Advantages and Maintenance of Flat Roofs
Sloping roofs are more common in North America; however flat roofs are fast gaining in popularity due to the various benefits they offer homeowners. Flat roofs are not entirely flat, in fact, they look horizontal or nearly horizontal, but they do have a slight slope of usually 10 degrees, to drain of the water and snow. Flat roofs have been around for centuries and the old technology of using asphalt compounds to deflect water was being used until thirty years ago.
Traditionally, gravel and tar was the preferred material and it was sufficient to prevent leakages so long as water was not allowed to sit and accumulate on the roofs. This system had its limitations in colder climates, as ice dams would block the flow of water resulting in pooling of water on the roofs and home owners had to deal with leaks very often.
With the advances made in rubber technology especially synthetic rubber technology coupled with the explosion in the polymer industry, newer products for roofing began to appear about 40 years ago. The use of these products enabled homeowners to be unconcerned about rains and snow. Today flat roofs are made from different materials and substances such as Asphalt built up roof or BUR, Hypalon Chlorosulfonated Polyethylene (synthetic rubber), TPO-Thermoplastic Polyolefin, EPDM-Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer, PVC-Polyvinyl Chloride, and Modified Bitumen.
One common feature of all flat roofs is that they always have a coating over some sort of base. Flat roofs require regular inspection and preventive maintenance to extend their life. Modern architecture would not be the same without flat roofs. Residential buildings are more suited for flat roofs as compared to industrial or commercial buildings. This is because flat roof becomes unstable with increase in size leading to higher maintenance expenses.
Life of a flat roof depends on the material used in its construction and the frequency of preventive maintenance. It is recommended that flat roofs be inspected once in a year. Cleaning and clearing of debris from the drains is carried out regularly to prevent water logging and easy draining. Roof coating, which is responsible for waterproofing, degrades due to the ultra violet rays and hence needs preservation. Poor maintenance of flashings material used around objects that protrude from a roof such as chimney is the main cause of leakages in flat roofs.
Owning a flat roof has many advantages such as:
Flat roofs are more accessible making it easier to inspect and clean.
Adds to usable space. If strong enough, it can be used as a terrace garden or as an outdoor amenity. Flat roofs also reduce dead space that is common feature of sloping roofs.
Cost of construction is significantly lower than traditional sloping roofs, resulting in substantial savings that can be set aside for future contingencies or diverted to other home improvement projects.
Cheaper second floors can be built on homes already having a flat roof.
Flat roofs not only reduce initial cost but also add value to your homes
However it is wise to consider a few disadvantages of flat roofs:
Flat roof coatings are not everlasting
Consistent maintenance is required
Not all buildings are suitable for flat roofs
If you’re unsure as to whether flat roof is ideal for your home, it is advisable to consult roofing experts before taking a decision.