Flat roofing for commercial properties
What is flat roofing? The primary goal for any roof is simple: keep a structure’s integrity firm and watertight while keeping the contents and occupants inside dry and safe. A simple straightforward goal, yet an important goal. It can be a flat roof or a pitched roof, either one will have the same simple goal.
When commercial property owners and managers are ready to replace the flat roof of their building, it isn’t a simple choice. There are several types of flat roof systems, making it challenging to choose the best one for their needs.
What a flat roof cost is certainly a concerning factor, they also need a flat roof that will give them the longest lifespan, has the best warranty and provides protection against the climate and the elements.
There are many flat roof benefits and advantages as well as some disadvantages. As you read this article, we are going to answer some questions about flat roofs, what type is the best for what type of structure as well as the climate and environment.
Are flat roofs bad?
A flat roof is common on commercial structures mainly because they are the less expensive in the construction process. There is one big disadvantage of having a flat roof installed though: drainage.
A flat roof is never 100% flat, there is always some pitch for the purpose of drainage, but if a flat roof isn’t constructed and installed correctly, or lacks general maintenance, it won’t drain properly. Another disadvantage is the type of material available for a flat roof, the options are few, but it is important to choose the right one.
The advantages and benefits of a flat roof far outweigh the disadvantages, with the first being as we’ve already stated, the cost factor during construction. Other advantages are:
- Ease of maintenance
- Lower maintenance costs
- Ease of spotting possible issues like leaks
- Less wasted space inside the structure
- HVAC systems are installed on rooftop lessens vandalism
- Creates an area for the business to utilize green practices
How long do flat roofs last?
The manufacturer’s warranty for a flat roof is typically 10 to 20 years. However, if a flat roof is properly installed, has regular inspections and maintenance performed, and there is no climate or regional catastrophe, a flat roof can provide 25 years of protection.
There are four types of flat roofing system that are commonly installed on commercial structures:
BUR aka Built-Up Roof
For more than 100 years, this roofing system has been used and is still used today. Referred to as a tar & gravel roofing system because it uses asphalt paper layered with hot tar, creating the “built up” part of the BUR. There can be up to 12 total layers with the roofing contractor making a judgment on the thickness needed and what the customer ordered.
Modified Bitumen Membranes
Since its invention in the 1970s, the Modified Bitumen Membrane has been a popular choice in flat roof system material for the United States. This 2-ply membrane is constructed with asphalt covering reinforced fabrics. There are modifiers to give both sides of the asphalt elastic properties, creating a rubber feel, which has lent it to be referred to as a rubber roof coating.
For a slight sloped flat roof, this is the metal flat roof system that is commonly used on structures that house factories and warehouses. The metal panels typically span up to four feet between rafters and a special sealant is applied between seams and overlaps the joints as a means to prevent water leaking. It is fastened down with bolts and neoprene washers.
Often referred to as PVC and TPO roofing materials, they come from the factory in thin, wide sheets that are from eight feet wide to twelve feet wide. There is no protective surfacing, thus, the top layer’s composition can only withstand UV rays for a shorter time. It adheres with an adhesive after a thorough cleaning of the substrate.
Can you walk on flat roof?
Unless you’re a professional roofing contractor, you shouldn’t have the need to be on top of a building, flat roof or sloped roof. However, there are times it is necessary, such as performing the regular roof inspections we’ve mentioned earlier. Other times there is a need for foot traffic on a flat roof would be to make repairs to the roof or to other articles that are installed there, like the HVAC system or sometimes plumbing vents run through the roof.
How often does a flat roof need to be replaced?
Flat roofs typically need replacing every 15 years. Factors that can affect this is the type of membrane the roof surface is made of. The climate and environment, and any extraordinary weather. Some flat roofs will last up to 25 years with proper installation, maintenance, and regular inspections.
How do I fix a leaky flat roof?
First, unless you’re comfortable with ladders and heights, it is best to call a professional roofing contractor that specializes in flat roof repair. However, if you can and want to do it yourself, you need to find and isolate the leak which will require getting on the roof and perform an inspection.
- On the inside, measure from the visible area of the leak to the two closest walls.
- On the roof, take those measurements and create your starting point to find the leak.
- Since most flat roofs have a slight slope, go up from where the water is entering and look for any signs of damage like blisters, punctures, popped screws, rips, separated seams, worn spots, or other imperfections.
- If you don’t see any issues, examine flashings, boots, and vents.
If you find damage, the following steps can guide you on repairing:
- Small holes/Punctures: Applying rubber sealant to the problem area and spread with a utility knife. If the roof is tar & gravel topped roof, apply caulk and smooth out with a putty knife, rake gravel back over it.
- Blisters: Cut the bubble longwise with a utility knife, going only as deep as the blister. Dry the area thoroughly and then apply roofing repair material like roof cement or tar.
- Rips and tears: Larger areas can be repaired in the same manner you’ll just need more repair materials and products. of damage require the same types of repairs but on a larger scale.
Your commercial structure is an investment on its own. You want it to not only look good but to be in good condition, from the asphalt repair of your parking lot to the flat roof. Both are an investment to your investment, but the roofing is an important part that needs your utmost attention. Calling a professional roofing contractor for installation and repairs is always recommended so that you know the job is done right, and if there is an issue with the work, you have some recourse. For flat roofing options in Houston, TX, call 281-300-4363 today.