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Flat Roof: Advantages and Disadvantages

Flat Roof Advantages and Disadvantages

Flat Roof: Advantages and Disadvantages

Of all the different roof types for homes and buildings, one of the most controversial is the flat roof. Used commonly on large buildings and outbuildings, the flat roof has its own special set of needs and challenges. If you’re considering this type of roof for your building or residence, make sure you understand the advantages and disadvantages it can bring.

Flat Roof Advantages

By far the biggest advantage of using a flat roof is the expense. From the initial building and installation to the materials most often used to cover the roof, flat roofs are fairly cheap. Many types of material used for installation run about .80 a foot, which makes a flat roof extremely affordable both for the initial installation and the maintenance and upkeep.

Another advantage to using a flat roof is the fact that you can now make use of the space once the roof is done. Get your air conditioning units up off the ground and put them on the roof. Install solar panels on the roof that are less obvious from the curb. Plant a roof top garden or design a living roof. The possibilities of how you can use a flat roof are nearly endless, and this is by far one of the greatest benefits to using one.

Going hand in hand with the last advantage is the fact that with a flat roof, you have the ability to have a more versatile interior space as well. Finished attics and the use of a top floor apartment become more readily available without the sloped walls that a traditional pitched roof would produce. This makes a nice option for homes where the maximum amount of interior space is needed.

Finally, flat roofs are generally more accessible than sloped roofs. So cleaning your gutters, making repairs, and installing things like satellite dishes or solar panels become easier and less expensive to do as well.

Flat Roof Disadvantages

The biggest disadvantage to installing a flat roof is the drainage, or lack thereof. Flat roofs do drain, but not nearly as efficiently as a roof with any kind of pitch. Therefore water has a tendency to puddle and remain on the roof, which could lead to the roofing material breaking down or to eventual leaks, particularly along the seams.

The second disadvantage is the lack of roofing material options. The vast majority of flat roofs use a type of rolled roofing; rubber, EPDM, TPO, or bitumen. These are all relatively inexpensive materials and easy to install, but most of them have a limited lifespan of 10 to 15 years. Rubber shingles are available that can be installed in conjunction with rolled rubber roofing, and some new materials such as polycarbonate roofing and PVC roofing are becoming available that may last longer and give some style options, but these come at a higher price, and lack the kind of history that can help predict how long they will last.

Consider a Flat Roof

Flat roofs may not be the most glamorous option for homes and buildings, but they do have their advantages as well. Pay attention to these and the drawbacks when making your decision to ensure you get the best roof for your building.


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