Flat roofs may seem untraditional, but theyre actually prominent on homes in the Southwest United Statesor any arid region. The drier weather of these regions means architects dont need to worry as much about water stagnating and causing damage to your roof. However, flat roofs are known to leak more often because water doesnt roll off the way it does on pitched roofsinstead it just pools until it evaporates. When this happens, it gives the water longer to find weaknesses in the roofs surface. If youve never had a leaky roof (lucky you!) here are some tell-tale signs that yours is leaking:
  • Water damage and stains on your ceiling and walls
  • Bubbling paint
  • Dripping waterand not from the sink
  • Mildew on ceiling or exterior walls
  • If you have an older home, or if you notice signs that you have a leak, it may be time to replace your flat roof. Here are your best options for replacing a flat roof.

EPDM Flat Roof Replacement
Paragon Partners ImagesEPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) is a type of synthetic rubber made from recycled materials. EPDM roofs are durable and inexpensive. Dont be surprised if you hear roofing contractors talk about TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin) interchangeably in conversation at first. EPDM is a very popular option because its durable and easy to install, and it has a longer lifespan than metal roofs.

EPDM installations require seaming, which means that there are more chances for water to seep through seams that pull away from the roof and damage your home. However, if EPDM roofs are spray-applied, then the chance of the seams pulling away from the roof are significantly lowered.

Built-Up Flat Roof
A built-up flat roof (BUR) is made up of tar and gravel. For many people, the built-up roof is what comes to mind when they think of flat roofs. Built-up roofs have been popular for a long time because, in addition to being inexpensive and attractive, theyre also efficient insulators.

Built-up flat roofs are very sturdy because they have so many layers. However, those layers make the roof very heavy. If your home already has a built-up roof, then replacing it with another built-up roof is a good idea. However, if you have a different type of flat roof then talk with a licensed roof contractor because you may need to add extra roof support. Another disadvantage is that the home must be empty when the roof is installed because of dangers involved in the installation. Depending on your timeline, this could be a major detractor.

Modified Bitumen Flat Roof Replacement
Modified bitumen is rolled out onto your roof, typically using a blowtorch to secure the modified bitumen to your flat roof. Understandably, there are dangers involved with the installationespecially with an inexperienced roof installer. There are new and safer ways to install modified bitumen, so make sure to talk with your contractor about other methods of installation.

Despite the possible dangers during installation, modified bitumen is easy and quick to install, and it also reflects heat well. But if your concerns over the installation dangers outweigh the benefits, talk to your contractor about your option for a safer roof.
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