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.