question: “what is the cheapest caulking material that will get the job done now?” The difference between these two questions is clear.

The Hebrew term for caulking – “itum” (איטום) – was coined by the journalist and linguist Reuben Alcalay towards the end of the 20th century. The term means insulating certain parts of a structure – or an entire structure – so that water and other liquids will not be able to penetrate it. In order for caulking to last a long time – and to clarify, this is the goal of professional caulking – it needs to be done properly, and by trained professionals, certified in using the right kind of materials.

Where roof caulking is concerned, this has special ramifications. When there is wetness between rooms, it is a local and much less volatile situation, and it is usually up to the owner of those rooms to fix it. When there is wetness coming through the roof of a structure, however, it could potentially put the entire structure at risk. This has serious consequences – legal, physical, and others – which affect any and all tenants as a collective.

So, what are the most widely-used materials in roof caulking?

Common Roof Caulking Materials

Roof Caulking Materials

There are several materials which are suitable for roof caulking. An iron-cast law of roof caulking is: use materials of the same type when laying down the different coatings. This will prevent disconnections of those layers of coating and will guarantee the materials’ long-lasting sealing abilities. If there are layers of older caulking, it is best to peel them off before laying new caulking. Alternatively, you can choose to use materials from the same type which is already there.

Let’s go over the various materials which can be used. Keep in mind that no article can really replace the words spoken by a trained and certified professional. The one who can provide you with the best advice on caulking your roof is the person who is out there, on location.

On the other hand, there are those who do a cheap, quick – yet ultimately inefficient – job, which could cause trouble down the road. Using judgment and making an informed decision regarding professionals, is what will guarantee the durability and integrity of the job at hand.

Bitumen roof sheets

This is the most common method for caulking flat or tiled roofs. These sheets are tough yet flexible, and they are highly durable and resilient. When the job is done right and is soldered to the construct’s infrastructure, this creates a perfect insulation and a quality caulk, which will last a long time.

Tar

This is one of the older methods on this list, yet it continues to prove itself. There is nothing inherently wrong with using hat tar to caulk a roof when it is carried out by professionals. Tar is a comparatively cheap material, but that should not be taken in a negative way. Some use hot tar as the foundation of the bitumen sheets, but in any case, the tar must be treated with another substance which will act as a protective layer between the tar and the sun’s harmful radiation.

Acrylic and polymer

These materials are relatively new, and they are becoming more popular. They have one glaring drawback, which is the need for a slant. Because these materials are water-based, it is necessary for the roof to be slanted in a way which will keep water from pooling. If there is water which is not moving, it could crack the caulk and seep through. Acrylic materials grasp on tight to concrete foundations but make sure to take into account the fact that if at any point there will be a need for extra caulking or re-caulking, it would have to also be done with materials from the acrylic family. This needs to be done specifically in this way because bitumen sheets cannot function properly when placed over acrylic substances.

Pastes (polyurethane)

The 21st century has brought with it a host of innovations and inventions, and these have not passed over the roof-caulking industry. Polyurethane materials exist in two forms: water-based and thinner-based. We will take a quick look at both of them.

Water-based pastes are suitable for exposed roofs, but this also requires a slant, just like the acrylic ones.

Thinner-based pastes are suitable for areas where there is constant wetness or moisture (such as a flat or semi-slanted roof).

Both of these types of materials also have their shortcomings, and their most obvious drawback is that over time, polyurethane materials could disintegrate or lose their shade due to the sun’s radiation.

On exposed roofs, though, you can place a suitable layer of some kind on the top, and prevent this from happening. Again, a trained and certified professional will be able to provide more solid advice on the matter.

PVC and hard plastics

PVC sheets have a few serious advantages: they are strong and have an impressively long lifespan, more so than any other solution previously discussed, and they can also be added to any existing foundation. On the other hand, these sheets are not soldered on, but simply laid down. They are affixed to the foundation only in certain locations, and not throughout.

There is no need to lay down a whitening layer since PVC sheets are white or relatively-light as it is.

Working with PVC sheets requires an experienced hand, and not every caulking company deals with these substances. Furthermore, PVC is a substance which tends to become warped after some time, so bear that in mind and use caution.

Conclusion

When we are about to renovate, repair, or caulk the roof of a building which is still being constructed, we need to take into account all that has already been done to the construction: the foundation, the insulating materials which have been used so far, and the various angles of the roof in question.

Remember – and this is true to any renovation or repair – that using cheap labor now could end up costing you later. In most cases, it is best to invest more thought, time, and money now, rather than pay a lot more some years later. The ideal would be to lay down the layers directly on the foundation, but if there is already some kind of caulking there, make sure to use the same type of method.

Contractors which specialize in specific types of caulking will usually recommend the solution which is most convenient for them, and this is something which needs to be taken into account when you are dealing with different professionals. The best thing would be to consult with a certified engineer, but if that kind of consultation is not in your budget, make sure to discuss the matter with several contractors before deciding on a caulking method.

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