Which are The Most Suitable Materials for Flat Roofing?

The integrity, durability and appearance of a flat roof depend on the type of material. When setting up a new roof or replacement, you must consider the choice of material carefully. Besides the quality of the roof, the material determines how much you will spend and the amount of work it will take to install it. Be keen about finding a material that meets your requirements suitably. Here are a few options available to homeowners.


Felt is one of the classic materials that builders use for flat roofs. The popular roofing material, also called tar paper, evolved over the years. In the UK, the torch-on alternative is widely used for flat roofs. Bituminous felt is a type of sheeting used as an underlay beneath tiles or as a cover for a flat roof. The sheet is waterproof, which is one reason it works so well as a roofing material. With torch-on felt flat roof, a blow torch is used to affix the sheets.

A roof can have three layers of sheeting. The first layer is for vapour control, the next one is for reinforcement and the final one is the cap sheet. Bitumen from distilled crude oil blended with crushed limestone or sand, is used to make the felt material. It is easy to work with, which is why contractors prefer it for flat roofing. Repairs are also simple. If a felt roof suffers damage, you can torch on a patch on the affected area. The material holds up well to UV rays, so it offers excellent durability. Homeowners can pick different colours for the cap sheet to suit their decoration needs.



Rubber is a favourite for flat roofing, and Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM) is one of the common choices. It is a synthetic rubber used in single-ply roofs. You can get EPDM for both commercial and residential roofing. The material resembles the inside of a tube and is suitable for roofing, mainly due to its water resistance. EPDM is resistant to both fresh and saltwater. It means that you can install the material in any region; whether it’s rainy or humid and not worry about damage. Due to their durable and long-lasting qualities, EPDM roofs are often used in large-scale swimming pool construction.

The fact that a builder can lay EPDM as a single sheet is a huge advantage. You, save labour costs and time during installation. Manufacturers use recycled rubber to create EPDM, making the material highly sustainable. You get to reduce the carbon footprint during construction. You might have to pay a bit more for EPDM than other flat roofing materials. Rubber has excellent thermal insulation, and that votes well for your energy conservation. With an EPDM roof, you get to spend less on heating costs compared to other materials.


Built-Up Roofing (BUR)

Built-up roofing is the pioneer of flat roofing. Builders have been using the material for over a century. The material is a combination of tar and gravel. This type of roof requires several layers and, therefore, takes a lot of time. For this reason, this material is ideal for lengthy projects where time is not limited. The several layers place significant stress on the structure, and it may be necessary to add supports to maintain the integrity of the roof. These aspects of BUR also make it more expensive to install than the other flat roof materials. In exchange, you get a highly durable roof that is low maintenance.

When the layers are set on the roof, they form a watertight seal that eliminates leakages. It is why this roofing material is ideal for wet regions. Eco-friendliness is another plus side that you get with BUR. The asphalt used in making the BUR material is a bi-product of heating oil, petrol and diesel. Homeowners and contractors are assured of the product’s sustainability. Additionally, gravel is a good fire retardant, so you enjoy increased safety.


GRP Fibreglass

Glass Reinforced Plastic consists of strands of glass bonded to create fibreglass layers. It is light and easy to install because you can fit it as a single-ply laminate. The lack of seams, welds and joints on the roof offers a huge advantage – it has no places to leak water. GRP fibreglass falls on the expensive side, but it makes up for the high cost with low maintenance. A homeowner doesn’t have to buy special products or tools to take care of the roof, and that saves you money. The waterproofing you get with GRP fibreglass means fewer repairs for your property.

GRP fibreglass provides versatility because you can paint the topcoat. If you prefer a dark or light roof, GRP has something appropriate. You can customise the roof to suit your exterior decor. The durability of GRP fibreglass is another selling point. The material has a lifespan of 20 to 30 years, so you can expect your roof to serve you for a decent period. GRP fibreglass is suitable for small roofs. If you would like further information on this type of GRP flat roofing see Strandek in Bristol who have many years of experience with this type of roofing material.


Liquid Flat Roofing

This roofing option is not as popular as the others. It is only recently gaining publicity as a viable alternative for flat roofing. The process involves the application of a liquid coating on a flat roof. You are essentially waterproofing with a polyurethane liquid membrane. Builders apply the special coating on the deck to form a protective layer. You create an elastomeric seal on the flat roof that allows moisture to get out but not in. Because the process doesn’t demand a lot of works, liquid roof coating is steadily gaining prominence around the UK.

Besides being waterproof, the polyurethane coating is durable. It enhances the lifespan of a flat roof by protecting it against damage. A liquid flat roof can last up to 25 years. Because the material is weather-resistant, your flat roof can survive bad weather without suffering any major destruction. You can use a liquid coating on almost any roofing material, including bitumen, asphalt and concrete. The liquid coating is highly elastic, allowing it to expand and contract with the roof movements.

Evaluate your roofing requirements keenly before you can settle on one material for a flat roof. Factor in your budget, deadline and region as well if you are to find the perfect material.

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