BEFORE BEGINNING YOUR FLAT ROOF REPLACEMENT, CHECK OUT THESE TIPS
Every flat roof in the history of mankind has either eventually failed, or been replaced or removed before it failed. The harsh truth about flat roofs, as with any type of roof and most anything in the world, is that they deteriorate and eventually fail. Some roofing materials are stronger than others and will provide protection from the elements for a longer time, but all roofing systems will eventually fail. You need to prepare for your roof’s inevitable failure, and have a plan in place for your commercial flat roof replacement project.
Factors to Consider Before Choosing a New Roofing System
No roofing system is the right choice in every situation. While some roofing systems are better than others and are right in more cases, it is still extremely difficult to know in any given situation which roofing system is best. For this reason, you should never choose a roofing system only because you heard it was “the best” or because a colleague has it and recommends it. You should carefully examine some factors about your building, your current roof, and what you want out of your new roof. After examining these factors, you can make an informed decision for your flat roof replacement. Among the roof factors that you should consider before making a roofing decision are:
- The slope of your roof (actual and desired)
- The drainage of your roof (actual and desired)
- R-value (actual and desired)
- Expected structural load
- Roof deck integrity
- Potential wind uplift
- Repair vs. replacement
The Slope of Your Roof
Considering the slope of your current roof, which roofing systems are available to you? Materials like shingles and concrete tile depend on water running quickly off the roof to be effective, is your roof too flat for them? Or is your roof too steep to receive rolled on single-ply roofing materials? The steepness of your roof may rule out certain roofing options.
The Drainage of Your Roof
If your current roofing system has poor drainage that you would like to improve, certain roofing systems will require repairs be made to the roof deck prior to installation. Or, should you select a more versatile roofing system, such as spray foam and restoration coatings (depending on the drainage required) you can apply the material in varying depths and thereby improve the drainage without significant repairs.
Are you looking to improve the R-value of your roof and save money on your energy bills? There are certain materials that help insulate (Sprayed Polyurethane Foam), and others that help reflect the sun (reflective coatings) and decrease energy costs. If this is a concern of yours for your new roof, it is important that you choose a good insulator or a reflective product.
Expected Structural Load
After your flat roof replacement, what is the load you expect to be placed on your roof? A restoration coating will not add much, if any, strength to the roofing system. While they add waterproofing, they won’t make your roof any stronger. So if you expect a heavy load, coatings aren’t for you, and spray foam may be perfect for you (SPF can withstand a car driving on its surface). However, if you don’t expect a heavy load on your roof surface, restoration coatings may be perfect for you. Single-ply systems may also work well as they don’t add much strength, but are typically good reflectors of the sun.
Roof Deck Integrity
Do you think your roof deck is in good condition and will withstand the additional weight of equipment and workers during the installation of the flat roof replacement? If yes, no worries, choose any system that can be installed over top of the old system. If no, you either need to repair the roof deck prior to working, or remove the deck, reinstall a new roof deck, and then install your roof replacement. It would be wise to hire a professional inspector to have a look at your roof deck before doing too much work on top of it.
Potential Wind Uplift
Wind uplift is an easy factor to analyze and determine the best roof type for your situation. Simply look at the expected wind speeds in your area, determine the speed of wind you think your building will be exposed to, and then determine the wind resistance of the flat roofing materials you are considering. Whichever roof has the appropriate wind uplift resistance is the best choice based on this metric.
Repair vs. Replacement
Before completely replacing your flat roof, don’t forget to consider the possibility of only repairing the damaged or failing areas. Consider the cost of repairs and the expected life of those repairs, and consider the cost of replacement and the expected life of the new roof. You can get as detailed as you want on this, looking at the time value of money, opportunity cost of replacing your flat roof now vs. later; just make sure you consider roof repairs as an option.
We can’t tell you which roofing material or roofing system will be best for your flat roof replacement, but if you follow the steps outlined above and do your research, we are confident you will wind up with the best system. Don’t make uniformed roofing decisions, research, talk to professionals, and then make a decision. If you’d like to speak with one of our sales reps and let them help you make a roofing decision, contact us and we’d be glad to help.