There are always advantages and disadvantages to just about everything, but the biggest difference we see in flat roofing is that commercial buildings regularly have them and homes usually don’t, with some exceptions. So, what is a flat roof? A flat roof is pretty well what it sounds like: it’s a roof that is parallel to the ground.
It’s a simple definition, but that’s only the surface of the subject, pardon the pun. There are actually three different types of flat roof:
Modified Bitumen – This is the flat roof that has that kind of look of concrete or pavement due to it having a mineral-based service. The way it’s attached to the surface breaks down into two groups: The first involves heating the adhesive before fastening it to a roof. The second is the newest and easiest, which is a simple peel-and-stick system.
The peel-and-stick is the more DIY form of roofing that people can install with nothing more than a Google video, whereas the older heated system is flammable and not recommended for most buildings. This form of roofing is considered neither expensive nor cheap.
Built-Up Roof – This is the more well-known and traditional form of flat roofing, conjuring old memories of men on roofs, working with tar. This hot tar is eventually finished off with gravel. With the passing of the decades, this approach has become more advanced and more efficient. It also still ranks as the cheapest, but is incredibly heavy, meaning it should only be used in certain circumstances.
Rubber Membrane – This is the roof that almost looks like it’s the surface of a non-stick pan! This approach to flat roofing is durable and is easily installed. It’s the most expensive and the most easily damaged of all three, but also the easiest to repair.
When it comes to choosing between a pitched or a flat roof, the first reason for people to go with a flat roof, is that it’s cheaper. The simple fact is that constructing a pitched roof means additional building materials. A pitched roof has to be constructed and that costs time and money, which means that it’s the more expensive alternative when choosing a roof.
The biggest advantage to pitched roofs, however, depends on the climate one lives in. In more northern climes, snow is a regular occurrence. If expected amounts of snowfall generally don’t go beyond an inch or two, though, there’s no real advantage to a pitched roof, but when dealing with appreciable amounts of snow, then the pitched is better able to handle the weight.
When it comes to the general use of flat roofs, there is significantly less labor and time that goes into creating one since the roof amounts to a simple cover over the top of the building in question. This is one of the chief reasons why large buildings, like malls or warehouses, tend to have flat roofs. Because they aren’t used as homes, there is no need to be as concerned with the roofing. To add a pitched roof to something as large as a mall or other similar sized edifice would be incredibly costly and it’s just easier to stick with a flat roof in those cases.
The other advantage of flat roofing is that maintenance is pretty light for a flat roof. The better types of roofing are easy to repair and it’s easy to locate any leaks. One of the pros that occur to fewer people is that a flat roof means more space to use, despite the fact that space is on the roof.
A flat roof can be easily modified for the installation of a skylight and air conditioners can be located on the roof as opposed to occupying premium square footage elsewhere in the building. For those who are looking to save some expense by installing solar panels, they are right at home on a flat deck, but are easily noticed on a pitched roof.
There are also companies that have taken advantage of the extra space by installing decks for employees to have their own personal space outside during breaks and away from customers. The advantages to condominiums are that they can have private balconies as a major benefit to some of their units, while having large, private decks for the use of the rest of the condo owners. Many modern condos also install pools on those open roofs, increasing the value of the condominiums.
The biggest disadvantage to all of these great uses of roof space is, of course, weight. Decks, and especially, pools, add weight to the roof of a building. So, for anyone contemplating one of these great additions to their business or condominium, it’s important to ensure that the structure can withstand the extra weight easily!