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Choosing the Ideal Material for a Flat Roof

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Once you decide that you will install a flat roof in your commercial building, identifying the ideal material can be a complex process. You must consider factors such as the cost, aesthetics, support the structure requires as well as its lifespan. Your roofing contractor will advise you to consider the design, performance, and cost of the roofing material which will also affect this decision. We’ll look at 4 types of flat roof systems that are quite popular today, each with its advantages and disadvantages. This will help you determine what material is best for your unique project.

Built-up roofing (BUR)

This is probably the most common type of roofing material used today in commercial facilities. It is not only cost-effective but also very versatile and can be used in a range of applications. This roofing is made using multiple layers of reinforced bituminous membranes. Unlike the single ply membrane roofing, BUR is more robust and can be used in an area that experiences heavy traffic occasionally. If during construction, the roof needs to be used for on-site storage, this roofing material would be an ideal option.

EPDM flat roofing

EPDM flat roofing, better known as (ethylene propylene diene terpolymer) roof, is a type of rubber roofing that is often used in residential buildings. It is a low cost and lightweight roofing material that is easy to install. Most EPDM roofs are black, but you can also choose one that has a white coating for better reflection and to lower energy costs. The greatest advantage of the EPDM roof is that it eliminates the need for seams further enhancing the waterproofing properties of this material. The material is also fire resistant and can impede a fire. With minimal maintenance, an EPDM roof can last 50 years or more.

PVC single-ply membrane systems

This roofing system is designed to provide exceptional waterproofing by using just one sheet of roofing material. It’s a low-cost roofing system that’s also lightweight, flexible and easy to install. Single ply membrane systems are safe and very versatile. You’ll find them in so many different colours and that’s why they are quite common in both new roof constructions and refurbishment projects. The main drawback of single membrane roofs is that they could easily get damaged. This is not the kind of roof you’d want to install in a heavy traffic area. The roof shouldn’t be used to store heavy equipment or construction items. However, it’s a durable flat roof material that will serve you for years if properly installed.

Get expert advice

There are so many factors to consider when choosing a roofing material for your commercial building. Don’t just settle for a product because of its low cost. An expert roofer can help you identify the material that best suits your commercial building’s needs. Whether it’s the low cost, ability to withstand heavy traffic or versatility, you’ll be given lots of options to choose from that align with your goals.

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Flat roofing systems are known to have a very long lifespan if well maintained. The lifespan of the flat roof will also depend on the type of materials used during installation. For instance, if the flat roof is made of asphalt or felt, it won’t last compared to one that is made of slate or EPDM. This means that you must select your roofing material very carefully during installation or a replacement if you’re looking for a durable system.

What is splitting and is your roof affected?

If your roof is made from materials such as felts, it is prone to splitting. Splitting occurs due to several reasons. It could be because of poor workmanship, stress or pressure on the roof or extremely cold weather that causes freeze-thawing. Splitting can also occur if the surface is walked on and gets damaged or due to poorly maintained reflective paint or stones. To avoid this, make sure you get a professional to install the felts and ensure that regular maintenance is done especially on other roofing components like the stones and reflective paint.

Have you noticed ponds of water on the roof?

Ponding is a common occurrence in flat roofing systems. It happens when the water doesn’t drain, and you’ll notice pools of water on the rooftop even in dry conditions. One of the best ways to deal with this issue is by installing hoppers which will collect the excess water. Your roofing specialist may also advise you to use an automatic pump to remove the water on affected areas in the middle of the roof. To prevent the issue from recurring, check the drains to ensure they’re not blocked. Your roofer may also recommend building up the lower areas of the flat roof to stop ponding issues.

Ensure maintenance is properly done

With time, debris, leaves, and dirt will accumulate on the flat roof system and need to be removed especially when they get to the gutters and drains. Hire a roofing specialist to remove all these unwanted elements safely from your rooftop. Sometimes standing on the roof is not recommended because it can cause further damage unless the roof is designed to be used as an outdoor area. Your roofer may recommend using a leaf blower to get rid of unwanted dirt on the surface.

Cut back overhanging tree limbs

When there’s a tree so close to your roofing system, it could bring issues. The leaves and branches could fall off and block the drainage system which ultimately leads to internal leakage. During roof inspection, any overhanging tree limbs need to be cut off to avoid these issues. Also, ensure you check the roof after a heavy storm. Snowfall shouldn’t be left on the flat roof for long because it can cause significant damage. Don’t forget to check internally for signs of roofing repair issues such as stains on the ceiling which could be an indication of water damage or leaking.

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