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Flat Roofing Options

If you are thinking about putting flat roofing on your commercial building or home, then it is time to learn a little bit about it.

Originally published on 

If you are thinking about putting flat roofing on your commercial building or home, then it is time to learn a little bit about it. Flat roofs are cheap and easy to build. They look good with many different architectural styles and are particularly useful in modern commercial buildings and homes. Of course, you need to be concerned with more than just saving money and looking good: a roof also has to be selected for its ability to protect the building it is installed over while remaining stable and problem-free for years.


Flat roofs are generally not as long-lasting as sloped roofs, because they don't let rain drain away as quickly, which can cause water damage to accumulate. Snow also builds up on them more easily than on sloped roofs. However, recent developments in flat roofing technology have created roof membranes that make flat roofs a lot more durable. These membranes can even give a flat roof the same longevity as many sloped roofs have.


There are primarily three kinds of a flat roof: single ply, multiple ply, and spray foam. The cheapest and most basic is the single ply roof. It uses just one layer of material to achieve waterproofing, giving it the lowest cost. However, they are also not as durable as other kinds of flat roofs.

Multiple ply roofing is made of multiple layers. It is more expensive than single ply, but it also has a much longer lifespan because it is not as easily damaged.

The third kind of flat roof is made out of spray foam roofing material. Because it is sprayed on, it is all one seamless piece when it dries, making it very resistant to leaks and giving it a very long lifetime. However, it requires periodic maintenance and is perhaps the most expensive roofing option.


These types of roofs are typically made out of one of four kinds of building material: Built-Up Roofing (BUR), Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM), Thermo-Plastic Olefin (TPO), and Poly-Vinyl Chloride (PVC).

BUR is the old-fashioned, traditional type of flat roof, made out of layers of asphalt. Although this kind tends to be cheap, it is also prone to sun damage which can damage the roof enough to cause it to leak. It doesn't last as long as the other types tend to. EPDM is on the other end of the spectrum. This synthetic rubber tends to be more expensive than the other kinds of flat roofing material. However, it is perhaps the most durable, and can easily last forty or more years with little to no maintenance. PVC lasts almost as long and is nearly as expensive. TPO, a type of rubber, is a compromise material, being both less durable and cheaper than EPDM or PVC, but more costly than BUR. Its lifetime isn't as long, but it doesn't need as much maintenance as BUR does.


The best way to pick a flat roofing material is to carefully examine the longevity your roof will need to have, the weather conditions you can expect it to experience, and your budget. If you do not have a lot of experience with flat roofs, it is probably best to bring all of this information to a roofing expert for a consultation. In general, if you have the money for the more expensive roofs up front and expect to be using the building for an extended period, it is best to go with the more durable options even if they are more expensive. In time, they pay for themselves.


Finding the right flat roof solution for your project is not an easy task. Every region has its climate, and every environment has its own roofing needs, and there are a lot of options to choose from. Take your time, and try to think ahead about the long-term conditions your roof will be exposed to and what your long-term financial situation will be. Eventually, the right roof for you will become apparent.

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