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When strolling through the Gulf Coast states, you've likely noticed the sleek, horizontal silhouette of flat roofs adorning landmarks like Louisiana’s Aquarium of the Americas, the Mississippi National Guard building, and the South Alabama Logistics Park. This flat roof design isn't just an aesthetic choice; it's a practical, popular solution for large commercial properties nationwide. 

But what is flat roofing, and why should you consider it? In this article, we delve into the world of flat roofing, unravelling its intricacies and exploring the benefits it brings to the architectural table. Whether you're considering renovating your newly acquired building or contemplating a roof overhaul for your existing property, understanding the ins and outs of flat roofing could open up new possibilities. 

Read on to learn about flat roofing and why it might just be the game-changer your property needs.

What is Flat Roofing?

So, what is a flat roof and what is flat roofing commonly used for in commercial buildings? Interestingly, the term is somewhat of a misnomer. In the strictest sense, a completely flat roof doesn't exist. This is because even flat roofs have a slight slope between a quarter to half an inch per foot, allowing water to drain properly.

Any flat roof definition will refer to roof pitch to differentiate it from other types of roofs. The pitch of a standard roof falls between 14° and 36°, while a flat roof usually has a pitch of 10° or less. The slope is minimal and barely noticeable to the naked eye.

Flat roofs are hardly a new phenomenon. They have, however, evolved tremendously since they were first built centuries ago in more arid climates. Advances in technology and improvements in roofing materials have replaced the basic materials once used. These changes have led to their popularity as a standard for modern buildings. 

The flat roof design slowly became an effective, long-lasting option. It's ideal for preserving property value, ensuring tenant safety, and saving costs. 

Different Types of Flat Roofs 

Our journey through flat roofing continues with a simple yet vital question: what is a flat roofing solution that will most benefit my commercial needs?

If you’re wondering, "What is a flat roof called based on the materials used?" you'll find that the terminology varies. The life expectancy of a flat roof typically ranges from 25 to 30 years, but this duration can significantly differ depending on the specific materials selected for your roofing needs.

When selecting the ideal flat roof type for your building, it's crucial to consider the various benefits of the different types of flat roof structures. Each material has unique advantages and is better suited to specific building designs and climates. Understanding these distinctions will help you choose the most appropriate flat roof for your building.


PVC roofing, a type of single-ply membrane, is renowned for its durability and longevity, with a life span that can exceed 20 years. It's made from a flexible, thermoplastic material that is both lightweight and strong. This makes it an excellent choice for flat or slightly sloped roofs. PVC roofs are especially resistant to water, fire, and chemicals, making them a safe and reliable option for various building types.

Installation of PVC roofing is straightforward, often involving heat-welded seams to create a watertight bond. This process significantly reduces the likelihood of leaks, a common issue in flat roofs. PVC is also known for its energy efficiency. The material reflects sunlight, which can help lower cooling costs during warmer months. This attribute makes it an environmentally friendly choice.

Another advantage of PVC roofing is its low maintenance requirements. It resists mold, dirt, and punctures, ensuring your roof remains in excellent condition with minimal upkeep. Furthermore, its versatility in design allows for various colors and finishes, enabling it to blend seamlessly with your building's aesthetic.


EPDM refers to a synthetic rubber membrane commonly used in roofing. Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM) is highly durable. It's a popular option for low-slope and flat roofs. It’s the least expensive to install and repair compared to other roofing materials. It’s lightweight, long-lasting, and resistant to extreme weather elements, including hail. It can also withstand the effects of ozone exposure. It’s the only roofing material that’s suitable for all climates. 

Its insulation and reflectivity properties will keep your building warm in winter and cool in summer. Factors that will significantly reduce your energy costs.


Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO) is a versatile single-ply membrane, ideal for flat and low-slope roofs. Its distinctive white color doesn't just add a sleek look; it plays a crucial role in reflecting heat, thereby keeping the interiors of your office cooler. This heat-reflective property is especially beneficial in warmer climates or during hot months, contributing significantly to lower energy bills. TPO is energy-efficient and surpasses the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Energy Star requirements, marking it as an environmentally friendly choice. Besides its cost-effectiveness, TPO is simple to install, offers remarkable flexibility, and provides superior leak protection. Its combination of functionality and aesthetic appeal makes TPO an excellent option for modern roofing.


