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How Long Does A Flat Roof Last?

Posted on September 30, 2023

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How Long Does A Flat Roof Last?

Flat roofs have gained popularity in modern architecture for their sleek, contemporary appearance. They are commonly found on commercial buildings and even some residential homes. However, when it comes to flat roofs, it’s crucial to understand that not all materials are created equal.  

The longevity of a flat roof significantly depends on the type of roofing material you choose. In this blog post, we will provide an in-depth overview of various flat roofing materials and their typical lifespans, helping you make an informed decision for your property.

1. EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer)

How Long Does A Flat Roof Last

EPDM is a highly durable and weather-resistant synthetic rubber roofing material. It’s known for its excellent resistance to UV rays and extreme temperature fluctuations. 

The Lifespan of an EPDM Roof: EPDM roofs can last anywhere from 20 to 30 years, or even longer with proper maintenance. Their durability makes them a popular choice for flat roofs.

2. TPO (Thermoplastic Olefin)

How Long Does A Flat Roof Last

TPO roofing membranes are made from a single layer of synthetics and reinforcing scrim. They are known for their energy efficiency and heat-welded seams, creating a seamless, water-tight roof.

The Lifespan of a TPO Roof: TPO roofs typically have a lifespan of 15 to 20 years, but their longevity can be extended with regular maintenance.

3. PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)

How Long Does A Flat Roof Last

PVC is another single-ply roofing membrane, highly regarded for its strength, durability, and resistance to chemicals and UV exposure.

The Lifespan of a PVC Roof: PVC roofs can last between 20 and 30 years. Their ability to withstand harsh conditions and chemicals makes them a reliable choice.

4. Built-Up Roofs (BUR)

How Long Does A Flat Roof Last

A built-up roof is a traditional and multi-layered roofing system that alternates between bitumen and reinforcing fabrics like fiberglass or organic mats. The top layer is typically finished with gravel or a reflective coating. Built-up roofs are popular for commercial buildings due to their toughness, thickness, and durability. 

The Lifespan of a Built-Up Roof: BUR roofs are renowned for their longevity and can last 20 to 30 years or more, depending on the quality of installation and maintenance.

5. Modified Bitumen

How Long Does A Flat Roof Last

A modified bitumen roof is a modified version of a BUR and is made from asphalt with added modifiers for increased flexibility and durability.

The Lifespan of a Modified Bitumen Roof: Modified bitumen roofs generally have a lifespan of 20 to 25 years. Regular inspections and maintenance can prolong their life.

Want to know more about flat roofs? Check out our blog post: Commercial Flat Roofing: A Brief History And Where We’re Going Next

Factors That Impact The Lifespan of Flat Roofs

1. Roofing Material

The choice of roofing material is the most significant factor influencing the lifespan of a flat roof. The thickness and durability of the material that makes up the roof has a major impact on a flat roof’s ability to function. Common flat roofing materials include EPDM, TPO, PVC, and modified bitumen. 

2. Quality of Installation

No matter how excellent the roofing material is, if it’s not installed correctly, its lifespan can be significantly reduced over time. A flat roof that has been well-installed by experienced professionals is sure to last its expected lifespan.

3. Climate and Weather Conditions

The local climate and weather conditions in your area can impact the lifespan of your flat roof. Factors to consider include:

Heavy Rain: Frequent heavy rainfall can lead to ponding water and accelerated wear and tear.

Snow: Snow accumulation can place significant weight on the roof, potentially causing structural damage.

UV Exposure: Prolonged exposure to intense UV rays can deteriorate roofing materials over time.

Extreme Temperatures: Constant fluctuations between extreme hot and cold temperatures can cause materials to expand and contract, potentially leading to cracks or damage.

4. Maintenance and Repairs

Regular maintenance is essential for the longevity of a flat roof. Neglecting maintenance can cause small issues to evolve into major problems, which can reduce the roof’s lifespan. Therefore, the prompt repair of any damage or signs of wear and tear is vital to keep the roof in good condition.

5. Drainage and Ponding Water

Since flat roofs have the inherent tendency to collect water, proper drainage is crucial for flat roofs. Without adequate drainage systems, water can pool on the roof’s surface, causing stress on the material and leading to leaks. Ensure that water flows efficiently off the roof to prevent ponding.

6. Flashing and Sealant

Installing flashing and sealant around critical points of vulnerability is crucial. If these protective features are not maintained or become loose or damaged, they may allow water to infiltrate the roofing structure, potentially leading to leaks and damage.

7. Age of the Roof

As with any structural element, the age of your flat roof can impact its lifespan. Over time, materials naturally wear out, even with the best maintenance. If your roof is approaching the end of its expected lifespan, it may be time to consider a replacement.

Tips To Extend the Lifespan of Your Flat Roof

Apply the following tips to extend your flat roof’s lifespan. 

1. Regular Inspections: Schedule annual inspections with a professional roofing contractor to catch issues early.

2. Prompt Repairs: If you notice any of the signs mentioned earlier, don’t delay in getting them fixed. Quick action can prevent more extensive damage.

3. Drainage Solutions: Ensure your flat roof has proper drainage to prevent ponding water.

4. Reflective Coatings: Applying reflective coatings to protect your flat roof from the sun’s UV rays, increasing its lifespan.

5. Keep Debris at Bay: Regularly clear your flat roof of debris, as it can lead to membrane damage and clog drainage systems.

6. Choose the Right Material: When installing a new flat roof, choose a durable material that’s suited for your climate.

Get A Flat Roof Installed By Professional Roofers In Tulsa, OK

Now that you know how long a flat roof lasts, the factors that impact its lifespan, and tips on how to extend its lifespan, you can make an informed decision for your roof. If you want to install or replace a flat roof on your commercial building in Tulsa, OK, contact the skilled and professional roofers at A. Fricker Roofing & Waterproofing. Just give us a call today at (918)-402-7167 and consult with one of our experts.