Trends Driving the Future of Roof Coatings

As building owners and facility managers have begun to increasingly realize the cost benefits of roof restorations as opposed to reroofs, the demand for roof coatings has similarly expanded. According to Marketwatch, the global roof coatings market has grown to $6.7 billion in 2016 and is projected to grow to more than $13 billion by 2021.

Building owners and managers are proactively investing in their roof assets more than ever as roof coatings afford more options than the “do nothing until complete tear-off” protocol that had existed for so long. Likewise, the emphasis and demand for higher-quality, longer life-cycle coatings has never been more prevalent. Additional external factors such as the continued prominence of reflective coatings, VOC-restricting legislation, and sustainable products are also perpetually shaping the marketplace. As market trends and customer needs continue to evolve, so too must the manufacturers who supply them solutions.

Taking Life-Cycle Costs Into Account

Perhaps the single most paramount development in the coatings market has been the shift from short-term “quick fixes” to an emphasis on longer-lasting and, ultimately, more cost-effective roofing products. Life-cycle costing analyses have become an increasingly common and helpful resource for building owners and property managers. These decision-makers are realizing that restoring a roof with a high-quality coating is more cost-effective in the long-term than either reroofing or applying a lower quality coating. It is imperative to remember that the initial cost of a roof is only a portion of total cost of ownership over its lifespan, and the increased growth in the coatings market supports the trend of facility managers continuing to more proactively invest in their roof assets.

Avoiding Cheaper Coatings

While cheaper coating options may save a few dollars on the front end, the inevitable recoating requirement in the next three to five years will be exponentially more costly in time, labor, and material down the line. After accounting for the additional labor and replacement material costs, it has been proven to be a much wiser decision to invest in a superior, more durable coating on the front-end-one that will be serviceable for 10 or more years. There are many factors that are helping to shape the roof coatings market, but at the end of the day, it all comes down to long-lasting, high quality products.

Reflectivity Boosts Energy Savings

Another trend that continues to gain momentum in the coatings industry, as noted by “Increasing Demand for Roof Coatings” in Facilities Net, is the increasing popularity of reflective, primarily white, coatings. Not only have building owners and facility managers begun to fully realize that high-quality reflective coatings actually save money over their service lives due to reduced energy costs, but it is also incorporated by an increasing number of building codes and regulations, such as California’s Title 24.

These coatings, most often acrylics, polyurethanes, silicones, and PVDFs tend to not only be lower in VOCs than their bituminous-based counterparts, but also tout energy savings for building owners. Reflective coatings are often synonymous with white coatings, but can also be aluminized. Both aluminized and white reflective coatings have been proven to not only keep buildings cooler by protecting the roof from the sun’s harmful UV rays, but also aid in extending the service life of the entire building envelope. Coatings with reflective properties are also less vulnerable to drying out and cracking than coatings or roofs left with bare cap sheets or exposed asphalt. Preventing those types of premature aging is the first step toward preventing leaks. As more and more data continues to compile citing the environmental and cost benefits of reflective roofs, their popularity will only continue to ascend.

Growing VOC Regulations

In recent years, building owners and manufacturers alike have been affected by legislation restricting the allowable amount of VOCs, often referred to colloquially as solvents in commercial construction products, including coatings. Consumer Reports noted several years ago that while the true long-term health Maintenance and Facilities continued and environmental effects of VOCs in coatings have been disputed, what cannot be argued is the inevitable nationwide limiting of the allowable VOC content in residential and commercial construction products.

With VOC regulations becoming stricter, the need for lower emitting products has increased. Manufacturers are now being forced to adjust to this new market factor and will need to adapt to survive. The most successful roof coating manufacturers are beginning to formulate low VOC alternative products in conjunction with their traditional offerings to satisfy the evolving needs and preferences of their customers. However, as legislation becomes stricter, the differences between these types of products will become less and less.

Increasing Demand for Eco-Friendly Products

Working in conjunction with the two aforementioned market forces, another prominent market trend driving the roof coatings market is the newfound customer demand for sustainable, eco-friendly, or renewable products. This phenomenon has been a large driver in every major worldwide market, such as energy and technology, as well as the manufacturing sector, as explained by the International Energy Agency in “Renewables to Lead World Power Market Growth to 2020.”

It has been a recent revelation of marketers who have empirically proven that purchasers who accentuate the importance of this in their consumer behavior are more brand and product loyal than their counterparts, as noted by BBMG’s “Conscious Consumers are Changing the Rules of Marketing.” Obviously, this trend lends itself to the increase in solar panel-laden roofs, but is also beginning to impact the coatings market.

Reflective coatings are an environmentally beneficial technology that is not necessarily new to the market. Sustainable or green coatings, however, have the potential to take this to a new level by incorporating bio-based or recycled content and decreasing the complete carbon footprint of the life-cycle of the product from manufacture to disposal. Customers, now more than ever, are demanding products that are environmentally conscious, and manufacturers who cannot offer products that meet this criterion will be missing out on a lucrative and loyal demographic.

Strategic Innovation

The last remaining driver that shapes virtually all industries, and certainly roof coatings, is the market variable of strategic innovation. Strategic innovation is the creation of corporate growth strategies, new product categories, services, or businesses that “change the game” and generate significant new value for consumers and new revenue for the corporation. Successful businesses are always trying to invent “the next big thing” to revolutionize the marketplace and attain first-mover advantage. Largely attributed to the rapidly growing and evolving marketspace in which they reside, roof coating manufacturers are being incentivized more than ever to continue stressing the importance of strategic innovation to their short- and long-term success.


As the roof coatings market continues to grow, more and more manufacturers will enter the fray battling for marketspace. Informed building owners will benefit from this competition, and those who communicate regularly with local roofing professionals about these trends will find quality insight and recommendations are available for their unique needs. As for the manufacturers, the companies that succeed will be the ones who successfully track and predict current and future market shifts, thus gaining the competitive advantage. If manufacturers continue to incorporate accurately predicted consumer behavior trends with strategic innovation, the future of the industry will look brighter than ever.

About the Author
Stephen Wolf is degreed in Marketing and History from Ohio University. Stephen has specialized in the metals and building products industry for more than four years. In his current role, Stephen is a product manager for The Garland Company, and provides technical support and assistance for the sales team.