Looking to find out more about flat roofing materials? You’ve come to the right place. Here we go through the most popular flat roofing materials, the pros and cons of each, the prices, ease of installation and when each one might be the right solution for your flat roof.
Flat Roofing Material One: Torched Bitumen Felt
What is it?
Bitumen felt is a waterproof membrane you can apply to any type of roofing. Though often used as a flat roofing material, it is also found as an underlay beneath traditional slate and tiled roofing as extra weatherproofing. Torching the felt helps bond it to your roof and ensures there are no gaps between the felt that could allow water through.
Pros and cons?
Bitumen felt roofing is an incredibly cheap option; right now at eRoofs it costs just £3.90 per m2 (8m2 is just £31.19, down from £48.99 including VAT). You can upgrade and also get a base felt that will make your roofing last even longer – and it doesn’t cost much to add either at just £5.09 per m2. Considering it should last in excess of 15 years with the base felt, it’s a very affordable option for your flat roof.
Easy to repair
Torched on bitumen felt is incredibly simple and fast to repair; you can simply paint on a weatherproofing bitumen roof coat to add extra protection or seal over small cracks.
Felt roofing felt leaves a nice aesthetic finish to your roof, especially as it is torched on and can therefore be moulded to your roofs shape smoothly.
Application is seamless
Torching on a felt roof means you can avoid creating any open seams very easily. Overlapping the base felt when torching on will melt the felt together, avoiding any potential holes appearing.
A torched on felt roof requires very little to no maintenance; repairing the odd bit of wear and tear is incredibly easy and very infrequent.
At the end of the lifespan of the felt (usually over 15 years) you can easily recycle the felt, making it a very eco-friendly option.
Many felts are guaranteed up to 10 years, which can seem like a short lifespan. However, when properly maintained and in a low traffic area, torched felt roofing can last beyond 30 years.
Can warp and crack
Unfortunately, felt roofing can be prone to warping in very hot summers and cracking in very cold winters, especially when it is not installed properly.
Repairs can look bad
Although repairs are simple to do, if your flat roof area is going to be in view very frequently, basic repairs like patches and paints can look off-putting.
Not good for high traffic areas, especially in summer
Torched roofing felt is not the best choice for a high-traffic area as it is not scoff or tear resistant. It likely won’t last as long as EPDM rubber, nor look as good, if the flat roofing area you’re wanting to cover is often used as a balcony, for example.
Flat Roofing Material Two: EPDM rubber
What is it?
Rubber EPDM roofing is a very common type of flat roofing material, favoured because of its low cost and incredible weatherproof nature. Unlike torched roofing felt, you apply rubber roofing with a rubber adhesive making it a fast and simple installation.
Pros and cons?
Rubber roofing does cost a little more than felt (at the time of writing it is £9.57 per m2 from eRoofs) but it doesn’t require a base felt, so overall it is in a similar price bracket to felt. It usually lasts a little longer, some claiming it lasts over 50 years and manufacturers often stating that 20 years is the minimum lifespan they would expect.
Easy to repair
Repairs are quite rare with rubber roofing, however, when they do occur repairing can usually be done by the average DIYer with some simple liquid rubber.
Rubber roofing is extremely fire resistant and because you install the roof without a torch (instead using a rubber roofing adhesive) installation is very low risk compared to torching on felt.
Reduces energy costs
Rubber roofing reflects heat and has some insulating properties, helping your home stay cool in summer and warm in winter, which could help reduce your energy bills.
Can move with your house
Rubber is known to be flexible which means, unlike most other roofing materials, rubber roofing can literally “move” with any new structure as it settles making it a great option for any new building.
Rubber roofing is extremely light and as such, requires little structural roof reinforcement before installation. It also has the added bonus of being easy to carry during installation.
Unlike felt, rubber roofing doesn’t scuff or mark easily. It also is less likely to crack or warp in the sun, less likely to blister or rot; probably the reason why it’s claimed to have such a long lifespan!
Improper installation can cause leaks – quickly
Installation should be incredibly simple; however, if you have any obstructions on your flat roof, such as chimneys, lanterns or vents, things can get a little more complicated, requiring cuts and flashing tape to be used. If you don’t have experience in working around these obstacles, you may need a professional installer to help, which can be costly. If these areas aren’t installed properly, there’s a high likelihood of your roof leaking as soon as the next rain comes.
Finding a good installer can be tough
Rubber roofing has only been around for roughly 40 years, meaning there aren’t many experts in the arena as there will be for more common flat roofing materials like felt. This means that you could struggle to find an installer that has a lot of experience in rubber roofing. If you do need a good installer, we’d recommend looking for one with a good number of positive reviews so you know that they’ve got the experience you need.
One of the biggest drawbacks that some people outline is the appearance of a rubber roof – it’s not always the most attractive option, being that it is a simple black rubber covering. However, it’s a great solution for high traffic flat roofs and can even be a moss deterrent so can be kept clean very easily. You also have the option to paint a rubber roof, which can not only improve its appearance but could even prolong it’s lifespan.
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