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Among all the type of roofing, flat roofing is the most commonly used. This may be due to its being adopted by brownstoners at an early age. Since then, flat roofing has been modernized to different patterns and types. It has become so rampant in NYC and after a little conduction; data shows that brownstoners own the majority of the commercial buildings having a flat roof (with some exception). Nobody knows why they all do have this common interest in flat roofing, but a lot believes it boils down to benefits of flat roofing and why it is seen as the best roofing pattern. The majority of these flat rooftops are made of entirely different materials. From further investigation, the choice of material depends on environmental condition more than personal preference because the buildings are commercial and not personal home that needs all the decorative designs. Below we are going to be looking at the advantages and disadvantages of flat roofing that makes it the rising choice of roofing in NYC by Brownstoners and lastly, the types of flat roofing materials available.

Types Of Materials Used In Flat Roofs

  • Modified Bitumen

This type of flat roof looks like it is made of pavement or concrete, due to it having a mineral-based service. There are two different ways in which this method is attached to the surface breaks: The first method involves heating the adhesive before fastening it to a roof. The second method is quite new and easy; it is a simple peel-and-stick system. The peel-and-stick system is more like a DIY form of roofing that people can install with nothing more than a Google video as a guild, whereas the older heated system is highly flammable and it is not recommended for most buildings. This form of roofing is considered neither cheap nor expensive.

Pros: A peel and stick material can easily be installed by homeowners. Its light-colored mineral surface help reflects heat.

Cons: The torch-down application is a fire hazard and as such, it cannot be recommended for occupied buildings. It’s not as scuff or tear-resistant as rubber-membrane roofs.

  • Built-Up Roof

This is a popular traditional form of flat roofing, reminiscing old memories of men on roofs working with tar, of which the hot tar is eventually finished off by the addition of gravel. As time passes, this method has become more advanced and more efficient. The hot tar and gravel roof is built from three or more mixtures of waterproof material alternated with the hot tar and ballasted with a layer of smooth river stone. These types of roofs are gradually using more advanced materials like fiberglass membranes. This type still ranks as the cheapest of them all, but it’s incredibly heavy. Thus it should only be used in certain circumstances.

Pros: Gravel is an excellent fire retardant. It is the cheapest of the four roof varieties. It is highly attractive for windows and decks that overlook the roof.

Cons: Installation is not recommended when the building is occupied already. It’s very heavy; it is hard to find the source of leaks; it is smelly and messy to install. It can never be a DIY installation job.

  • Rubber Membrane

In the rubber membrane, the most used rubber is the EPDM (short for ethylene propylene diene monomer). This durable material can be mechanically anchored with glued, ballasted with stone, or fasteners and it is engineered to resist damage from sunlight. This approach to flat roofing is durable and is easily installed, and it is the roof that almost looks like it’s the surface of a pan (non-stick)!. This type is easier to repair; however, it is the most easily damaged and the most expensive of all three.

Pros: it’s a friendly installation for homeowners. The materials used are relatively light yet highly resistant to tears and scuffs. Leaks are very easy to patch.

Cons: The one made of black material absorbs heat. It’s also more vulnerable to punctures than other choices.

The above are the three types of materials used in making commercial building roofs. The advantages of using a flat roof for commercial building are as follow;

  • Maintenance and repair costs are generally lower as a rule
  • Better wind resistance which reduces potential  storm damage
  • Easier to install, resulting in lower initial installation costs
  • Can be adapted for the installation of green roofing initiatives
  • Affords more versatile use of space on the top floor of a building
  • More easily accessible for maintenance and repair purposes
  • More available space to accommodate mechanical equipment
  • Energy efficiency – less unused space under roof to heat/cool

Since we now know the advantage of flat roof to commercial buildings, let take a look at the minor disadvantage of this type of roofing.

Drainage problems:

A flat roof user can anticipate puddling after a few days of rain if the roof itself isn’t properly installed or planned. It is more of the reason the owner should employ a local professional roofer to handle the job. Being a professional, they will find a solution to a heavy downpour of rain.

 Not as stylish and attractive:

A flat roof is not attractive or stylish because admirers rarely even see the rooftop talk more of the pattern adopted in fixing it. Rooftop adds beauty to buildings.

In conclusion, when it comes down to choosing between a flat or a pitched roof, the first reason while people to go with a flat roof, is that it’s way cheaper. Constructing a pitched roof means additional building materials because of the complex design, a complex design requires more roofing material, and also, a pitched roof has to be constructed, it costs money and time in doing that. This makes it more expensive, well of cause unless you’re wealthy to foot the bill. Pitched roofs are best because it can be installed irrespective of the climate conditions. However, since it’s becoming rampant for commercial buildings in NYC to be roofed with flat roof method, it’s only a matter of time to see how far this acceptance goes.


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