There is always a danger that items or spaces that remain mostly out of sight also remain out of mind. The same could also be said about the roofs of our properties. It pays to take the time and care to perform maintenance checks to ensure there are no small problems developing that can escalate into major issues.
For anyone unsure as to how to maintain a flat roof, read our comprehensive maintenance guide to learn everything you need to know.
How to Maximise the Lifespan of a Flat Roof
The key to getting the most out of your flat roof is to organise a regular maintenance schedule. No roof lasts forever and regardless of its size or pitch, checks are always a requirement to ensure any damage is repaired in a timely fashion to avoid costly bills.
- 6-Monthly Checks: Check the roof twice a year, taking note of any effects of seasonal change. You should be able to spot any small issues developing before they become a larger problem. You can then think about any repairs that need to take place to keep it in top condition.
- Debris Removal: Leaves, twigs and dirt (mould, algae) will always collect on a roof, no matter what time of year. You should not allow this to build up to the point where it begins to block gutters and creates water pooling. Clean out the gutters and any other drainage areas to allow water to flow freely after heavy rainfall.
- Surrounding Foliage: Some properties are positioned close to trees, which increases the likelihood of debris falling onto the roof. Keep them cut down and trimmed when possible to lower the number of times you must remove the build-up of leaves and twigs etc.
- Internal Checks: The inside is just as important to keep an eye on as the external surface. Check the ceiling for rising moisture and the spread of damp, as well as any water damage that may have come through from the outside. This is important to remember as, if neglected, it will lead to far bigger problems further down the line.
Checking for any problems on the roof will increase its lifespan and ensure you get the most from your investment.
What Materials are Needed to Maintain a Flat Roof?
Thankfully you don’t need to spend a lot of money investing in the right tools to keep your roof clean and in good condition. The most basic item is a sweeping brush, which enables you to remove excess dirt from the surface. You can also use this in conjunction with a hand brush to clean out the gutters and other drainage areas, always being careful not to overstretch and moving the ladder along accordingly to reach the required spot.
A pressure washer can be a very effective way to clean a flat roof. There are no chemicals involved in this method which makes it an environmentally friendly option. This will help to remove any algae or moss that can’t be so easily removed with a brush.
Lastly, using a chlorine solution wash is one of the faster solutions, while also leaving behind less wear and tear due to it being a much shorter process. What you do have to bear in mind is the chemicals contained in the solution can prove to be toxic for any nearby plants and people with sensitive skin. Always read the instructions carefully before choosing this option.
What are the Common Issues with Flat Roofing?
Every building is different and while certain structures may experience repeat issues of a certain kind, there are common problems that all flat roofs will encounter.
Some will create more serious issues than others but if any are left untreated, then the damage caused to the building could prove to be extremely costly.
Although the title gives the impression of a completely flat, horizontal surface, flat roofs should always feature a mild incline. If this isn’t included in the build, or the slope isn’t steep enough, rainwater can begin to gather in numerous places.
Pooling of water can also occur if the roof has begun to sag in places or the drainage has been blocked and not attended to. If left for too long, the water will eventually damage the protective membrane and leaks will start to appear. This can be resolved by clearing any debris blocking the drainage or increasing the gradient, so any future occurrence of rain can naturally drain from the roof.
EPDM may not have been used as the outer coating for the roof, but it is commonly used as the protective membrane coating. While there are many advantages to this material it can suffer from shrinkage which usually occurs around the edges.
When this happens, the seams start to loosen, and moisture can begin to affect the layer beneath. If the shrinkage is only minimal, repairs are relatively straightforward, otherwise, it can become a costly job.
If moisture becomes trapped between the roof and membrane, this can lead to blistering. This is likely to occur in hotter environments as the moisture has more opportunities to expand. Repairing blisters is a relatively straightforward task for contractors. While unopened blisters aren’t of concern in the short term, those that have cracked leave your roof exposed to the elements and the further issues this can create.
While installing an air conditioning unit into the roof space will prevent it from being an eyesore elsewhere in the house, it can create problems for a flat roof. Installation is key to avoiding issues later down the line caused by condensation and vibrations from the unit.
If this occurs and it isn’t addressed quickly, the wear and tear will eventually lead to leaks in the roof. Following a routine inspection schedule will allow you to identify the issues and if necessary, re-install the unit to correct the problems.
Which Products Help to Patch and Repair Flat Roofing?
It is likely that at some point you will need to deal with an issue that will require repair. Thankfully, many of these will fall at the less serious end of the spectrum. You may just need to find a temporary solution while you source a contractor to visit your property to repair a larger issue. Below are some of the best products to use to patch and repair damages to your flat roof.
The FIX-Rcryl Waterproof Repair Solution can be easily painted on to fill cracks and gaps in the roof and is ideal for bituminous felt and asphalt roof materials.
You can use Acrypol Plus, an acrylic-based waterproof paint to repair or refurbish leaking roofs. It is more commonly used in fibreglass roofing. Acrypol can also be used for temporary EPDM repairs.
Which Flat Roofing Solution is the Most Durable?
Guarantees will vary depending on the manufacturer and type of material you are purchasing to cover your roof. You also have to take into consideration the immediate environment in the local area. This can have a dramatic effect on the durability of your flat roof. How you maintain the roof over time has enough of an impact to also make a noticeable difference.
Taking all of this into account it's difficult to identify an exact timescale for how long a material will last. However, we can offer an indication of the most durable options to help you compare your chosen material to its longevity.
- Felt Roofing: This is a popular choice for flat roofs that will experience moderate footfall across the duration of their lifespan. Torch-on felt solutions, such as Anderson Toptorch SBS Torch-on Mineral Felt Capsheet, should last between 20-30 years.
- GRP Fibreglass Roofing: Another extremely durable option that has a high level of resistance to damage. Even when repairs are required it can be done quickly and not leave behind any noticeable marks. The CrysticROOF GRP Resin is used in conjunction with CrysticROOF GRP Topcoat to produce a clean and smooth finish. This can come with guarantees for up to 25 years and has been known to last even longer.
- EPDM Rubber Roofing: This material is lightweight and one of the easiest to install onto a flat roof. The expansion properties of the material also mean it can handle high levels of foot traffic. EPDM is expected to last up to 30 years if taken care of correctly. The Fix-R EPDM Membrane is a solid option that can last for over 50 years.