Flat Roofs

Flat roofs are one of the most common types of roofs. Discover the basics, costs, advantages and detractors of this popular form of roofing.

“While flat roofs are an attractive alternative to a more sloped variety, there is a need to weigh the advantages and disadvantages. They are certainly not right for every climate or every building. With some work and planning, though, this roofing can be an attractive option for your new home.”

Basics Of Flat Roofs

Flat roofs are pitched on a slight incline. This incline is usually less than 10 degrees. The are more common in areas in which there is little precipitation. Since they cannot hold water, snow etc. as well as a sloped roof, they are more likely to collapse during storms etc. They are commonly found in areas that get little to no snow. With that said, it is important to note that they are easier to maintain in the long term. This ease of roof maintenance is due to their simple construction.

Cost Of Flat Roofs

Low To Mid Range: $2.75 to $5.00 psf
Consumers will pay from $275 and $500 per square on materials & installation.

Mid To High End: $5.00 to $8.00 psf
Consumers will pay from $500 and $800 per square on materials & installation. Read more on flat roof cost.

Construction Of Flat Roofs

Flat roofs are usually made from two main parts; a base layer, which is the main support, and a top layer that protects the base layer. The bottom layer is usually made up of some sort of asphalt, while the outer layers are made from synthetic rubbers. The only maintenance that needs to be done is a visual inspection every year and resealing every 5-10 years. Since they are easier and safer to walk on, inspecting them is a breeze – the most common type is a tar and gravel roof. They are flat, so there is a reduced chance that one will fall from the roof while inspecting or maintaining it. While performing an inspection, it is important to note any bubbling or holes that devolved in the roof, this is a sign that your roofing needs refinishing.

Advantages Of Flat Roofs

Low Maintenance Costs
One of the biggest advantages, as discussed earlier, is the lower cost of maintenance. Unlike sloped roofs, where you need a roofing contractor to redo your roof, the flat variety can be done by the ambitious home owner and a few friends. Once the base of the roof is installed it is as easy as painting to refinish the roof.

Easy To Inspect
Another advantage to flat roofs is the easy to which they can be inspected. With a cross gable roof (one with pitch or slope) a home owner would have to risk sliding off the roof when they just wanted to inspect the roof for any defects. Since flat roofs are flat there is a less of a change of slipping and falling. This allows the homeowner to inspect their own roof without having to rely on an expensive contractor. While there are many advantages to flat roofs there are some draw backs.

Can’t Hold As Much Weight
The biggest disadvantage when dealing with flat roofs is the fact that they cannot hold much extra weight. This limits the climates they can be effectively used in. Since they cannot be used in areas which experience heavy precipitation, they are not popular in most of the United States. They work best in dry climates, because any excess water build up can lead to collapse.

Less Stable
The larger the surface area, the less stable it is. Since weight plays a major part in the stability of the roof the large the roof is the more it weighs. The more it weighs the more likely it will collapse unexpectedly. Flat roofs are better for buildings that are small to medium in size.

Higher Risk Of Collapse
While these types of roofing are easier to maintain, letting the roof become even a little damaged can lead to total collapse. It is important to keep up on the maintenance of the roof and make sure that it does not need repair. Once a flat roof becomes damaged it can lead to a whole host of other problems.

Maintenance Requirements

The hardest part about maintenance is getting over the fear of heights. Once you have conquered this fear the rest is quite easy. On your inspection it is important to make sure there is sufficient water run-off. Improper water run-off can cause structural problems with your roof, which in turn can lead to total roof collapse. Once you make sure that there is sufficient water run-off you need to be on the lookout for cracks, bubbles, holes or any other imperfections that make show a need to refinish the roof. Learn more with out roof inspection checklist.