Summer 2012 DIY in Brooklyn, NY

Our DIY kit has been available on our website for a few months now and we’re hearing great things from people who have painted their own roofs white! They’re seeing differences in their building temp, turning off their air conditioners and feeling good about doing something good for the earth during this hot hot summer

(seriously, it’s crazy hot).

First up: Stephanie and Josh from Brooklyn who painted the roof of their three-story multi-family home a few weeks ago. 

Thank you both for taking the time to take some pictures of your work and answer some questions for others who are considering a DIY roof!


Where did you hear that painting your roof white could help you save money and curb climate change?

I live on the top floor of a three-story building in Brooklyn, and in the summer our apartment is unbearably hot. It was often getting warmer inside our apartment than it was outside, and it was really difficult to cool the apartment down at night. I don’t like air conditioning–for environmental reasons, and also the noise–and I wanted to figure out a way to make our apartment liveable without a/c in the summer.

I went up and looked at our roof, and once I saw it was black tar, I figured that one of the easiest ways to reduce our apartment temperature would be to reduce the heat that the roof absorbed by painting it white. Then I went and did some Internet research. I read a few articles about the white roof movement for office buildings in urban areas, but didn’t know much about it for residential buildings until I found the website of the White Roof Project.

You did the research and found our DIY kit, did you find it easy to follow? What was the most challenging part? Is there anything we can do to help or have made the process easier or more instructive?

The DIY kit was clear and easy to follow. The most challenging part of the painting process was timing. It rained a lot in May and June, and the roof needed to be dry for three days before painting, and then for two days after (for it to dry fully). In fact, it ended up raining unexpectedly about 18 hours after my boyfriend Josh put the first coat of white paint on the roof. Luckily, the first coat had dried fully. However, it meant that he had to wait another week and a half to paint the second coat because it kept raining. I would say that it’s important to apply two coats of paint–it does make a difference.

You mentioned you already feel a difference! What kind of building do you live in and what has been the temp change?

Our building is a three-story multi-family home. Our landlord lives on the first two floors of the building, and we live in an apartment on the top floor. Since we painted the roof white, we’ve noticed a significant temperature drop. I work from home, and I can work through the hottest part of the day with just a fan going. We made it through the long June/July heat wave–that string of 90+ degree days–with only window fans. If the roof was still black, the indoor temperature would have been at least 8 degrees higher, and we would have needed air conditioning.

I would still like to add an attic fan and some vents to try to reduce the indoor temperature even more, but I suspect those will produce smaller temperature drops than the white roof.

Do you have any advice for people wanting to paint their roofs white?

Paint in the fall or the spring, when the outdoor temperatures are mild!



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