The world of flat roofing can seem simple at first but if you’re thinking about a new flat roof and do a little online research, you can soon find there are many different materials, brands and systems to choose from. So how to know which is best?
The best flat roofing material for your roofing project
If one material was simply the best at everything for every roof, the roofing materials market would be a lot simpler, we’d all just use that. Different flat roofing materials have different strengths and drawbacks that suit different type of roof and situation. To help you work out which materials you’re most interested in for your project, we’ve created a quick guide to the pros and cons of typical flat roofing materials that we install or have seen installed in flat roofs across Liverpool and the North West.
Strengths of EPDM roofing
- Long lasting, installed properly it will last for 25 years at least (often much more)
- Cost effective for the right kind of roof
- Relatively low maintenance, provided ideal installation
- Flexible at low temperatures
Drawbacks of EPDM roofing
- Can’t be used well in all flat roofing situations
- Not a good material for footfall, very light foot traffic only
- The larger the roof, the more specialist and skilled the installation requirements for ideal results.
For the right sort of flat roof, EPDM rubber is hard to beat. It’s become increasingly popular in both domestic and commercial flat roofing and as time proves the material’s survivability, confidence in it has reached all corners of the flat roofing world.
Find out more about EPDM flat roofing
Strengths of Felt roofing
- Versatile for many kinds of roofing requirement
- Can be very low cost
- Practical to install at small scale
- Quite durable and reliable when installed properly
Drawbacks of Felt roofing
- Not the most durable roofing material even in ideal conditions
- Can require more maintenance than some other roofing systems
- Can encourage moss growth and be harder to clean
Felt roofing has been central to flat roofing for many decades. When installed correctly for the right kind of roof, it can be cheap and functional and the material you should choose. Modern felt has advanced gradually through the years as have the systems of installation, felt has never been so neat, durable and low maintenance. With that said for many roof types, felt is simply not the best option, other materials have been proven to be able to outperform it.
Find out more about Felt flat roofing
Strengths of Single ply membranes
- Single ply is a world of specific materials & installation methods, it has the potential to deliver a very advanced roof with very high performance
- Adaptable to complex and technical requirements
- Potential for exceptional insulation performance
- Can be installed efficiently at scale
Drawbacks of Single ply membranes
- Not always the cheapest option
- With so much choice, it takes a specialist flat roofer to really give you good advice on the sort of single ply membrane, installation system and features for your requirements
Single ply membranes exploded onto the world of flat roofing initially in the commercial world. EPDM rubber roofing is just one popular type (and worth of its own section) but there are PVC thermoplastic membranes quite different to EPDM and in many applications if offers superior features. Some of the most high performance, low maintenance and slick looking flat roofs are based on a well chosen single ply membrane material and system.
Find out more about Single ply membrane roofing
Strengths of Fibreglass roofing
- Very lightweight, very weatherproof
- Extremely long living
- Very low cost and simple to repair
- Quite durable and reliable when installed properly
Drawbacks of Fibreglass roofing
- Many fibreglass roofing installation methods require ideal weather conditions to complete
- Requires specialist installation and advice to do the job right
- It is strong and rigid but brittle in some applications that might cause it to flex
In many ways fibreglass roofing is an exciting prospect. The extreme durability, lightness, UV resistance, ease to maintain and cheapness to repair adds up to a near-perfect flat roofing material. The devil is in the details, fibreglass isn’t suitable for everything and in some situations it’s doomed to fail. It takes an expert to understand when this is likely and to mitigate the risk or advise on an entirely different material.
Find out more about Fibreglass flat roofing
Strengths of Liquid roofing
- Versatile and adaptable
- Can be strong and hardwearing
- Can keep costs low by enabling a refurbishment rather than a replacement of an existing roof
- Tolerant of extreme temperatures
- Can be patched up relatively cheaply
Drawbacks of Liquid roofing
- Not suitable for every flat roof requirement
- It doesn’t look especially good
- It requires a suitable substructure & makes less sense where major work is needed there
Liquid roofing methods can be a very cost effective way to restore the effectiveness of an existing flat roof. This can involve considerable work and improvement to the existing roof substructure to improve structure, ventilation or insulation. With other roofs, a liquid roof can be applied more directly. In many situations, when installed correctly it can last for many years and it can be repaired cheaply and even in cold weather. It doesn’t give you the precision finish offered by other roofing systems but it can be the ideal choice for certain requirements.
Find out more about Liquid flat roofing
So what have we learned?
The great news is that there are a wide range of really long lasting and reliable flat roofing materials out there. Understanding the type of work that’ll need doing to your roof and its particular challenges is a key part of selecting the right material and type of installation. It’s helpful to get a good understanding of the basics and to talk to experienced roofers about your plans. We welcome enquiries about flat roofing materials, just drop us a message through our contact form.