A Bermuda roof is not only the “lid” on top of our home, it’s also our water collection system. Keeping it clean and sealed is imperative. We asked Eldon Rego, an expert roof painter, for some advice on maintaining a Bermuda roof.

How often should you paint your roof?
That depends partly on the type of paint that was last used on the roof. When the material used is cement-based powder paint, the roof should be cleaned and painted every two-and-a-half to three years. Roofs painted with elastomeric (latex-based) material should be cleaned and painted every five years, but this can be pushed to six or even seven years, if the roof does not have overhanging trees and foliage nearby and is positioned in an area that gets abundant sunlight, a good circulation of air and not much shade. Usually this applies where the structure is two storeys or higher

When can you use bleach on the roof?
Bleach can be used to clean all roofs. It’s certainly advisable to use bleach on old roofs, as they tend to have engrained mould under the surface that power washing alone does not remove. Having said that, it is important to note that if you choose to bleach your roof, you must then power wash the surface to remove the “film” left by the bleach. This allows the material to get a proper bond and adhere to the substrate, whether powder paint or elastomeric, and to avoid flaking in the future.

What are the different characteristics of the two types of roof paint you mentioned
Elastomeric (latex-based) paint is similar to exterior wall paints, much more durable and more expensive, but lasts twice as long. It’s a one-coat application. Cement-based powder paint is less costly, has to be mixed with water and bonding agent before application, and two coats must be applied.

What should you do if you have a crack in your roof?
Cracks are inevitable on Bermuda roofs, but as soon as a leak or a crack is found there are a few different ways and a variety of materials that can be used to make a repair. I recommend chopping out with a hatchet or grinding wheel, then filling with a mortar mix, then floating or smoothing out with a sponge. Once the mortar mix has set and cured, brush over with a cement wash and finally, apply fibre bond. Wait at least one day between each of these applications. Adding bonding agent to all materials is key with these steps.
A second, less labour-intensive, option is not to open up the crack, but just apply an elastomeric patch, putting a cloth or fibre-type tape down first. There are various elastomeric patches on the market, smooth and textured, and I’ve had success stopping leaks with the patch alone without using tapes, especially around down pipes as it is almost impossible to get the tape around the inside of the down pipes where it is common for water issues and leaks to occur.

What can you do to maintain the down drains?
Inserting strainers, or “pineapples” as many Bermudians like to call them, is the only thing you can do. This obviously stops leaves and foreign objects going down into the water tank. Maintaining the roof itself in a timely manner, properly painting around the down pipes and applying patch around them when needed, is the only other way to maintain them.

How often should we check our roof and what should we look out for when we do?
I recommend getting up to check your roof every four to six months, depending on how much foliage you have around it. The point is to clean out the strainers and inspect for cracks. A well-maintained roof in an open area can be inspected once a year, I would say.