Fraud Blocker

An Overall Guide to Flat Roof Materials (Types, Styles, Etc)

Flat roofs have been a staple of architecture for centuries, offering a sleek and modern aesthetic to buildings while maximizing interior space. However, choosing the right materials for your flat roof is crucial to ensure:

  • Longevity
  • Durability
  • Cost-effectiveness

In this guide, we’ll delve into the world of flat roof materials, covering everything from what a flat roof is to how to take care of it once installed.

What is a Flat Roof?

flat roof

A flat roof, as the name suggests, is a roofing structure that is nearly level or has a very slight pitch. Unlike pitched roofs, which have a steeper angle to allow for water runoff, flat roofs have a minimal slope to facilitate drainage. They are commonly found on commercial buildings, modern homes, and industrial structures.

Signs That You Need to Replace Your Flat Roof

Over time, flat roofs can deteriorate due to weather exposure, poor installation, or lack of maintenance. Here are some signs that indicate it might be time to replace your flat roof:

  • Leaks: Water stains or dampness inside the building are clear indicators of a leaking roof.
  • Pooling Water: Puddles of water accumulating on the roof surface indicate poor drainage.
  • Tears or Blisters: Visible tears, cracks, or blisters in the roofing material can compromise its integrity.
  • Sagging: A sagging roof is a sign of structural damage and requires immediate attention.
  • Age: If your flat roof is nearing the end of its expected lifespan (usually 20-30 years), it’s advisable to consider replacement.

5 Different Flat Roof Materials

BUR roofing

There are several materials commonly used for flat roofs, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Here’s an overview of some popular options:

1) Built-Up Roofing (BUR):

BUR, also known as tar and gravel roofing, consists of multiple layers of bitumen alternated with reinforcing fabrics. It provides excellent waterproofing and durability but can be heavy and labor-intensive to install.

2) Modified Bitumen:

This asphalt-based roofing material is reinforced with modifiers like polyester or fiberglass to enhance strength and flexibility. Modified bitumen is relatively easy to install and repair, making it a popular choice for flat roofs.

3) Single-Ply Membrane (EPDM, TPO, PVC):

Single-ply membranes are synthetic sheets made of rubber (EPDM), thermoplastic (TPO), or polyvinyl chloride (PVC). They offer good durability, flexibility, and ease of installation. EPDM is known for its longevity, while TPO and PVC provide superior energy efficiency.

4) Metal Roofing:

Metal roofs, typically made of steel, aluminum, or copper, offer excellent durability and longevity. They are lightweight, resistant to fire and pests, and can be coated for added protection against corrosion and UV rays.

5) Green Roofing:

Green roofs, or living roofs, are covered with vegetation and planted layers, providing natural insulation, stormwater management, and aesthetic appeal. While more expensive to install and maintain, green roofs offer environmental benefits and energy savings.

Cost Differences Between Materials

The cost of installing a flat roof can vary significantly depending on the chosen material, roof size, complexity, and labor costs. Here’s a general comparison of the upfront costs for different flat roof materials:

  • Built-Up Roofing (BUR): $5-$10 per square foot
  • Modified Bitumen: $4-$8 per square foot
  • Single-Ply Membrane: $3-$7 per square foot
  • Metal Roofing: $8-$15 per square foot
  • Green Roofing: $15-$25+ per square foot

It’s important to consider not only the initial installation cost but also the long-term maintenance and repair expenses when evaluating the overall cost of each roofing material.

How to Decide Which Material is Right for You

Choosing the right material for your flat roof depends on various factors, including your budget, climate, building structure, and aesthetic preferences. Here are some considerations to help you make an informed decision:

  • Durability: Assess the expected lifespan of each material and its resistance to weather, UV exposure, and other environmental factors.
  • Maintenance: Consider the ongoing maintenance requirements and costs associated with each roofing material.
  • Energy Efficiency: Look for materials with high solar reflectance and thermal emittance to reduce energy consumption and lower cooling costs.
  • Installation Complexity: Evaluate the ease of installation and whether specialized skills or equipment are required.
  • Local Building Codes: Ensure that the chosen material complies with local building codes and regulations regarding fire safety, wind resistance, and energy efficiency.

Consulting with a reputable roofing contractor can also provide valuable insights and recommendations based on your specific needs and circumstances.

What to Look for in a Commercial Roofing Contractor

Selecting the right roofing contractor is essential to ensure a successful flat roof installation. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a commercial roofing contractor:


Look for contractors with a proven track record of installing flat roofs and handling projects similar to yours.

Licensing and Insurance:

Verify that the contractor is properly licensed, bonded, and insured to protect yourself against liability and ensure quality workmanship.

References and Reviews:

Check online reviews, testimonials, and references from past clients to gauge the contractor’s reputation and reliability.


Inquire about the warranty coverage provided for both materials and workmanship to safeguard your investment.

Communication and Transparency:

Choose a contractor who communicates openly, provides detailed project proposals, and addresses any concerns or questions you may have.

How to Take Care of Your New Flat Roof

Once your flat roof is installed, proper maintenance is key to prolonging its lifespan and preventing costly repairs. Here are some maintenance tips to keep your flat roof in top condition:

  • Regular Inspections: Schedule annual inspections by a professional roofing contractor to check for signs of damage, leaks, or deterioration.
  • Clear Debris: Remove leaves, branches, and other debris from the roof surface to prevent water pooling and clogged drains.
  • Prompt Repairs: Address any minor issues or damage promptly to prevent them from escalating into larger problems.
  • Gutter Maintenance: Clean and inspect gutters and downspouts regularly to ensure proper drainage and prevent water backup.
  • Trim Overhanging Branches: Trim back tree branches that hang over the roof to minimize the risk of damage from falling debris and excessive shade.

By following these maintenance guidelines and scheduling regular inspections, you can extend the life of your flat roof and maximize its performance for years to come.

Your Ultimate Guide To Flat Roofing Materials

Choosing the right materials for your flat roof is a significant decision that requires careful consideration of various factors, including durability, cost, maintenance requirements, and environmental impact. By understanding the different flat roof materials available and evaluating their pros and cons, you can make an informed choice that meets your needs and budget.

Additionally, selecting a reputable roofing contractor and implementing proper maintenance practices are essential steps to ensure the long-term success of your flat roof investment. Looking for a contractor that you can trust? Give the team at Greentek Roofing a call!


“GreenTek was awesome to work with. My rep James was easy to get in contact with and answered all my questions and made the process quick and smooth. The roof came out great and everything was finished on time and they handled everything with my insurance company so I didn’t have to. It made the process stress free for me.”

-Dylan O.

Enter your email address receive notifications of new posts and videos by email.
Join 8 other subscribers


By clicking "submit", I consent to join the email list and receive SMS from GreenTek Roofing and Solar, with access to our latest offers and services. Message and data rates may apply. Message frequency varies. More details on this are in our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions. Text "HELP" for help or contact us at 8133331963 . Text UNSUBSCRIBE to cancel.