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Roofs take a lot of abuse from natural elements throughout their lifetime. Pitched or sloped roofs help shed water, and minimize snow buildup. Roofs with asphalt shingles, tiled roofs, or wood shake roofs are designed for specifically to shed water. Flat roofs, on the other hand, are a completely different animal, flat roofs have extremely low slopes and do not readily shed water. These roofs are designed as a single large block and handle a limited time of standing water.
There are 4 main types of flat roof systems EPDM (Rubber), Thermoplastic Membranes (PVC) or TPO Modified Bitumen and Roofing Built-up roofing (BUR). These roofing materials serve a variety of purposes built to suit your needs.
EPDM is the newest flat roof technology with being about 55+ years old, and BUR roofing being the oldest with over 120+ years. Modified Bitumen has been around for around 80 years.
Rubber roofs are usually easy to recognize, they are installed with a couple of basic ways, 1) Adhered or glued down 2) Mechanically fastened or 3) Ballasted (weighed down by a heavy object).
EPDM is made of recycled rubber material, which also makes it one the fan favorites in flat roofing as it is environmentally friendly. Rubber roofing also helps insulate your roof and attic, saving commercial buildings a lot of money on cooling and heating costs, which also makes it an environmentally friendly option. EPDM roofing comes in a variety of textures and colors that widen the options for a consumer.
FleeceBACK EPDM membranes are manufactured using hot-melt adhesive technology to bond a fleece backing to the EPDM sheeting. The membranes are available in sheet thicknesses of 100, 115, and 145 mils and are manufactured with 3" or 6" Factory-Applied Tape to ensure consistent quality seams. Fleece back EPDM is durable, versatile and is ideal for re-roofing or new construction projects. Installation of fleece-back roofing requires it being mechanically fastened or adhered to the roof deck. The adhesive is spray-applied or extruded onto the substrate and allowed to rise and foam. Roll FleeceBACK membrane with a 150-pound segmented weighted roller to ensure full embedment. Splices are sealed with tape and end laps are butted then sealed with a pressure-sensitive cover strip or an overlayment strip.
- There are no reinforcements needed on the deck of the roof because EPDM roofing is lightweight.
EPDM Roofing is waterproof.
The durability of this roofing material is extremely high, it doesn't scratch or scuff easily and repairs are usually a very cost-effective alternative to full roof replacement.
- Due to the high durability of the material the life span of EPDM roofs can range from 30 to 50 years, and it holds up really well against wind, water, and fire.
Leaking EPDM roofs are a rare find.
- Repairs are fairly simple and inexpensive. If you are a homeowner, some of the EPDM roofing can be done as a DIY project, or you can hire a certified commercial roofing contractor to do the job.
The biggest advantage that EPDM roofing has over the others is its cost. At .80 cents per sq ft, it is one of the most inexpensive roofing materials. It is also easy to install so whether you do it yourself or have a commercial roofing contractor install it the costs would still be lower than the other types of roofing systems. Usually, with heavy roofing like Built-up roofing, there are reinforcements needed to the roof deck because of the weight, however, EPDM is very lightweight, so the roof deck doesn't need any kind of reinforcements.
- Branches, storms or foot traffic during the installation can cause damage to rubber roofing. It just needs to be taken care of more than a regular roof when walking on it.
- Any exterior pieces, like pipes, HVAC systems, and chimneys can pose a risk to your EPDM roofing and cause leaks.
- EPDM roofing is best installed by a commercial roofing contractor.
The appearance of this product is the biggest drawback. When using for sheds or garages it may not be the worst option, but if installation on the main buildings of a house it can detract from the curb appeal. Superheating of the structure that EPDM is installed on can a problem too, this type of flat roofing only comes in black rolls, which absorbs heat easily. Yes, you can find other colors available to help reflect the heat from the sun in a warmer climate but that also adds to the cost of your flat roofing system to about 30% more.
The best way to install this type of roof would be to rip everything off the roof and apply an adhesive, then just roll out the roofing. Leaks in EPDM roofing are fairly rare, and a good EPDM flat roof can last up to 20 years. To fix any repairs or leaks latex tape or adhesives, and some kind of rubber shingles can be installed over EPDM. This material is also durable when it comes to withstanding the sun, although black, it isn't easily damaged by the UV rays.
Polyiso Board Insulation
Heat gain in residential homes is mainly through the roof structure. Insulated ceilings help heat flow into the house in summer and contain generated heat in winter, providing a comfortable living environment. All insulation tends to give up over time and not work to its full efficiency due to weathering and moisture. Polyiso Board, on the other hand, has minimal effect on its thermal performance. Polyiso Board can be expected to last the lifetime of the roof and provide the required thermal performance for many years.
The tongue and groove application allows adjacent boards to interlock, creating a continuous insulated surface. Boards are available in standard thickness and lengths to fit most applications. Installation is easily accomplished by both commercial roofing contractors and DIY enthusiasts. The lightweight nature of Polyiso Board means installation proceeds quickly.
