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5 Best Materials For Flat Roofs

Posted on June 20, 2024

Estimated Reading Time : 5 Min.

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roof material for flat roofs

Choosing the right material is important for any kind of roof, as the quality of the material ensures the durability and strength of your roofing system.

If you are looking to replace the flat roof of your building, it’s important to know all the material options available. 

At Miller Roofing and Renovations, we always aim to provide both residential and commercial properties with the best roofing solutions. We understand the importance of having accurate information before starting any roof replacement or home improvement project. 

In this blog post, we’ll explore different types of roofing materials for flat roofs and will list the pros and cons of each so that you can select the best option for your project.

1. Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO)

TPO Roof
TPO Roof

Average Cost: $4 to $14 per square foot

Thermoplastic polyolefin, or TPO, is a famous roof material for flat roofs because of its durability and resistance to UV radiation, ozone, and chemical exposure. TPO membranes are lightweight, highly reflective, and energy-efficient, making them an excellent option for reducing cooling costs in warm climates.

Pros Cons
TPO offers excellent protection against rough weather conditions and is an eco-friendly option.Without proper installation, it is susceptible to uplift from high winds.
It is resistant to tears and punctures from hail, foot traffic, or falling debris.It requires professional installation for optimal performance.
It has a lifespan of up to 30 years.UV rays can degrade the adhesives and lead to issues with the roof’s performance and longevity.
TPO roofs are easy to maintain.

2. Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM)


Average Cost: $4 to $13 per square foot

EPDM, a type of rubber roofing membrane, is another popular roof material for flat roofs. EPDM offers high durability and resistance to severe weather conditions. EPDM membranes are made from synthetic rubber and are known for their flexibility, making them ideal for roofs with complex shapes or penetrations.

It offers great resistance to ozone and UV radiation.It requires professional installation for optimal performance.
It is highly durable and long-lasting (up to 30 years or more).It is susceptible to wind uplift if not installed properly.
EPDM roofs are best for commercial buildings as the surface is black in color.Limited color options are available, mostly black and white (only a few brands offer white EPDM).
EPDM roofs are easy to maintain as the black color shows less dirt and stains than light colors.It is susceptible to cracking or shrinking if exposed to extreme heat for a long period of time.
EPDM is a cost-effective choice for your roof.

3. Modified Bitumen

Modified Bitumen Roof
Modified Bitumen Roof

Average Cost: $4 to $8 per square foot

Modified bitumen roofs are made of a mixture of asphalt and reinforcing materials, such as polyester or fiberglass. This roofing system is known for its durability, resistance to extreme temperatures, and ease of installation.

Modified bitumen roofs offer better durability than traditional asphalt roofs. Modified bitumen roofs are susceptible to ponding water if not properly installed. 
Modified bitumen is recyclable, making it a more eco-friendly option.  It is heavier than some other flat roof materials, potentially requiring additional structural support.
It can resist extremely cold temperatures and is less likely to crack or become brittle when the temperature drops. It can be a challenging task to find leaks in these roofing systems. 
Modified bitumen is fire-resistant, which makes it safe for commercial buildings that use flammable materials. Modified bitumen roofs can absorb a good amount of heat during summer.
Modified bitumen, available in various colors and styles, can last up to 20 years and more if maintained and installed properly.

4. Built-Up Roof (BUR)

Average Cost: $4 to $10 per square foot 

Built-up roofs, or BUR, are a traditional flat roofing system that comprises multiple layers of reinforced fabric and bitumen (a semi-solid form of petroleum). This roofing material is known for its fire resistance, durability, and ability to withstand rough weather conditions.

They offer great resistance to fire, wind, and extreme temperatures.Due to the multiple layers, the installation process can be lengthy.
Built-up roofs can last up to 30 or more years if maintained and installed properly.It requires periodic recoating to maintain its functionality and appearance. 
These roofs are highly customizable and have various surface options (gravel, cap sheets, etc).It uses petroleum-based materials and is less friendly to the environment.
They provide great resistance to tears, punctures, and impact damage. 

Bonus Option: Green Roofs (Living Roofs)

Although not a roofing material, green roofs, also known as living roofs, are an innovative and eco-friendly option for flat roofs. These roofs are covered with a waterproof membrane and a layer of soil, supporting vegetation growth, such as plants, grasses, or small shrubs.

It provides excellent insulation and energy efficiency.It needs professional installation as well as regular maintenance.
It extends the lifespan of the underlying materials.It often requires structural reinforcement to bear the weight of plants and soil.
It provides additional outdoor living space and a rooftop garden.Maintaining these roofs depends upon the climatic condition of the area. Most plants can not survive in extreme hot or cold temperatures. However, you can choose fake grass to mimic the appearance of green roofs. 
Green roofs improve air quality and reduce the urban heat island effect. The overall installation cost can be higher depending on the plants you choose.
It provides a beautiful aesthetic appearance.

What Is The Best Roofing Material For A Flat Roof?

The right roofing materials for flat roofs depend upon certain factors, including climate, budget, durability requirements, and intended use. TPO and EPDM are excellent choices for their weather resistance and energy efficiency, while modified bitumen and BUR offer exceptional durability and resistance to extreme temperatures. Green roofs provide eco-friendly benefits and enhance aesthetic appeal but require additional structural support and maintenance.

Whichever material you choose, it’s crucial to ensure proper installation by experienced professionals. Improper installation can lead to leaks, ponding water, and premature failure, compromising the integrity and longevity of your flat roof.

Remember, a well-chosen and properly installed flat roof can provide years of protection, energy efficiency, and added value to your property. Take the time to research and consult with roofing experts to make the right decision that meets your specific needs and requirements.

Call Miller Roofing and Renovations for Your Flat Roof Replacement in Memphis, TN

If you are looking for a flat roof replacement in Memphis, TN, or the surrounding areas, we are here to assist you. At Miller Roofing and Renovations, we provide high-quality roofing solutions. With years of experience, we offer a range of flat roofing solutions from EPDM to modified bitumen. 
From initial planning to the final inspection, we will work closely with you to ensure that your flat roof replacement project exceeds your expectations. Trust us to provide reliable, durable, and energy-efficient roofing solutions that will enhance the value of your property. To book a free consultation or for more information, call us at (901) 457-9405!

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