Thermal Shock & Commercial Roofs – Signs and Remedies

Roof Damage from Sun and Heat

Thermal Shock & Commercial Roofs – Signs and Remedies

As the temperatures rise and summer approaches full swing, it’s important to remember the impact that direct, high heat has on your commercial roofing.  Flat and mostly exposed commercial roofing surfaces are at special risk of thermal shock during the summer months.

Thermal shock occurs as a heated roof expands throughout the day only to contract rapidly as the sun goes down. The higher the daytime temperature, the greater the danger of swelling, cracking, and buckling.

If current temperature trends continue, this summer will be one for the books.  If your roof isn’t prepared to take the heat, you may find yourself with a roof in need of replacement rather than repair.  

What are the Signs of Thermal Shock in Commercial Roofing?


As roofing heats up and expands, the materials fan out over and into each other.  Portions of your roof may be weaker or stronger than other parts causing older or damaged spots to make room by swelling up.  Over days, weeks, or years, cycles of buckling and falling can contribute to more significant wear and tear in these trouble spots and across the greater surface.


As roofs age and materials deteriorate, the expansion caused by direct heat can accelerate a surface’s decline.  Older surfaces are less capable of handling the expansion and contraction and tend to crack, break, or altogether fail.  Cracks in your commercial roof can lead to a whole host of bad symptoms.  If left untreated, cracks may quickly turn a repair job into a replacement.


Sudden spikes and drops in heat can affect more than just the roofing surface.  Sealing is also at risk of being pushed/pulled as the roof expands, compromising your defense against the weather.  Fastenings may also contract and expand causing gaps.  Sudden storms can cool a hot roof rapidly, exacerbating the issue and causing significant leakage. This is one of the primary reasons temporary repairs fail.  

How Do I Stop Thermal Shock?

There’s no surefire way to keep a heated surface from expanding, but there are ways to minimize the effects of that expansion and keep your commercial roof flexible and fit.

A bright white roof coating–such as elastomeric coating–can beat back the heat, establish a tight seal, and handle the expansion like few other roofing options.  Elastomeric coating can also be applied to most existing roofs without additional and extensive repairs.

Unlike other traditional roof coatings, an elastomeric coat maintains thickness while maximizing flexibility, limiting the primary modes of damage due to thermal shock.  Without a need for fasteners, an elastomeric coating won’t flex to open leaks or expand and buckle.

UV and infrared resistant elastomeric coatings have an immediate advantage over metallic or rubber roofs.  In the long term, an elastomeric coating can also reduce average temperatures in the structure beneath it and even save money on HVAC costs.

When it comes to protecting your commercial roof from stinging heat, elastomeric coating works like powerful sunscreen–both reflecting damage and expanding in a limited way to prevent damage.

Don’t Let the Heat Decide for You

This summer, don’t let the sun set your schedule for roof maintenance.  Get ahead of the heat with an elastomeric coating and give your roof 10 years of reliable protection.

If you’ve ever forgotten your sunscreen at the beach, you’ll know how your roof feels!