Keeping your flat roof at its best
The majority of commercial or industrial buildings are in large buildings that have expansive flat roofing. The roof of these structures is flat for a couple of reasons, one being it is less expensive to build and another reason, the HVAC system is installed on top of the structure. With the HVAC on the roof, it leaves more real estate on the ground for parking, an important feature for a business.
Unfortunately, this leaves the building open for some issues like the abuse flat roofing is susceptible to from the environment and weather. Because they are expansive and flat, they get more of the sun’s UV rays beating down on them. There is more area with flat roofing for hail, ice, rain, and snow to plummet, leaving behind damage.
Flat roofing requires a different type roofing material that is durable and can hold up to the elements and environment. What is the best material for a flat roof? That deciding factor must be made building by building because not all flat roofing materials are the same.
With several key factors for consideration, like the cost for installation and the material, the energy rating, maintenance requirements, and life expectancy, along with the aesthetics. The roofing application will determine which of the following flat roofing materials will work best for any commercial or industrial building.
- Modified Bitumen: This asphalt-based flat roofing material is modified using special polymers that enhance its performance and malleability. Arrives at the job site in rolls from the factor and has a finished surface that is either granulated or smooth. It can be installed in 3 different manners: cold-applied, heat-applied, or self-adhered. In general, this is the more costly flat roofing material and offers a lifespan up to twenty years, which is relatively short compared to other materials. It is an energy efficient roofing material that is fairly durable and can endure extreme temperatures while diminishing the heat on the roof surface. Locating a leak source can be difficult with this flat roofing substrate.
- Built-Up Roofs (BUR): Used on flat roofing surfaces for over than one hundred years, making it the most common type of material on commercial or industrial buildings. The name built-up comes from the several alternating layers of asphalt and reinforcing fabrics with a finishing top layer of an aggregate like gravel, mineral granules, or slag. This flat roofing material has an expected lifespan up to thirty years with little maintenance required. Provides excellent UV ray and waterproofing protection with the aggregate layer making it fire-resistant. An visually pleasing flat roofing material, it is the more expensive of materials that take more time for installing. It is not as resistant to water or wind damage as other flat roofing materials offer.
- EPDM Rubber: This synthetic rubber compound is used on many low-slope flat roofing structures because of the versatility it provides, proving to be effective solution for many commercial or industrial structures. Most structures have it installed in black, but it is available in gray, tan, or white. A conformable, durable, impervious, and lightweight flat roofing material that has a life expectancy of 30 years or longer and is one of the less costly options in flat roofing materials. A relatively easy maintain material when compared to other commercial flat roofing materials, but because it is easy to puncture and has the tendency to shrink, it isn’t the best choice for every flat roofing commercial or industrial structure. With the popular choice of black roofing color, it isn’t as energy-efficient as the lighter color flat roofing materials.
- Single-Ply: PVC and TPO are single-ply membranes and are more common for commercial flat roofing materials. While they look similar, both are white, applied by heat welding, and are thermoplastic systems, they are different. The PVC, polyvinyl chloride, a durable flat roofing product with a 20 year lifespan is fire and water resistant and withstands heavy winds. Compared to EPDM and TPO flat roofing materials, is more expensive and punctures easily. The TPO, thermoplastic polyolefin, is a flexible flat roofing material that can last up to 25 years and is less expensive than the PVC flat roofing material. It is easier to install and maintain but is a “younger” material that has only been around since the 1990s.
- Spray Polyurethane Foam: The least common of flat roofing material options but the most effective with a combination of closed-cell, plural-component, offers an insulation and protective elastomeric top-coating. With routine maintenance, it has a lifespan of more than 50 years with a superior insulation barrier that provides superior energy efficiency and R-value. A strong material that increases the integrity of commercial building structures but should only be installed by flat roofing contractors that are experienced in spray foam installation. A lack of experience can affect the integrity of this commercial flat roofing material.
How many years does a flat roof last?
As we stated earlier, the type of flat roofing material you choose will have various lifespans. They range anywhere from as little as 10 years and up to 50 years or longer. Installation and maintenance are key factors in the longevity of any flat roofing materials.
How do you stop a flat roof from leaking?
Not the ideal situation, but you can perform flat roof repair in rain for a temporary stop. Schedule proper flat roofing repair as soon as the weather permits to keep any further damage from happening in the next rainstorm.
Any debris and ponding water will need to be cleaned from the flat roofing surface before you can patch the roof to stop leaking. Using a silicone patching material and a dense brush, apply the silicone over the leak and if the leak is around or near flashing, coat the flashing too. Then, once the silicone has dried, apply a plastic tarp, held down by heavy boards or other objects.
Reminder that this should only be a temporary repair and a professional roofing contractor should be scheduled for installing a permeant flat roof repair or replacement once the weather permits.
Can you patch a flat roof?
There are a few options to patching flat roofing:
1) An EPDM rubber flat roofing can be patched with a DIY repair kit available from roofing supply stores. Included in the kit will be adhesive and tape for quick repairs.
2) For patching and repairs, call a flat roofing expert contractor. This may cost you a few hundred dollars, but at the same time, could be saving you thousands.
3) If your flat roofing is modified bitumen, you will need to call a professional flat roofing contractor due to the welding required.
4) A tar and gravel flat roofing will be a challenge to find the leak source, even for the most experienced commercial roofing contractor. Many times, after an inspection, trial and error in finding the leak, a full replacement is recommended.
5) For a flat roofing with single-ply membrane, you can have a coating applied, but expect it to need recoating or replacing within the next two to three years. This is an expensive solution and not long lasting.
How do you repair a flat roof?
While it may be easier to call a professional roofing contractor, a commercial property owner also knows the value of a dollar (or hundreds of dollars in this case). With the right equipment, supplies, tools, and some hands-on skills, minor flat roofing repairs are possible with these steps:
- Inspection: Locate the leak and determine what needs to be repaired.
- Clearance: Clear any debris and dry up any pools of water. Chances are those pooled areas is where you’ll find the leak(s). Be sure to brush or sweep away all loose debris and obstructions.
- Blisters: Any blisters on your flat roofing should be removed by slicing them in the middle and raise the slices up to expose the roofing felt below.
- Water: Remove any water under the blister using rags and shop vacuum. Let the area dry completely before going forward.
- Cement: Fill in the area with roofing cement and spread the cement around the affected areas too. Even out an y areas that are unlevel and damaged. Do this with any cracks and holes as well.
- Membrane: Final step is installing a new layer of your flat roofing membrane while the roofing cement is still wet. Once in place, seal the edges with galvanized nails.
If you need flat roof repair in wintertime, it is recommended to call a professional roofing contractor. They will have the experience and safety gear to do the repair safely. The winter can make flat roofing slick and dangerous. Simply do an internet search for “contractors for flat roof repair near me” and get 2 to 3 estimates before choosing who to work with. Want to get started on your flat roof repair in Chesterfield and St. Louis, MO? Call (314) 786-3732 today.