Get to know the materials
When looking at a project that requires a flat roof, it’s essential to work out which roofing material will work best for you. There are several different materials out there, so take a read before picking your flat roof material. Water coming into your roof is a serious problem that needs to be evaluated and fixed as soon as possible. If the damage isn't repaired quickly, the cost of the repair can greatly increase.
Felt Flat Roofing
Felt, the traditional flat roofing material, has been developed and improved. Typically, felt comes in sheets and is affixed with a blow torch, with approximately 3 layers per roof – vapour control, reinforced felt and the cap sheet. This means you can choose the top layer colour and is relatively simple to repair – just torch a patch onto a damaged area. Torch on felt roofing is one of the cheapest options out there and great for a range of uses, but it will require a professional to install.
Built Up Roofing
One of the most common and oldest types of roofing material for flat roofs is Built Up Roofing. This consists of applying tar and gravel when molton to create several layers over the roof that creates a watertight seal to prevent leakage. It’s relatively environmentally friendly, because asphalt, a material required for BUR, is a bi product of petrol, diesel and heating oil.
However, bear in mind that to construct a roof using BUR takes a lot of time due to the numerous layers that need to be created, and due to the weight of material used it can often require additional supporting structure. The installation process is quite time consuming and can also be messy and give off unpleasant smells. It’s a relatively low maintenance type of roofing and the lifespan depends on the type – British Standard will last for a minimum of 10 years, but the Polymer Modified asphalt can last up to 60 years. The lifespan can be used to justify the initial installation cost, which can be costly due to the methods required.
EPDM Flat Roofs
EPDM is a form of rubber roofing. Although there are alternatives, such as PVC and Neoprene, EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) is the most common. The biggest draw to EPDM is its water resistance – it is resistant to saltwater and freshwater, and it is also used as seals, pond liners, tubing and more. EPDM is perfect for low sloping roofs, and one major advantage is that it can often be installed as one whole sheet, allowing you to cover the whole roof and removing the concern for waterproofing seams.
Additionally, EPDM is environmentally friendly, as it consists of recycled rubber materials, and takes very little energy to manufacture. They also maintain the heat in cold weather, keeping down heating costs, and the thick rubber can keep out the heat in the Summer. The estimated lifetime of an EPDM roof is 30-50 years, and repairs can be done simply by homeowners. However, it is recommended that the initial instalment is undertaken by professionals. Although the rubber coating may be unappealing to look at, it can be painted in a variety of colours.
Liquid Flat Roofing
Liquid roofing is a new and growing alternative roofing method, especially suitable for when the roof is a complex structure. Liquid roof coatings are applied directly onto the roof deck, and the coating then spreads to create a single seamless cover. Although potentially more costly to buy the product, it is a lot less labour intensive so can reduce time and labour costs. Additionally, it allows moisture from within the building to escape whilst being waterproof from the outside and has high elasticity strength to allow for natural roof movements. Liquid roofing tends to be durable, waterproof and weather resistant, and can last 25 years or more.
GRP Fibreglass Flat Roofs
Another alternative when looking to install a flat roof is fibreglass roofing. GRP (Glass Reinforced Plastic) is composed of strands of glass that combine to form layers of fibreglass. Although one of the more expensive forms of roofing material, they can be laid in one to two simple layers that are light and strong, and it has a smooth, aesthetic finish and is easy to patch repair.
Expected life span varies but is often 20-30 years, and maintenance is relatively easy. Most well suited to smaller roofs because on large areas they can become weak due to expansion and contraction. As with EPDM, fibreglass roofing will need to be installed by professionals.