Selecting the best type of roof for any building takes into consideration several options. Flat roofs have long been used in commercial buildings, often due to the need for high-end HVACs and refrigeration units on roofs that make sloped roofs less common. Yet, today, flat roofs on homes are not uncommon, and they can offer some key benefits to property owners.
What Is a Flat Roof?
A flat roof is as its name states. It is a roof that is virtually level or flat. In comparison, most homes have a sloped roof, which means there is often a peak where to edges come together. Sloped roofs are common because it helps ensure water and snow drain off of the surface of the roof, minimizing the risk of roof damage from pooling water.
In most cases, a flat roof isn’t fully flat, though. There is generally a very low slope, often 10 degrees or less. It is sometimes hard to notice this.
What Is the Lifespan of a Flat Roof?
One of the reasons to consider a flat roof is because of its long potential lifespan. Depending on the type of roof invested, these roofs can last as long as 50 years, providing homeowners with the probable need to replace them just once in their lifetime.
Various factors impact the longevity of a flat roof, including the type of materials used. Some other factors that play a role in this include:
· The climate in the area
· The type of roofing material used
· Any roof penetration
· Installation processes and methods
· Proper maintenance
Ineffective installation or a poor level of maintenance can shorten the lifespan of a flat roof to 10 to 20 years.
Types of Flat Roofs
There are three types of flat roofs. For those considering the addition of this type of roofing material, it’s important to consider each type to determine which is the best overall option for any space. Here is a look at the three main types and some details about each to factor into the decision.
Built Up Roof (BUR)
A built up roof typically consists of numerous layers of waterproof material. This can include fiberglass matting, rubberized foam sheets, asphalt, tar paper, and others. A built up roof is often one of the most durable forms of roofing. Typically, it can last from 10 to 25 years. However, that depends on the installation of the roof overall.
BUR tends to cost a bit more to install when compared to other types of flat roofs. However, once installed, it can last as long as 25 years and sometimes much longer. Many newer BURs will have more advanced materials on them than older models.
There are a number of benefits to this type of roof. For example, it often includes gravel, which is a good fire retardant. It can also be an attractive option for some people. In addition to this, BUR roofs tend to pay for themselves over time.
There are some disadvantages of this type of roofing, such as being very heavy and sometimes being more expensive. It may require some maintenance over time, especially to strengthen the joists. It also needs to be professionally installed to ensure any benefits occur.
Modified Bitumen Roof
Another popular option in flat roofs is a modified bitumen roof, which is a type of single-ply roof. It has been used for a long time because it is affordable to install. It is also quite durable overall. It can be a good option for those who want a long-lasting roof, as it can last for up to 25 years. The size of the roof, the maintenance it receives, and the overall installation quality all play a role in the overall lifespan of this type of roof. The biggest problem is that if it is not maintained and sealed properly, it can develop leaks.
These types of roofs are typically made of a combination of modified polymer blends and asphalt, which helps to make them versatile and strong. Their biggest advantages included an easier installation process and light-colored material options, which can help reflect the sun away, reducing energy costs.
Rubber Membrane Roof
A rubber remembrance roof, such as an ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM), is a third option. This is a true rubber roof. There are a lot of benefits to using this product, and as a result, it has grown in its use over the years. This type of roof is a durable, single-ply roof that looks like an inner tube in its design. However, it is engineered in such a way that it can be very durable.
This type of roof is also not likely to be damaged by the sun. It can also be adhered to the roof through a number of methods, including ballasted with stone, glued into place, or held in place using fasteners.
This type of roof is a bit easier to install, and the material tends to be lightweight. It is less likely to suffer from tears, scuff marks, or discoloration from the sun. If leaks do develop, they tend to be much easier to fix than other types of roofs.
It is important to note that darker colors can absorb heat quickly, which often makes lighter colors more valuable. Some products can cost more than others.
Which Roof Is the Best Option?
There are a variety of factors to take into account. The key is often to work with a professional to see these materials up close. A long lifespan is often a big factor for homeowners who do not want to invest in a roof numerous times. Yet, it is also important to consider how well the roof fits their home, including aesthetics, and which models can be the most energy efficient. Often, choosing an easy-to-maintain roof is an important factor, too.
The best roofs are those that meet the needs of the property and the homeowner. Professional installation plays a big role in the long-term durability of this type of roofing structure.