Flat Roof

Increase space and reduce cost, flat roofs are not just for commercial buildings

When it comes to determining what type of roof to install one option is a flat roof. Many do not understand that a flat roof is not truly flat. There is a slight slope even if not noticeable by the naked eye, it exists to help drain water from the roof during and after a storm. If there was no slope, water would stand and stagnate causing all kinds of issues for the roof.

Many contractors and roofing companies are telling individuals to select a flat roof for their commercial buildings as there are many benefits that come along with choosing a flat roof especially for a commercial building.

Here are some of the benefits to a flat roof.
  • Reduced Cost
  • Accessibility
  • Safety
  • Saves Space

Flat Roofs Are Cheaper

Choosing a flat roof will reduce the cost of roof installation as it requires less material. Traditional roofs use almost twice as much material to install correctly. They are very easy to build. There is less surface area with a flat than with a slanting roof. If there is less surface area, then not as much raw material is needed to construct the roof. Flat roofs are also less physically demanding and take up less time to build.

Flat Roofs Are Accessible

Flat roofs give the property owner a new level of Accessibility. In highly populated areas like cities, flat roofs can provide a deck that employees or property owners can use as a outdoor retreat. They can be setup with chairs and other outdoor item, even pools in some instances. This can make use of the very limited space available in densely populated areas.

No Slipping And Sliding Off Of a Flat Roof

Flat roofs provide increased safety for anyone that needs to go to the roof to service equipment, or if you do plan on using it as a outdoor deck doing so on a traditional roof would prove to be very hazardous.

Flat Roofs Save Space

Another added benefit is that is saves room space in the commercial building. With sloping roofs, a lot of times space is lost due to wooden beams holding up the roof which creates dead space. These areas cannot be utilized in any fashion. There is minimal dead space with a flat roof, increasing total space within the building.

What options do I have if I choose to install a flat roof?

The first thing to understand when considering a flat roofing system is the different options out there for flat roofs. There are three main flat roofing systems: built up roofs, modified bitumen, and membrane roofs.

Built Up Roofs

This is the traditional tar and gravel roof that many think of when envisioning a commercial flat roof. Basically layers of waterproof material are built up with layers of hot tar in between. On top of the built up layers is layer a rock or stone. Traditionally these built up roofs were made of layers of tar paper but newer materials such as fiberglass membranes have become available increasing roof life.

Built Up Advantages

  • Less expensive than bitumen or membrane roofs
  • Attractive to look at
  • The gravel or stone top layer is an excellent fire retardant

Built Up Disadvantages

  • Very Heavy 
  • May require structural reinforcement to carry the excessive weight
  • High odor and can be very messy to install
  • Finding leaks is difficult
  • Gravel can run off roof system and clog drainage and gutters
Modified Bitumen Roofs

These roofs are system of a single ply rolled roof impregnated by a mineral-based topcoat as a wear surface. Originally a torch-down system installed by heating the adhesive, there are now also peel-and-stick torch less systems which are safer and easier to install.

Modified Bitumen Advantages

  • Moderate in price, typically between built up and membrane systems
  • Mineral wear coats can be light in color reducing energy costs by reflecting sunlight
  • Peel-and-stick varieties offer a do-it-yourself option for homeowners
  • Lightweight

Modified Bitumen Disadvantages

  • The torch-down installation process is a fire hazard
  • Less wear resistant than membrane systems

Also referred to as rubber roofs, EPDM (short for ethylene propylene diene monomer) roofs are a true rubber roof. The membrane is very durable and resists both tearing and sunlight damage. Installation has many options including glue down, ballasted with stone, and anchoring with fasteners.

Membrane Advantages

  • Lightweight
  • Easily repaired or patched
  • Scuff and tear resistant
  • Easy to install, even for homeowners

Membrane Disadvantages

  • Vulnerable to punctures
  • Standard EPDM is black and absorbs heat
  • Energy efficient light coatings can cost extra

Understanding the three types of flat roof systems is the first step in choosing the right roof for your building. Consulting with a knowledgeable flat roofing contractor professional should be your next step. Using these tips to understand the different options for a flat roof will help you better understand the recommendations by your roofer.

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