How flat roofs are created

flat roof - tar paper

A Flat Roof is a type of roofing that, instead of being pitched or sloped like those found on many buildings, is instead completely flat. Flat roofing is generally made of many different types of materials, from sheet metal to clay. The traditional pitched or sloped roofs provide water runoff, unlike flat roofs. For this reason, a flat roof is often very slightly inclined and has some sort of gutter system that allows rain water to drain off of the roof. This prevents rain water from standing still and damaging the underlying roof structure. Different materials are often used to create flat roofs, largely depending on the area and climate. For example, Flat roofing products in warmer climates that do not experience much rain fall are often made of concrete or masonry.

flat roofing rollIn the United States and other areas in the western world flat roofs are traditionally make use of large rolls of tar paper. This paper is rolled out on top of the underlying roof structure and creates a water and air tight barrier between the building’s roof and the elements. Gravel is generally spread out on top of the tar paper to help protect the barrier from the sun’s harmful UV rays and to keep it from drying out and cracking. When using Flat roofing solutions it is important to realize and understand that failure to maintain the roof will often end in disaster. Over time the gravel can become displaced due to wind and heavy rain. When this happens the underlying tar paper becomes exposed to the sun and weather. When this happens, rain water can eventually seep in and damage the plywood underneath.

If leaks do occur on a flat roof it often is not noticed for a long period of time. During this time water penetrates the underlying roofing materials and can soak through into the insulation and, in extreme situations, potentially flood the building underneath the roof. After a while the materials can rot. Not only can this be a very expensive and costly repair, but it can also cause health risks due to a weakened support structure and mold.

Another common cause of flat roof problems is the improper maintaining of the draining system. Over time gravel, leaves and other debris can wash from the roof down into the drains and gutters, creating clogs that prevent proper water drainage. Again, when this happens the rain water ends up standing in puddles on the roof’s surface, eventually seeping through miniscule cracks and punctures, causing a very large problem. It is, therefore, necessary to perform regular maintenance and inspection on your flat roof.

For more information on roof maintenance check out this infographic:

Protect Your Roof!


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