When it comes time to finally replace your flat roof, the first decision you need to make is what materials you want to use for your roof replacement project. There are several highly durable options that homeowners can choose from, each of which has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Beyond Exteriors breaks down which materials are best for flat roof replacements in the blog below — let’s dive in!
Why Are Flat Roofing Materials Different?
It’s important to note that flat roofs require different materials than pitched roofs. Pitched roofs have a physical advantage over flat roofs in that they promote improved drainage, ensuring water flows over the surface. By contrast, flat roofs tend to trap water between each shingle which can penetrate your roof and cause severe structural water damage.
However, modern-day flat roofing materials have been redesigned to overcome the inherent physical disadvantages of using a flat surface for shelter from the elements. Featuring improved waterproofing and weather protection, today’s roofing materials have much more to offer in terms of durability.
What Roofing Materials Are Best for Flat Roofs?
Now that you understand why flat roofing materials are different, it’s time to explore the top five best roofing materials for flat roof replacements:
Affordable and long-lasting, PVC roofing is a great option for flat roofs. This roofing material is exceptionally weather-resistant, featuring an acrylic finish, durable weathering film, flexible fiberglass mat, and high-quality bottom ply. PVC roofs also feature a minimum breaking strength of 350 pounds per inch — far above the 200-pound-per-inch standard set by the American Social of Testing and Materials. Along with waterproofing and durability, PVC roofs are incredibly versatile and come in many different color options.
One major drawback to PVC flat roofs is its manufacturing process: During manufacturing, toxic chemicals, like dioxin, are released, which have been linked to several health risks, including hormone changes, immune system damage, and even cancer. Additionally, PVC roofs require more labor to replace or restore when significant damage has been sustained.
TPO and PVC roofing are very similar in nature. Both roofing materials offer higher energy savings since the top coating is typically white, which allows them to reflect heat more easily. This makes a huge difference for your energy bills — especially if your TPO flat roof happens to be installed on a commercial building. TPO roofs are also quite budget-friendly, with materials only costing around $3.50 per square foot. Lightweight and low-maintenance, TPO roofing is great for protecting against algae or fungus growth.
Built-up Roofs (BUR)
Created from layers of materials that are bonded together by asphalt or tar, built-up roofs (BUR) are commonly used for flat roof replacements — and for good reason: Each layer of material added to a BUR extends its life span by approximately five years. That means just five layers of material can get you 25 years of reliable use out of your roof. Because of this layering technique, the result is a seamless yet strong seal to protect against water damage. These roofs are also quite durable, able to withstand hailstorms, downed tree branches, and many other hazardous weather conditions.
BURs are not ideal for every flat roof replacement project. Due to their heavy weight, you need to ensure that the underlying structure is strong enough to hold up against the added pressure. If you’re on a tight schedule to get your roof installed, this might also be problematic since the layering process involved in BUR roof installation requires hours of labor. While the materials themselves might not be expensive, the increased labor required may result in a higher price tag than other roofing options. Additionally, leak repairs with BURs are very complex, often requiring the repair technician to dig out large chunks of rock to get to the source of the leak. Again, the result is a more costly, time-consuming roof repair process.
Ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) rubber is another excellent flat roofing option. A highly durable synthetic rubber material, EPDM roofs consistently outlast their competition, boasting up to a 50-year life span. Since rubber roofs are simple to install and the materials are affordable at just $2.50 per square foot, the cost and time for installation are much lower. EPDM is also very easy to fix when repairs are needed.
Despite all the benefits of rubber roofing, EPDM does have the potential to break apart and shrink away when not installed properly. If you choose the wrong roofing company for your replacement project, you could end up with a flat roof that leaks non-stop as a result. While resistant to extreme temperatures, EPDM also tends to absorb heat in the summer, which can lead to higher energy costs during the hotter season.
Invented in the 1960s, modified bitumen roofing offers a great option for smaller flat roof replacements. Available in many different colors, this roofing option isn’t just versatile — it’s also very easy to install. There aren’t any seams to worry about with a modified bitumen roof either, so you’ll be well-protected against any water leaks.
While this flat roofing material is great for waterproofing, it’s not as resistant to hail, fallen branches, or severe weather cycles. Because of its increased fragility, modified bitumen roofs only tend to last between 10 and 20 years.
Choose Beyond Exteriors for Your Flat Roofing Needs!
Ready to get started with your flat roof replacement? Beyond Exteriors has the team and materials you need to get the job done.
Allow us to restore your old, flat roof with our state-of-the-art roofing solutions by requesting a roof replacement quote from our team today!