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Before you hire local flat roofing contractors near you, it helps if you take the time to learn about the different options that can be used. By doing so, you will be better equipped to discuss moving forward with the contractor, and you’re more likely to ensure that your project moves forward without any complications.

In this article we’ll not just walk you through the different materials, we’ll also talk about the advantages and disadvantages.

By reading this post you will be able to have more meaningful conversations with a roofing contractor about what you want and how to make it happen with your preferences as well as budget. Different materials come with different price tags, benefits and features, and you can always ask a contractor for their personal recommendations for the project.

The easy way to make sure you’re not spending too much money when you’re in need of either flat roof repair or installation companies is by using the form at the top of this page to get quotes from competing pros.

Types of Flat Roof Materials

There are 4 main types flat roof materials that you should familiarize yourself with. Read through them and once you’ve used the form to request quotes, you can talk to the contractor to hear what sort of recommendations they have for you.

Built-up roofing

This is also called BUR because of its abbreviation and the main materials that go into it include gravel and tar. It has stood the test of time and has been used for a long time. It gets its insulating characteristics from the fact that this material has several layers with hot jar in between them. The top layer being the gravel. The other layers include insulation, asphalt, a venting base, ply sheeting with the deck surface at the bottom.

All the different layers combined add to the durability of the material, and it also comes with the advantage that it’s the cheapest type of flat roofing material that you can go for, generally costing between $2.5 and $5 per square foot to have installed. If you have a big roof where this will need to be installed, it ends up adding up.

Advantages and Disadvantages

There’s very little maintenance associated with this type of roofing material when it’s been installed, and it provides UV protection and provides a seamless surface. The fact that it’s seamless helps prevent water leaks. Roof leaks will most often arise where the seams are as that it typically the point of least resistance for the water to get into your home. It provides great fire-resistance too.

It can last 40 years when it is well maintained and has been installed by reputable companies. One of the disadvantages is that the it won’t provide the same amount of protection if the layer of gravel breaks. It’s also a relatively heavy material, which will mean the contractor will need to check the foundation and framing to ensure that there’s sufficient support to deal with it. If there isn’t enough support, that will need to be fixed before it can be installed, which includes more joists and support posts.

If it’s a commercial roofing project, this will likely not be an issue. If the necessary support isn’t installed, the lifespan will suffer greatly as a consequence, and it could cause it to hang or even collapse, which would be a catastrophe.

Installation and Repair

One of the reasons why this is not a job that should be done by homeowners themselves is that you will be needing to carry gravel, tar and asphalt up to the roof, which is extremely heavy for n entire roof, and it also takes relatively long to install too, better leaving it to professionals that know exactly what they’re doing. Repairing a built-up roof is also something that is best left to the pros.

Modified bitumen

This is made from sheets of asphalt and comes in two types, APP (attactic polypropylene) and SBS (styrene-butadiene-styrene). Polyester fiber matting or fiberglass is used in order to make it stronger and make it last longer too.

SBS makes it more flexible which is convenient in climates where it is more likely to expand and contract due to the weather. Between APP abd SBS, SBS is often preferred.

Advantages and Dsiadvantages

Some roofing materials will have a hard time standing up to continuous expanding and contracting, which is the normal cycles as the weather changes, but modified bitumen is good at handling those conditions. It’s also easy for a pro to install and repair, providing great weather resistance. Lastly, it’s durable too.

It’s very weather-resistant and will generally cost $4-5 per square foot to get installed.

This is not a DIY project as the flat roofing companies will be dealing with fire when it’s being installed, which includes torching the membrane thereby causing it to stick to the layer underneath. We cannot stress enough that this should be professionally installed to ensure no accidents happen in the process.

Single-Ply One-Piece Membrane

This can either constitute of TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin), PVC (polyvinyl chloride) or EPDM as a single-ply one-piece membrane. They’re manufactures in rolls, that will be rolled out to cover the roof.

