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Understanding Flat Roofing: Types Of Flat Roofs, Pros, And Cons

July 24, 2021
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Just like the name indicates, a flat roof is a roof that is flatter than other kinds of roofs. It is not literally flat but as low as 1/2 - 1/4 per square foot. Flat roofs are applied for either residential or commercial roofing systems.

Types of flat roofing

There are three significant types of flat roofs, each of which has its uniqueness and pros and cons.

Built-Up Roofing

Built-up roofing or BUR, in short, is the oldest and the most long-standing type of flat roofing system. It consists of different layers—a base layer or two of protection board, different halfway layers of tar or black-top rotated with layers of the material felt, and a top layer of rocks. The outcome is a thick, extreme, consistent rooftop gathering that is profoundly impervious to harm.

The most common tar used is tar paper. But there have been recently advanced materials like fiberglass materials, etc.

Although some property managers still make BUR their choice falt roofing material, its popularity is greatly declining, all thanks to its weight, thickness, odor, and massive growth in the roofing industry, with improved new flat roofing materials.


  • Bur is a magnificent fire retardant.
  • It's the least expensive
  • Bur offers astounding insurance against water, UV beams, and severe climate.
  • Low-upkeep costs during its lifetime.
  • It's not challenging to eliminate layers while fixing or restoring the rooftop.
  • The in-built rock material makes it highly impervious, despite people strolling on it.


  • Bur takes a longer time and higher labor to install because of the numerous layers and materials included.
  • Hazardous exhaust and fumes are radiated during installation
  • The material altogether is extremely hefty and frequently requires that rooftop joists are reinforced before installation.
  • Discovering a hole or leakage can be troublesome and sometimes requires destroying the entire rooftop.
  • It isn't adaptable in cool temperatures, which makes it sensitive to damage.
Modified Bitumen

This flat roofing system has witnessed some tech modifications after being used as a lighter-weight alternative to BUR in the mid-'60s.

Modified bitumen material is a flexible, black-top-based material with a mineral top covering, like conventional black-top shingles. It comes in moved sheets that are 3 feet wide and up to 36 feet in length. The sheets are rolled onto the rooftop on a base sheet material

The regular strategy for installation, called "torch/light down," includes warming the posterior of the material as it is unrolled, basically softening the material to the base layer. There are additionally self-glue forms of modified bitumen that introduce in a strip and stick design. Newer strip and stick frameworks are more secure and more straightforward.


  • Strip and stick material can be installed by property owners
  • Its light-shaded mineral surface reflects warmth and cuts energy bills.
  • Its cost is in the pack.
  • Modified bitumen guarantees predictable installation
  • Modified bitumen is much easier to install than BUR, saving work and lessening errors during installation
  • Offers better versatility and adaptability at low temperatures than built-up roofing
  • Modified bitumen has a low-upkeep, and it is also strong.
  • Most BUR material can be reused, actually like black-top shingles.
  • It has a longer life span and is more durable than a built-up roof.


  • Light down application is a fire risk, and it's not best for occupied structures.
  • It can easily get torn or scraped by a sharp object
  • Some application methods require an open fire/light, which requires extraordinary abilities and well-being contemplations
  • Covering joints should be accurately glued to avoid any leakage
  • For the most part, altered bitumen is less appealing to the eyes than built-up roofing and single-ply roofing.
Single-Ply Roofing

There are a few sorts of layer roofing materials, including elastic and plastic details. One of the most widely recognized materials that have been around for a long time is EPDM. It has higher subordinates like PVC that is also doing well in the market. And lesser alternatives like TPO that is disrupting the commercial marketplace extending its horizons to residential homes.

EPDM (short for ethylene propylene diene monomer) is a genuine elastic. The single-layer material looks like an internal cylinder, yet it's designed to resist harm from daylight. EPDM can be precise with fasteners, ballasted with rocks, or adhesives.


  • Easy and convenient installation for property owners
  • The material is lightweight yet profoundly impervious to scrapes and tears.
  • Leaks or holes are somewhat basic and reasonable; property owners might have the option to make a few fixes themselves.
  • The rooftop deck don't need support on the grounds due to the light nature of the EPDM
  • Leaks or holes are mostly uncommon with EPDM material, given no surface harm happens.
  • EPDM material can hold warmth to bring down heating bills; other sorts of a single material like TPO warmth to keep the home cooler.


  • The standard dark material ingests warmth, and light-shaded coatings (suggested in warm environments) add 30% or more to the expense. Even the dark version costs more than built-up roofing or modified bitumen.
  • It's additionally more powerless against penetrates than other options available
  • Rooftop infiltrations, like lines, HVAC frameworks, and smokestacks, make installation more troublesome and exorbitant. Infiltrations can open a lot of holes or cause leaking if not streaked as expected.
  • Falling branches, people walking through during installation or support can penetrate layers. Or tempest damage which leads to leaks/holes.
  • Seams that are between sheets during fixation are normal and open regions for leakages.

Although all these materials make a great flat roofing material option, selecting the best-fit materials calls for careful evaluation of the possibilities. Get your homework right. Weight the pros and cons of each material.

And if you're still finding it hard to make a choice. Scheduling a free consultation or roofing estimate with your local flat roofing contractor can greatly work in your favor. For a free consultation today, get in touch with us at 553 Prospect Avenue Brooklyn NY 11215 (646)-838-0441

Royal Renovators Inc is Fully Licensed and Insured, with Offices Throughout the NYC Area.
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