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Union County Roofers: Article About Flat Roof Materials

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Flat roofs are common in areas where snow and ice loads are minimal. Many of the more common roofing materials used for sloped roofs will not work on a flat roof. Warranties average between 10 and 20 years. One of the area's Union County Roofers can advise you on the best choice for your situation.

The most common type of flat roof is a built up roof. Layers of roofing membranes are layered with hot tar and are topped with smooth river rock. The membrane is usually at least three ply. These layers used to be made of tar paper, but now they are usually made of fiberglass. The gravel provides fire resistance and is attractive when viewed from above, such as from upper windows or decks. The gravel, however, is quite heavy and sometimes requires structural strengthening. The hot tar is messy and can smell during installation. It is a specialized installation that can only be done by professionals. The gravel from the roof can wash away during extreme rainstorms and can collect in gutters and downspouts. Built up roofing is the cheapest solution for flat roof protection.

There are two types of modified bitumen roofing. A single ply rolled roof is impregnated with a granular surface, very similar to asphalt shingles. One type of this roofing is a peel and stick material that is relatively easy to install.

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The other type of modified bitumen roofing requires a torch down method of installation, basically melting it to the surface of the roof deck. It is not recommended for occupied buildings because the installation creates a fire hazard. If the mineral surface is light, it can reflect heat and keep the building cool. Modified bitumen is not as durable as other flat roofing systems, and the price is mid range.

A rubber membrane roof, also known as EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer), is very durable. The rubber is manufactured to resist deterioration from sunlight. It is relatively easy to install with fasteners, and it can also be glued and covered with stone. The standard color is black, but lighter colors are available at an extra cost of up to 30 percent. The black absorbs heat and is not suited to warm climates. The membrane is vulnerable, but is easy to patch. EDPM is the most expensive choice for flat roofs.

An increasingly popular choice, especially in cities, is a green roof. Plants and grass are planted in soil over a waterproof membrane. This provides not only insulation to the building but also additional green space for enjoyment. Prices vary depending on the landscaping and the structural support required.

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