3 Types of Flat Roofs With Pros and Cons


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When picking a flat roof for their residence, homeowners have three options to choose from according to Matthews Roofing vice president, Bruce O’Neal. This company has been providing reliable protection from inclement weather in Chicago since 1934.

Are you confused about the various types of flat roofs? There are 3 primary roofing systems, including Built-up Roof, Modified Bitumen Roof, and Rubber Membrane Roof. All three come with their own set of benefits depending on your individual needs. Rubber Roofing Direct shed some light below.

Pros and Cons of Different Flat Roof Materials

The cost of flat roofing typically ranges from $250 to $350 per “square”, though the price may vary depending on where you live and how large your roof is. However, if constructed correctly and kept up with regular maintenance, these roofs can last for a remarkable 25 years – some come with a 10-20 year warranty too.

1) Built-Up Roof (BUR)

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For years, hot-tar and gravel roofs have been constructed with 3 or more layers of protective material interlaced with molten tar and secured by a layer of river stone. Originally made out of tar paper, the roofing industry is now turning towards modern materials such as fiberglass membranes to increase protection against adverse weather conditions.


  • Not only can gravel be used to improve the aesthetic appeal of your outdoor space, it is also an exceptional fire retardant that can help keep you and your family safe in the event of a wildfire.
  • Excellent option for windows and decks overlooking the roof.
  • Of the other roofing options, it’s undoubtedly the most budget-friendly.


  • Heavy material
  • May require the joists to be strengthened.
  • Installation can be smelly and messy
  • Almost impossible to install on your own
  • Source of leaks can be hard to find
  • Unchecked gravel can quickly accumulate in gutters and scuppers

2) Modified Bitumen Roof

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Instead of traditional ice-and-water shields, single ply rolled roof systems can be upgraded with a mineral based wear surface. The unique torch down system requires the adhesive to be melted as it is applied, making installation effortless and efficient. For a safer alternative, there are peel and stick options that should be considered.


  • Homeowners can easily install peel-and-stick material
  • Its reflective, light-colored mineral surface has the ability to deflect heat away from your home and drastically reduce energy costs
  • Reasonable price


  • Torch-down roofing is an incredibly dangerous fire hazard, and should be avoided in any inhabited structure.
  • Compared to rubber-membrane roofs, this material is not as resistant to scuffs and tears.

3) Rubber Membrane Roof

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EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) is a unique rubber material, similar to an inner tube, that has been expertly crafted with durable components. This single-ply membrane can be secured in place using fasteners or ballasted with stone, and it can also be bonded for additional protection from the sun’s harmful rays.


  • DIY installation is possible
  • This remarkably lightweight material is surprisingly resilient against scraps and rips
  • Fixing leaks is a straightforward task


  • The classic black material traps heat, however, choosing lighter shades (intended for use in more tropical areas) can raise the cost by a minimum of 30%
  • The black version is still more costly than BUR or modified bitumen
  • In comparison to other options, this one is more prone to punctures and tears
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