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What Is Torch Down Roofing & Is It Right For You

Posted on February 11, 2024

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What Is Torch Down Roofing & Is It Right For You

If you are a commercial building owner looking for an affordable roofing option for your flat or low-slope roof, a torch down roofing membrane might be a great choice. Torch down roofing takes its name from how it’s installed. Also called rolled roofing, this type of flat roof membrane can be found on commercial buildings across the U.S.

This guide to torch down roofing systems aims to help you decide whether this reliable roofing option is perfect for your flat roof. Read on to learn more. 

What Is A Torch Down Roofing Membrane?

Torch Down Roofing

Torch down roofing membranes are one of the most effective yet affordable types of rolled roofing materials commonly found on low-slope or commercial flat roofs. These durable and thick roofing membranes are made of multiple layers, including thermo-fusible film, modified bitumen, polyester, and a waterproof surface. 

Additionally, torch down roofing membranes are rolled out during the installation and then heated with an open flame so they adhere to the roof deck. This installation method ensures a water and air-tight seal around the corners, making membranes less susceptible to water and moisture damage. Moreover, torch down roofing systems are temperature resistant, as is evident from their installation method, making them an incredible roofing material for properties in high-heat areas. All torch down roofs are made of modified bitumen, but there are two main types for property owners to consider. 

Two Main Types of Torch Down Roofing

When it comes to torch down roofing systems, property owners have the option to choose from two main types, each offering its own set of features and benefits.

1. Smooth Surface Torch Down Roofing

As the name suggests, a smooth surface torch down roof has no granules added to the top layer. Characterized by its sleek, flat appearance, smooth surface torch down roofing membranes offer a modern aesthetic. Moreover, it is relatively easy to clean and maintain. The absence of granules also means that smooth surface torch down roofing may be less prone to algae or moss growth over time.

2. Granulated Surface Torch Down Roofing

True to its name, granulated surface torch down roofing membranes come with granules added to its surface. Opposite to smooth surface torch down roofing, it features a textured surface. The granules embedded on top serve several purposes, including added protection against UV rays, enhanced roof durability, and improved traction for maintenance. 

The Pros and Cons of Torch Down Roofing Membranes

Like any other roofing material, torch down roofing systems also come with advantages and challenges. It’s important to know the pros and cons of torch down roofing membranes before considering one as your roofing option. This section will help you assess all the aspects of this roofing material. 


1. Cost Effectiveness

One of the significant advantages of the torch down roofing system is its affordability. Compared to other roofing materials, such as metal, torch down roofing membranes is relatively cost-effective, making it an attractive option for property owners on a budget.

2. Durability

Torch down roofing systems are known for their durability and longevity. The multiple layers of modified bitumen and reinforcement materials provide excellent protection against the elements, including UV rays, rain, and snow. With proper installation and maintenance, torch down roofs can last for decades, saving you money on repairs and replacements in the long run.

3. Waterproofing

Their installation method and the material composition make torch down roofing material incredibly resistant to water. The heat-welded seams create a seamless waterproof barrier that effectively prevents leaks and water damage to the underlying structure. 

4. Flexibility

The flexibility of torch down roofing materials makes their installation easier for roofers. As said, the membranes are rolled out onto the roof deck with no additional tool required and then heated to create a watertight seams. Also, their flexibility allows them to adapt to the contours of low-slope roofs without compromising their integrity. 


1. Installation Complexity

While torch down roofing materials are known for their excellent durability, they require skilled professionals for proper installation. Since the process involves heating the roofing membranes with an open flame torch, it can be dangerous for DIYers. 

2. Limited Aesthetics

Though torch down roll roofing is cost-effective and functional, it may offer property owners fewer aesthetic options or design choices than other roofing materials. While the smooth or granulated surface options provide some variation, the overall appearance of torch down roofing may be more industrial than decorative. 

How Much Does Torch Down Roofing Cost?

Though torch down roofing is an affordable and cost-effective option, the installation price may vary regionally depending on certain considerations and labor costs. Materials and labor costs are the two main factors that influence the cost of torch down roof installation. If you are considering installing a torch down roofing system, get multiple quotes from different roofers to ensure you are getting a decent price. In general, property owners can expect to pay between $7,000 and $17,000 with an average cost of around $12,000. 

Comparison To Other Flat Roofing Materials

In the competitive market of roofing materials, here is how torch down roofing systems stand compared to other options: 


EPDM is a widely known roofing material for flat or low-slope commercial roofs. Their affordability and durability make them stand out among the crowd. Along with being more cost-effective than torch down roofing membranes, EPDM is easier to install and upkeep compared to a torch down roof. Additionally, it sticks to the roof deck well, protecting it from water seepage, and it stands strong against UV rays and elements. However, torch down is lighter and more flexible compared to EPDM. 

2. TPO

TPO is an incredible flat roofing solution for energy efficiency and heat reflectivity. While a torch down roofing membrane also provides some level of heat resistance, TPO may offer better thermal performance overall. Moreover, unlike torch down roofs, TPO is available in a variety of colors and thicknesses, allowing you to choose the durability level and style that best fits your needs. However, torch down roofing systems are more cost effective than TPO. 

3. PVC 

PVC is known for its exceptional chemical resistance properties, which make it a reliable roofing option in commercial and industrial settings. While torch down roofing membranes may also provide flat roof owners with chemical resistance, it may be less effective compared to PVC roofs. However, for property owners tight on budget, torch down roofs can be more effective because PVC is generally more costly and can require frequent maintenance. 

Is Torch Down Roofing the Right Option For You?

Now that we have explored the types, features, benefits, and potential alternatives, you might be wondering if a torch down roofing system is right for you. Consider the following factors to decide whether a torch down roll roof is a good fit. 

1. Property Type

Torch down roofs are generally installed on buildings, shops, sheds, warehouses, and retail spaces with flat roofs. Torch down roofing is a reliable, durable, and cost-effective solution for such roof types. 

2. Budget

If you’re working within a limited budget, a torch down roofing membrane offers affordability without sacrificing quality. Compared to some alternatives like metal or PVC, torch down roofs have a lower upfront cost, making them a reliable roofing option.

3. Durability Requirements

If you prioritize durability and longevity, torch down roofing membranes are a solid option. With its multiple layers of modified bitumen and other materials, torch down roofs can withstand harsh weather conditions, UV exposure, and foot traffic, ensuring long-term protection for your property.

Final Thoughts

Based on everything in this article, we hope you can make an informed decision for your property. Torch down roofs are cost-effective yet durable roofing options for a variety of commercial and industrial buildings. 

Offering you the longevity that your roof needs, torch down roofing materials can give you peace of mind for the next few decades. However, since installing torch down roofs is dangerous for DIYers, consider hiring skilled roofing professionals for your roof installation. 

Contact A. Fricker Roofing & Waterproofing In Tulsa, OK, For Your Flat Roof Installation

If you are considering installing a new roof or replacing an existing one, contact the roofing professionals at A. Fricker Roofing & Waterproofing in Tulsa, OK. The roofers at the company are proficient at handling any commercial roofing project, including commercial roof installation, repair, or roof replacement. Contact us today at (918) 402-7167 and consult a roofing professional for your flat roofing needs.