SBS, or Styrene-Butadiene-Styrene, is a sophisticated modified bitumen roofing system widely chosen for flat or low-sloped asphalt-based roofs. This system involves enhancing asphalt with SBS polymers, creating a membrane that not only extends the lifespan of your roof to an impressive 20 to 40 years but also ensures it retains elasticity and flexibility over time. 

The longevity and performance of an SBS roof are heavily influenced by its formulation, expert installation, and diligent maintenance. When these elements are aligned, an SBS roof offers exceptional durability and can withstand severe weather conditions, making it especially suitable for colder climates. Additionally, its adaptability and resilience make SBS an excellent option for refurbishment projects, adding functionality and longevity to existing structures.

Benefits of Flat Roofs

Location is king in commercial real estate, isn't it? Once you've nailed the perfect spot and the right price, maximizing your return on investment is the next step. And here's where the little-known yet crucial flat roofing details come into play. Opting for a flat roof can be a game-changer. Not only does it simplify maintenance (a big plus for any property owner), but it also acts as a guardian for your investment. Plus, let's not overlook its sleek, modern appearance, which adds a touch of aesthetic charm, enhancing your property's value. 

So, as you consider your options, remember these insights into flat roofing. They might just make it the perfect fit for your building's needs. Let's dive into some additional benefits.


There’s a reason why flat roofs have such a lengthy lifespan. Several factors, including the quality of installation and maintenance, play a significant role in this. The use of high-grade materials is also essential. Most of the materials used in flat roof construction are durable and long-lasting. They can endure the weight of heavy commercial-grade equipment such as HVAC units. They can also easily accommodate extra storage. They can also withstand additional foot traffic if used for recreational purposes.

Lower Repair Costs

The durability of flat roofs makes maintenance easier and keeps repairs at a minimum. The materials used to build flat roofs are relatively inexpensive, contributing to lower repair costs if needed. Labor costs are also affordable as it's safer for workers to do repairs on a flat roof than on a sloping roof. 

Faster Installation

Flat roofs have a simple design that saves you time and money and ensures a hassle-free installation process. With minimal material and labor required, the straightforward installation is a breeze for roof contractors. Enjoy the convenience of freedom and safety as they easily navigate your project.

Usable Space

Equating a flat roof to an extra floor in your building is not an overstatement. The expansive square footage of your roof offers a wealth of usable space ripe with possibilities. 

Consider leveraging this area for additional storage, neatly tucking away items that would otherwise clutter your premises. Strategically placing large HVAC units on the roof can significantly improve the aesthetic appeal of your building, keeping these bulky items out of sight. 

Moreover, the installation of solar panels in this space can markedly enhance your building's energy efficiency, contributing to both environmental sustainability and cost savings. 

If creating a more engaging and refreshing environment for your employees is a priority, transforming this space into a garden patio or a serene sitting and dining area can provide a much-needed oasis. Here, staff can enjoy fresh air and a pleasant change of scenery, fostering a more positive and productive work atmosphere.

Flat Roofing Maintenance

While you don't need to be a roofing expert or even know how to build a flat roof to have one, understanding the perks of proper upkeep is essential. Not only will it prevent minor headaches from turning into major disasters, but it will also extend the life of your roof. 

Take advantage of these simple yet effective maintenance tasks that should be on your to-do list. Here are a few to consider:

Regular Inspections

Experts recommend inspections at least twice yearly, preferably in spring and fall. This includes visual checks for wear and tear, degradation, or damage. This assists in identifying loose seams and cracks. It can also determine the reason for pooling water. You should address these and any other issues immediately to avoid additional damage. This includes problems affecting the roof’s edges, drainage systems, or flashing. Inspections also provide an opportunity to clear debris and keep the roof clean. You can also hire a professional to do a more thorough cleaning.

