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With Flat Roofs, You Have Options

If your building has a flat roof, you have many options to choose for the system and type of materials used to construct your roof. Every type has its own benefits and drawbacks; learn more about each of the following options:

With Flat Roofs You Have Options


This "membrane" is essentially a sheet of plastic that is completely attached to the roof by adhesive glue or by concealed plates around the outside perimeter. Because the sheets are only so wide, they are intentionally overlapped where they meet. This narrow "double layer" is melted together by extreme heat, becoming one huge sheet of plastic. PVC flat roofs are very durable, have excellent seams, carry lengthy warranties, are very damage resistant, and are energy efficient. However, they can sometimes be a bit pricey.


A TPO roofing system is more common than PVC. TPO systems involve wide sheets or "membranes" laid on the roof. Where seams will be required, the sheets are joined together with extremely high heat. TPO can be up to 20% cheaper than PVC, are highly leak resistant, and are also very energy efficient. Unfortunately, TPO doesn't fare well in hot climates, it’s a little newer to the market (1990s) and still has some refining and evolution, and its popularity has sometimes sprouted inferior TPO competitors. Be sure to contact a trusted, professional roofer for more information.


Like PVC, EPDM is a single ply membrane that's more affordable and is a popular choice. EPDM is rubber with special additives that allow it to last longer than ordinary rubber. It is attached to the roof by glue and are taped to seal the "joint" at seams. EPDM is easy on the wallet, but sometimes taped seams are not as durable as PVC seams, so it is prone to absorbing heat, thereby increasing your utility bill.

Modified Bitumen

This type of flat roofing system is more than one layer or "ply." Bitumen, also known as asphalt, is modified by adding plastic and/or rubber-like ingredients, yielding a pliable, durable product. The first sheet-like layer is attached with bars or plates to the roof. The next layer is glued to the first. Finally, a gravel coat is applied on top, providing energy efficiency and damage resistance. It is durable with its multi-ply form factor, and polymer additives allow for expansion and contraction to cope with climate extremes. Comparing to other roof types, though, it can be more difficult to install.  

Built Up Roofing (BUR)

BUR is created by alternating layers of bitumen with insulation and ply layers. The final 4-6 layers is either a gravel or reflective top coat. It’s been around for over a century, and it's also known as a tar and gravel roof. BUR is extremely resistant to damage and foot traffic, but it is very heavy, which may necessitate structure reinforcement.

If you’d like more details about roofs, the different types of roof systems and materials, and to see which type best suits you, contact us to explore more of your flat roof options for your home or commercial building.

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