One of the primary reasons why flat roofs are popular for both industrial and residential buildings is that they are cost effective. Additionally, they offer functional space that can be used to install rooftop air conditioning units, HVAC and solar panels, among other uses. However, when thinking about covering up these types of roofs, your options are limited as traditional roofing options such as corrugated metal, shingles and asphalt go out the window. That said, before hiring a flat roof replacement company, you would benefit from considering which might be the most suitable option for your home or commercial space. By knowing about the different types of flat roofs, you can prolong its lifespan and ensure that the material or variant you choose is installed properly. Therefore, to help you figure out what your best flat roofing option is, here are the five most popular ones to choose from.
Best Types of Flat Roofing Options to Choose From
- Built-Up Roofing or BUR
This type of roof consists of gravel and hot tar and is one of the most economical options. It is generally made from three or more layers of waterproof ply sheets wedged between coatings of hot tar. The different layers are then bonded by a layer of smooth river stone or gravel to provide stability. If you have a commercial building and are concerned about fire safety, built-up roofing is capable of meeting higher fire rating standards than other types since gravel is fire retardant. It can last for as long as 15 years and show virtually no sign of damage, even when subject to heavy foot traffic. It also offers protection from harmful UV rays and resists bad weather.
- Modified Bitumen
Also referred to as roll roofing, modified bitumen is a traditional flat roof material. It was developed around the 1960s as a type of replacement for built-up roofing. It is called “modified” as several elements are combined to form the compound. Typically, asphalt is blended with fibreglass and other modifiers like rubber, and it is this combination that makes it an eco-friendly option. While a blowtorch was used to install it in the past, there are many self-adhering options available today. These roofs are much lighter in colour than built-up roofs and reflect the sun’s infrared energy which, in turn, cuts down significantly on HVAC costs. The roofing is generally placed in multiple layers, each of which needs to be torched to the surface underneath at every quarter turn of the roll. This makes it a labour-intensive job best left to the professionals. One major benefit of modified bitumen roofs is their durability as they can last for as long as 50 years. They also provide excellent waterproofing advantages in addition to moisture, heat, weather and shock resistance.
- PVC Roofing
PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, is one of the strongest of all roofing materials as the top and bottom ply are of equal thickness. It has a minimum breaking strength of 350 pounds per inch and is made from a continuous filament frame known as scrim which is coated with UV-resistant PVC thermoplastic. It is inherently flame-resistant and will not continue burning once the source has been removed. This gives PVC roofing a Class A fire rating over its counterparts. PVC is also extremely flexible and lightweight, making it easy to be customized to integrate into different types of rooftops. When dealing with a re-roofing situation, PVC roofing can go directly over existing structures, which saves money. It is also easy to repair and maintain. As PVC roofs have heat-welded joints that stay weldable throughout their service life, they are great at withstanding thermal movement. This makes repair, modifications and maintenance for installing new equipment simple and fast.
- EPDM Roofing
EPDM, or ethylene propylene diene monomer, is the most affordable choice if you are in search of a long-lasting, high-performing roofing option. These types of roofs are made with recycled materials such as sawdust, slate dust and wheel rubber; can withstand the harshest weather conditions; and are fire retardant. The lightweight material offers ease of installation, saving you on labour costs. Furthermore, it can last up to 40 years and is easy to repair, so you won’t have to spend much on repairs. It is an eco-friendly material since it can be recycled once its lifespan is over and doesn’t end up occupying space in landfills.
- TPO Roofing
TPO, or thermoplastic polyolefin, is another affordable roofing option for flat roofs and shares the same positive features as PVC roofing. It is fabricated using ethyl propylene and polypropylene rubbers and is generally white. The materials used for fabrication result in a single membrane that is perfectly flat. The white is great at reflecting the sun’s heat and reduces utility costs by decreasing energy used to cool the building. It is easy to install and can be mechanically attached to the roof deck. Its flexibility comes in handy when there are objects on the roof or when dealing with one that is oddly shaped. Typically, this type of roofing can last up to 30 years when maintained properly. The material is also fire retardant, prevents the development of moisture, offers excellent insulation and efficiently reflects harmful UV rays.
Knowing about the different types of roofing can help property owners choose a contractor. It will also allow you to understand what services may be required when it comes to roof installation, restoration and repair. By investing in the right materials, you save money on both maintenance and installation. But remember, no flat roofing is perfect and there are always cons to the pros of any material. For more insight on a particular product and to figure out whether it suits your requirements, speak to an experienced roofing contractor.