How Built-Up Roofing and Single-Ply Roofing Compare as Choices for Your Home's Flat Roof

If you live in an older home with a leaky built-up roof, you may be comparing flat roofing options. You may want another built-up roof, but a single-ply roofing membrane is worth consideration. Here's how these two types of flat roofing compare.

Single-Ply Roofing Is Easy to Install

One advantage of single-ply membrane roofing is that it is easy to install. The contractor rolls out the membrane on the roof and then secures it in place. A built-up roof is more labor-intensive to install. Plus, the roofing uses materials, such as hot tar, that create strong fumes. You'll probably need to leave your home until the roofing installation is complete and the fumes have cleared.

Both Types of Roofing Are Attractive

A built-up roof is usually covered with gravel or river rocks for an attractive appearance. If you have a second story that overlooks the flat roof, or if your neighbors have windows that face the roof, the appearance of your new roof could be important.

Once a single-ply roof is installed, it looks just like a built-up roof if the contractor weighs the membrane down with stones or gravel. However, a single-ply roofing contractor has a few options for installing a membrane roof. The roof can be adhered, fastened, or weighed down.

So, if you don't want the weight of rocks on the roof, or if you just don't like the look of gravel, then a membrane roof might work for you. A membrane roof can have a light or dark color depending on the type of membrane you use and whether you want the roof to absorb heat or reflect the sun.

A Membrane Roof Is Easy to Repair

Like all roofing materials, both membrane and built-up roofing have the potential to leak when damaged. Both types of roofing are fairly easy to repair by patching the damaged area, but holes in a built-up roof can be more difficult to find.

Damage on a membrane roof, especially one that's fastened rather than weighed down by rocks, can be seen easily and patched with adhesive or by heat welding.

Your single-ply roofing contractor can help you choose the best membrane material for your needs so the risk of punctures is minimized. This could depend on whether you want to use your flat roof as a deck or to house your HVAC unit.

Both Roofing Materials Have a Long Life

When it comes to longevity, a built-up roof and single-ply roof are about the same. A membrane roof might last longer than a built-up roof, but a lot of factors are involved in the lifespan of a roof. Longevity and cost depend on the type of materials used and how well you maintain your roof. Quality roofing materials of either type that are maintained properly will provide you with many years of protection.

If you are trying to choose a new roof for your home, talk to both single-ply roofing contractors and built-up roofing contractors to make your decision.