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Pros and Cons of a Flat Roofing Systems

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Pros and Cons of a Flat Roofing Systems

On February 1, 2017, Posted by , In Roofing Blogs, With No Comments

What are the Pros and Cons of Flat Roofs?

Flat roofs are a different creature. With extremely low slopes (between 1/4″ to 1/2″ per foot if constructed properly), flat roofs don’t easily shed water. These flat roofs are designed as a monolithic roof surface and require in order to handle some small time of standing water.

Roofs take maltreatment and require care. Make no mistake about that. Sloping or pitched roofs help shed water and minimize snow develop. As a consequence, sloped roof systems like asphalt shingles, tiled roofs or wood shingle roofs are made like fish scales, overlapping pieces made to shed water.

There are there are only three major forms of flat roof systems:

  • Membrane or ‘Single-Ply’ Roofing (such as EPDM)
  • Built Up Roofing (BUR)
  • Modified Bitumen Roofing

Membrane / Single-Ply (EPDM) Roofing

There are several kinds of rubber/polymer membrane roofs including PVC, Neoprene, EPDM and a few others. Yet, EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) is the most commonly used, especially in residential uses.

EPDM roofing is made from recycled rubber stuff, making it environmentally friendly. It also helps to insulate your roof and loft — and cuts down on cooling and heating prices — which makes it economically friendly as well. EPDM roofing shingles come in a wide selection of textures and colors. Consider these pros and cons:


  • EPDM roofing is waterproof.
  • It allows you to encase your whole roof.
  • Repairs are comparatively easy and affordable; homeowners should manage to do some as DIY projects.
  • Roofs last between 30 and 50 years and hold up against the wind, water, and fire.
  • The roof deck doesn’t want support because EPDM roofing is lightweight.
  • Leaks are extremely infrequent with EPDM roofing.
  • EPDM roofing is lasting — it doesn’t scratch or scuff very easily — and repairs are simple.


  • You should have an EPDM roof installed by a professional contractor who knows how to properly install the roof. It can be somewhat costly.

  • Any outdoor bits — conduits, HVAC systems, chimneys — can present a danger to your EPDM roofing and cause flows if not properly flashed.

  • Rubber roofing could be damaged by branches, foot traffic during setup, or storm damage. You simply need to take more caution when walking on a membrane roof.

  • These systems can shrink as much as 6% per year. This causes yanking on the edges of the building which then causes conclusion bars, parapet walls and side walls to be pulled out. Seams can be pulled apart and vent pipes could be pulled over, among other problems.

  • Screws often can be seen back out of the roof deck because of growth and contraction of the roof. They eventually poke their heads up through the sheet itself, creating holes that water can seep through.

  • Weather cracking brought on by temperature changes making the sheet brittle after many years.

  • Wind damage, which frequently goes undetected on ballasted and glued roofs. Over time, the wind can cause the sheet to eventually become unfastened from the substrate.

  • The seams of EPDM are sealed with water soluble adhesive which can cause seam failure over time.

Built-Up Roof (BUR)

Around for more than a century, BURs were the most frequently encountered flat roofing system until the arrival of single ply. BURs use multiple layers of tar and gravel to create a watertight seal over the roofing, which shields underside layers from damage.

See also: Top Asphalt Roofing Shingles You Need To Know

BUR benefits, as explained in FacilitiesNets Making Sense of Roofing Options, comprise:

Tried-and-trueRoofers have been successfully using this approach for over 100 years.

Thick coverageBURs comprise numerous plies that offer protection if outside layers are damaged. You’re not placing all your eggs in a single basket.

Exceptionally resistantThe gravel surface is durable against everyday wear and tear, reducing maintenance conditions.

Nonetheless, FacilitiesNet additionally calls out concerns, chiefly regarding BUR resilience in wide open expanses and cold weather. Note: Conventional BURs aren’t flexible at low temperatures; nonetheless, modified bitumen solutions are and ought to be considered if you reside in a colder climate.

Level Roofing

Another option is level roofing, which is commonly more prevalent in drier climates. A flat roof is nearly completely level, although there a little slant (respective to a size of dwelling) that allows water to drain into the gutter system. Flat roofs are installed by putting a synthetic rubber and asphalt membrane made from either TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin), EPDM (ethylene propylene diene terpolymer), or modified bitumen over the surface. This creates a waterproof covering to safeguard your home.


  • Easy to install
  • Less hazardous
  • More reachable
  • Can double as a living space
  • Commonly more affordable than other roofing options


  • More prone to leaking
  • Commonly more water damage in home if leak happens
  • High heat absorption
  • Higher maintenance

Composite Roofing

Composite roofing is a less common option, but is made entirely from recycled materials; it’s the most environmentally friendly roofing choice. They come in a variety of distinct designs as well as colors and may resemble the appearance of cedar shingles or slate roofing, giving the roof a more aesthetic appeal. Composite roofing is, in addition, installed in a similar fashion as shingles and shakes, in that it is installed from the bottom up to the top of the property to guarantee a watertight surface is made.

See also: Different Types of Roofing Materials for Flat Roofs


  • Highly environmentally friendly
  • Aesthetic allure
  • Virtually maintenance free
  • Exceptionally durable; long lifespan


  • More pricey roofing alternative
  • Set up normally takes more compared to other roofing types

Flat Lifeline

Horizontal lifeline systems are constructed along a particular path of the rooftop. The rooftop worker ties off to the system through the use of a harness and lanyard. Flat lifelines must certainly be installed and kept by specialized personnel. OSHA also requires all employees using the system to experience competent individual training for each system. Saving strategies and other safety management overheads are involved in all active fall protection systems.


  • Lower price of merchandise than most guardrail solutions
  • Not observable from the earth
  • Can be used in some condition where passive remedies won’t work
  • Allows for more freedom around a roof than regular core stages


  • Has to be set up by accredited installers
  • Ongoing care
  • OSHA competent person training needed by all workers utilizing the system
  • Review required before every use
  • Requires the worker to wear fall protection equipment and correctly tie away to the system.

  • Continuing purchase of PPE (harnesses, lanyards, etc.)
  • Requires valid saving plan
  • Needs focus from management to document and all the aforementioned and validate that the security strategy is being followed.

  • Limits productivity to workers

Tools & Gear

Each roofing system type needs its own special group of roofing tools and gear. Work closely with an authorized roofing distributor to recognize and purchase the tools necessary to guarantee a proper flat roof installation.

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