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How Long Does a Flat Roof Last?

Thinking about setting up a new flat roof or refurbishing the current one? Curious about the longevity of a flat roof? It’s crucial to know how different elements can influence the durability of your roof. This piece will delve into some of the key aspects to take into account and provide advice on prolonging its lifespan.

Types of Flat Roofs

Although it’s impossible to precisely predict the lifespan of your roof, we can impart some insights about flat roofing to give you a clearer picture of what to anticipate and when to start considering new roofing alternatives. The choice of flat roof type for your house or building is one of the significant factors affecting its durability. Here are some popular choices that are prevalent today:

BUR 

A BUR roof, also known as a “built-up roof,” consists of multiple layers of bitumen and fabric. These roofs offer exceptional insulation and protection against the elements. Typically, a BUR roof can maintain its integrity for approximately 15 years before showing signs of aging and deterioration.

PVC 

For those seeking longevity, a PVC (polyvinyl chloride) roof is an excellent choice. With complete water resistance and exceptional protection against harsh climates, it’s a reliable option. It’s not uncommon for a well-built PVC roof to endure for over 30 years, ensuring long-lasting performance.

EPDM 

EPDM roofs, made of rubber membranes, offer excellent insulation and protection. They are particularly favored in regions prone to hail storms. A properly constructed EPDM roof can endure for more than 20 years without fail.

Types of Flat Roofs

TPO

Thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) is a modern choice for flat roofs, offering durability and strength. These roofs consist of a single-ply membrane with polymer fillers, providing robust protection against UV rays. With a lifespan of 15 to 30 years, they ensure long-lasting performance.

Spray On Coating

A roof coated with spray polyurethane foam consists of three layers, offering exceptional shielding against wind, UV rays, and other detrimental elements. While spray-on roof coatings can be pricier, a well-maintained coated roof can endure for several decades, making it a worthwhile investment in the long run.

Modified Bitumen

A roof made of modified bitumen is highly robust and typically doesn’t demand much upkeep. It offers complete resistance to water and shields against sunlight and detrimental elements. If installed correctly, a modified bitumen roof can easily last for over two decades.

Please be aware that these lifespans are just approximations. While you can’t control your local weather, you should engage a professional team to periodically inspect your roof, particularly following severe storms, to ensure everything is in order. Identifying and rectifying issues early could mean the difference between your flat roof lasting 10 years or 40 years.

To determine the best flat roof for your needs, it’s advisable to consult with a professional roofing company like Nitro Roofing. Our roofing specialists can assess your property and provide a comprehensive list of advantages, disadvantages, and cost options for your flat roof.

How Durable Are Flat Roofs?

A flat roof, with its resilience and adaptability, can be tailored to suit your aesthetic preferences. Its robust nature makes it an appealing choice for homeowners seeking longevity in their homes. A flat concrete roof is resistant to high winds and water, alleviating concerns about water-induced damage.

Flat roofs are particularly favored in city environments where space equates to square footage. These roofs are not only hard-wearing but also demand less upkeep compared to their sloped counterparts.

How Many Years Does A Flat Roof Last?

Numerous flat roofs are constructed from a blend of mineral felt or asphalt base, complemented by a rubber layer. Regrettably, the materials and design utilized in their construction mean that traditional flat roofs usually have a lifespan of only about 10-15 years before replacement becomes necessary.

Nonetheless, with the advent of plastic and rubber materials, this lifespan can be extended. A properly maintained flat roof can thus endure for 20-30 years or more before necessitating replacement, although this duration may vary depending on your tenure at the property.

Durable Are Flat Roofs

Factors That Affect The Lifespan Of A Flat Roof

A flat roof can be a perfect fit for various home styles. They are excellent for creating additional living areas like loft conversions or sunrooms, as they offer an uninterrupted sky view and do not interfere with your home’s existing structure.

Indeed, when properly executed, a flat roof can elevate the aesthetics of your property. However, there are several factors that can influence the longevity of a flat roof.

