Ceramic coating has been around for almost 20 years and is highly effective in preventing unnecessary heat loss or gain in residential and commercial structures. Inspired in part by the ceramic tiles that NASA uses on the Space Shuttle, a coating is a paint mixed with one or more ceramic compounds for application via spray or roller to exterior and interior surfaces. Depending on the ceramic compounds used (there are hundreds of varieties), this insulating product has the ability to prevent heat transfer and heat loading onto a structure. This means heat will not transfer into or out of a building.
Insulation and Emissivity
Unlike fiberglass insulation, whose R-value rating assumes heat loading by a building and simply measures the rate at which that heat is transferred, ceramic coatings are not given an R-value rating. Instead, they are rated by “emissivity.” a measure of both their ability to reflect heat and the amount of heat that is loaded onto a surface.
The true key to insulation is preventing heat load. The concept is simple: Why use fiberglass insulation to slow the transfer of heat into a building when you can just prevent that heat from ever loading onto the building in the first place? If heat is kept off the structure to begin with, that fiberglass insulation becomes unnecessary. It’s a change in the way we think about insulating our homes against energy lost. R rating is for the 20th century. Emissivity is 21st century.
Blocking Heat Buildup
Blocking heat buildup is a complicated task. Heat comes in three forms: ultra-violet (UV), visible light, and infrared (IR). A quality ceramic coating will block all three, especially IR, which is responsible for roughly 57 percent of heat load on a building. Some ceramic paints claim to block all heat caused by UV but UV only accounts for three percent of heat load on a building. Consumers should be careful to distinguish between purely reflective coatings and true insulating coatings. Reflective coatings only perform when clean and will not block all forms of heat, but a coating with insulative and reflective qualities will block more than one form of heat.
Blocking Heat Transfer
As an exterior surface coating, insulating ceramic paints or coatings can be applied to the roof and sides of a building. This includes roofing surfaces such as metal, felt, asphalt, aluminum, and sidings made of rubber, vinyl, and aluminum. Ceramic coatings can be used on the interior of a home, too.
Ceramic Coatings vs. Fiberglass Insulation
Fiberglass is the giant in the insulation industry, and the R rating to which it conforms is ingrained in the minds of contractors, builders, and code inspectors. Insulating ceramic coatings offer an alternative to traditional batt insulation. Fiberglass insulation is tested and rated at 73 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the ideal temperature for fiberglass.