While flat roofs are commonly found on commercial properties, plenty of modern homes today are built with a flat roof that can be used in a variety of ways. Since a home or business’s roofing system is designed to protect everything below it by performing various functions, such as shedding water, the materials used to build the flat roof in question are critical.
That’s why homeowners and business owners looking to replace their flat roofing system should become familiar with their options regarding flat roof materials.
In this article, we’ll cover the following:
- The six top-performing flat roof materials available on the market today
- Each material’s pros and cons
- Important factors to consider when having a new flat roof installed
Ready to become an expert on the best materials for flat roofing? Read on!
Things to Consider For Your Next Flat Roof
There are three important factors you’ll need to keep in mind when sorting through the different flat roofing materials:
- Lifespan and durability. The lifespan of a properly installed flat roof will have an average range of 20 years to 30 years. However, there are several flat roof materials on the market that will last up to 50 years or longer, depending on your location and the condition of your sub-roof.
- Energy efficiency. To get a permit for flat roof installation, certain energy efficiency parameters must be met before the project can begin. However, as a homeowner or business owner, the energy efficiency of your flat roofing material will affect the rest of your home or building — right now to your monthly utility bill.
- The overall cost. Cost is also something to think about when it comes to your flat roof, as it’s directly related to the type of material you choose and whether or not that material is easy to install.
The 7 Best Flat Roof Materials Out There
The best-performing flat roof materials include:
- Metal Roofing
- Built-Up Roofing (BUR) Membrane
- Spray-On Silicon
- Thermoset EPDM Roof Membrane
- Thermoplastic PVC and TPO Roofing materials
- Modified Bitumen
1. Metal Roofing
Metal roofing has become a very popular flat roofing material as it has a lifespan of up to 70 years. There are also several different types of metal roofing systems you can choose from, including:
- Corrugated galvanized steel
- Stainless steel or coated steel
- Zinc, tin, and aluminum amalgams
- Tile sheets
Metal roofing is also revered for its energy efficiency, and most flat metal roofing systems can be integrated with solar panels or snow removal systems — which is an added bonus. It’s also associated with a strong fire resistance rating and is arguably the most durable option on the market.
The only downside to metal roofing is that it’s vulnerable to corrosion, especially if it’s not installed properly. However, that’s why modern metal roofing usually comes with protective surface layers to protect it from corrosion over time.
2. Built-Up Roofing Membrane
Built-up roofing (BUR) is designed with alternating layers of tar and gravel. It has a lifespan of up to 20 years — more with proper maintenance. It’s also customizable in the number of layers you can choose to have installed, which directly correlates to the material’s cost and durability.
A built-up roof is also seamless and is installed with a stable understructure which helps it remain durable under foot traffic. You can also opt to have it specially coated for better UV reflection.
However, a built-up roof will only last around 20 years, which isn’t always long enough. Also, because it’s designed to be seamless and have alternating layers, identifying any leak sources can be difficult as the roofing ages.
3. Spray-On Roofing
Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF) is a flat roofing material typically used on commercial buildings. It starts off as a liquid, expands into a foam, and then hardens into a solid layer. SPF roofing is considered an eco-friendly flat roofing option as it’s simply applied to the top of your existing flat roof, which makes it more cost-effective as it doesn’t require tricky installation.
SPF roofing systems are also waterproof and well-insulated, which means they can be used in any type of climate. It will also last up to 50 years with proper installation and care. However, there’s a small window of time during which the SPF roofing can be applied, and it requires two annual inspections for maintenance.
4. Thermoset EPDM Membrane
Ethylene Propylene Diene Terpolymer (EPDPM) is an incredibly durable, roll-based synthetic rubber roofing membrane. Also referred to as Thermoset roofing, this type of flat roof material is associated with optimum protection from UV rays, pollution, and the elements — which also makes it more durable.
Thermoset EPDM is easy to install thanks to its roll-on application. You have the option of choosing white or black rolls for your roof, and both are equally resistant to common solvents, which makes it versatile and easy to clean.
While EPDM is an excellent choice, it’s not the most aesthetically pleasing one. It can also puncture more easily than the others when it comes to foot traffic and impact damage from hail or other debris.
6. Thermoplastic PVC and TPO Roof Membranes
Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC) and Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO) roofing systems are incredibly resistant to UV rays, extreme weather conditions, chemicals, bacteria growth, and much more. They’re also lightweight and puncture-resistant due to having air-welded seams, and they have an excellent fire resistance rating.
Both PVC and TPO are incredibly popular flat roof materials. Unfortunately, this means there are tons of cheaply made PVC and TPO products on the market. If you don’t go through a reputable roofing contractor for your TPO or PVC roofing, you’ll wind up with a cheap product that doesn’t last and can cause damage to your roof’s structure.
7. Modified Bitumen
Modified bitumen is primarily used on low-slope roofs and commercial flat roofs. It’s similar to BUR roofing systems, but it’s made of asphalt and polymerized rubber (or plastic) and reinforced with fiberglass. This is what creates the durable yet flexible waterproof membrane of modified bitumen roofing.
Modified bitumen is highly durable regarding foot traffic, and it performs well in harsh winters, plus, it can help you lower your energy bill thanks to its reflective coating. However, it involves heated installation, which can be a fire hazard if your building has a wooden structure.
There’s a lot to consider when choosing between flat roof materials for your home or business. If you want to make the right choice, your best bet is to consult with the experts at AllPhase Roofing & Restoration. Get started by scheduling your free roof inspection today!