Flat roofs are energy-efficient and a more aesthetically pleasing alternative to the traditional sloped residential roofing. They are also said to be easier to maintain, more versatile, and cheaper in the long run compared with conventional sloped roofs. That is why many new homeowners enjoy these types of roofs.
For people with new houses, flat roofs can be a good investment because they usually come with a 10 to 20-year warranty. And, maybe more (up to 25 years) if the roof is well-maintained.
FLAT ROOFS WITH A TINY BIT OF SLOPE
Did you know that flat roofs are not actually flat? They have a shallow slope that may range between a quarter to half-inch per foot so they can drain water. However, this slope is too low that it may hold water and snow much longer. Thus, the materials used in these roofs need to be watertight.
Standard sloped roofs in residential housing usually have overlapping shingles to make the water slide over them. Meanwhile, a flat roof is engineered as a monolithic or continuous surface that can hold water for a restricted period.
TYPES OF FLAT ROOF
Moreover, flat roofs have different types. They can be Modified Bitumen Roof (MBR), Built-up Roof (BUR), and Rubber Membrane Roof (EPDM). Obviously, they have distinctions that make them under a specific category.
In this blog, you will learn the different types of roofs and their respective pros and cons.
Modified Bitumen Roof (MBR)
This type of roof is a single-ply rolled roof, comparable to an ice-and-water shield. However, the MBR is infused with a mineral-based wear surface. The roof uses torch-on roofing, wherein the adhesive is heated to create a waterproof roof seal.
Nowadays, builders use more modern peel-and-stick systems because they are safer and easier to use.
- Its mineral surface reflects heat, thus, may cut energy bills intended for heating.
- This roof is flexible and more elastic when dealing with cold temperatures.
- Homeowners may install this type of roof easier because of its peel-and-stick feature.
- MBR costs are just average.
- Torch-on roofing can be a fire hazard. Thus, it is not recommended for residential buildings.
- MBRs are not as tear- or scuff-resistant as EPDM or Rubber Membrane Roofs (see the third item).
- MBR is not as aesthetically pleasing as the other roof types.
Built-up Roof (BUR)
This type of roof is also known as the hot-tar-and-gravel roof. It is the most traditional out of the other types and is built with three or more layers of waterproof material. In between these layers, hot tar is applied, and smooth river stones ballast the roof.
Before, this type of roof used tar paper. But because of modernity, manufacturers started to use more advanced materials for roofing, such as fiberglass membranes.
- BUR is the perfect roof for decks and windows that overlook the top.
- Unlike MBR, this type of roof is not susceptible to fire because it is made of gravel.
- BUR is an excellent roof choice that can protect your home against UV rays, water, and inclement weather.
- It is the cheapest option among the other roof types. Moreover, it is low maintenance. Thus, maintenance costs are way more affordable with this type of roof.
- When resurfacing or repairing the roof, you can remove the layers more easily.
- Due to its materials, it can be cumbersome. Thus, joists must be strengthened and maintained.
- Installing this type of roof might not be suitable for homes with current occupants.
- The gravel may clog scuppers and gutters.
- Homeowners cannot install this roof the DIY way because installation can be smelly and messy due to potentially hazardous vapors and fumes. Also, it can be labor-intensive because it involves many materials and layers.
- It would be difficult to find the source of leaks if you installed this alone. So you will need help from commercial roofing contractors. One benefit of hiring one would be safer, more professional, and proper installation.
- This roof is not ideal in places with cold climates.
Rubber Membrane Roof (EPDM)
The rubber used in this type of roof is ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM), a true rubber. The EPDM roof has a durable, single-ply membrane that mimics an inner tube designed to resist sunlight damage.
Moreover, it can be ballasted with glue, stone or be mechanically anchored with fasteners.
Among other types of flat roofs, this is the most commonly used in residential roofing.
- The roof uses relatively light materials that are highly resistant to tears and scuffs. Thus, the joists do not need stronger reinforcements.
- Homeowners can DIY this roof because it is easy to install.
- If ever there are leaks in the roof, they would be easy to patch.
- Roof repairs are also more accessible and cheaper.
- For places in colder climates, EPDM roofing may lower heating bills because it absorbs heat.
- HVAC systems, chimneys, pipes, and other roof penetrations will be more difficult and expensive to install.
- This type of residential roofing is more at risk of being punctured compared with the other types. Its membrane can be punctured by foot traffic during maintenance or installation, falling branches, or store damage, leading to leaks.
- The standard EPDM, which is black, absorbs heat from the environment, so it is not ideal for warmer climates. But, there is EPDM with light-colored coats that are more recommended in warm temperatures. However, they cost 30% more than the standard ones.
EPDM is more expensive than other types of flat roofs.
A GENERAL VIEW ON FLAT ROOF: THE ADVANTAGES
Flat roofs, in general, have lower repair and construction costs. They also take up less space and use lesser materials than their sloped counterparts. Thus, you can save big bucks if you choose to use flat roofs.
In addition, flat roofs are also known to be more versatile. For residential housing with small spaces, flat roofs are sometimes used as rooftop gardens and double as a roof deck or weather protection.
Lastly, these types of roofs keep utility costs more manageable, especially in higher-temperature climates. This is because flat roofs leave less overhead space for air to stay.
A GENERAL VIEW ON FLAT ROOF: THE DRAWBACKS
Although flat roofs can be a good choice for sloped roofs, there will always be drawbacks to this type of roof.
Some drawbacks include being unreliable in colder climates, being more vulnerable to replacements. If used as a rooftop garden, plant roots may invade the roof membranes and puncture them. Thus, you may have to replace it after a few years or so if you do not want to experience leaks.
YOUR HOME, YOUR CHOICE
Every homeowner already has a standing vision of what their dream home would be. Who knows, a flat roof may be the perfect choice for your home. However, if you think twice about using a flat roof, you may choose among other options for your roofing.
Indeed, flat roofs may need more care and attention. But with the right contractor, your residential roofing can go well and be foolproof. Roof Pros Experts can guide you on choosing what types of roofs you may install in your home with the help of their experienced roofing specialists.