FLAT ROOFS are simple, right?

April 12, 20220

Flat Roofs are Simple, Right?

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Covering a flat roof solution requires specialized skills and expertise. There are so many different strategic choices depending on what issues you are trying to solve.  The skill is in how the roof is “presenting.”  

Like a doctor viewing the patient, the roofer needs to take stock of the specific roof to view the symptoms based on that roof.  This makes the difference in whether or not the roofer made the right decision when you spend that $50,000 – $100,000 or more.  [Also, if you can characterize the operation as a roof restoration then you can deduct the entire cost up to $1,080,000 in 2022.]

Let’s first repeat the two main rules:

RULE #1:  When water sits on the roof it WILL find access through any hole or improperly sealed seam in a roofing membrane.

RULE #2: Get the water OFF the roof.

The roof needs to be viewed and measured to make sure the water flows OFF the roof. Before any work is done the assessment for ponding and water flow must be completed. There are many things to be viewed and questions to be asked. At that point, the roofer can narrow the choices to offer the best solutions.

RULE #3:  If more than 3/8” of water ponds it will take more than 24 hours to evaporate. 

Once you have checked all the drains, cleared all the scuppers and made sure the flow off the roof has a clear path then you can consider how to seal it. 

The secondary goal is to now create a barrier that will be impenetrable to water. Since water passes through holes and seams, roofers work hard to minimize both. Basic torch-down roofing can be very effective when a highly skilled roofer is manning the torch with a skilled assistant partner. When it is heated properly (not too hot causing the top portion to melt) and the seam bled in the right way the roof can last for up to 15 years.  Unfortunately, it looks easy and very few roofers possess that skill. Built-up choices of the roof lay down various roof layers whether they are plastic, rubber or a mix of plastic and rubber. Some have huge widths to minimize the seams. It’s literally like rolling out a 12-foot wide carpet on the roof. The vulnerability is still at the seams. Skilled roofers work to plan the seam layout so the seams are in the lowest risk location. Seams are “welded” together in various ways depending on the materials. When done right with the right material these can be effective roof solutions. A good roofer takes your geography into account. Is the weather excessively hot or excessively wet?

Whether you physically cover the roof with something like a PVC, or an EPDM rubber membrane, or apply a liquid waterproof coating like silicone you only want to do that after you have done all the hard work of preparation.

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