Common Flat Roofing Materials: Pros and Cons

June 2, 2022

Flat roofs are becoming increasingly popular for their sleek and modern aesthetics. However, when it comes to choosing the right material for your flat roof, the options can be overwhelming. From traditional to modern materials, each has its own set of pros and cons. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some common flat roofing materials and their advantages and disadvantages.

EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer)

EPDM is a popular thermoset membrane used for flat roofing. It is made up of synthetic rubber and is usually installed in a single layer. Not only is it highly flexible and resistant to UV rays, but it is also relatively inexpensive compared to other flat roofing materials. On the downside, EPDM is prone to punctures and is not ideal for roofs that receive heavy foot traffic.

TPO (thermoplastic olefin)
TPO is a newer flat roofing material that has gained popularity in recent years. It is also a synthetic material, made up of a blend of rubber and plastic. TPO offers excellent resistance to UV rays and comes in a variety of colors, making it easy to match with existing aesthetics. Additionally, TPO is highly reflective, which can help reduce cooling costs during the summer. However, TPO is not as flexible as EPDM and can easily crack in cold temperatures.

Built-up Roofing (BUR)
BUR, also known as tar and gravel roofing, is a traditional flat roofing material that has been around for over a century. BUR is comprised of layers of bitumen, alternated with layers of various reinforcing materials, such as fiberglass or organic felt. The layers are then covered with a layer of gravel or other ballast to protect against UV rays. BUR is one of the most durable flat roofing options and is ideal for roofs that receive heavy foot traffic. However, it is also one of the heaviest options, and can be more expensive to install and repair compared to other materials.

Modified Bitumen
Modified bitumen is a newer alternative to BUR, and is made up of an asphalt and rubber blend. It comes in rolls, and is usually installed in two or three layers. This material is highly resistant to UV rays and is an excellent choice for roofs that receive moderate to heavy foot traffic. Modified bitumen is also easy to repair and reseal. However, it is important to note that it can be more expensive compared to other flat roofing materials.

PVC (polyvinyl chloride)
PVC is another thermoplastic membrane that is becoming increasingly popular for flat roofing. It is highly durable, flexible, and resistant to UV rays. It also provides excellent insulation, which can help reduce heating and cooling costs. On the downside, PVC can easily puncture, and repairs can be difficult and expensive.

In conclusion, there are many materials to choose from when it comes to flat roofing. Each material has its own advantages and disadvantages, and it is important to carefully consider these factors before making a final decision. Still unsure which material is right for your roof? Consult with a professional roofing contractor who can help guide you through the selection process.