What Is The Best Roofing System For A Flat Roof?

Brad GordonFlat Roofs


Choosing the best type of roofing system for a flat roof is a challenge for many homeowners and businesses owners. There are multiple types of roofing systems that will work for flat roofs, and when deciding on the right one, there are multiple factors to take into consideration. These factors include: durability, the building’s structure and roof weight limitations and the cost. Listed below are common flat roof systems, including their pros and cons. The characteristics of each roofing system should be reviewed carefully as you try to choose what is the best roofing system for a flat roof?

Rubber Roof (EPDM)

EPDM, short for ethylene propylene diene monomer, is a type of true rubber. EPDM is installed using fasteners or in some cases, glue.

The Good:

EPDM is durable, will last up to 20 years, is resistant to damage from the sun, and it’s relatively light-weight. This means that a building or home with a rubber roof shouldn’t require additional reinforcement as a prerequisite for installation. Many environmentally-conscious homeowners like that rubber roofs can be made from recycled materials like rubber tires.

The Bad: EPDM is more costly than some other flat roof options. Light-colored EPDM is even more costly than black EPDM. Black rubber has the disadvantage of absorbing heat on sunny days.

Built-Up Roof (BUR)

A built-up roof is made from layers of water-proof material that have been sandwiched between tar and gravel. Newer BUR roofs use fiberglass membranes instead of tar paper.

The Good:

BUR is a very common type of flat roof system because it is inexpensive, easy to install, highly durable and very fire-resistant. BUR systems have been around for a very long time and are well understood by professionals.

The Bad:

BUR is very heavy and can either compromise the structural integrity of a building, or may require special reinforcement before installation. The installation creates an odor that neighbors may dislike. Repairing leaks can be difficult because finding the source of the leaks may be difficult, and the gravel can get into undesirable parts of the structure, like gutters.

Modified Bitumen

This roofing system is made from three layers of felt that are applied by heat or through new stick-down technologies.

The Good:

Modified bitumen is relatively inexpensive and can last up to 30 years if well cared for. It comes in lighter colors for homeowners concerned with energy efficiency. It is not highly resistant to scuffing damage, but repairs are easy to make.

The Bad:

This is a less durable type of roofing system. Heated installations can be dangerous, but with the stick-down feature of many newer types of bitumen, this may not be necessary.

Meet With A Certified Roofing Professional

Can’t decide on the best flat roofing system for you? Schedule a consultation with a certified professional. An experienced roofer will be able to weigh all your considerations and recommend a roofing system that will work best for your Vancouver home or business.