All you need to know about Flat Roofs
Sometimes a flat roof can offer an excellent solution for your property. But before you decide you might want to know more about it. This blog will take you through the basics of what it is, common materials used and where flat roofing is most often installed.
Why choose a flat roof?
To start off, it should be pointed out that a flat roof is not entirely flat. If it was, there would be no drainage so water would pool on the roof. To avoid this happening a gradient or “fall” is built into the design. This is usually anywhere between 1:40 to 1:80 and ensures that water will run off into the gutter and downpipes.
Flat roofs are most often seen on storage spaces like garages as well as extensions and porches. On some buildings, they might be required to comply with local planning regulations. They are also a popular choice for modern minimalist style buildings, both residential and commercial. Other factors to consider are cost and maintenance.
Cost: Installing a flat roof will be much faster and a lot simpler than installing a traditional roof. Not only are the materials a lot cheaper, but labour costs will also be substantially reduced. The speed at which a flat roof can be installed also makes it less disruptive for the property owners
Easy to maintain: Although a flat roof will benefit from regular care and maintenance, it is much easier to access safely. This is helpful for carrying out regular inspections. Ease of access also makes repairs a lot simpler to carry out compared to a standard sloping roof.
There is a wide variety of materials available and the final decision will depend on a lot of factors ranging from your budget to the type of building. The most important thing is that it is durable enough to withstand the wind and rain and should not require too much maintenance.
Torch on bitumen Felt
This is an economical choice which is also very durable. It is made by binding layers of bitumen sheeting together using heat from a gas torch, which gives it its name. The felt needs to be heated when being applied to the roof so appropriate safety precautions must be taken when installing.
PVC Single-ply Membrane
Another economical option which is used both for commercial and residential properties. It does, however, require special skills so should only be installed by a suitably qualified professional.
EPDM Rubberised Roofing
This option offers protection from rain and UV light. It can be laid loosely rather than stuck down making it reusable. It is easy to install and can last up to 50 years or more.
GRP Fibreglass Roofing
Ideal for roofs that are an irregular shape or size as it is painted on, not laid in sheets like the others. It is lightweight yet still strong.
To help you make up your mind speak to your local roofing company who will be able to advise the best solution for your own requirements.
Flat roofs have a reputation for being problematic. However, that does not need to be the case. The main issue facing owners of a flat roof property is drainage. You need to consider what happens to all the water that lands on your roof when it rains. If the water doesn’t drain away properly it will pool on the roof leading to damage and water ingress. This can be avoided by starting off with a good design which will ensure that all the appropriate measures are taken to avoid drainage problems. It all comes down to planning, design and high-quality workmanship.
Planning and Designing
If you have decided to go for a flat roof, it is important that the plans are discussed early on with everyone who will be involved in the process. This should include the designer, as well as whoever is going to be providing the materials and installing it. This ensures that everyone is working together to towards the success of the project. There are special features needed for a flat roof so these will be integrated into the design right from the start. Access to the roof should also be built into the design to ensure it can be inspected regularly and any repairs can be carried out safely and easily.
Good drainage is the key to avoiding problems and expensive maintenance and repair costs. A flat roof should never be completely flat. Good design ensures that the gradient or “fall” of the roof is at the correct angle to allow water for flow away.
The other important part of the design is an efficient method of taking the water away. This is achieved by having a good system of gutters and drainpipes to remove the water efficiently. Even on a small roof there should be a minimum of two drainage points, with the number increasing proportionality depending on the size of the roof and expected levels of rainfall. Gutters can be angled to match the fall of the roof to ensure everything, quite literally runs smoothly. Alternatively, a dropped gutter system might be more appropriate, depending on other aspects of the design and property.
Installation should only be carried out by a reputable company who are suitably experienced, qualified and certified to carry out the work. This will ensure that all aspects of the project, from the design to installation, comply with the appropriate building standards.
If your roof is well designed it should cut down the need for expensive maintenance and repairs. However, even a well-designed and properly installed flat roof still needs to be looked after. Don’t be tempted to skip regular maintenance and inspections as it will save you time and money in the long run by avoiding major repairs.
Under normal circumstances you should have your flat roof inspected twice a year. However, there may be additional factors that would require more regular inspection. This would be the case if there were a lot of trees overhanging the roof as the debris from leaf fall could build up more quickly leading to blocked gutters. Episodes of severe weather might also mean additional inspections are required.
Flat roofs have a bad reputation. But as long as you work with a team of professionals who can advise you and carry out the work to the highest standard they don’t need to be a source of problems.