All About Roofers Press Digital

What is the life of a flat roof?

Aug 16

An adequately maintained flat roof can last decades, depending on the materials used. Built-up roofs or layers of modified bitumen may last up to 20 years. The exact lifespan is possible for lightweight thermoplastic polyolefins or spray-on coatings made of acrylic, polyurethane foam, or silicon. 


The most durable roof materials, such as polyvinyl chloride roofing (PVC) and ethylene propylene monomer (EPDM), can last for ten years or more, depending on how they are maintained and inspected. To stay ahead of commercial roof replacement and repair, learn more about the factors that affect the durability of roofing materials.


The materials determine a flat roof's lifespan it is made from. A multi-layer roof of waterproof material, hot tar, and gravel may last between 15 and 20 years. Modified bitumen roofs with three to five layers have a shorter average life expectancy of between 10 and 15 years. These materials can be heavy and not the best for every building.


Lightweight single-ply roofing is more durable than layered roofs. Its durability depends on the materials used, the roof design, and the reliance on commercial roof repairs. EPDM and TPO roofing typically last between 10 to 20 years. TPO roofing has stronger seams than EPDM roofing. A PVC roof can last up to 30 years if adequately maintained.


Flat roofing exposed to extreme temperatures, wind gusts, and heavy rainfall may last less time than a similar roof in another climate. Asphalt flat roofing is more susceptible to expansion and contraction as temperatures change. This puts more significant stress on flashing designed to stop wind damage and leaks. Tar blisters can also occur at high temperatures, leading to premature wear.


Single-ply materials may have different properties than those made from multiple layers. EPDM is typically available in black. This can help to retain heat and melt snow in cold conditions but trap heat in warmer weather. This material can also be coated with a lighter color for a slightly higher price. TPO is available in light gray or white colors to improve energy efficiency. Spray-on and PVC coatings can be applied in any shade and provide durable roofing solutions for all climates.


Minor leaks may be repaired on commercial roofs. Roofs that have suffered more severe damage from impact or wear may be at greater risk for significant water damage or collapse. A roof replacement might be more cost-effective than additional repairs if an older roof is damaged or has multiple patches.

A flat roof with one inch of standing water over a 20 x 20-foot area will add 2,000 pounds. Any roof made from any material can be damaged by excess weight. A new roof may be required to stop roof damage or collapse.


One of many possible underlying problems is a roof that doesn't drain properly. Commercial roofs that are not draining correctly may need to be replaced sooner than the material's lifespan. Foundation problems can cause a structure to shift or settle more than if it is solid. A roofing membrane can buckle, making a building unsound. A roofing specialist can advise on commercial buildings' best materials and design options.


Built-up roofing weighs more than single-ply materials. Modified bitumen roofs require the installation of up to five layers of heavy materials. Spray-on coatings, single-ply EPDM or TPO, and PVC are lighter options that can be used on many structures. Roll-on membranes need to be installed from scratch. 


They require insulation, a roof board, and a steel deck. EPDM is attached with a bonding cement. TPO and PVC are adhered or attached membranes. A spray-on roof coating of acrylic, silicone, or polyurethane can be applied to an existing roof.


The material choice, the structural requirements, and the location of a commercial property can all impact how long a roof will last. To ensure that your roof lasts the longest, keeping it in good condition is essential. It is easy to block drainage systems, and water pooling can cause roof damage. 


Professionals are trained to quickly repair or patch any damage, such as cracks, blisters, punctures, or splits. Commercial roof repairs and regular inspections are crucial to maintaining a flat roof for many years.