3 Flat Roof Types Explained

When it comes to having a flat roof installed you have many options. It is really a matter of personal choice which type of roofing you decide to go with, in most instances. There are some options that are better suited to certain seasons, climates or budgets and that might affect your choice. Most of the choices in flat roof installation are fairly reliable. There are 3 main types of flat roofing.

Built-Up Roof or BUR 

The Built-Up Roof or BUR is the traditional hot tar style of roofing that was very popular at one time. This is by far the cheapest type of flat roofing you can get. It is done by layering 3 or more stacks of waterproof material with hot tar in between and then ballasting the top with a layer of gravel pebbles.

Though this type of roofing is cheap and can be very attractive, it is also hard to maintain. It is difficult to find the source of leaks in this roof. Often the roof joists have to be strengthened in order to hold the bulk weight of the roof. The work is extremely messy and must be done by a professional. Sometimes gravel will clog the gutters of the existing building after a heavy rain, adding to the maintenance factor on a BUR.

Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer

EPDM roofs are made of rubber. The material used is very durable and looks a lot like the material used in inner tubes. There are 3 different ways to install EPDM or rubber membrane roofing. It can be anchored using fasteners, ballasted or glued down.

This material is one of the easiest of the different types of flat roofing. Leaks in this type of roofing are fairly easy to patch and the material is light weight, but very durable. However, this material is slightly more prone to puncture than other types. The black version of this form of roofing soaks up a great deal of sun and is not generally recommended for extremely hot climates. There is a lighter version for hot climates, but it is much more expensive. This type of roofing is typically much more expensive than the other 2 types of flat roofing.

Modified Bitumen

This type of flat roofing involves taking a roll or single ply roofing material that has been integrated with a mineral-based shield and attaching it to the surface of the roof. There are 2 different types of material; the traditional torch-adhesion type that must be heated by a torch and then pressed down with a 70 lb weight to adhere and the newer peel-and-stick type of roll that requires no torch and is much simpler to put down.

It is possible to perform the peel-and-stick variety of bitumen roofing as a do-it-yourself job. This type of roofing can greatly reduce heat and energy bills. It is a moderately priced form of roofing. It is right in the middle when compared to the other 2 types of flat roofing.

The torch-adhesion version of modified bitumen roofing requires professional installation and can be very dangerous. It is not recommended for use on a building that is currently occupied.

Regardless of what type of flat roofing you decide to get it is always best to consult a professional roofer for your initial application. This will ensure that the job is done correctly the first time and will add to the durability of your roof.