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The 4 Best Materials for a Flat Roof

September 15th, 2021 | 5 min. read

The 4 Best Materials for a Flat Roof

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Choosing the material for your flat roof replacement is an important decision. Because it’s so important you want to be sure you’re making the right choice. 

To do this, you need to know the best material for a flat roof. While there are a variety of options, there are 4 flat roofing materials that stand out. 

Here at Bill Ragan Roofing, our goal is to educate homeowners like you about all aspects of the roofing industry. That’s why we’ll be giving you the knowledge needed to make the best purchasing decision for your flat roof. 

Let’s get to the 4 best materials for a flat roof replacement. 

1. EPDM membrane roofing 

EPDM (ethylene propylene diene terpolymer) is a synthetic rubber black membrane commonly used in commercial and medical facilities. While it’s used mostly in commercial, EPDM has its place in residential roofing. 

EPDM flat roof membrane

I wouldn’t recommend using it over a bedroom or living space because of the heat it’s going to absorb due to the black material. However, EPDM is a great option for a flat roof over a garage or another non-living space you can see from a window because the black won’t get as dirty as a white membrane. 

EPDM is extremely durable and is basically like having a bulletproof rubber roof system. Because of this durability, you can expect to get 25 to 30 years out of a fully adhered 0.060 thickness EPDM flat roof.

2. TPO membrane roofing

TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin) is a single-ply white membrane used in both commercial and residential roofing. Unlike EPDM, TPO’s white membrane reflects heat instead of absorbing it. 

TPO flat roof membrane

If you have a flat roof or a low-slope dormer over a bedroom, TPO is a great option because it’ll keep the room cooler. You still have the option to choose to get it over a non-living space like EPDM. 

But remember, if you have a window that looks over the membrane, white will get dirtier a lot quicker than a black membrane. While it’s not as durable as EPDM, you can still expect to get 25 years out of a TPO membrane flat roof as long as it’s installed properly. 

3. PVC membrane roofing

PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is also a single-ply white membrane used in commercial and residential roofing. PVC is also a great choice for any flat or low slope over a living space or bedroom. 

PVC flat roof membrane

Besides being a white membrane, PVC and TPO are very similar in their characteristics besides their chemical make-up. Even the installation process is pretty much the same. 

The only major difference is that PVC is slightly more flexible and has been around longer than TPO. Like TPO, you can expect to get 25 years out of a PVC flat roof as long as it’s installed properly. 

4. Standing seam metal roof

A standing seam metal roof system is a series of metal panels that are locked together at the seams or seamed mechanically. This allows for panels to expand and contract freely when the metal panels go through thermal expansion.

standing seam metal flat roof

A standing seam metal roof is a great roofing material for a flat roof. It will have a better aesthetic with color options and is longer lasting than the membrane roof systems.

As long as it’s properly installed and your attic is adequately ventilated, there’s no reason you shouldn’t get at least 30 years out of your standing seam metal flat roof. Under the ideal conditions, a standing seam metal flat roof could last for 50 years.

However, the extra life and aesthetics come at a higher price, and it will be more expensive than all 3 types of roof membranes.

How much will your new flat roof cost?

Too many factors go into the cost of a flat roof replacement or any roof replacement to give you an exact price. However, I can give you a general idea of how much your new flat roof will cost. 

A good rule of thumb is to budget between around $14.00-$17.00 per square foot for a smaller membrane flat roof and around $12.00 per square foot on slightly larger projects. Be aware, if you use insulation that’s thick enough to insulate the entire structure, it will cost more than just using fabric insulation and gluing the membrane to it. 

On the other hand, a 24 gauge steel standing seam metal flat roof will cost around $15.00 per square foot. This number could be more or less depending on the size of your flat roof, the number of penetrations, the roofing contractor you hire, and other factors.

Which flat roof material is right for you?

So, which material is right for you and your flat roof replacement? If you’re worried about the cost, I recommend going with one of the membrane roof systems.

Remember to consider what room is below the flat roof. If it’s a living room or bedroom, I recommend either PVC or TPO. 

If you have the budget and want more life, a standing seam metal roof is a great option. You’ll also get to choose the color you want the Kynar 500 painted finish to be. 

All 4 flat roofing materials are great options. The important thing is to choose the material that fits your budget and the look you want. 

The tips you need to find a great roofing contractor for your flat roof replacement

Now you know the 4 best materials for a flat roof and an idea of how much they cost. After reading this article, you should have an idea of which one is right for you. 

But what’s next now that you have the information needed to make the right purchasing decision? The next step is to find a great local roofing contractor for your flat roof replacement. 

You may think this is the easy part, but the truth is, hiring the right roofing contractor is the most important decision you’ll make for your roofing project. Because it’s such a big decision, we wrote another article giving you the 7 tips every homeowner needs to find a great roofing contractor. 

Since 1990, the team at Bill Ragan Roofing has provided high-quality roofing services in Nashville and surrounding areas. Whether you need repairs or a full roof replacement, we take the time to educate you about every aspect of your project. Once the job is completed, you’ll have a lifetime warranty on our workmanship to protect your investment.

Check out 7 Tips to Find a Great Roofing Contractor, so you have the ability to make the right hiring decision.

roofing contractor questions checklist

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