Are flat roofs a smart idea?

Last Updated on: 5th February 2023, 12:35 pm

If you take a look around, you will notice that there is a flat roof on every second building you see. Flat roofs are a popular roofing choice for both commercial and residential buildings. They are relatively easy to install and maintain, as well as cost-effective compared to other roofing materials. There are, however, several factors that should be taken into account before deciding whether or not a flat roof is the right choice for your structure before making any final decisions. I am planning to provide an introduction to flat roofs in this post, which will include the benefits of this roofing material, the types of flat roofs that are available, as well as tips for choosing the right flat roof for your building. There are, of course, drawbacks to flat roofs, but I wil take a chance and reserve the right to write a separate blog about them at a later date.

Flat roof construction timelapse

Types of flat roofs

There are a number of different types of materials, as well as construction methods that are available when it comes to flat roofs.

Built-up roofs (BUR) are the most comon type of flat roof and use multiple layers of waterproof material, hot tar and ballast to create a flat roofing system. This type of roofing has been around since the mid 1800s and is often used in commercial and industrial settings due to its durability and resistance to extreme weather conditions. BURs are also relatively low-maintenance, but can be more costly than other roofing systems. It isp ertinent to consider the climate, budget and longevity of the roof when choosing a roofing system for a flat roof.

Spray foam roofing systems are sprayed onto flat roofs, layer after layer, creating a monolithic barrier for maximum protection against the elements. Unlike conventional roofing materials, spray foam roofs are completely seamless and self-flashing. They are specially designed to conform and adhere to irregular surfaces, creating a more efficient barrier to the outside. The cost of installing a spray foam roof is in the ballpark of other conventional roofing systems, with prices ranging from $8-$12 per square foot. However, it is necessary to note that there are many variables that can influence the cost. Spray foam insulationis better suited for creating cold roofs r ather than hot roofs.

Modified bitumen roofs (MBR) are similar to BURs but use a ruberized asphalt membrane instead. Finally, rubber membrane roofs are the most modern type of flat roof and are characterized by their use of a single-layer synthetic rubber membrane. Each type of flat roof has its own unique benefits and drawbacks, so it is necessary to consider all the options before making a decision.

Advantages of Flat Roofs

Due to their cost-effectiveness and accessibility, flat roofs are at the top of the list for many homeowners. If you´re looking for an affordable roofing option that can give you extra space ofr various functions, flat roofs may be the perfect choice for you as they offer:

Lower Construction and Repair Costs: The materials used to build a flat roof are typically cheaper than those used for a sloped roof. Similarly, repairs require les labour and materials, too. This makes them easier on your pocket in the long run.

Extra Space for Various Functions: Flat roofs take up less space than sloped roofs, so they can provide an ideal spot for various functions such as solar panels and skylights, or even a living space like a garden or patio.

Safer and Easier to Walk On: Flat roofs are generally safer and easier to walk on than sloped roofs as they are more stable and don´t require the same amount of steep climbing to inspect them or carry out repairs.

Less Risky Installation: Installing a flat roof is also less risky than installing a sloped one as it doesn´t require extensive shingling or waterproofing knowledge like a sloped roofwould.

Lower Construction and Repair Costs

The cost of installing and maintaining a flat roof can be significantly lower than that of a slopedroof, making it an attractive option for many homeowners. Purchase materials that are specifically designed for flat roofs. This will help keep costs down, as well as ensure that the roof will last for many years. Make sure to purchase materials from reputable suppliers and avoid cu tting corners on grade.

Hiringa professional to install your flat roof will ensure that it is properly done and that you don´t have to worry about future repairs. Professionals will know what materials are best suited for your climate and budget, as well as how to properly install the materials.

Regularly checking your flat roof for any signs of damage or wear and tear can help catch any issues early on and prevent them from geting worse. This will also help you identify any potential weak spots before they become a larger problem. This includes cleaning off debris that accumulates on the surface!

Rubberized membranes can provide extra protection against water leakage while also providing extra insulation. This can help you save money on energy costs in the long run, as well as reducing the need for future repairs.

Extra Space for Various Functions

You can use the extra space on a flat roof to store items such as bicycles, lawn furniture, and other outdoor equipment.

