It’s important to hire a contractor with flat roof installation expertise
Even the best roofing materials available can fail when not properly installed. This is why it’s important to hire a roofing contractor with the resources and background to complete a quality installation. This means having a well-trained crew; proper equipment and tools to do the job; and experience with the roofing material you’ve chosen for the project.
Built-up roofing (BUR) has a long history. This “old-school” flat roof treatment involves the application of roofing felt (tar paper) and asphalt-based roofing tar, often in multiple layers. A top layer of gravel or a reflective coating is required to cut down on heat gain and improve durability.
Maintenance and repair work usually call for more felt and coating layers to be applied. Over time, this adds weight to the roof and increases the mess and expense of its eventual removal. Though BUR remains an economical option, it really can’t compete with more modern flat roofing materials in terms of low maintenance, lightweight and durability.
Modified bitumen works well on residential & small-scale commercial flat roofs. Because it comes in 3-ft.-wide rolls, modified bitumen roofing is easy to handle and apply. Basically, you roll out the material so that seams overlap. Seams can be fused with a torch or sealed with a special adhesive. The roof surface gets a reflective coating for durability and reduced heat absorption.
EPDM roofing has a good track record. Ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM for short) has the look and feel of an everyday rubber inner tube. EPDM comes in large rolls and is well-suited to application over any large, flat roof surface, providing the substrate is clean and uniform.
The flexible rubber material is glued to the roof substrate and to adjacent EPDM sections (Installation with mechanical fasteners is also possible). An EPDM roof can easily last 20 years with minimal maintenance, but its dark tone absorbs a tremendous amount of heat. To prolong the life of this single-ply roof and reduce cooling costs, a reflective top coating is essential. Alternatively, you can elect to install an EPDM membrane with a white top layer.
PVC roofing offers top performance for a premium price. This single-ply roofing material is made from polyvinyl chloride, the same high-performance plastic used in plumbing pipes.
Like EPDM, PVC is most frequently used on larger commercial roofing jobs. Seams between PVC sheets are welded together with a specially designed heat gun. The resulting membrane is impermeable to moisture, with excellent durability. Because PVC roofing is naturally white, it has excellent heat-reflective qualities without any coating or extra treatment.
TPO roofing is a light, affordable single-ply “fabric-like” option. TPO is short for thermo-plastic olephine. TPO represents a newer roofing technology that’s still being refined by different manufacturers.
The material comes in rolls of different sizes, making it suitable for a variety of flat roof projects. It can be installed with adhesives, mechanical fasteners, or heat welding. Like EPDM and PVC roofing, TPO requires a clean, uniform substrate; it can’t be installed directly over existing roofing material. Although TPO usually costs less than EPDM or PVC, it doesn’t yet have the same track record of proven performance.
Spray polyurethane foam (SPF) combines roofing, flashing & insulation. Instead of tearing off an old flat roof, SPF technology enables a contractor to spray on a continuous layer of high-density foam that seals leaks, bridges gaps and forms a waterproof barrier – even around roof penetrations like vent stacks.
As a bonus, the cured foam layer has good insulation value, helping to reduce heating and cooling costs. Building owners who want to avoid the mess, disruption, and expense of removing an old flat roof often find SPF roofing the best option. Once cured, the foam is coated with a sealant that protects against ultraviolet degradation.
It’s not easy to decide what type of flat roof is best for your building. Some flat roofing treatments are equally suitable for new construction or re-roofing applications, while others are not. Some flat roofing materials offer advantages in large-scale commercial projects, but cause problems on smaller residential roofs. Energy performance, maintenance requirements, and installation costs are other factors when choosing a flat roofing material and DYMI Construction can help you make the right choice for your project.