Why are Flat Roofs Common on Commercial Buildings in Vancouver?

Brad GordonFlat Roofs

Flat Roofs Common on Commercial Buildings?

There are many things to love about the beautiful city of Vancouver, and its architectural identity is one of them. However, if you have been paying attention to the general urban landscape of the city, you may have noticed that there is a trend among commercial buildings — they all have the flattest of roofs!


Okay, so maybe saying “all” is a stretch, but it is certainly accurate to say that the majority of commercial roofing in Vancouver is flat. In this article, we will demystify why exactly the flat roof is so popular, and help provide the facts you’ll need to know if you are currently trying to choose a roofing type for your Vancouver business.


What are the Main Differences Between Flat Roofs and Sloped Roofs?

In general, there are two main different types of roofing that can be found in the world: sloped (or pitched) and flat.


Sloped Roofs

Sloped roofs, sometimes called pitched roofs, are the most common roofing types to be found on residential houses. Oftentimes, the shape of this roof allows for there to be an attic, although every home’s roof may vary slightly in the pitch that it offers. Sloped roofs are chosen for their ability to quickly and easily drain water, and for their aesthetics.


Some of the advantages of sloped roofs include:


  • Stylish appearance
  • Offer a way to reuse rainwater
  • A cost-efficient way to add additional space to a house
  • Relatively long lifespan
  • Protect the structure from the elements


The disadvantages include:


  • Roofs with slope place more pressure on a building’s foundation
  • Complicated with certain house plans
  • More expensive to build, install, and maintain


Flat Roofs

Unlike sloped roofs, flat roofs lack an obvious slope. However, the term “flat roof” is not entirely accurate, as it is impossible for any roof to be completely flat. However, flat roofs will have a very low slope that is hard to distinguish. This slope points towards the middle or the edge of the roof which allows water to drain if need be.


Some of the advantages of flat roofs include:

  • Cheaper construction costs
  • Cheaper installation costs
  • Increases usable outdoor space
  • Easy to maintain


Some of the disadvantages of flat roofs include:

  • Low drainage opportunities
  • Debris can build up easily
  • Less room for installation

Why Do Commercial Buildings Use Flat Roofs?

Now that we have presented the general advantages and disadvantages of the flat roof, it may already be apparent to you why they are the choice favoured by commercial establishments. But allow us to elaborate.


Reduced Costs

As we hinted at previously, it is less expensive to install a flat roof than a sloped roof. Of course, this makes it an attractive option for many businesses who are looking to cut costs whenever feasible. Flat roofs are a less expensive option not only because the cost of materials is cheaper, but also because the labour is less intensive which makes it less costly as a result.


Easy Storage

Although sloped roofs provide a practical space for residential homes in the form of an attic, commercial buildings prefer flat roofs for another type of storage. Many commercial buildings rely on large HVAC systems which can be easily stored on the rooftop.


Curb Appeal

Although it could be said that flat roofs offer less curb appeal than their pitched counterparts, this is only true for residential buildings. A flat roof can be an aesthetically pleasing look for commercial buildings.



Flat roofs are not only affordable, but they also last a long time. In fact, some asphalt flat roofs can be expected to last up to 50 years!


Customizable Drainage System

While it’s true that it can be harder for effective drainage to happen in the context of a flat roof, it is also true that a flat roof set-up makes it easier for commercial properties to install their own water collection system. This means that not only will they not have to worry about rain damage, but they can also collect their own rainwater that can be used for fountains or to water gardens.


Commercial Roofing Contractors in Vancouver

If you are in need of commercial roofing repairs or installations in Vancouver, Coast Mountain Roof is here for you. With convenient office locations in both Vancouver and Burnaby, we have been proudly serving the Metro Vancouver area for over 20 years. Coast Mountain Roof specializes in the installing and waterproofing of roofing in Vancouver, handling both commercial and residential properties. Contact us today to receive a personalized quote for your projects!