Materials Used

The longevity of a flat roof is significantly influenced by the materials used in its construction. A multi-layered built-up roof, composed of waterproof material, hot tar, and gravel, can endure for 15 to 20 years.

In contrast, single-ply roofs are often viewed as the most cost-effective choice for flat roofs, despite their durability and ease of maintenance. Lightweight single-ply roofing can last as long as or longer than layered roofs (up to 30 years), depending on the material properties, roof design, and the frequency of professional roof repairs.

Moreover, an EPDM rubber roof can provide added value to your home and can potentially last up to 50 years if installed correctly. Made from top-quality rubber, this type of roofing is incredibly durable – even more so than other popular roofing materials like tiles and shingles. If you’ve opted for an EPDM flat roof, you can be confident in its ability to stand the test of time.

Location

The lifespan of a flat roof can vary depending on the property’s location. Along with the factors mentioned below, it plays a crucial role in the overall roof health. Moreover, humidity and accessibility also impact the longevity of the roof.

Weather Conditions

Wind: The lifespan of a flat roof can be influenced by the prevalence of strong winds in the region. Persistent wind gusts can inflict harm on roofing tiles and shingles, which could significantly reduce the roof’s longevity over time.

Rain: The construction quality of the roof plays a crucial role when it comes to rainfall. If the roof is not completely waterproof, continuous rain can lead to water seeping through the flat roof’s structure. Depending on the extent of the issue, this could result in water damage. If not addressed appropriately, it could escalate to more substantial damages and consequently reduce the roof’s lifespan.

Nature

To safeguard your roof from potential damage caused by overhanging trees, it is crucial to assess the tree’s structural integrity. Ensure that the tree is robust enough to minimize any adverse impact on your roof.

Ventilation

Proper roof ventilation is a critical component for any flat roof. A well-ventilated and insulated flat roof ensures consistent temperatures throughout the year in all seasons.

On the contrary, if the ventilation is inadequate, it could lead to an accumulation of heat and moisture that has no escape route. This could subsequently impact the longevity of the roof.

Age

Every roof has a projected lifespan, which can differ based on the factors mentioned earlier. If your roof is showing signs of age and weariness, it might be a fitting moment to consider an upgrade.

Lack Of Maintenance

Proper installation of a flat roof is not enough; regular maintenance is crucial. Without it, decay can occur, shortening the roof’s lifespan. To ensure a longer-lasting roof, it’s advisable to enlist the services of a professional roofer for necessary repairs and refurbishments.

How Often Does A Flat Roof Need To Be Replaced

How Often Does A Flat Roof Need To Be Replaced?

Typically, flat roofs may require replacement or at least some repairs every 15 to 20 years.

When it’s time to replace your flat roof, there are numerous factors to keep in mind. The required materials and budget can greatly differ.

Various materials will also offer different lifespans, which might be more attractive to some homeowners but not to others. Gathering this information is crucial as it will assist you in making the most informed decision for yourself and your property.

There are specific signs that could suggest a need for replacing your flat roof.

Leakages

If you’re facing issues with your flat roof such as leaks, punctures or visible damage, it could be a sign that your roofing system isn’t functioning properly. There could be several reasons for water seepage in a flat roofing system, but a primary cause often stems from problems during the installation phase. Leaks might happen due to improper installation or the use of substandard materials.

Punctures, Splitting, Cracking, Blistering & Stretching

If your flat roof has been exposed to intense UV rays and severe weather conditions over time, it might start to show signs of splitting, cracking, blistering, or even warping without reverting to its original form. This is a typical problem with materials like EPDM when they near their life expectancy. Such damages can threaten the structural stability of your roof, suggesting that a full replacement might be the most beneficial course of action.

Flooding, Pooling & Sagging

Flat roof repairs aim to assist homeowners in addressing minor roof-related issues. If you’ve been dealing with problems like water accumulation or flooding, damage to ceiling boards due to water, leak and decay issues, or bending or warping of the roof, it might be time to consider having your flat roof repaired.