Flat Roofs 101
Flat roofs, although a clear minority to sloped roofs are all around your town, whether atop commercial or residential buildings. You may ask yourself sometimes whether they are practical. Flat roof construction might have succumbed to the elements more easily than sloped roofs at one time, but these days, builders can apply new materials designed to resist damage caused by severe weather conditions.
For example, the main issue with flat roofs is the pooling of water and snow accumulating and melting on the surface of a flat roof. A roof slope allows moisture to slide down. Flat roofs promote puddles, which can eventually get into your home through the membrane connecting seams, or through minor failures in roof flashing details, which are quite common around chimneys, skylights, and end-walls.
Are Flat roofs really Flat?
Flat roofs are not entirely flat. Roofing professionals know better than to lay a completely flat roof, so they add a slope so marginal as to be barely visible. One way to create this slope is with layers, a method known as built-up roofing. Another way to add a roof pitch to an older roof that has lost some of its minimal slopes is to use tapered insulation in the flat roof construction and replacement of the existing roof.
Your layers will consist partly of insulation, a substrate (materials include fiberglass and polystyrene), then a top layer that is bonded to the substrate. Materials for this top layer, the part everyone sees, are changing with new technologies and the waning of oil-based products like asphalt. Still, asphalt is a very common material as is tar and gravel.
Then again, rubber roofing is also coming into its own. Roofers can spread this out to cover an entire roof, or almost, reduce or eliminate the vulnerable seams into which water will find a crack and make mincemeat off your roof. A roofer will lie this down with a cold or hot application method to bond the two layers. When this is done, a home or business owner will have something that works like a single sheet, completely without gaps or vulnerable places. Add to this perimeter metal flashing to keep water out of sensitive joints and see the roof adhere to the building frame and what was once an insurance liability may cease to be a worry.
Nowadays, there are cool flat roofing membranes that never leak at the seams because they are hot air welded. PVC flat roofs, in light colors and can reflect solar radiant heat looking beautifully on your home. PVC roofs can help you eliminate flat roof leaks and solve your problems associated with flat roof repairs that never seem to end.
TPO roofing systems have received some bad publicity in recent years due to flammability and reliability. Consider a PVC roofing system instead, and you will avoid any potential issues associated with troublesome TPO roofs.
Your warranty may rely on your use of trained professionals. In fact, you should check into two warranties: one will relate to the roofing materials. The other applies to roofing contractors. Before choosing someone to do the work, take a good look at some other flat roofs that your contractor and his team have installed. Check out his references through testimonies, word of mouth, and reviews.
The question of cool roofs and insulation comes up, especially in areas of extreme climate fluctuation. A properly installed cool roofing membrane such as the PVC roofing system from IB Roofs can reduce your energy bills considerably, as well as help prolong the life of your HVAC equipment. A white coating goes on to the membrane reflecting temperatures off of your home to keep you cool.