Different Types of Flat Roof Material Options


Knowing the type of flat roofing material used on your building will not stop your leaks but it will help you make better decisions about maintenance, roof repair and/or replacing an old flat roof system.  It will also help you communicate and relate better to potential roofing contractors as you go through the interview process of hiring a roofing company for your project. Read on to know about different types of flat roof material options.

Common types of flat roofs

One of the most common reasons flat roofs are so common is because they are an economical roofing option for residential and industrial buildings. Flat roofs provide usable space to install solar panels, rooftop air conditioning units or verdant rooftop gardens.  Below, you will find information on different types of flat roofs. This will help you evaluate the pros and cons of each flat roofing material so that you can make an informed decision.


PVC roofing membranes are constructed from a continuous filament lattice called a scrim which is laminated with UV resistant PVC thermoplastic. PVC membranes are a modern and very effective roofing material. PVC roofing membranes offer an impressive set of advantages, unmatched by any other flat roofing material. Among the most notable benefits of PVC are strength, durability, resistance to wind, moisture, fire, and chemicals. Additionally, PVC roofs are consistently chosen by homeowners looking to install an Eco-friendly system over their flat roofs.

Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO)

Thermoplastic Polyolefin also known as TPO shares many of the positive characteristics of PVC roofing material. It is fabricated from polypropylene and ethyl propylene rubbers and typically white in color and. TPO is a perfectly flat, single piece of membrane and due to the white color of the roofing material, it is very good at reflecting the sun’s heat, reducing the amount of money required to cool buildings that use it. It can be either fully adhered or mechanically attached to the roof deck. TPO is ideal for the roofs that have odd shapes and objects, because it is extremely bendable and weldable without sacrificing durability. There is an added benefit of Thermoplastic Polyolefin that it is 100% fully recyclable!

Modified Bitumen Roof

Modified Bitumen is a flat roofing material that is constructed in layers, although the petroleum-based substance between the plies provides a rubberized appearance and properties.  One of the significant benefits of Modified Bitumen roofing is its ability to handle regular foot traffic. It is also relatively easy to install compared to BUR, as it typically does not require the use of heat. It is incredibly durable, but it is not reflective, so if you are seeking the most energy-efficient flat roofing material you should consider other systems.

Bur or Build Up Roofs

Built up roofs have been in use for many years. This traditional hot-tar-and-gravel roof is built from three or more plies of waterproof material alternated with hot tar and ballasted by a layer of smooth river stone. These roofs are installed using several layers of a special type of roofing felt that has been asphalt impregnated and embedded in bitumen applied with a hot mop. The hot-applied asphalt or coal tar pitch blends with the bitumen-soaked roof felt and creates a monolithic roof membrane. The roof felt/asphalt tar layering is repeated in overlapping layers until the assembly is two to four plies in thickness.

EPDM Rubber Roof

EPDM is a true rubber. The durable single ply membrane material resembles an inner tube, but it is engineered to resist damage from sunlight. This Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer can be mechanically anchored with fasteners, ballasted with stone, or glued.

James Kate Construction can help you install your ideal roofing system

So, how do you find the best possible flat roofing material that checks all the boxes on your list of “must-haves”? The best answer is to work with an experienced roofing contractor who takes the time to listen to your needs and collaborate with you.  Get in touch with James Kate Construction today to schedule your free initial roof inspection and discover how our skilled crews and legendary service will make all the difference in your roof.

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