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Home | Our Blog | Flat Roof Materials

Flat Roof Materials

posted on Jun 19,2019

Flat roofs are very common throughout the “commercial” world. Buildings like malls, schools, warehouses, and apartments are usually topped with a flat roof. This type of roof is much easier to install over large surface areas and are commonly used for industrial and institutional buildings. If you’re a homeowner starting new construction, you may have seen the option of using a flat roof. It’s very common to wonder if a flat roof is a good choice for your home and whether it’s more or less expensive than the average pitched alternative option. Before you start to consider using a flat roof, you should learn about the best flat roof materials to use, the maintenance required, and the installation process. This is great to know to help you come to your final decision about which roof you would like to choose for your home. Use the following information to help you determine your choice in choosing a flat roof.

Flat roofs are not necessarily flat, they have a slight slope when comparing them to the common roof of a residential building. They are not used for homes often because their low slope is more prone to collecting water than their highly sloped counterparts. This causes more trouble in rainy and snowy climates. Although they are more likely to collect water, they do have a slope usually between 5 and 15 degrees to allow water to drain through the parapet of the roof. If you live in a drier climate, a flat roof may end up being the perfect option for your home. There are even new waterproof materials and installation techniques to make them more suitable for residential buildings.

All flat roofs are not the same. They come in a few different materials that all have their pros and cons. The common types of flat roofing are Built-Up Roofs (BUR), Modified Bitumen Roofs, PVC Roofs, Single Ply EPDM, and Spray Applied Roof Coating.


Built-Up Roofs (BUR)

This type of flat roof is common to it being a very inexpensive option. The top coat of the roof is typically made of gravel giving it a unique aesthetic appeal. Because it’s made of many layers, this roof is a great insulator for any building. On the other hand, the layers also cause the roof to be very heavy which requires it to be reinforced to the existing roofing system with joists. Although the roof is not expensive, this process can be pricey and increases the cost and time of construction. Built-Up Roofs are low maintenance and resistant to UV rays and foot traffic. Although they will save you money, the materials that the layers are made out of; gravel, tar, rolled asphalt, are a bit outdated for today’s construction. This causes the roof to have a short lifespan, a need for costly repairs if damaged, and a lack of environmental friendliness. Also, keep in mind that choosing a Built-Up Roof requires a positive slope of at least 1/12 inches.


Modified Bitumen Roofs


Modified Bitumen Roofs are a single ply roofing system that is installed by rolling the material on the roof’s surface. It’s also an older system like Built Up Roofs and requires the material to be heated with a blowtorch after it is laid onto the roof. This installation is more dangerous than other options so newer systems have been created allowing installers to peel the material and stick it to the roof’s surface. This option is more environmentally friendly than other flat roof options because it has the ability to reflect the sun which helps property owners cut back on energy bill costs. Not as resistant to foot traffic, this material does scuff, scratch, and tear easily once it is applied.


PVC Roof


PVC roofs are very durable flat roofing systems. This type of roof is the most popular flat roof option among commercial and residential buildings. It’s highly preferred due to its easy installation process and resistance to water ponding. Withstanding thermal movement, this material remains flexible throughout its long lifespan. You can be guaranteed a roof that will last well over 30 years when choosing PVC. Many manufacturers will offer a lifetime warranty for residential PVC flat roofs, extending your roof’s life for even longer. Arguably the best type of roofing material for a flat roof, PVC roofs may be at the top of your list in your search for a roof.


Single Ply EPDM


EPDM roofs are very similar to PVC roofs because they are both single ply. The difference between the two is the material. EPDM is rubber, while PVC is plastic. EPDM rubber is well known for its durability and strength. One of the biggest advantages is the price of EPDM roofs, making it a very economical choice. If you’re a handy person and prefer to tackle projects on your own, the easy installation of EPDM roofing is a great DIY project that will save you money on installation. Professionals will also charge less for installing due to its easy installation. EPDM rubber roofing is also extremely lightweight, so there is no costly and laborious reinforcement involved when installing. A high-quality EPDM roof will have a lifespan of 20 years or more and will require little maintenance. If damage does occur to your EPDM roof, it will be very easy to repair and won’t require you to seek out pricey repair services and replacement materials.


Spray Applied Roof Coating


This unique type of flat roof is great due to it’s seamless sprayed on application. It has amazing resistance to water ponding and great reflective properties. Because it reflects the sun, this helps reduce energy consumption inside the building. With this roof being so sustainable and easy to apply, it is usually installed quickly and does not put a halt to activity inside the existing building. With top-quality features and a lifespan of over 30 years, a Spray Applied Roof comes with a higher price than other flat roofs. Depending on the layout and specific situation, this can be a pretty pricey option.


When you’re in search of the perfect flat roof options, take into consideration the most common issues your buildings’ roof will face (climate, foot traffic, rain accumulation, etc.) Also, think about your budget so you can narrow down options of flat roofing materials based on pricing. Make sure to not go about the process of choosing a flat roof by yourself. Give a trusted contractor a call to find out what the best options are and to have some guidance throughout picking your new roof. Flat roofs are a very attractive and cost-effective option to choose for your home. They instantly give your house a more modern aesthetic and are very easy to take care of. As a viable, long-lasting and protective alternative to a pitched roof, you will definitely find a flat roof as your perfect roofing solution.

Posted on Jun 19,2019 in Roof

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