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Which Flat Roof is Best? A Householder’s Guide to Flat Roofing
What Flat Roof is Best for My Home?
Working out which flat roof is best for you and your home can be bit of a minefield. There are so many different roofing terms and flat roof processes that it might be difficult to see the proverbial wood for the trees! Flat roofs are still cheaper to construct than pitched roofs and need less material to cover the same span. Here at Empire Roofing we cut through the lingo and industry jargon to make finding a flat roof an easy and straight-forward process.
What is a Flat Roof Made Of?
Did you know that flat roofs are not actually flat! If flat roofs are to work well, they have to have a slope, known as a fall, to shed rainwater. An incline of between 2.5% and 5% ensures the best results. There are several components to a flat roof, as explored below:
The structural deck of a flat roof is the basic construction which forms the roof and sits above the normal ceiling joists. To avoid sagging, the stronger the structure can be the better. Concrete is the strongest but this isn’t often used in private homes, it is usually reserved for commercial properties. If you’re having a new flat roof built, we advise going for plywood, timber board or oriented strand board. Avoid the cheaper options of chipboard or particle board- it may be cheap but can cause problems in the long run as it likes to absorb moisture.
Reinforced Bitumen Membranes (RBM)
Traditionally, domestic flat roofs use two or more built up layers of bituminous felt as their weather proofing. A waterproof membrane is created by rolling out layers of waterproof and/or flexible materials (e.g. felt) which are then bonded together with hot bitumen. Reinforced bitumen membrane roofs also need a protective layer on top, such as gravel or shingle, to hold the membrane down in high winds, and to provide grip for walking upon. This method of traditional flat roofing is gradually being replaced by more modern roofing solutions such as EPDM or fibreglass (GRP) roofing.
EPDM is a rubber roofing system which is often seen as the most modern and advanced rubber roofing system due to its flexibility, seamless finish and long lifespan. This flat roofing solution is a superior, economical alternative to traditional roofing methods. It fits any size or shape property, so when you want attractive flat roofing in Cornwall that is maintenance free, EPDM rubber is unbeatable.
Tiles Some flat roofs are designed to be regularly walked upon, such as a roof terrace or balcony, so a more substantial material is required. Flat roof tiles come in a variety of materials including porous concrete, bitumen, rubber, fibre cement and plastic. As with any heavy load-bearing surface it’s important that the roof is strong enough to take the increased weight of the materials and people on top of them.
Flat Roofs, also used on the hulls of boats because of its tough resilient properties, fibreglass is used more commonly on the roofs of commercial buildings. It is more expensive than other flat roofing methods, but does have a life span of around 40 years if maintained well. Fibreglass roofing is a fairly inflexible material and so can only be used for a straight surface where there is no curvature/movement.
Occasionally, complex roof shapes require something a little different and paint-on solutions can be used effectively whereas other methods struggle. Liquid rubber products have a well-deserved niche, known for their reliability and capacity to overhaul and repair failing roofs, saving you money in the long-run.
Where Are Flat Roofs Used?
Unlike pitched roofs, which cannot really be used for much more than perhaps housing solar panels, flat roofs can be used in a range of different ways. They can become balconies or roof terraces, and can also incorporate glazing in the form of roof lanterns or flush-glaze roof windows. They can be also be planted to create a ‘green roof’. Green roofs are beautiful, but require a root barrier to stop the plants interacting with the waterproofing beneath and a drainage layer to retain water. This is a great idea for people with limited garden space! More traditional usages for flat roofs can be seen below…
Flat Roofing for Homes
Whether your home has a flat roof for walking on as part of a balcony or roof terrace, flat roofs on homes are more commonplace in Cornwall and Devon than in the rest of the UK. One of the main advantages is that a flat roof frees up internal space, and can provide a striking profile on modern architect-designed homes.
Flat Roofing for Garages
When ease of installation and cost is important, a flat roof for your garage is the perfect solution. Flat roofs offer immeasurable flexibility so whatever the size and shape of your garage, a flat roof is the perfect flexible solution. With flat roofs the internal area is not compromised.
Flat Roofing for Sheds
A flat roof is a great roofing solution for a shed as it is quick to install and can save you money. You won’t need loft space in a shed and so a pitched roof would be surplus to requirement. The main materials used for a shed with a flat roof is bitumen mineral felt on top of sheet metal or plywood.
Flat Roofing for Extension
We have come a long way from the old fashioned ugly flat roofs in the 60s and 70s. Poor detailing of the eaves – where the roof meets the walls it sits on- was perhaps one of the reasons old fashioned flat roofs looked and performed so poorly. One way to make this work in a much more pleasing way is to create a deep overhang and to detail the overhanging part of the roof so it appears slender and, accordingly, more lightweight. Modern flat roofs for extensions can look stylish and contemporary, especially when designed by a quality roofer.
How Much Does a Flat Roof Cost?
A flat roof can be cheap or expensive depending on materials used and size of the property in question. Generally, like with anything, the more you spend the more you get. Specification, accessibility, location, size and requirements are all things to consider when we quote you for a flat roof. Every job is different. For example some obstacles to get past may include pipes, multiple or complicated trims, internal drainage, insulation, ventilation or flat roof material upgrades. Sometimes extra scaffolding or skips might be required. A free consultation will help us to judge these things so that we can provide a quote for your flat roof installation or repair.
Flat Roofing Companies Near Me?
If you live in Cornwall or Devon, then Empire roofing can provide you with quality and long-lasting flat roofing solutions for you and your home. Get in touch today for a free consultation to see which flat roofing solution can work best for you.
Empire Roofing (Southwest) LTD
Unit 10A Marsh Lane Ind Estate Marsh Lane Hayle Cornwall TR27 5JR Company Number: 08021301