Repair vs. Re-Roofing a Flat Roof: How to Make the Right Call

In the world of roofing, flat roofs have their own unique issues. Every flat roof, at some point, will be susceptible to potential damage that could be caused by intense weather, high temperatures, low temperatures, or snow/ice buildup, along with a variety of other factors. Additionally, based on the lifespan of the material used, you may not be an option to repair your flat roof, leaving only a full roof replacement as an option. Understanding how to make the right call requires knowledge of the materials used and the length of its warranty.

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Determining the type of materials used on your flat roof will help you decide what to do. The roofing materials for flat roofs include:

Single Ply Materials Single-ply roofing materials are made from various rubber or plastic materials including PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and TMO (thermoplastic poly-olefin). Both products are proven to lower interior cooling costs due to their reflective-heat properties. EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) is also an effective single ply material used for flat roofs that has been shown to perform optimally for decades.

Multi-Ply Materials Multi-ply roofs are often installed using felt asphalt rolls or mats that are separated between layers of asphalt. Once in place, a dense layer of small pebbles or gravel is installed on top of the layers as a way to protect the roofing materials from exposure and damage.

Flat Seamed Metal – Fabricated out of sheets of metal, the product is designed to mimic the look of a shingle or tile. Typically manufactured out of steel or copper, the pieces are soldered together as one unit, designed to build a cohesive flat roof. Generally, the product is often too expensive for a total replacement of an entire roof. Still, it offers a valuable solution for a long-lasting aesthetically-appealing lightweight roof, with heat reflective properties.

Rolled Asphalt – Flat roofs that it been installed using rolled asphalt (with saturated felt) usually have the material nailed down to the substrate. However, the material can be covered with cold asphalt cement. To add a protective layer, gravel or small pebbles are installed on top. As the least expensive material for a flat roof, rolled asphalt roofs often experience a dramatic short lifespan, when compared to other options.

Modified Bitumen – Formulated out of modified bituminous materials, consisting of a polymer and asphalt, this product has a similar lifespan as compared to single ply roofing material. When installed, it is often covered with an overcoat protective layer of gravel or with a liquid coating that has reflective properties.

The best way to make the right call in determining whether you should reroof or repair your flat roof is to consult a license contractor, experienced and knowledgeable in various roofing materials.

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