Polyiso Board has proven safe when exposed to fire situations, both through actual events and laboratory testing. Polyiso Board shrinks away from flame sources, with no flaming droplets or flame spread characteristics.
Polyiso Board can be easily painted and stained with water-based products as it has a bright white surface. An unpainted board can be wiped clean as necessary. Filler products or adhesives can repair any damaged Boards during installation prior to painting.
It is also not a material affected by water vapor or water, and can be successfully used in bathrooms, kitchens, and indoor swimming pools.
TPO (Thermoplastic membranes)
Thermoplastic membranes have different properties, one of them being it changes from a solid to a semi-solid state when heated. That enables the sheets or panels that are overlapping to fuse together and return to solid upon cooling down. That creates a monolithic, continuous sheet membrane. Thermoplastic roof sets itself apart from other commercial roofing systems, It has an extremely durable material with high- temperature tolerance. In the flat roofing industry, thermoplastic roofing is growing faster than any other commercial roofing.
Thermoplastic membranes are most typically either Thermoplastic Olefin (TPO) or Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC). TPO roofing is a blend of ethylene propylene, polypropylene and is reinforced by polyester. TPO sheets contain UV absorbers, flame retardants or other add-ins to achieve required physical property. Thermoplastic roofing has many advantages, here are some to consider when selecting your next roofing application.
• Cost - TPO can be less expensive than other commercial roofing, it is seen as a lower cost option when repairing a commercial roofing system. The lower cost does not mean that the material will wear out soon. TPO and PVC can last about 15 to 20 years without needing any major repairs.
• Durability - Thermoplastic membrane is a type of flat roofing that offers excellent durability. The single ply is flexible, which allows it to withstand punctures or tears as well as many chemicals.
• Energy Efficient - Thermoplastic roofing can provide some major long-lasting benefits including low energy cost, due to their heat resistant properties. White TPO and PVC roofs are extremely reflective leading to lower cooling expenses.
• Weather Resistance - Thermoplastic flat roofing, like Hyload’s Alproof with Fleece, is excellent for places where the weather is going to play a big role in the longevity of the roof. Thermoplastic membranes help to protect buildings in situations with heavy rain or hail and are even the option of choice in hurricane zones, having proven they can help withstand incredible winds, rain, and even debris that come with the strongest storms.
• Ease of Installation - The last advantage of a thermoplastic membrane like TPO or PVC is the relatively easy installation process. Membranes can be mechanically attached, ballasted or adhered using adhesives. Due to their chemical properties, thermoplastic membranes do not contain cross-linking molecules and flow when heated. During the installation process, membrane sheets can be welded together, creating a durable, watertight seal. As a result, they’re a lower liability for installers.
When taking these advantages into account, a thermoplastic membrane might be the right solution for your next commercial roofing replacement. Contact your commercial roofing contractor to get more information on the product and the installation.
Modified Bitumen Roofing
With the BUR roofs being such a hassle to install, it did not take that long for people to dislike the smell, heat, and the mess. That, unfortunately, was the only option for years until the 1960s when a new technology came out called the Modified Bitumen Roofing. This roofing was promising and even leveraged the performance of built-up roofing.
Modified bitumen roofing also added roof wear layers that were polymer reinforced and provided durability. Bitumen roof is one of the longer lasting options when it comes flat roofing. It is also applicable in different ways. It can be installed in both cold and hot temperatures.
- It is applied in overlapping rolls creating large seamless areas.
Modified bitumen is fairly cheap to install.
Better durability than BUR with the ease of installation like EPDM roofing.
- It is less complex to install, saving labor and installation cost.
A couple of different application methods including torch applied, cold applied, self-adhered or hot applied.
- The roof is environmentally friendly as its recyclable at the end of its life.
- Low maintenance cost and higher durability.
Unlike some of the newer types of commercial roofing, Bitumen has a proven track record that can be counted on. This kind of commercial roof can easily last up to 20 years. The seems are usually melted together which helps stops the leaks regardless of how the material is applied. Bitumen roofs are extremely durable so it is very unlikely to develop cracks that may develop in other types of roofing. It is also rated extremely well against natural elements like fire, wind, and hail.
Bitumen flat roofing also usually has a very long manufacturers warranty that helps guarantee the longevity of the roof.
- Due to the overlapping joints, it must be adhered correctly to prevent possible leaks.
- Special safety considerations are required as some application techniques require a flame/torch.
Bitumen roofing is available in 1,2 or 3-ply. The 1- ply material is not that durable, and can cause problems such as breaking down prematurely. This flat roofing can be the most costly of the other commercial roofing as the 2 and 3-ply material roofs cost significantly more to install. Granules need to be included in the installation process to help protect the roof from the sun. The temperature of the building can further raise if not included. Unfortunately, not all type of bitumen roofing installation includes granules. If your roof is prone to standing water after rainstorms, that can damage the commercial roof prematurely. Overall, if done right it is extremely durable. That means having a 2 or 3 ply material and having it coated against UV rays.