The Silicone Deception: Understanding Its Misuse in Roofing and Its Implications

Silicone, with its flexible and water-resistant properties, is often viewed as a miracle solution for a multitude of roofing issues. But like all materials, silicone has its limitations and as the leading supplier of roof inspections across South East Queensland, we can attest to its frequent misuse. Understanding these limitations is crucial for ensuring the longevity and integrity of a roof, especially in the unique Australian climate.

Understanding Silicone Use in Roofing

At its core, silicone is a flexible, rubber-like material that adheres to a variety of surfaces. Its ability to create a water-tight seal has made it a popular choice for roofing repairs and sealant applications. However, as with all materials, proper application and understanding are key to its effective use. Not taking advantage of proper methods is something we commonly see during inspections, resulting in silicone being one of the main contributors to water ingress.

Why Silicone Fails

  • UV Degradation: Australia’s intense sun can be unforgiving. Unless specifically formulated to be UV resistant, silicone can degrade under prolonged exposure to sunlight. This degradation results in cracks, drying out, and a loss of its adhesive properties.
  • Improper Application: A rush job or lack of preparation can lead to silicone failures. Skipping steps like using primers, applying it on dusty or wet surfaces, or not applying it uniformly can all shorten the lifespan of a silicone application.
  • Incompatible Materials: Not all roofing materials play well with silicone. Ensuring compatibility is a must to avoid poor adhesion or accelerated wear.

Silicone is often used as a way to take shortcuts during construction, with misuse common across all applications. Just above every tradie and contractor will have a story about a silicone nightmare they have encountered.

silicone misuse on roofing

Visual Signs of Silicone Failure

The initial allure of silicone often lies in its smooth finish and adhesive strength. However, as time passes and external factors play their part, it’s not uncommon to observe telltale signs of its degradation:

  • Discoloration: Originally clear or coloured silicone may start to yellow or fade, indicative of UV damage or material ageing.
  • Cracking and Hardening: A once-flexible bead of silicone might become brittle, losing its elasticity and forming small to large cracks.
  • Peeling or Lifting Edges: If silicone starts detaching from the surface, it’s an immediate red flag, highlighting poor adhesion or possible water intrusion underneath.
  • Gummy Texture: In some cases, instead of hardening, silicone might become sticky or gummy to the touch, a sign of chemical breakdown.
silicone degredation

Consequences of Overlooking Silicone Failures

Ignoring these visual cues can lead to a cascade of detrimental effects:

  • Water Damage: Failed silicone can allow water to seep into roofs or walls, causing structural decay and potentially rotting wooden components.
  • Mould and Mildew Proliferation: Persistent moisture due to failed sealing can create a breeding ground for mould and mildew, damaging interiors and posing respiratory health risks.
  • Compromised Structural Integrity: Water intrusion can weaken the overall structure, leading to costly repairs in the long run.
  • Interior Damage: Leaks can stain and damage plaster, paint, and personal possessions, leading to aesthetic and financial setbacks.
silicone misuse

Prevention and Proper Application

To maximise the lifespan and efficacy of silicone:

  • Surface Preparation: Before application, ensure the surface is clean, dry, and free from dust or oils.
  • Choosing the Right Product: Not all silicone sealants are the same. It’s crucial to pick one that’s specifically designed for roofing and is UV-resistant.
  • Uniform Application: Ensure a consistent and even bead without gaps. Using a caulking gun and smoothing tool can help achieve a seamless finish.
  • Regular Maintenance: Even the best-applied silicone can degrade over time. Periodically checking and cleaning the sealed areas can prolong its lifespan.
proper silicone application

When to Seek Professional Help

While visual checks can be performed by homeowners, there’s no substitute for expert evaluation. Regular roof inspections play a pivotal role in this:

  • Early Detection: Professionals are trained to identify even the most subtle signs of silicone failure, catching issues before they escalate.
  • Recommendations: Once a problem is detected, an expert can provide guidance on the next steps in a roof condition report, be it resealing, using a different product, or addressing underlying issues.
  • Long-Term Savings: Investing in periodic inspections can save significant amounts in potential repair costs. Detecting and addressing faulty silicone early prevents the cascade of problems that can arise from water intrusion and damage.
silicone misuse on roofing

Proper Usage of Silicone is Vital for the Longevity of Your Roofing

Silicone, when understood and used appropriately, offers excellent protective qualities. However, vigilance, proper application, and timely professional assessments ensure that it remains a solution, not a problem in disguise. This is why we recommend annual roof inspections to keep an eye on any developing issues with the silicone used on your roofing, preventing minor issues from becoming full blown headaches.

If you are concerned about the misuse of silicone on your roofing or feel like it’s been a while since your last roof inspection, get in touch with Roof Inspection Reports to discuss your options with a qualified roof inspector. Given how often silicone is poorly implemented during roofing installations, our inspectors have developed rigorous methods for the proper inspection and assessment of silicone usage, providing robust recommendations for attending to any areas that are of concern.

To talk with a trusted professional about an obligation free quote for your roof inspection, call Roof Inspection Reports on 0418 677 524 or contact us online.