Technically, the materials used for flat roofing are entirely different from pitched roofs. So if you are thinking about placing tiles on your flat roof, you can but your roof will fail because of the difference in placing the tiles compared with flat roof sheets, and your roof is bound to leak.
Generally speaking, the idea on a flat roof with a very slight to no pitch, the tiles being installed overlapped based on the pattern they should divert the rainwater, is not feasible as the water would only get its way underneath the tiles, eventually rotting the underlayment and any membrane that compose the flat roofing system.
Maximising what’s limited
The choices of materials in flat roofing are limited. However, you can make use of these materials the best as you can by understanding what type suits your structure and many other factors. Compared with tile roofing, you have a wide choice of tile materials based on cost, durability, and aesthetics. With flat roofs, durability is a priority.
Types of flat roofing materials
Thermoplastic olefin (TPO)
TPO is material for a roofing membrane that has the property of reflecting UV rays and heat, making it as an energy-efficient roof type. TPO is a single-ply roof membrane made of ethylene-propylene rubber and polypropylene properties. For TPO roofs to last, the topmost layer should be laminated, giving it a roof life of 10 to 20 years.
The TPO membrane is typically new in the industry, as it was only known to be utilised for flat roofing needs in the 1990s, compared to PVC roof which dated its origin of use in the 1960s. Like PVC, TPO can be welded, leaving the sheets seamless and protective against heat and water.
TPO, compared with its two popular competitors PVC and EPDM, has its own pros and cons. When you decide to choose TPO, lay down all the benefits and the cons, and if such material will complement the type of structure you have. Better yet, ask your roofing contractor for other details.
Pros of TPO roofing material
- Same efficiency as PVC but with a more reasonable cost
- Easy to install due to its lightweight property, leaving the installer less time to worry about the seams
- Highly resistant against molds, puncture, and tear
EPDM stands for ethylene propylene diene monomer. It is a flat roof material made of synthetic rubber that makes it almost invulnerable to heat and UV rays. The properties of EPDM make it suitable for any weather. With regards to installation, similar to TPO, EPDM needs fewer seams, fortifying its strength against a leak. With lesser leaks mean lesser damage, adding life to its timeline that runs around 20 years.
The downside of using EPDM membrane is that the sheets can be difficult to install. Roofers will consume a lot of time laying down wide sheets, leaving a chance for air bubbles to set in upon rolling. On the other hand, since the sheets are wider, there is a lesser chance for leaks and heat to penetrate. EPDM is an energy-efficient roof because the rubber component is made or recycled materials.
There are several factors where EPDM membranes fail. What are these?
- The adhesion between seams will likely lose their strength due to extreme heat.
- The thin membrane is not conducive to walk on.
- Synthetic rubber can be flaky when exposed to the sun for a long time.
Built-up roof membrane
Also known as BUR, this roof membrane has a watertight layer. It uses tar and gravel that gives a thick roof deck. With this kind of flat roof material, leaks could be difficult to detect as water will creep in underneath and is untraceable.Considered to be the flat roof with the most affordable materials, the installation will demand more. Also, tar and coal are risky for one’s health when inhaled.
PVC flat roofing membrane
PVC, which stands for polyvinyl chloride, is another type of roof membrane used in flat roofing systems. PVC’s seams are welded with heat making them watertight against leak. PVC is a lightweight material but highly durable against wind and storm. It’s average lifespan goes for about 20 years the least.
PVC membranes are known for their durability, performance, and longevity, making them as an ideal flat roof choice. In line with their strength, PVC roofs are impermeable against bacteria or fungi. PVC roofs are flexible and modifiable based on the existing rooftop.
Make your choice
A flat roofing system can be used for commercial and residential settings. However, flat roofing is more preferred for business purposes and is more applicable to the building types. Most commercial establishments cover a wide area where sheets of a flat roof are perfect as cover.
The flat roof types presented here is for your benefit. It is your informed decision about which type you’d like to use for your property. For best output, roof technicians from Birmingham Roofers can be the best people you can ask for help with regards to your new installation or re-roofing journey. Contact us today if you need further information on flat roofing systems.
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