Roofers on a roof

When Does a Flat Roof Need Repair

While flat roofs are mostly a commercial roofing system, sometimes you come across a residential property that’s different. Whether you own a residential or commercial property, here’s some things to look for to determine if your flat roof needs a repair or replacement. Let’s look at what to look for in this type of roofing system.

When Does a Flat Roof Need Fixing?

Some of the most common issues with flat roofs include:

  • Cracks
  • Dips
  • Melting
  • Warping

Each of these contributes to the overall degradation of the flat roof over time. Since flat roofs are taking the brunt of weather and sunlight, as opposed to a slope roof which isn’t constantly being hit by the above, it can be easy for cracks and warping to start causing larger issues, such as leaking and drafts.

Twice a year, flat roofs should be inspected by roofing professionals. While this may seem like a burden, it’s preventative and should be treated as such. By having a roofer come out and walk your flat roof, you can repair any issues that have popped up. If you opt not to, when you finally decide to take care of an issue, it may be too late and you’ll be forced to replace the roof as opposed to repair it.

If your building or home is in a storm-prone area, leaking with a flat roof should be a major concern. Even the smallest of cracks can cause the biggest leaks. This is another reason why you need to have a roofer walk the roof twice a year. Your flat roof may be leaking after a storm and because it hasn’t leaked inside the building yet, you may not notice it. The longer a leak goes on, the more likely it is you’ll have to replace the roofer sooner than you wanted to.

How to Find the Best Flat Roof Materials

Flat roofs function much different than sloped roofs and therefore require different roofing materials. A flat roof is more prone for leaks because there are not as many outlets in which water can flow off but thankfully there are materials built to be extra water proof. Let’s look at some flat roof materials and the advantages and drawbacks of them.

Choices in Flat Roof Materials

Built Up Roofing

This form of flat roofing hasn’t changed much through its hundred years and is still a popular flat roofing choice. Layers of asphalt and waterproof materials are built up into a layer cake designed to provide maximum protection against leaks. Depending on the materials you get built up roofs can be tough, durable, UV and fire resistant and last a long time at a good price point.  The drawbacks of built up roofing is that leaks may be hard to pinpoint, and built up roofs tend to expand and contract with temperature fluctuations which can lead to leaks and damage. The process of putting on a built up roof is also loud, noise and messy and you normally need to vacate the building while built up roofs are bring applied.

Membrane Roofing

Membrane roofing, or single ply roofing, is becoming the more popular choice for flat roofs. Single ply may refer to EPDM, TPO or PVC roofing. Membrane roofings may be applied with either cold welding, such as adhesives, or hot welding, such as heat and solvents. The different membrane roofing materials all have their unique advantages and disadvantages but they mostly are UV and weather resistant, easy to repair and durable. Membrane roofing can be pricey depending on the materials and some membrane roofing materials, such as EPDM are fairly new so long term durability is still in question. Talk to your local roofing contractor to figure the right kind of membrane roofing for your building.

Modified Bitumen Roofing

Modified bitumen roofing similar to built up roofing due to its use a system of layers to protect the roof but modified bitumen tends to stand up better to temperature fluctuations than built up roofing. Modified bitumen can be either plastic or rubber based. Plastic based modified bitumen uses torches to weld the seams while rubbed based uses asphalt or adhesives. Modified bitumen roofs are not as durable and long lasting as some other flat roofing options but inexpensive.

So now that you know a little about different flat roofing systems you can meet with a local roofer to help decide which one is right for you.

What is a Flat Roof?

There are two types of primary roofs used throughout the United States: Slanted roofs and flat roofs. Slanted roofs are what you see on most homes, apartment complexes and live-in buildings. Flat roofs are what you see on most businesses, warehouses and commercial buildings. These are the two most common roofs you’ll find in construction. Let’s look at what flat roofs are and what the pros and cons of having one are.

Defining a Flat Roof

A flat roof is, literally, flat. It is almost exclusively level throughout its surface. Generally, a flat roof has a slope called an itspitch which is approximately ten degrees. Flat roofs were developed out of arid climates in the ancient world and allowed those who lived in the building to use the roofs for everything from additional living space, outdoor markets and more.

In areas of the country where warmer climates are seen year-round, most flat roofs are made of concrete or basic masonry materials. This allows the roof to observe sunlight and keep a building cool. In areas where rain and snow occur, flat roofs aren’t as practical being built this way because the concrete and masonry can be blown out as water seeps into the concrete and eventually freezes.

Flat roofs are best used and cost-effective when the space can be used for more than just a roof over a building. Many commercial buildings opt for a flat roof so they can install and place solar panels to offset energy costs. Outdoor activities, such as gardening, can also be accomplished on a flat roof. When the roof is used for more than just being a roof, a commercial building can get more long-term out of the roof for their business or purpose.

Hotels, for example, use a flat roof to house helipads, outdoor courtyards, pools and more. Apartment buildings can use them to dry laundry, storage and get togethers. Businesses can use them for meetings, solar energy and storage. The possibilities for a flat roof are endless when you think outside the box.

If you have a flat roof or are interested in one, contract Roofcorp today and see what we can do for your next project.