Is a Flat Roof a Good Idea?

Flat Roof Installation

How Long Does a Flat Roof Last?

Flat roofing is typically relegated to use in commercial buildings, as they allow for a greater range of movement when repairs are needed and are better suited to industrial architecture—though they can also be used in residential architecture. Choosing between a flat roof or a pitched roof is not entirely a question of the building’s intended use, however; there are many things to consider when selecting the type of roof for your building, including the longevity of the roof, the materials involved, and the environment in which the building is located.

Like most roofs, flat roofs are typically accompanied by a warranty after installation, ranging from 10-20 years. If installed and maintained properly, flat roofs can last up to 30 years, making them ideal for commercial properties—a clear case for flat roof benefits. The exact duration of a roof will depend on the materials used, and the manner in which the roof has been used and maintained; when built in an area with weather that is frequently severe or inclement, for instance, roofs will not stand up for as long as a roof built in temperate weather, and a roof that has had all small maintenance needs completed as soon as they are necessary will last longer than a roof left to neglect.

What Is The Best Material for a Flat Roof?

There are many types of flat roofing systems, each of them with their own strengths and drawbacks. The most common include PVC roofing, TPO roofing, metal roofing, and Bitumen roofing.

PVC roofing is typically the more expensive option of the four and is made up of vinyl sheeting. PVC roofs can last up to 25 years, with minimal leaking and minimal maintenance. PVC also holds up well to all manner of weather situations, chemicals, and exposures, and is often ideally suited for less temperate weather conditions. Each roll is heat-sealed and holds up well to punctures and other inconveniences.

Similarly, TPO roofing is made up of large rolls of polymer, which are sealed together using heat. Also like PVC, TPO roofing is UV resistant and holds up well in a variety of weather conditions. Although it is quite similar to PVC, TPO roofing is usually less expensive, though it may not be quite as resistant to chemicals, acids, and other corrosive, potentially-damaging materials.

Metal roofing is perhaps one of the oldest roofing types and the most common to all types of roofing projects. It is often highly impact-resistant and is used for its strength, durability, and long lifespan, as some metal roofs have been known to last more than 30 years, proven that installation is completed correctly, and maintenance is consistently performed.

Bitumen roofing is the final of the four most common types of flat roofs and is similar to traditional tar-and-shingle roofs. Bitumen roofs are comprised of several layers of asphalt and fiberglass or polyester. Bitumen roofing is often used in spaces that are expected to have a lot of foot traffic, and are easily patched and repaired, should a portion of the roof falter.

How Do You Waterproof a Flat Roof?

As is the case with all modern roofing systems, waterproofing is an important part of roof installation. Some roofing systems use tar and rubber to ensure that water does not permeate the external membrane of the roof, while others use heat to seal separate roof panels together. The manner of waterproofing is wholly unique to the exact roofing material used.

Do Flat Roofs Need Ventilation?

Typically, yes. Although there are some roofing systems designed to forego ventilation, to ensure that the roof remains in pristine condition, and the indoor air quality does not suffer, most flat roofs require some form of ventilation. Ventilation allows air to circulate and escape, keeping condensation, microbial growth, and internal damage to a minimum.

flat black roof with some puddles on it from the last storm

Do Flat Roofs Always Leak?

A flat roof leaking is no more likely than a standard pitched roof. Leaks occur due to improper installation practices, damaged roofing materials, or ineffective maintenance techniques, and can occur in any type of roofing. Just as with a pitched roof, timely evaluation and repair is the best way to ensure that a flat roof functions optimally. If a flat roof is leaking, the possible reasons include:

  • Poor Construction. All roofs, even so-called flat roofs, possess at least slight slopes to allow water to run off. If a flat roof building is not properly constructed, water can puddle and cause a leak to form.
  • Incompetent Commercial Roofing Contractors, whether you hired a commercial roofer near your area, or took the advice of someone who was uninformed.
  • Damaged Roof Panels. As is the case with other roofing systems, flat roofs can experience punctures, tears, and other breakages that allow water through.

Although flat roofs are often incorrectly cited as a source of constant leaking, properly-installed flat roofs are no more susceptible to leaking than sloped roofs. For flat roofing service in Yukon and Oklahoma City, OK, call (405) 470-9115 today!