You see flat roofs every day and don’t even know it. Malls, hospitals, and apartment buildings all have flat roofs. But interestingly enough, a flat roof isn’t actually flat. They are at an angle of 10 degrees or less to allow proper drainage off the roof. And while flat roofs might be predominantly used on commercial buildings, they’ve grown in popularity among residential homes as well!

If you’re a homeowner considering a flat roof system for your home, or you have a flat roof and want to know how to best maintain it, then this guide is for you. We’ll go over all things flat roofs, so you know what they are, why they’re beneficial, and how to make sure it lasts for years.

What Is a Flat Roof?

flat roof pressing down

To reiterate, a flat roof is a type of roofing system where the roof plane is fully horizontal. A true flat roof would be 100% level, but most flat roofs have a slight slope to allow for proper drainage. The pitch (slope) of a flat roof is usually 10 degrees or less. They can be made from a variety of flat roof materials, including asphalt, metal, rubber, and PVC.

There are several benefits to having a flat roof on your home:

Affordable

The average cost of a flat roof is between $4,000 and $15,000, depending on the size of your roof and the roofing materials used. This is much less than any standard pitched roof. And with fewer materials required to install, it cuts down on costs as well.

Energy-Efficient

One of the primary benefits of having a flat roof is that it’s more energy-efficient than sloped roofs. This is because flat roofs have a membrane system applied on top of rigid sheets of insulation. Without gaps in the material, air can’t flow through so its air and watertight seal prevent cold or hot air from penetrating the roof. You can also utilize white reflective surface material to reflect UV rays and keep your home cooler in the hot months.

Easy Installation and Maintenance

Another advantage to having a flat roof is that installation is quick and easy. And once it’s installed, maintenance is a breeze. You don’t have to worry about shingles flying off or gutters getting clogged because there aren’t any! Just make sure you regularly check for ponding water and debris so your roof can drain properly.

If you live in an area with a lot of snowfall, it’s important to shovel your roof after a storm. And if you have a flat roof with a rubber or asphalt membrane, you should have it professionally inspected every few years. For extra security, you should conduct a DIY inspection at least 3 times a year so you can catch any issues and repair them as needed to prevent leaks.

Versatile Design

Flat roof designs offer a clean, modern look that can easily be incorporated into any home design. And because they’re more simplistic in design, they are also more versatile. And thanks to the added usable space, you can use your flat roof as an outdoor living space, garden, or deck without worry of it collapsing under the weight.

flat roof blow torch

Types of Flat Roofs

There are a few commonly used types of flat roofs that are ideal for residential, but also highly efficient for commercial structures as well.

  • Built Up Roof (BUR): This is the most common type of flat roof used in commercial buildings. It’s made up of multiple layers of asphalt, tar, and gravel that are applied on top of a base layer. This type of roofing is extremely durable and can last up to 30 years with proper maintenance.
  • Single Ply Membranes: This type of roofing is a popular choice for both commercial and residential buildings. It’s made from a single layer of synthetic rubber, PVC, or TPO that is applied in sheets. This makes it quick and easy to install. Single-ply roofs are also very lightweight, so they’re ideal for rooftops that can’t support the weight of a much heavier material.
  • Thermoplastic (TPO): TPO is a type of single-ply membrane that is made from polypropylene and ethylene-propylene rubber. It’s one of the newest types of flat roofs on the market, and it’s quickly gaining popularity because it’s energy efficient and easy to install. TPO can also be heat-welded, which creates a watertight seal.
  • Modified Bitumen: This type of flat roof is made from asphalt that has been combined with a reinforcing material, like fiberglass or polyester. It’s then applied in multiple layers on top of the roof deck. A modified bitumen roof is extremely durable and can last up to 20 years with proper maintenance.
  • Green Roof: A green roof is a type of flat roof that’s covered with vegetation. This can help insulate the building, reduce noise pollution, and improve air quality. Green roofs are also great for the environment because they help reduce stormwater runoff.

Flat Roof Tips for Homeowners

If you are debating whether to install a flat roof on your home, or purchase a home with one, here are some crucial things you should take into account. Flat roofs boast many advantages— they’re modern, efficient, and stylish.

However, they also come with the potential for leaks, cracks, and collapse. While not common occurrences by any means, flat roofs are more susceptible to certain problems due to their low slope, which makes it difficult for water and snow to run off. Excessive rainfall, heavy snowstorms, and built-up ice can all pose extra challenges for those with flat-roofed homes during the winter months.

Homes with pitched roofs can take advantage of gravity to help remove precipitation, but flat-roofed buildings don’t have that luxury. They must rely on their drainage system and solid construction to prevent leaks and damage.

Here are some vital tips for homeowners considering a flat roof:

  • Not ideal for cold climates with heavy rain or snow. If you live in an area that experiences this, you can install a flat roof but will have to ensure you maintain it regularly and ensure it’s watertight.
  • Keep your gutters and downspouts clear of debris to allow free-flowing drainage.
  • Get regular inspections each year.
  • Watch your energy bills and check for ice dams in the winter— these can both indicate poor insulation or ventilation in your flat roof.

Let Us Help With Your Flat Roofing Needs

Having a good roofing contractor on your side is vital to ensuring a long-lasting flat roof on your home. The team at Mars Restoration has the knowledge and expertise to help you install, maintain, repair, and replace your residential flat roof. When you have unique flat roofing needs, you can count on us. Reach out today to get started on your roofing project!