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Flat Roofs

Energy-Efficient Flat Roofing Isn't Just for Commercial Buildings

Flat roofs have been a favorite of commercial architects for years, as their ease of construction and low cost are great benefits when dealing with large areas. Now, these same benefits are making flat roofing popular for residential construction as well.

But depending on the area of the country you live in, installing a flat roof may not be the most practical solution. For example, a flat roof on a New England home could be problematic due to the heavy snowfall experienced by the region. A flat roof in arid Arizona, however, makes perfect sense and in fact, flat roofs are very popular in the South and Southwest.

Flat Roof Types

The many varieties of flat roofing can make choosing one difficult. Use the following information to find the flat roof material that's perfect for your home or business:
  • EPDM/Synthetic Rubber Roofs: Flat rubber roofs are cleaner and simpler to install than those made of hot tar or tar paper, but an EPDM membrane is fairly expensive. Membranes are sold in standard black or light colors, with the latter recommended for hot climates, as they deflect sunlight. Rubber roofing resists scuffs and scratches fairly well.
  • Built-Up-Roofs: Also known as a tar roof, this type of flat roofing consist of several layers of tar (or, in some cases, tar paper) and waterproof membrane with crushed stone (aggregate) on top. Durable and very low-cost, built up roofing is a great choice for commercial or industrial buildings. Due to the heavy weight of tar roofs, however, some buildings require additional structural support.
  • Concrete/Masonry Roofs: A flat concrete roof is an excellent choice in areas with constant high heat and little rainfall. They are easy to install, cheap, and provide homes with extra insulation by absorbing a significant portion of solar heat.
  • Modified Bitumen Roofs: This is a heat-applied peel-and-stick product that's very easy to install, but not as durable as other flat roofing types. Most installations feature a layer of aggregate applied directly atop the bitumen.
  • Flat Metal Roofs: Metal roofing is highly durable, resists puncturing very well, and is lightweight - which saves on engineering and material costs. Choose from many different metals and roofing styles.

Flat Roof Costs

  • EPDM/rubber roofs cost $6 to $10 per square foot installed
  • Modified bitumen roofs cost $3 to $6 per square foot installed
  • Built-up roofing costs $3.50 to $7.00 per square foot installed
  • Masonry roofs typically cost $2 to $4 per square foot installed, but can be slightly more expensive depending on the price of concrete at the time of installation.
  • Flat metal roofs cost $5 to $15 per square foot installed. The actual price paid depends largely on the type of metal you choose.
  • Keep in mind that the cost of a flat roof is generally cheaper per square foot for larger areas than smaller areas. For instance, a flat roof on a supermarket will cost less, proportionally, than one installed on a two-story home.

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