You can create an outdoor living space. Flat roofs can be an ideal spot for entertaining, relaxing, and enjoying some fresh air. Consider adding furniture, decorations,and lighting to make it an enjoyable place to spend time outside.

If you´re looking to take advantage of some extra growing space, you can use the area on your flat roof to create a garden or greenhouse. This could be a great way to add some greenery to your home while making the most of your extra space.

Solar panels and skylights can both be installed on a flat roof in order to take advantage of natural light and energy sources. This could be a great way to save money on electricity costs while making use of your extra space.

You can use insulation on your flat roof in order to beter regulate the temperature in your home and reduce energy costs associated with heating and cooling.

Worlds largest rooftop greenhouse

Safer and Easier to Walk On

And don´t forget – when discussing flat roofs – one of the main advantages is how easy they are to walk on. That being said, there are still a few steps you can take to ensure your safety while walking on your flat roof. Here are some tips for making walking on your flat roof safer and easier:

Wear Proper Footwear: Make sure you´re wearing proper shoes with a good grip. This will give you the best traction possible, helping you avoid slips and falls.

Use Handrails: If possible, install handrails arou nd the perimeter of your roof to provide extra stability whil ewalking around. This will help keep you steady and reduce the risk of falling.

Be Careful of Hot Surfaces: When it´s hot outside, the surface of your roof can become quite hot as well. Make sure to test the temperature before walking on it to avoid burning your feet.

Avoid Walking in Areas with Pooling Water: Make sure to avoid areas where water is pooling on your roof, as this can make it slippery and increase your chance of slipping and falling.

Install Non-Slip Coating: If you want an extra layer of protection, consider applying a non-slip coating to your flat roof to reduce the risk of slipping and falling while walking aruond.

Flat Roofs Are Environmentally Friendly

If you are looking to make your flat roof more eco-friendly, there are several steps you can take.

Choose the Sustainable Materials: When selecting materials for your flat roof, look for products that have been designed with sustainability in mind. EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) is a popular and reliable option that is designed to be durable,e nergy efficient and long-lasting.

Install Proper Insulation: Proper insulation can help reduce energy costs and ensure that the space below your flat roof stays comfortable year-round. Choose insulation materials with an R-value rating of at least R-30 to ensure maximum efficiency.

Utilize Reflective Coatings: Reflective coatings can help reduce the amounto f heat absorbed by your flat roof, which can help reduce energy costs over time. Consider adding reflective coatings to any areas of your roof exposed to direct sunlight for maximum eficiency.

Choose Green Roofing Options: Green roofs are becoming increasingly popular due to their ability to reduce energy costs, improve air grade, and provide additional insulation. Consider installing vegetation on top of your flat roof, such as grasses or shrubs, to help reduce energy costs while also providing a beautiful aesthetic.

Are flat roofs a good option for hot climates?

Flat roofs are widely used in hot climates, with their main app eal being their simple design and ease of construction. However, this simplicity has some drawbacks. As flat roofs absorb more heat than pitched roofs, they warm up the interior of the building more than pitched roofs. This can be mitigated somewhat by adding insulation and reflective coatings, but the cost of these features can add up. Despite their potential drawbacks, flat roofs are an acceptable option in hot climates. Green flat roofs, on the other hand, are a completely different story.

Flat green roofs with vegetation are a great option for hot climates due to their ability to reduce heat gain in the building. The vegetation absorbs sunlight, which cools the building, while the soil and plants insulate the building against heat transfer. Moreover, the vegetation and soil act as a bufer, reducing the amount of rainwater that runs off the building and into the ground. This reduces the strain on drainage systems and prevents flooding. Also, flat green roofs with vegetation create a habitat for wildlife, encouraging biodiversity and enhancing the urban environment.

In conclusion, flat roofs can provide an economical and easy-to-install solution for many building projects. However, they require regular maintenance and inspection to ensure that they stay waterproof and remain in good condition. Although flat roofs can be more susceptible todamage than pitched roofs, with proper care they can last just as long. With the right materials and installation technique s, flat roofs can be an attractive, durable, and long-lasting roofing solution.

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