If you are about to build a new home or renovate an old house, then this question must be uppermost in your mind. Is flat roof the best option for a residential building? You see flat roofs almost everywhere in Canada – in the shopping malls, warehouses, centres of trade and commerce and educational institutions. However, they are not an automatic choice for residential dwellings yet. So would it be a good idea to invest in a flat roof at all?
Flat roofs are easy to install. They are the best option to go for if you are planning a multi-storied building. Flat roofs are suitable to contemporary design which thrives on clean and simple forms. They are permanent features of many city homes. You can use a flat roof for designing a roof terrace garden and enjoy dining there with your family in the summer months. You may also install a spa and Jacuzzi on your flat room. Flat roofs are more cost effective than pitched roofs.
On the other hand, flat roofs need regular cleaning and maintenance. In the long winter season, you will have to take additional care because excess snow build up may cause the roof to collapse. The same problems may occur with standing water in the rainy season. To avoid these troubles, you will have to improve the drainage system and clean the surface of regular basis.
It is important to note that even the flattest of roofs are designed with an inclination of 5 to 15 degrees which helps in draining the stagnant water. If you are planning to install solar photovoltaic system, then flat roofs may not be the best option to go for. Though, you may easily build a wood and steel frame with the required amount of slope and install the photovoltaic system.
You will need any one of the following basic roofing materials for flat roofing.
PVC membranes – Many home builders only use layers of PVC membranes to build a flat roofing system. PVC membranes can be used in conjunction to metal plates or they can be directly affixed to the deck. PVC membranes are durable and sturdy. They often come with a lifetime warranty. Because they don’t absorb sunlight, they are very useful for houses in Ontario, British Columbia and other places in Canada which experience very hot summer months.
EPDM – EPDM, also known as rubber roofing system, is one of the most popular flat roof materials. EPDM is not as durable as PVC membranes. Instead of reflecting it, EPDM also absorbs sunshine which makes the interior warmer in the summertime. However, it is cheaper than PVC membranes.
TPO – Thermoplastic polyolefin or TPO is growing in popularity by the day. TPO can be chemically attached with the deck or built within a metal structure like PVC membranes. It is slightly costlier than EPDM. Due to its energy efficient nature, it is highly favoured for residential buildings and commercial structures. TPO is available in three shades – dark grey, mild grey and white. TPO is also a very sturdy material which can last for decades.
Modified Bitumen – PVC membranes, EPDM or TPO can easily get damaged by sharp objects. In this respect, modified bitumen is a more advantageous option. Modified bitumen roofing has a base layer attached with the deck or metal structures. A top ply layer is added for better energy efficiency.
Built Up Roofing (BUR) – This type of roofing system is older than a century. In this, several alternating layers of bitumen and gravel are added on the deck area. They are very durable and have greater load bearing capabilities.
Silicon spray – Silicon spray, also called spray on roofing, is a protective shield and not a complete roofing solution. It is sprayed on the existing membranes to cover up the seams and joints. This is one of the costliest roofing materials in use.
Concrete – Concrete roofs are slowly becoming popular in Canada, especially in the urban regions. The combination of steel structure and concrete roofing system proves to be extremely sturdy and easy to maintain. Concrete flat roof tiles can also be used for this purpose. They are available in a range of attractive colours and designs.
Roofing costs heavily depend on the materials in use, size of the deck, installation process and complexity of the task. EPDM, modified bitumen or built up roof costs between $3 CAD and $8 CAD per square foot. PVC membranes can cost between $9 CAD and $13 CAD per square foot. TPO roofs can be installed by spending between $8 CAD and $12 CAD. Concrete roofs can cost around $10 CAD per square foot.
Thinking of going the DIY way? EPDM is the most DIY friendly roofing material. Buy a EPDM kit and commence the project. Thoroughly clean up the surface and remove residual oil, grease or moisture. The rubber sheets would not stick to the surface properly in their presence. Build a timber deck to install the rubber sheet. Install a drip edge which will help water flow easily to the gutter.
Cover the deck with a coat of deck adhesive. Spread the rubber membrane on the surface immediately. Sweep the surface to remove any trapped air underneath the membrane. Trim excess sheets near the walls. Apply a coat of rubber primer. Rest it for a while till the adhesive dries completely before starting to use the space.
Seek recommendations from your close friends and family members. Surf online and see the names of the roofers in your area. Check out the projects completed by them and see if they are capable of meeting your needs. Ask questions, check reviews and feedbacks left by other users who used their services. You may also use homify’s online portal to search and locate experienced roofers nearby. Get in touch with them and discuss the requirements of your project.