Advantages and Disadvantages

There are very limited seams with this type of roofing material, which again is a big advantage when it comes to lowering the risk of leaks, and there are no joints. Without the seams and the joints, it’s not prone to peeling, although the edges of the material need to be properly addressed to avoid peeling, but this is simply done by reinforcing the edges. One of the reasons why this is not a DIY job is because it’s difficult to lay without wrinkling it due to the way it’s installed.

With a price tag between $3 to $5 per square foot, it’s an option a lot of people consider also. If you have difficult roofing vents that get in the way or customizations that you need done, this can affect the cost of installation.

As TPO is usually white it becomes very reflective, meaning much of the heat from the sun is simply reflected rather than allowed to enter the structure. By adding fire-retardant chemicals which is done when it’s produced, this material becomes very fire-resistant. It’s also a type of material that has been around for a long time.

Relative to built-up roofing, for instance, it’s not as durable since it lacks the durable top layer, which for BUR is the gravel. While this type of material does reflect a lot of sun, the sun will still over time affect the adhesive, and wishing to install a skylight will make this material harder to install also.

Installation and Repair

First, the existing roof needs to be removed before this is laid before it can be prepared for the installation of the single-ply membrane. Removing the existing roof may not be needed if it is one that can simply be installed on top of, but cleaning would be needed in that case.

Insulation is then installed – the suggested insulation options include XPS, EPS and polyiso, and on top of it the membrane will be attached either mechanically or with some sort of adhesive.

If you choose EPDM, the seams are fixed using seam tape, whereas TPO will be melted in order to ensure that the seams do not become a problem.

Rubber Membrane

This is a rubber sheet membrane, also called EPDM and it uses adhesive to stick to the underlying material. Under the roofing material, there’s a layer of insulation as well as vapor control installed to improve the efficacy of the adhesive.

It is a common type of material suggested for climates that have a lot of rain, but mind you it’s not good if you live in a warmer climate. Why? The EPDM rubber sheet is black, meaning it ends up absorbing a lot of heat, which would work against your HVAC unit.

While black is the most common color for this material, it is made in other colors also that include a white color, which will be better in terms of not absorbing as much heat as the black version does, making it better suited to warmer climates. The black version of this material is the cheaper one, where other types will increase the material cost by about 30%. Black EPDM usually costs $4 to $6 to have installed.

Its insulating properties will also be affected by the amount and type of insulation that’s installed underneath the rubber membrane.

Advantages and Disadvantages

It doesn’t get damaged by the sun’s rays and should the structure end up shifting a little bit, that won’t be a problem for the material. The sheets come as wide 50 feet, meaning one role can end up covering an entire roof if it isn’t wider than that.

It basically doesn’t age and is also flexible. With periodic roof inspections and getting the necessary repairs done, this is an option that will be effective for a long time to come.

The disadvantage with this material is that it can puncture from falling objects and its appearance isn’t ideal for all types of structures, and it will need inspection, especially if it is applied beneath a tree or something else, where falling branches is a realistic possibility you should be worried about.

Flat Roofs in General

There are advantages and disadvantages in general for choosing flat roofs over others. One factor could simply be that the structure of the roof is flat, meaning one of these materials would be required.

Advantages and Disadvantages

A big advantage when it comes to flat roofs in general when comparing it to sloped roofs is that it is a lot cheaper to actually install, and often also to repair.

If you in fact plan on using the roof for social gatherings, for example, it’s also required that it’s flat, and you will want to pick a type of material that doesn’t easily get punctured. The lack of a sloped roof also means that you will have more possibilities when it comes to the top level of your building, since attics are often hard to remodel.

If you need to clean gutters, this will also be easier to do from the roof than if you have a sloped roof.

One thing that goes again no matter what type of material you choose for the roof is that drainage can be a considerable issue that needs to be tackled. Having puddles accumulate on the roof may make it deteriorate faster, so this should be addressed.

Getting Free Estimates & Quotes for Your Flat Roof Project

Getting quotes from flat roof specialists does not need to be hard. All you need to do is go to the top of this page and fill it out with the information for your project, and we’ll match it with the 4 most relevant contractors in your area that will then reach out to you to provide you with quotes.

Filling out the form takes just 2 minutes, it’s free and there’s no obligation at all on your end. What are you waiting for?

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