Top 7 Problems When Installing Sealants

Roof Sealant
An unprotected roof that needs sealant installed means that someone could run into issues as quickly as it takes the weather to change.  Homeowners must invest in sealing their roofs to keep water out of their homes and away from their precious belongings, and it’s always a good sign when they call you for help. But it’s equally as essential that you find a way to install the sealant safely and correctly to do an adequate job and retain your reputation.  Roofing professionals face some common pitfalls when installing roofing sealants. We’re here to guide you through them so you can help your homeowners weather any weather with complete confidence!

1. Not Doing a Roof Inspection Before the Installation

Most professionals know that performing a thorough roof investigation is a priority. But its importance needs to be underscored: a roof that’s checked for any signs of stress or debris is the only proper canvass for sealant installation.  If the client you’re working with hasn’t scheduled a separate inspection or assessment for other possible issues, relay the importance of having this done at least once a year. It’s not only about doing a good job; it’s about doing a complete job. If you don’t find a way to get the complete picture before starting the sealant installation, you may find yourself running into trouble around the halfway point. And it’s essential to note all of the areas that need attention and sealing so that you don’t miss any gaps or cracks.

2. Using the Wrong Sealant for the Job

Not all sealants are created equal. Even if you’re familiar with the varieties of sealants, you should also recognize that some are more suitable for certain materials than others. If you’re installing sealant on a metal roof, you would want to avoid sealants like polyurethane or silicone as they can develop a skin as they cure. In contrast, butyl sealant would be the perfect sealant for a metal roof because of its ability to stay gummy throughout its lifespan. It also requires very little surface preparation. It isn’t just about what the sealant is made of either. It’s also about how the sealant is applied. For example, tube sealants can be more practical than tape sealants, especially in areas that have unique curves or bends. In comparison, tape sealants can be found in various sizes and shapes, so you can easily apply them.

3. Not Taking Slope and Design into Consideration

As if there weren’t already enough factors you had to keep in mind, slope enters the conversation. The slope of the roof you’re installing the sealant on will play a factor in how you install it. A roof with a steep slope would need additional sealant applied at the eaves to reduce the chance of flooding from runoff or ice buildup in colder climates.  All roofs have areas that need special attention from a roofing professional when installing sealants. So make sure you’re covering all of the critical areas during the installation. And if there are any panels or components with old sealant applied, you’ll have to blend or remove this during the application.

4. Ignoring Climate

Areas that consistently experience harsh weather, intense sunlight, heat, or high winds will all have entirely different needs for sealants. When choosing and applying your sealant, consider all of these climates, asking yourself how it would hold up in specific scenarios.  Even within a brand of sealant, certain formulas are designed to work better for some climates than others. Also, consider how easily the sealant will apply in the climate where you’re installing it. If it’s going to be a more challenging time to get it to adhere to the necessary crevices or cracks, it’s less likely to be effective in protecting your client from the elements.  For the best results, you should keep any open products covered and out of direct sunlight if you’re installing on a sunny day, regardless of what type of sealant it is.  And suppose that you or your client are thinking about installing in the rain or when the roof is wet. There’s little chance the sealant will have much of a fighting chance to properly cure and set unless it is waterproof silicone or another specifically waterproof sealant — which is ideal for emergency repairs.

5. Rushing the Job on an Unclean Roof

We’ve mentioned that working with an empty canvass free of debris is essential to install sealant properly, but it’s just as important that the roof is clean.  The oils, dirt, and dust that the debris deposits can interfere with the installation and make your job more difficult. Taking the extra time to prepare the roof for the sealant installation is key to doing the job successfully and to your client’s liking. Sweep away any dirt or dust and remove any flaking from the coating or old caulk. If you’re removing older sealants, bear in mind that some may contain asbestos as filler or a reinforcing fiber.  Depending on the roof’s material, you can also keep an eye out for mildew and wash the roof with bleach or other cleaners. If you wash the roof with water, make sure to dry it off with a clean rag. 

6. Applying Too Much Sealant

You’ve heard of too much of a good thing, and that can hold true for roof sealant in some circumstances. Depending on the type of sealant you’ll be working with, applying a thick coat of sealant will cause it to become much more brittle and dry. And the drier the sealant becomes, the more likely it will crack over time.  Ironically, a thicker coat will also mean it will take much longer to dry, making it a race against the clock before your client deals with the fallout of a downpour. Keep an eye on how much you’re applying and apply with even pressure to avoid any areas that could have more sealant than necessary. If you’ve applied too much sealant, quickly remove the sealant and start over.  The time you’ll take re-doing a small portion of the roof is instrumental in sealing the roof correctly. And the sooner you can acknowledge the problem, the sooner you can fix it.  

7. Confusing Coatings for Sealants

They may be from the same family and have similar uses, but they’re not exactly interchangeable, especially for certain roofs. So if a homeowner is telling you that they’d prefer you use a coating when you know the roof needs a sealant, assure them that a sealant will be suitable for the task.  You might be rolling your eyes, saying that you know the difference between the two. Still, the truth is that manufacturers use these terms interchangeably all of the time, despite the fact that they have two different purposes.  So it’s always good to double-check the side of the package and read directions thoroughly to avoid the embarrassing mistake of having to climb down from the roof and find an actual sealant. Installing sealant can seem like the most simple task that a professional roofer has on any given day. But it’s often the most straightforward processes that require the most care.  This care and attention to detail are well worth it; a measured, precise job will always win over a fast one. These details can make the difference and leave your clients eager to share your number with everyone they know. 


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