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Today, with ever-improving materials and technology, the durability and performance qualities of a flat roof are better than ever before. However, eventually, even the best roof will need maintenance or repairs; furthermore, the initial installation and any subsequent repairs need to be done by an experienced contractor, since proper mounting of flat roofing materials is essential to keeping the roof waterproof and resistant to bad weather for longer.
The importance of thoroughness when repairing flat roofing can’t be overstated – if a flat roof has developed a leak and has begun “blistering,” the damaged section has to be removed and all accumulated water needs to be drained before the material is replaced and patched, otherwise the damaged portion of the roof and substrate will continue to degrade and require more extensive repairs later.
We at Eagle Rivet are experts both at installing new flat roofs and repairing existing ones; we have the experience necessary to ensure all problems are fixed thoroughly and won’t leave a weak spot that will quickly fail and necessitate further repairs.
For many buildings, there simply is no alternative to having a flat roof; this is true for most large structures, typically major residential or commercial properties. It’s simply not practical to build a peaked roof for a large supermarket or a high-rise condominium – it’s more expensive to build, more expensive to heat and cool, and makes it more difficult to build and maintain important rooftop structures such as fans, exhaust vents and elevator machine rooms.
Flat roofs have been in use for a long time, going back to adobe and mud homes in antiquity. Modern, waterproofed flat roofing technology has its origin in the use of tar or pitch to seal cracks; by mid-20th century, built-up tar roofs had become common. Eventually, the rise of petroleum refining and development of polymers has led to flat roofing that is more light-weight, has better heat and energy efficiency properties, and is cheaper to install, fix and remove.
Flat roofing can use one of a range of materials, which vary in cost and durability. There are three major types of flat roofing – built-up roofing, made of several layers of tar paper or liquid tar mixed with other materials; single-ply membranes, consisting of a single layer of joined strips EPDM, TPO or some other polymer; and spray-on roofing, which consists of insulating foam sprayed over a substrate.
All these types have their own advantages and drawbacks; currently, the most popular flat roofing type is the single-ply membrane, since these materials occupy something of a sweet spot when it comes to cost, ease of maintenance, energy-saving properties and difficulty of removal.
All membranes, such as EPDM and TPO, are single-ply – these materials are sold in large rolls that are laid down and attached with heat or glue, depending on the type of material.
As we mentioned, flat roofs are mostly used for larger buildings; however, smaller residences such as single-family homes may have flat roofs as well, especially on structures like add-ons, sheds and garages. Repairing a leak on such a small roof is something that can be done by a reasonably adept DIY-er with commonly available construction supplies and tools –
Roof leaks on large roofs, however, typically require the services of a professional – everything from roof access, to industrial-grade tools necessary to fix a roof leak on a large commercial flat roof, to the experience it takes to repair a commercial flat roof.
Even if a roof doesn’t develop leaks, an EPDM membrane should be re-sealed every 7-10 years, as part of routine maintenance. Failing to do this may lead to vast additional costs later on, since the seals between membrane sheets are the part of the roof that degrades quickest, and need to be reinforced every few years. As with installation and repair, you will greatly benefit by having this done by a contractor with experience dealing with flat roofing.
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