Because flat roofs do not have a pitch that will allow the water to flow off of them naturally, or at least not a significant one, traditional roofing materials such as tile, shingles, or wood shake are not good choices. While all of these materials work excellently on a pitched roof, they are not made to withstand with the amount of standing water that is present on a flat roof. And the last thing you want is for a few gallons of snow or water to come pouring through your roof. For flat roofing, ProCraft Exteriors offers a variety of roofing solutions made specifically for flat roofs. They are different than what you would put on a pitched roof but will provide significantly better protection for the elements a flat roof will face.
EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer)
EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) is a type of single-layer rubber roofing membrane, fully adhered using an acrylic bonding agent. It is one of the easiest to apply, even for roofs with irregular layouts. This ease of installation is why EPDM is one of the most affordable options on the market, if not the most affordable solution for flat roofs.
Of course, we say “ease” but it does comes with its own challenges as well. One of the challenges of EPDM is making sure it’s applied properly. While it’s actually one of the simpler roofing solutions to install, less-qualified contractors tend to struggle with avoiding bubbles of air getting caught beneath the surface. And who wants a giant bubble in their new roof? It’s unattractive and generally not a good thing to do. Instead, care should be taken when laying the rubber to keep things smooth and evenly applied, which any licensed professional, such as those at ProCraft Exteriors, will be able to accomplish with ease
This is where using a highly-trained professional will actually save you money. Because the less time a contractor spends on your roof during an installation, the less you’ll see on your final invoice.
Another challenge is the way EPDM rubber tends to heat up in the sun. Black rubber, unsurprisingly, tends to bake in the sun, absorbing all of that heat and raising the cost of your utility bills. Again, this is something a homeowner might want to consider, if they leave believe the extra money they will pay in utilities will be more than what will be saved up front.
While EPDM is water-tight, like any roof, overtime it can develop leaks. This is largely due to the seams used in this type of installation, which are less durable than the heat-welded seams used in the more costly roofing alternative, PVC. Of course, with ProCraft Exteriors, your roof will be guaranteed leak-free for up to 10 years, but if leaks are a concern, it might be worth exploring the benefits of some of our other roofing systems.
PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)
PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) roofing solutions are another common option for those with flat roofs. While costlier than EPDM, PVC roofing has some benefits that make it more efficient and easier on the pocketbook.
One of the greatest advantages of PVC is its durability. PVC membrane is known to be able to withstand up to 300 pounds per inch, which exceeds the industry standard of 200 pounds per inch. This helps toughness gives PVC a longer lifespan than most flat roofing solutions. While most other solutions only last 15 (EPDM) to 20 (TPO), PVC can last as long as 30 years, able to hold up against wind, fire, UV, and chemical exposure much better than alternative roofing.
Another feature of PVC is that it can be more energy efficient, especially when compared to EPDM – which is known for absorbing heat. PVC comes in a variety of colors, including white. Having a flat roof with a light/white roof is beneficial because it helps to reflect the up to 78% of the sun’s rays away from your home, rather than absorbing it, so you’re spending all of that additional money trying to keep your home cool during a hot summer.
TPO (Thermoplastic Polyolefin)
TPO (Thermoplastic Polyolefin) roofing has been an increasingly popular option for people with flat roofs and it’s easy to see why. First introduced in the 1990s, TPO offers the same, great protection offered by heat-welded seams (like PVC) at a price point that is more affordable, closer to that of rubber (EPDM) roofing.
TPO is made of rubber, ethylene, and propylene, chemically bonded with a variety of fillers (such as fiberglass or talc). This unique combination of materials helps to make TPO one of the strongest flat roofing systems. TPO also features one of the thickest top ply’s available, making it more sustainable for foot traffic, while also reducing the overall need for maintenance. TPO also comes in three different widths – 8’, 10’, and 12’ – which helps keeps the number of seams required at a minimum. The fewer seams, the less likely a leak can occur – saving you money and hassle.
When it comes its average lifespan, TPO roofing can last anywhere from 15 to 20 years. It is capable of withstanding extreme heat and cold without splitting or cracking, making it perfect for residents who are likely to experience both.
Longevity in roofing isn’t just better for your, it’s also better for Mother Nature. The fewer times a roof needs to be replaced, the less waste that goes into the landfill. This impact is even reduced even more for those homeowners who choose TPO, because TPO is one of the few roofing solutions that is 100% recyclable! TPO also lacks chlorine in the material, itself, and does not use chlorine during its production. Chlorine can be hazardous to the environment, so this is just one more way that TPO is eco-friendly. So for those of our customers who have concerns for the way their life choices impact the environment, TPO is a solution you can feel good about, in terms both of how it will affect you and the Earth.
ProCraft Exteriors also offers a variety of multi-ply, flat roofing systems. As you search the internet for flat roofing solutions, you might come across three types of roofing that will pop up alongside those previously mentioned above: BUR, Modified Bitumen, and Silicon Spray. These multi-ply solutions are much less likely to be installed on a residential home, a few of these reasons we will get into below.
Built-Up Roofing (BUR)
Built-Up Roofing (BUR) is one of the older methods of flat roofing. BUR is sometimes known called “tar and gravel roofing” because it is comprised of multiple layers of bitumen (frequently asphalt or coal tar) topped with gravel to help protect the roof from heavy foot traffic. Most residential homes won’t experience the level of foot travel that would require BUR, which is one of the reasons why you won’t see this applied to many buildings that aren’t commercial.
Another reason BUR isn’t usually used for commercial homes is because it is heavy. Very heavy. This provides exceptional protection – even better protection than TPO, PVC, and EPDM in some ways – but at the cost of needing a great deal of structural reinforcement that most homeowners aren’t going to want to pay to have installed, nor would it really be recommended.
Modified Bitumen is similar to BUR in both material and application, so it is also an extremely durable flat roofing solution. The greatest difference is that it has rubber and elastomers adding into mix, giving it its name “modified” bitumen. The process for installing modified bitumen can also be a difficult one, with that cost passed onto the owner of the roof. Most residential customers would be better served with another roofing solution, in spite of its excellent protection.
Silicon Spray is similar to single-ply membrane in that they lack seams. The silicon is sprayed across the surface of your roof, so water and moisture have a tougher time leaking into your building. Obviously a spray is an easier installation than laying rubber or tar across the surface of a roof, but due to the cost of the material itself, spray-on roofing is a far more expensive roofing solution than most homeowners will be willing to pay.
Deciding which option is best for your flat roof, your home, and your budget can be a lot for one person to manage – especially when they don’t have years of experience and training to guide them. ProCraft Exteriors doesn’t expect you to know everything. We want you to turn to us to be your flat roofing experts, where we will work closely with you to find the perfect roof to meet your needs. We’re happy to come out and assess your roof, providing you with a free estimate and the knowledge necessary to make the choice that will leave you feeling confident. No pressure, no sales pitch, just expertise from our highly-trained ProCraft contractors.