Most businesses choose to have a flat roof installed because it’s cheaper to install and cheaper to maintain. But wait, the decision doesn’t end there! Commercial flat roofing comes in a few different forms now, all of them with the pros and cons. Here are the most common ones and what their advantages and disadvantages are:
Modified Bitumen – This is what people usually have in mind when it comes to flat roofs, as this is pretty well the old-style “tar” roof. The original way of doing this involved unraveling a single sheet of surface which was then involved heating the bottom of the sheet so that it would properly bond with the surface of the roof. Some traditional roofers still do this, but most commercial flat roofing businesses use the new method, which is a simpler peel-and-stick approach.
The good thing about modified bitumen is that it’s easy to install, meaning that a roofing team can have it done relatively quickly. It has a mid-range price and acts as a bit of extra insulation. The drawbacks associated with this form of roofing is that it isn’t very resilient and the old system is flammable.
Built-Up Roof – The built-up roof, or BUR, takes the modified bitumen a step further, creating two layers to protect and insulate flat roofs. The first layer is the bitumen and the second layer uses gravel or river stone to protect the first. This is quite commonly seen on the rooftops of many buildings as a very common alternative to modified bitumen.
Some of the more modern approaches used by commercial flat roofing services use fiberglass to protect the roof, which is quite resilient and non-flammable. The advantages to the built-up roof are that the gravel or stone prevents fires from occurring and it allows more to be done with the roof of a building, such as decks.
The disadvantage of this approach is that much stone or gravel adds a great deal of weight to the roof and that means ensuring that the supporting structure can withstand it. In some cases, supports need to be reinforced, but it is the cheapest roof money can buy!
Rubber Membrane –The technical term is ethylene propylene diene monomer, or EPDM, but whatever the term, it is a durable rubber. It can be bonded to the roof with an adhesive or weighed down with gravel, but it is designed to be resistant to the sun’s rays.
The great thing about the rubber membrane for commercial flat roofing is that it is incredibly durable and is resilient against leaks. It’s much less likely to suffer from the minor damage that bitumen routinely does and any damage that does occur is effortlessly repaired.
The greatest drawback to it is that quality means cost and EPDM comes out as the costliest of the three major options.
Whatever one decides is better, it’s best to consult with a commercial flat roofing company as to which is best suited to the type of roof the building has, just to ensure that it’s the right one!