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Choosing the Best Material for Your Flat Roof

May 18, 2021

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Learn more about the most common flat roof materials

Flat roofs are highly popular for commercial and industrial buildings, as well as certain multi-unit residential constructions. These roofs are efficient in terms of material usage while maximizing the amount of space within the building and providing an area for key equipment to be installed. Flat roofs are also available in a range of different materials. But of all the options available, what is the best roof material for a flat roof?

At Dolan Roofing & Construction, we’ve installed countless flat roofs as part of our complete commercial roofing services. What we’ve found in that time is that the best roof solution for a building with a flat roof can vary quite a bit. So today, we’re exploring some of the top flat roofing options, as well as situations where these materials might make the most sense.

Single-layer flat roofs

One advantage of a flat roof is the ease with which the roofing system can typically be installed. To further maximize that fast installation potential, many building owners and property managers opt for “single-layer” flat roof solutions. Let’s take a look at these first.

TPO roofing

TPO is one of the most popular commercial roofing materials available on the market. It offers many excellent qualities. As a single-ply membrane, TPO is lightweight and easy to install, yet durable. Its heat-welded seams allow for excellent water resistance, and it’s also highly customizable, including lighter-colored options that can help keep your building cool. At Dolan Roofing, we use Mule-Hide for TPO roofing applications, one of the top manufacturers in the business.

EPDM roofing

Another single-ply membrane option, EPDM is a durable material made from synthetic rubber. Its rubbery qualities make it especially impact-resistant, which makes it a particularly good material for resisting hail damage. EPDM has a similar life expectancy to TPO of around 15 years, but it can last much longer if the seams (which are not heat-welded) remain intact.

Modified bitumen

Unlike TPO and EPDM, modified bitumen roofing is not a membrane, but rather several layers of material combined into a roll that is then unrolled and installed using blowtorches. The surface of modified bitumen is generally asphalt-based, and in many ways this is a more modernized version of built-up roofing, which was once highly popular for flat roofs but has since fallen out of favor.

Metal roofing

Where all the above materials are relatively lightweight, inexpensive, and quick to install, metal roofing is none of these. However, metal roofing is perhaps the best roof material when it comes to constructing the most durable flat roof possible. 

Metal roofing is resistant to just about every form of inclement weather, with numerous coatings available to provide resistance to perhaps its only real enemy: rust. Because of this, a professionally installed metal roof will generally last at least 40-50 years, and often longer than that.

Roof coatings 

If you’re looking to restore an existing flat roof, roof coatings can be an excellent option that blends affordability and fast installation with effectiveness. Commercial flat roof coatings can be installed on many surfaces and substrates, making them highly versatile. 

The manufacturer we work with here at Dolan Roofing, APOC, also offers a wide variety of types of coatings. These include asphalt, aluminum, elastomeric, and silicone coatings, each of which provides their own unique benefits.

What is the best roof material for a flat roof?

In the end, the best roofing material is the one that best suits the unique needs of you, your business, and your commercial building. TPO roofing is a solid all-around option, blending both affordability and versatility with durability and water-resistance. EPDM provides similar pricing, but also offers superior protection against hail, while sacrificing some water-resistance. Metal roofing may be the wisest long-term investment, but it carries steep upfront costs. And finally, roof coatings will be best for those looking for a shorter term solution that will still be highly effective in improving the performance of your flat roof.

Dolan Roofing: The Best Roof Expert to Build Your New Flat Roof!

If you’re still not sure which roof material will be best for your flat roof, don’t worry! Your trusted commercial roofing partner will be able to help you with your decision. 

At Dolan Roofing, we have years of expertise in flat roofing solutions. We can provide a thorough assessment of your unique roofing situation and give you a full rundown of the options we think would best suit your needs. And once you’ve made your decision, we have the expertise and skillset to install your new flat roof! Contact us today to get started.