ALL ROOFS TAKE ABUSE...
Sloped or pitched roofs are designed to shed water and minimize the deteriorating effects of wet tropical climates, flat roofs on the other hand simply are not. Designed as a monolithic roof surface, these types of roofs have to hold up to extended periods of standing water making professional installation a must if you expect longevity for your investment. Most flat roofs typically have about a 10% pitch and serve best for large buildings and those with heavy-duty HVAC equipment on them. There are three common types of flat roof systems: Membrane (single-ply), Built up Roofing (BUR), and Modified Bitumen Roofing (MBR).
This type of single-ply roofing is commonly made up of a rubber/polymer material, including PVC, Neoprene, EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) and is common in residential applications. Any of these materials are fairly easy to install and hold up well against wind, water and even fire with a lifespan between 30-50 years. Because these materials are so lightweight they don't require additional joist reinforcement, rarely leak and repair easily, including DYI and with the use of recycled rubber they are environmentally friendly while providing excellent insulation. A membrane roofing system does require professional installation and can therefore be costly, especially if you have HVAC systems, roof vents, or chimneys to work around as they have to be properly flashed to avoid any kind of structural compromises. Membranes are susceptible to damage from falling tree branches or carelessness during installation or repair, so caution and attention to large overhanging branches is required.
BUILT UP ROOFING
This is the oldest flat roof application and utilizes tar and gravel to create a watertight layer. Installation of this roof type creates fumes or vapors of hot tar which can be unpleasant and it requires a strong roof joist system to support the heavy weight of the materials used. This type of roof typically lasts about 10-15 years and offers a low maintenance, damage resistant surface that is easy to remove and replace at the end of it's useful lifespan. There are a few disadvantages to built up roofs, in that once they begin to leak, it can be difficult to pinpoint where the leak is coming from. One major issue with this type of roof is the lack of flexibility and intolerance to cold climates.
MODIFIED BITUMEN ROOFING
Shortened to MBR, this is a built up technique utilizing additional wear layers or cap sheets made of reinforced polymer for better durability and strength. These roofing materials have factory applied mineral surfacing for consistent layer thickness. Applied in overlapping rolls for large seamless areas, they are less complicated or labor intensive to install making them less expensive than other methods while providing flexibility in cold climates by use of the polymer reinforcement. Some installation techniques require an open flame or torch so special safety precautions should be used and the overlapping joints must be sealed to prevent leaks. This durable material can also be recycled at the end of use so they are considered to be environmentally friendly.
As a GAF Certified Roofing Contractor, Gulf Coast Roofing has other materials available to help your flat roof last longer, including the latest technology in woven fiberglass and spray-on/paint-on-foam materials and coatings. Be sure to ask one of our experts which application and method will best suit your needs and building type.