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What Are the Benefits of Having a Flat Roof?

You might wonder what kind of advantages a flat roof would have over a traditionally sloped roof.  After all, how could a flat roof possibly be effective if it’s flat?  Not many people know that a flat roof isn’t actually flat.  These roofs just have an incredibly low slope—between ¼ of an inch to ½ of an inch per foot—just enough so that they can drain water (a completely flat roof, as you’d might expect, would pool water on the surface, eventually causing the roof to collapse).

a flat grey roof with a window on top

Flat Roof Versus Sloped Roof

Flat roofs are sloped just enough so that the water is able to run off and be appropriately channeled into the gutter system, which is then directed away from the home or building’s foundation.  However, such a small slope will undoubtedly hold some water.  Fortunately, the design of a flat roof is aware of this fact and accommodates standing water with its continuous surface.  The continuous, smooth surface of a flat roof can hold standing water for some time, which avoids water damage and stress from the additional weight of pooling water.

A sloped roof has a much higher pitch.  Sloped roofs have shingles that are overlapped, which allows for water to slide over them.  With the overlapping shingles and pull of gravity from the steeper slope, water is then channeled into the gutter system and sloped roofs will then avoid standing water entirely.

a sloped black roof with asphalt shingles

Types of Flat Roof Systems

Diving into the intricacies of flat roof systems, you’ll find that there are three main types of flat roofs:

-Single-ply membrane

-Modified bitumen (MBR)

-Built-up roofing (BUR)

Single-ply, sometimes called a membrane, flat roofs are comprised of rubber or plastic material and are the most common type of flat roof used in residential roofing.  Most homes with a flat roof utilize EPDM rubber, a synthetic material that’s often used as liners for things like ponds or fire hoses.

Pros of Single-Ply Flat Roofs

-Repairs, if needed, are inexpensive and can even be done by the homeowner.

-EPDM is a lightweight rubber material, which saves money on having to reinforce the roof deck.

-EPDM is good for heat retention, thus lowering energy usage and utility costs.

-Single-ply flat roofs aren’t as expensive to replace or install compared to other roof styles, making them the ideal choice for homeowners on a budget.

BUR flat roofs were once the most common type of flat roof before MBR took over.  BUR is a multi-layered roofing system consisting of an insulation board as its bottom layers, multiple middle layers of tar or asphalt alternated with roofing felt, and a final top layer of gravel.  It’s a messy process to install but it ultimately creates a roof system that’s highly resistant to damage.

Pros of BUR Flat Roofs

-BUR roofs are made of extremely durable materials that offer ample protection against water, UV radiation, and damages caused by storms or adverse weather.

-BUR flat roofs require very little upkeep throughout their lifetime and repairs, if there are any, are low-cost.

-Resurfacing BUR roofs is a simplified process of removing and adding layers of material.

MBR flat roofs are the lightweight answer to BUR roofs.  Made of asphalt-based material, MBR roofs don’t have the heaviness, messiness, and smell of a BUR roof.  Modified bitumen roofs are topped with mineral surface coating, like asphalt shingles, and are rolled out in long, wide sheets to create a water-resistant membrane.  When the membrane is unrolled and ready for installation, the backside is then heated (or for some, the backing is a self-adhesive) and applied to the roof.

Pros of MBR Flat Roofs

-MBR roofs have very little upkeep required.

-Modified bitumen is durable, even more so than BUR.

-This flat roof type is cost-effective to install and can even be installed by homeowners as MBR is available in sheeting with self-adhesive backing.

-MBR performs better at lower temperatures than its BUR counterpart.

The Benefits of a Flat Roof

The three types of flat roofs certainly have their benefits.  In comparison to other styles of roofs, flat roofs hold these benefits overall:

-Cost:  The main benefit of a flat roof (no matter which of the three types of flat roof you’re considering for your business or residence) is the overall cost.  Flat roofs are easy to install and don’t require much in the way of material or labor thanks to the absence of a complex slope or roofing geography.  Fewer materials and an easy-to-navigate surface mean a shorter time to install, and for you, that means saving on the amount of labor.

-Durability:  EPDM rubber is known for its durability and MBR and BUR flat roofs utilize hardy materials that can be resurfaced and layered to help prolong the roof’s lifetime.  These heavy-duty materials make for a roof that will last you about 15-20 years.

-Access:  Another primary reason homeowners and business owners choose a flat roof is to have unrestricted access for inspections and hardware like air conditioning units, satellites, and other external accessories.  Flat roofs are built to withstand foot traffic and this extra abuse won’t affect its lifespan.

At Feldco, we provide breakthrough design and triple-layer protection to keep your roof insulated throughout the year. For a roof replacement, our installers are factory trained, experienced, and professional to get the job done correctly. Speak to a product specialist and get a free quote today.

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