A Comprehensive Guide to Flat Roof Systems

Republic Roofing gives you a comprehensive guide to flat roof systems. Flat roofs aren’t the most usual roofing systems. However, modern homes have moderately steep pitches, and some older housing stocks have very low slopes. Likewise, some commercial and industrial buildings also employ flat roofs.

There’s a lot to know about these roofs. Thus, we bring you below the guide you need to master every significant point about flat roofing systems.

A Comprehensive Guide to Flat Roof Systems

What is a Flat Roof?

Flat roof pitches have 1-10 degrees. So, they are not totally flat. Generally, they have at least 1/4 inch per foot of the slope.

But, what mean the terms “pitch” and “slope”? These terms describe the angles of your roof.

Pitch is the relationship between the vertical changes in height for each horizontal unit of the roof.

The slope is the relationship between the roof’s rise and run or the horizontal change in the distance across your roof.

Slope and pitch create runoff, which avoids water pooling and prevents roof damage. Yet, low-sloping roofs don’t drain as quickly as it does with other roofing systems.

Pros and Cons of Flat Roofs

•Structural Elements

A steeper roof is harder to design and maintain, so they are impractical for the size of many commercial buildings. Also, multi-family homes such as row houses or townhouses share the same roof size setbacks.

•Added Useable Space

Usually, flat roofs allow the installation of HVAC and refrigeration components on them. This feature allows having more space available inside home or business.

•Easier Inspection and Maintenance

Commercial buildings receive frequent inspections due to liability issues. In this sense, flat roofs are easier to inspect and maintain when issues appear. 

•Improved Energy Efficiency?

Depending on the materials used and the location of the building, flat roofs may be more or less energy efficient. Some environmentally-friendly homeowners prefer flat roofs with recycled materials like tactic polypropylene.

•Maintenance for Flat Roofs

Flat roofs are prone to leaks, so they require more maintenance. Since commercial buildings are subject to regular inspection, this is not an issue for their owners. But, residential roofs are another history. Most homeowners usually don’t have the time to inspect and maintain their roofs by themselves.

Adam Lewellen, sales manager at Long Roofing, adds: 

“Most homeowners do not do the maintenance or replace their flat roofs on time because they can’t see them from the ground,” “Typically, by the time roofers are called, a lot of water damage has already occurred,”

Types of Flat Roofs

There are several flat roof systems available to homeowners:

  • Built-up roofing (BUR) – The slayers of waterproof membrane, tar, and gravel seal the surface of these flat roof systems. Generally, it is used in commercial and industrial applications. But, some homeowners also use them in their homes due to their affordability and fire resistance. 
  • “Rubber roofs” (known as EPDM) – They are popular in residential applications because they are waterproof and relatively easy to install. These roofs have one layer of rubber or a rubber-type material. As a downside, they may present leakage at the seams.
  • Modified Bitumen Systems (MBS) – This is one of the most popular flat roof systems for commercial and residential applications. An MBS combines coated base mat layers to seal the roof instead of applying a hot liquid adhesive to the uncoated base mat. Compared to BUR systems, MBS flat roofs require a lower installation time which is a cost-savings benefit. 

An MBS roof can be sealant-treated after the warranty period. By doing this, you can extend its life up to 30 years of use.

There are two basic types of MBS systems: 

  1. Torch-down systems use a combination of layers to torch-seal the bituminous product layers with the help of specially designed substrates.
  2. A self-adhering system (SAS) is similar to a conventional MBS. The SAS uses coated bitumen base mat to provide a waterproof seal. This product is ideal for when it is not possible to use a torch. 

Looking for a quality flat roofing contractor?

Are you looking for a roofing contractor skilled and experienced in flat roof systems installations?

Republic Roofing fits the bill. Our team can help give you a new low-slope roof that will last for decades. Call today to learn more at 901-437-5278! We serve Collierville, Germantown, and greater Memphis, TN.