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The most common flat roof questions answered

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Mika, Staff Writer

Monday, 22 February 2021

A large majority of residential and commercial properties have a flat roof located somewhere in the building. They are cheaper than tiling the roof, which is one of their main advantages. 

Plus, flat roofs often provide an essential fire escape which could prove invaluable in an emergency. Flat roofs are also simple to install, taking far less time to do so than a traditional roof.

If you are considering installing a flat roof or if you currently have one on your property, here are some of the most frequently asked questions that may be of benefit to you.

What can flat roofs be made from?

  • Asphalt

  • Bitumen

  • Biodiverse material (for green flat roofs) 

  • EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer)

  • Felt

  • GRP (Glass Reinforced Polyester)

What causes ponding on a flat roof?

Ponding is the name for standing water that builds up on a flat roof, essentially looking like a giant puddle in the middle of the roof. It occurs when the roof does not have adequate drainage either because of an incorrect pitch or because a drainage system has not been installed or has become blocked. 

The issue should be rectified once you first notice it since the roof is not designed to hold the weight of the water. It can cause the roof to sag, eventually becoming structurally compromised. When corrected, your flat roof will drain immediately even after heavy rainfall. 

How long does a flat roof last?

Flat roofs last between 10 and 20 years depending on what they are made from. The quality of the installation has the biggest impact since this will directly impact how well your roof fairs in all weathers. 

The material you choose also counts for a lot, which is why it’s essential to discuss the different options with your contractor. One material may be cheaper but have a shorter lifespan, which will cost you more in the long run, especially if it needs frequent repairs. So be sure to choose the best material within your budget. 

What is the best way to maintain a flat roof?

As with anything you have installed, you can’t simply have it fitted and never look at it again! You may have also moved into a property with a flat roof. Either way, regular maintenance is the way to go with any kind of roofing. 

At the very least, you should keep an eye on the condition of your flat roof especially if a window overlooks it (or have a roofer inspect it periodically if not). Look out for any signs of wear and tear, or if water is ponding instead of draining properly. 

Carry out any recommended repairs at the earliest convenience, since it will prolong the lifespan of your flat roof and help avoid additional costs. 

To sum up

If you have a flat roof, then it must be watertight and structurally sound. Correct pitching or drainage should also ensure water immediately flows away from your roof, rather than ponding in the middle. 

If in doubt, ask a qualified roofer to inspect the condition of your flat roof, to tell you whether it can be repaired or needs replacing. 

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