With the cost of insulating a whole roof sitting at around £50 per square metre, you will want to ensure you use the best materials to keep the heat in. The issue is that there are distinct differences between each one, and to many people, it can be hard to know the benefits at first glance. So, which are the best options for different needs?
This article will explain what the most common flat roof materials are and why you might want to pick up each. By the end, you should know which you are going to choose for your next roofing project.
Glass-Reinforced Plastic (GRP), or fibreglass roofing, comprises a mix of polyester and glass fibres. It acts as a strong, lightweight option for flat roofing and sees common use in both residential and commercial buildings.
To install this option, you need to wet out several layers of the glass mat across the surface of the building and wait for them to cure. The number of layers or thickness of mats you want to use will depend on what you wish to use the roof for.
If you want people to walk on the surface or want to install an HVAC system into the building’s roof, aim for a thicker option to ensure everyone’s safety.
Benefits of GRP
A GRP flat roof has very strong resistance to both UV and weathering. You can expect it to stand up to most wind and hail, preventing you from needing repairs very often.
As well as being lightweight, it is also low maintenance and easy to install. Fibreglass does not tend to develop strange smells and does not rot like many other options, and it is also somewhat resistant to moss or mould. The most work you are likely to need to do entails little more than cleaning it off with wipes or a mop and brush at worst.
Due to its simple installation process, you do not need to worry about using any complicated machinery or devices to put it in place. This reduces the cost to install it and means the whole process is much safer, even for amateurs.
Once the GRP roof cures, it will not have any visible seals, giving the whole roof a consistent aesthetic you will not get with other options. If it needs shaping to fit the specific building, GRP is also very easy to cut. Thus, if you have a roof that is either a strange shape or has awkwardly placed extrusions, this option will work well for you.
Because of these reasons, it is very popular for DIY roofers who want to investigate their first build.
EPDM stands for Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer. This is a synthetic rubber material that usually comes in large, flat sheets for use in locations like flat roofs. This material is also very flexible. If you have shallow curves in the roof, you can lay EPDM on it and not need to worry about adjustments.
Benefits of EPDM
EPDM is one of the most popular roofing materials in part due to how easy it is to install. As it often comes in large sheets, it is very easy to place and cut to shape.
Because the sheets are so large, it does not take many to cover a large area and will also not need as much sealant between them due to fewer seams. This reduction in seams also gives a much more consistent look across the roof, improving the home’s aesthetic.
EPDM lasts a long time, too. It is not susceptible to damage from natural effects such as water or extreme weather. This means it will not need replacing as often, making it a very good investment long-term.
At the same time, the material does not need regular cleaning or waterproofing treatments. You can expect it to keep its impermeable nature over a long period, meaning it is a very low-maintenance option.
The material is also somewhat damage resistant. Both high winds and hail are not likely to harm it, and even some movement in the building below can occur without you seeing any cracking in the material.
Built-Up Roofing (BUR)
BUR roofs are a very time-tested method of building up a flat roof. It involves layering up both bitumen and ply sheets to create a thick, waterproof layer. If the owner of the building has specific needs, other materials can see use as a layer, including:
- Organic felt
- Polyester fabric
Each one of these options has benefits and drawbacks, as well as very different prices.
At the top of the layers, the roof tends to use a reflective coating to protect everything underneath from UV radiation and heat. This also enhances the roof’s water resistance.
Benefits of BUR
One of the main reasons people use BUR these days is due to how long it lasts. When constructing a new build, you can expect this option to see use due to it lasting up to 30 years without significant repairs being needed. This can save the owner of the building in the long-run
This roofing option is also a great option for waterproofing the flat roof. Due to both having several layers, as well as a solid reflective sealant, water will have a tough time getting between each layer. This same tight construction makes it very hard for fire to spread across its surface, and bitumen is also not very flammable.
As the roofing uses several layers of different materials, it has the benefit of trapping heat inside the roof. This extra insulation can help any building during colder months. At the same time, the UV protection offered by its coating improves this further while preventing UV damage to the materials.
While BUR has several layers to it, it is not very hard to repair. Simple patches are usually enough to do the job without needing to repair larger areas. This can save the owner from needing to start major projects in the case of minor damage.
While not the most popular option, TPO (Thermoplastic Olefin) is seeing traction in the roofing world as another solid choice. It uses a mixture of rubber and plastic to create an impermeable, solid surface.
Unlike many of the other options above, TPO usually comes in white. As such, it suits different aesthetics for buildings in an area. Though, as it comes in many different thicknesses, you also have many options of weight depending on the use.
Due to the material, TPO roofing only needs heat welding. This bonds the rolls together to form a permanent seal, creating one large surface instead of multiple tiles or sections.
Benefits of TPO
Unlike many of the other options above, TPO usually comes in white. This means it is an excellent choice for warmer areas, where you will want the most reflectivity possible to ensure your home does not overheat.
On the other end of the scale, TPO is not affected by extreme cold either. Whereas some other options, such as PVC roofing, might shatter, this one has more flexibility to it.
The roofing is also UV-resistant. It will not degrade due to sunlight, meaning it is a long-lasting option for whatever you wish to build. Unlike many other options, it also does not shrink like PVC roofing over the years, allowing you to have the assurance it will not need replacing.
As TPO comes in large rolls, many people find it very easy to lay down large areas of the material. It can be very simple to install, and its lightweight nature means you do not need as many people to manipulate it as you secure it.
When you are connecting the rolls, all you need is a heat welder. This makes the whole process simple for even DIY roofing enthusiasts. So long as you have the right equipment, such as a heat gun or automatic welder, you can finish fast too.
TPO is a long-lasting material. If you are looking for a roofing option that can last up to a third of a century, this is one you might want to investigate.
When it comes to environmental consciousness, TPO also stands apart. Not only can you recycle the material, but it can be produced from recycled content. This allows you to use it as an eco-friendly option, either for peace of mind or if you can gain tax benefits from its use.
Pick the Best Flat Roof Materials
These entries should give you a much better idea of what the best flat roof materials are for your needs. Still, if you want to know a little more, we can help you out.
We have some of the leading experts in flat roofing choices in the UK. So, if you need to know more about the roofing supplies you should pick up, we can help you find them. All you need to do is check out our shop to see our range and give us a call if you find yourself overwhelmed.