Flat roofs seem a great option for maximizing your usable space—both both and below the roof. But, that gain in space brings with it increased risk of sneaky leaks. New technology may have solved the problem.
Unlike traditional sloped roofs, flat roofs are almost level. Truth is, a flat roof has a pitch of about 10-degrees in order to prevent rain from pooling and aid in run off. Choosing the right roof makes all the difference.
Understanding flat roofs
Any material covering a flat—or low-pitched roof—is known as a membrane. The membrane’s purpose is to waterproof the roof area. Traditionally, tar paper was applied over roof ticking to keep a building watertight. The tarpaper is then covered in gravel to keep the sun’s heat and weather off and prevent cracking.
Today flat roofs often use strips of EPDM synthetic rubber or other similar material. These strips are bonded together with a hot or cold bonding process. Once installed and bonded, the flat roof becomes monolithic; one sheet with no seams. No seams, no leaks.
Sneaky leaks on flat roofs
Flat roofs all share a common problem: sneaky leaks. Unlike a sloped roof, where leaks are relatively easy to spot, leaks on flat roofs behave differently. Should water penetrate the membrane, it can travel a long way before causing visible damage. That’s sneaky. That’s also why tracking down a flat roof leak is particularly difficult.
Flat roofs and modern looks
The truth is, flat roofs don’t make architectural sense. Rain runs off a sloped roof, but must be drained away from a flat one. But, for a modern look, architects turn to flat roofs. Making sure yours is installed properly with allowance for proper runoff and draining is critical to preventing sneaky leaks.