Everything You Need to Know about Flat Roofs
A flat roof is a type of roofing system that has a fairly uniform surface with a slight slope so that water can drain off. While traditional roofs are pitched and have ridges and valleys, a flat roof is level. Flat roofs are not entirely flat; there is usually a slight incline to help with drainage.
Flat roofs became popular in Europe during the Industrial Revolution when factories and warehouses were being built. The lack of Pitch made it easier to construct the roof and also made the ceiling inside the building more usable space. Today, Flat Roofs are commonly used in commercial, industrial and institutional buildings such as schools, hospitals and office buildings. They are also appearing in an increasing number of homes, especially in modern homes in warm weather climates.
Advantages of a Flat Roof:
- More Useable Space – Since there is no attic space with a flat roof, this area can be used as additional living space, a garden or play area for children.
- Accessibility – It is much easier to access a flat roof than it is to access a pitched roof which makes maintenance and repairs simpler and less expensive.
- Less Maintenance – Because there are no valleys or gutters on a flat roof to collect leaves and debris, they require little maintenance when compared to traditional pitched roofs.
- Less Expensive – Flat roofs cost less to construct than traditional pitched roofs because they require fewer materials and labor.
- Safety – Since there is no steep pitch, flat roofs are much safer to walk on than traditional pitched roofs making them ideal for entertaining or just simply enjoying the outdoors.
- Increased Solar Potential – The large, unobstructed surface of a flat roof allows for easy installation of solar panels which can significantly reduce energy costs.
- Improved Aesthetics – The clean lines of a flat roof can provide a sleek, modern look to any home or building.
- Extended Lifespan – When properly installed and maintained, a flat roof can last up to 15-20 years longer than traditional pitched roofs.
- Improved Drainage – The slopes installed on a flat roof help water run off quickly which reduces the risk of leaks and ponding water on the surface of the roof.
Disadvantages of a Flat Roof
- Ponding Water – If your flat roof does not have proper drainage, rainwater can pool on the surface which puts immense pressure on the structure of your roof causing leaks and possible collapse. To prevent this from happening, it’s important that your flat roof be installed by experienced professionals who will take into account things like proper drainage and sloping.
- UV Damage – Because Flat roofs expose more surface area directly to sunlight than traditional pitched roofs do, they are more susceptible to UV damage. This might not seem like a big deal but over time this damage can cause serious problems like cracking and splitting of your roof’s membrane which will lead to leaks. Again, this highlights the importance of choosing experienced professionals when having your flat roof installed. They will be able to use high-quality materials that are resistant to UV rays to prevent this type of damage from happening.
The installation process for a flat roof will vary depending on the type of roofing material you choose. For example, installing a metal roof will take significantly less time than installing a rubber roof. In general, though, the installation process for a flat roof is as follows:
- The first step is to remove the old roofing material. This can be done either by hand or with the help of a machine such as a power washer. Once the old material is removed, the next step is to repair any damage to the underlying structure of the roof. This may involve replacing damaged boards or repairing leaks.
- Once the repairs are complete, it’s time to install the new roofing material. This process will vary depending on the type of material you’ve chosen. After the new material is in place, any seams or joints will be sealed with caulking or another type of sealant. Finally, flashings will be installed around any protrusions such as vents or chimneys.
The entire process usually takes no more than a few days to complete. However, it’s important to note that your home will be vulnerable to weather damage during this time frame. As such, it’s important to plan your roof replacement for a time when severe weather is unlikely.
Once your new flat roof is installed, there are a few things you’ll need to do in order to keep it in good condition for years to come. First and foremost, you’ll need to perform regular inspections of your roof—preferably at least twice per year. During these inspections, you’ll be looking for any signs of leaks or damage such as cracks or loose flashings. If you do find any damage, it’s important to repair it as soon as possible in order to prevent further damage from occurring.
It’s also important to keep your gutters clean and free of any debris such as leaves or twigs. Clogged gutters can cause water to back up onto your roof and lead to leaks and other problems. Finally, you should have your roof professionally inspected and cleaned at least once every few years by a qualified contractor. These inspections will identify any problems that you might not have been able to see yourself during your regular inspections—and they’ll also give you peace of mind knowing that your roof is in good condition.
Overall, flat roofs have a lot of advantages over pitched rooftops—they’re less expensive and easier to install; they require less maintenance; they’re more fireproof, and they offer homeowners more usable space. However, there are also a few potential drawbacks that you should be aware of before making your decision—flat roofs aren’t as good at shedding rain and they could start to decompose and cause damage if leaves and other debris are not removed in a timely manner.
Is a flat roof for you? Contact Heart of Florida Roofing and we can help you decide what roof is best for you.