flat roofing

Posted On: June 10, 2024

4 Times to Choose Flat Roofing (Apartment Complexes, Businesses…)

When it comes to choosing the right roofing for your commercial property, there are various factors to consider. Among the plethora of options available, flat roofing stands out as a popular choice for apartment complexes, businesses, and other commercial buildings.

In this expert guide, we’ll delve into the world of flat roofing, exploring:

  • What it is
  • Pros and cons
  • The buildings that typically use it
  • Different flat roofing styles,
  • The cost to install flat roofing
  • Its longevity
  • How to take care of it

What is Flat Roofing?

Flat roofing, as the name suggests, is a type of roofing characterized by its nearly level or low-slope design. Unlike traditional pitched roofs, which have a steep incline, flat roofs have a slight pitch to allow water drainage. They are commonly found on commercial buildings, although some residential properties also utilize this style.

Pros of Flat Roofing

  • Cost-Effective: Flat roofing typically requires fewer materials and less labor compared to pitched roofs, making it a cost-effective option.
  • Space Utilization: The flat surface of these roofs allows for the installation of HVAC units, solar panels, and other equipment, maximizing usable space.
  • Easy Maintenance: Flat roofs are easier to access for inspections and maintenance, which can help in detecting and addressing issues promptly.
  • Energy Efficiency: They provide excellent opportunities for installing energy-efficient roofing materials and insulation, potentially reducing heating and cooling costs.
  • Accessibility: Flat roofs offer accessibility for maintenance tasks, such as gutter cleaning, repairs, and installations.

Cons of Flat Roofing:

  • Drainage Issues: While flat roofs are designed to have a slight slope for drainage, they can still experience pooling water if not properly maintained.
  • Susceptible to Leaks: Due to their horizontal design, flat roofs are more prone to leaks, especially if the roofing materials or installation are subpar.
  • Limited Aesthetics: Flat roofs may not offer the aesthetic appeal of pitched roofs, although advancements in roofing materials have expanded design options.
  • Weather Vulnerability: Flat roofs may be more susceptible to damage from severe weather conditions like heavy rain, snow, and wind.

4 Buildings That Typically Use Flat Roofing

Flat roofing is commonly found on various types of commercial buildings, including:

1) Apartment Complexes:

Many apartment buildings feature flat roofs due to their cost-effectiveness and space utilization benefits.

2) Office Buildings:

Flat roofs are popular choices for office complexes, providing ample space for HVAC systems and other equipment.

3) Retail Stores:

Retail establishments often opt for flat roofs to accommodate signage, rooftop gardens, or outdoor seating areas.

4) Industrial Facilities:

Warehouses and factories frequently utilize flat roofing to accommodate large equipment and machinery.

Different Flat Roofing Styles

Flat roofing encompasses several styles and materials, each with its own unique characteristics and advantages. Some common types include:

Built-Up Roofing (BUR):

BUR systems consist of multiple layers of bitumen and reinforcing materials, such as gravel or asphalt. They provide excellent durability and weather resistance.

Modified Bitumen Roofing:

This type of roofing features asphalt-based membranes reinforced with modifiers like fiberglass or polyester. Modified bitumen roofs offer flexibility and are resistant to tears and punctures.

Single-Ply Membrane Roofing:

Single-ply membranes, such as EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) or TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin), are lightweight and easy to install. They offer excellent UV resistance and durability.

Green Roofing:

Green roofs, also known as living roofs, involve the installation of vegetation and growing medium on the roof surface. They provide insulation, absorb rainwater, and improve air quality.

Cost to Install Flat Roofing

The cost of installing a flat roof varies depending on several factors, including the size of the roof, the type of material used, and the complexity of the installation. On average, the cost ranges from $5 to $10 per square foot. Here’s a breakdown of the cost considerations:

  • Materials: The choice of roofing material significantly impacts the overall cost. Built-up roofing tends to be more affordable, while single-ply membranes and green roofing may have higher upfront costs.
  • Labor: Labor costs for flat roof installation depend on factors such as the complexity of the job, local labor rates, and the experience of the roofing contractor.
  • Additional Features: Additional features like insulation, drainage systems, and roof access points can add to the total cost of installation.

Longevity of Flat Roofing

The longevity of a flat roof depends on various factors, including the quality of materials, installation techniques, and maintenance practices. On average, flat roofs can last anywhere from 10 to 30 years or more. Here are some factors that influence the lifespan of flat roofing:

  • Quality of Materials: High-quality roofing materials are more durable and resistant to wear and tear, extending the lifespan of the roof.
  • Installation Quality: Proper installation by experienced roofing professionals ensures that the roof performs optimally and lasts longer.
  • Maintenance: Regular inspections and maintenance help identify and address issues before they escalate, prolonging the life of the roof.
  • Climate and Environmental Factors: Extreme weather conditions, exposure to UV radiation, and environmental pollutants can impact the longevity of flat roofing materials.

How to Take Care of a Flat Roof

Proper maintenance is essential for ensuring the longevity and performance of a flat roof. Here are some tips for caring for your flat roof:

  • Regular Inspections: Schedule routine inspections at least twice a year, preferably in the spring and fall, to check for signs of damage, leaks, or debris buildup.
  • Clear Debris: Remove leaves, branches, and other debris from the roof surface and gutters to prevent water pooling and drainage issues.
  • Address Leaks Promptly: If you notice any signs of water infiltration or leaks, address them promptly to prevent water damage and mold growth.
  • Trim Overhanging Branches: Trim tree branches that overhang the roof to prevent damage from falling limbs and debris.
  • Maintain Drainage Systems: Ensure that gutters, downspouts, and drains are clear and free-flowing to prevent water backup and pooling.
  • Professional Maintenance: Schedule regular maintenance visits from a qualified roofing contractor to inspect the roof, make repairs, and perform necessary maintenance tasks.

By following these maintenance guidelines, you can maximize the lifespan of your flat roof and minimize the risk of costly repairs or premature replacement.

Experts in Flat Roof Systems

Flat roofing offers numerous benefits for apartment complexes, businesses, and other commercial buildings, including cost-effectiveness, space utilization, and easy maintenance. While it has its drawbacks, proper installation, maintenance, and care can mitigate these challenges and ensure the longevity and performance of the roof.

Whether you’re considering a flat roof for a new construction project or replacing an existing roof, weigh the pros and cons carefully and consult with a reputable roofing contractor to determine the best option for your needs. With the right choice and proper care, a flat roof can provide reliable protection and peace of mind for years to come. Contact Northface Construction to find the right flat roofing material for your roofing system! 


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