Professional Inspections

It’s easy for the untrained eye to miss issues that may develop on your flat roof. Scheduling a professional roofing inspection can help resolve overlooked problems. An expert will know what to look for and can provide a thorough assessment, ensuring timely repairs to minimize costly damage.

Identifying and Repairing Leaks

Your inspections should also involve internal building checks. Your ceiling will often reveal if your roof is leaking. This can occur even with stringent maintenance as your roofing materials age, and extreme weather can take a toll on your flat roof. Note any water spots on your ceilings or walls and try to identify the source of the leak. A temporary waterproof patch or sealant can help minimize further seepage. A more permanent fix might be as simple. However, it’s best to call a professional to assess the extent of the damage and avoid costly repairs.

Waterproofing and Roof Coating

Whenever possible, preventative maintenance is always the best option. Waterproofing your roof can help prevent leaks from occurring. However, cleaning the roof and repairing any noticeable damage is best before applying a roof coating. The coating will provide a protective layer that safeguards your flat roof against natural wear, ultraviolet (UV) rays, or extreme weather. It will also reflect sunlight and reduce heat absorption for greater energy efficiency. A professional can help you choose the best coating. They'll consider the climate in your area and your roofing material. 

Managing Trees and Vegetation

Nearby trees and vegetation can contribute to debris buildup on your roof, leading to clogged drains and gutters. This can result in water pooling and potentially weakening your roof's integrity. Branches may also scratch or puncture the roofing material. Regularly trim trees close to your building to mitigate this. Consider tree placement carefully when redesigning your landscaping. Additionally, flat roofs can become a breeding ground for algae or moss, which should be promptly removed to protect the roof's waterproofing layer.

Flat Roof Alternatives

Flat roofs are common in commercial buildings, yet they're not always ideal for every space. Sloped roofs, though typically more expensive for large structures, can be cost-effective for smaller buildings due to reduced material requirements. The extra attic space provided by a sloped roof benefits buildings needing additional internal storage. Additionally, sloped roofs offer improved insulation, making them more effective at retaining heat or repelling cold.

Historical buildings often feature sloped roofs, and significant alterations to this aspect can diminish their historical value. Any modifications should be consistent with the building's original construction period, often precluding a complete switch to a flat roof.

So, what is flat roofing typically made of? There are also various materials available specifically for sloped roofs.


Tile roofs can last for 100 years! However, its lifespan will depend on the type of tiling material. Options include concrete, slate, metal, clay, ceramic, and composite. Tiled roofs are easy to maintain, versatile, and come in a range of stylish options. It protects against the elements while insulating heat and canceling noise.


Asphalt shingles come in a variety of designs and colors. They can complement any architectural style. It’s a cost-effective, high-quality roofing option. It's fire-resistant and can withstand high winds and other weather elements. They’re also durable and energy efficient.


Metal roofing is also appropriate for sloped roofs. The two roof styles share the advantages listed above. Some metal roofing options include R-Panel and standing seam.

Flat Roof Design and Construction from Roofing Solutions

When exploring commercial roofing options, the flat roof is hard to overlook. Flat roofs are a testament to historical significance and modern efficiency and have reshaped urban landscapes with their sleek and contemporary aesthetics. More than just a visual statement, these roofs offer practical benefits that are hard to overlook: cost-effectiveness, ease of installation, and remarkable durability.

Choosing Roofing Solutions for your flat roof design and construction means entrusting your project to experts who understand the intricate balance between form and function. Whether it's a new project or a roof replacement, our team is dedicated to crafting solutions that not only enhance the appearance of your building but also contribute to its longevity and performance. 

Contact our team of experienced experts in rubber roofing now for a free estimate, and begin the transformative process towards a superior roofing solution that enhances your space with unmatched style and promises enduring durability. Your journey to an upgraded, high-performance roof starts here!

Roofing Solutions Tupac de la Cruz COO

Tupac de la Cruz

COO , Roofing Solutions

Tupac has 20 years of experience in the roofing industry. He sits on the executive board of the National Roofing Contractors Association.

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