What Are the Best Materials for Flat Roofs?

Over the last decade, flat roofs have become less common. It is because they are harder to maintain than angled builds. If there’s no slope or incline, there’s no natural drainage system for rainwater. It collects on the surface of a home, so water-resistant finishes, treatments, and coatings need periodically reapplying.

On the other hand, there are lots of reasons why flat roofs are still the best option for some properties. For instance, home extensions tend to look more aesthetically pleasing with flat tops. Buildings with unblended roof pitches can be unsightly. Flat roofing also provides a convenient place to install external HVAC units.

Due to their high maintenance nature, only certain types of material are suitable when constructing flat roofs. This guide to the most common is going to help you decide which is best.

Roofing materials for flat roofs:

Single Ply PVC

PVC is the most popular type of flat roofing material. In fact, some roofing contractors work exclusively in single ply PVC. It is used to form a relatively thin membrane. It has thermoplastic qualities and it is very hard wearing. The great thing about PVC, aside from its toughness and longevity, is its ability to reflect sunlight. So, in summer, there is a reduced need for air conditioning. The roof regulates its own temperature.


This tough synthetic material contains ethylene and propylene. It has a complicated technical name, but all you need to know is that it is known as a ‘rubber’ roof. EPDM is often favored over PVC because it is cheaper to produce, buy, and install. It is not as strong, particularly in the seams, but it can still last a long time if cared for correctly. Also, it does not reflect heat in the same way as PVC does. It is worth considering this before opting for the cheaper material.

Modified Bitumen

The biggest weakness of materials like EPDM, PVC, and TPO is that, despite their toughness, there’s still a risk of serious damage from debris and falling objects. With only a single layer of protection, they can leave flat roofs vulnerable. It is why modified bitumen is often a better choice for those wanting an impenetrable surface. Usually, the material is made up of three individual layers.

Built Up Roofing (BUR)

You are more likely to have heard of this material referred to as a ‘tar’ or ‘gravel’ roof. Like modified bitumen, BUR gets applied in more than one layer for extra protection. Sometimes, there are four or more plies. They each consist of alternating bitumen membranes. This type of flat roof has been seen to last well over a century. There is no better choice if you are looking for a material that stands the test of time.


TPO (or thermoplastic olefin) gets applied in a single layer, just like PVC. It consists of ethylene, rubber, and propylene, alongside some other substances (depending on how has been produced). While TPO roofs have never been as popular as PVC builds, they are growing in prominence. They are energy efficient and very hard wearing. Plus, they combine the affordability of rubber with the toughness of PVC.

For more info visit roofing contractors in Lincoln Park Michigan.

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