Whether or not you have experience with roofing projects, you’re probably aware that the flat roof of a commercial building must be handled differently than other types of roofs. It’s precisely because the roofs of most commercial buildings are flat that they have different needs, in maintenance, care, and of course, repair. While in some cases, it can be easier to deal with a commercial roof, in others, it can be significantly more challenging. Here are five of the most important things you should know before beginning any commercial flat roof repair:
Understand Why Your Roof Is Flat
Many people don’t give any consideration to why commercial buildings usually have flat roofs, but have you ever thought about it? What benefits does a flat roof provide to the owner of a building? Why do almost all commercial buildings make use of them, from grocery stores to factories to hospitals? While the majority of residential buildings have sloped roofing.
As you may suspect, the primary reason is cost-effectiveness, however, there is a lot more to it. Building a sloped roof requires a lot more materials, which can be an unnecessary expenditure when your building is required to be practical but not flashy. There’s also another practical reason for commercial buildings to have flat roofs: in many municipalities, there are height restrictions on buildings. You can maximize the space available to you if you simply keep your roof flat. There’s an aesthetic element to all of this as well: try to picture your local grocery store trying to pull off a sloped roof!
It should be noted that a flat roof is never completely flat. There always has to be at least a slight slant to it to allow for proper water drainage.
Know the Different Types of Commercial Flat Roofs
When you’re constructing a commercial building, it’s not as simple as just ordering a “commercial flat roof.” Actually, there are several types of flat roofs that you can consider. Which one you choose depends on your budget and requirements, but no matter which, you’ll have to consider things like drainage and UV protection. Here are a few of the options available to you:
Built-Up Roof System (BUR)
Also known as the “tar and gravel” roof by some, the built-up roof system was one of the most common types of commercial flat roofs for decades. This particular style of roof is one of the oldest types of roofing still in common use, and its continued popularity speaks to its effectiveness and durability. The name “built-up roof” comes from the fact that this type of roof is literally “built up” out of layers of tar and asphalt paper. The layers of roofing material are then reinforced with fiberglass matting. Finally, another thin layer of tar is added to the top of the roof, which is then covered by a layer of aggregate stone.
Advantages of this particular roofing system include durability—these types of roof can last for up to 50 years with proper maintenance—but the chief disadvantage is cost and fumes. Because it requires many hours of labor, this is one of the most expensive flat commercial roofing systems to install.
Metal Panel Roof System
If you’re looking to save on costs, a metal panel roof system may be the choice you should make. It is very simple in its design: metal panels with a special sealant between the joints and a neoprene seal anywhere there are washers in place. These roofs are cheap and have a relatively short lifespan, and so they are usually only used for warehouses and factories.
A relatively new product to the industry, single ply has quickly become one of the most popular choices. The synthetic membrane is applied in a single layer, is flexible and lightweight, and is UV resistant. Single-ply roofing is fairly economical to install, depending on the type of membrane used and preparation needed. It has a comparable lifespan, depending on millimeter thickness used.
Understand Your Warranty
Most commercial roofs are under some type of warranty after they’re constructed. Your warranty can last anywhere from 5 years all the way up to 20 years. If your roof is still under warranty, you won’t have to worry about repair for most minor issues: it will be covered. Other, larger issues, and certain unusual circumstances, may not be covered. If you are in an older building, it may also not be covered. Do some research on, and try to understand, the warranty that covers your roof (if you have one).
Fixing Minor Issues
Now that you have some awareness of different types—and the purpose—of commercial flat roofs, let’s discuss some of the more common minor issues. Both residential and commercial roofs are prone to leaks, and even the most sophisticated roofing technology occasionally requires repair. In some cases, you’ll be able to fix problems yourself. Under most circumstances, however, you’ll want to seek out the services of a qualified professional.
One common example of a problem with a commercial flat roof is a leak. If you have noticed a leak in the roof of your building, the first thing you must do is locate it. Doing so can be relatively easy, or difficult, depending on where the leak is located. Try to tape off an area about two feet around in either direction from where the dripping is coming from. Once you have done that, you can search the roof for any signs of damage. Occasionally, you’ll easily find an obvious hole. However, more commonly, you’ll need to call a professional to help locate the leak for you. Contact a professional at Interstate Roofing if you are having trouble finding the source of your leak.
Finding a Qualified Professional Roofer
With most elements of commercial flat roof repair, you’ll need to find a competent professional to do the job for you. Finding one involves a fair amount of research. While there are many roof service professionals out there, choosing the right one involves a little homework. Read online reviews, check references, and talk to other satisfied customers. You will also want to check what, if any, certifications your prospective roofer has.
If you are in the Portland area, Interstate Roofing is your best option. They have earned the highest possible certification level from GAF, which is the largest roofing manufacturer in North America. This status, combined with their other awards and years of experience, make them a top choice for commercial flat roof repair in and around Portland, Oregon.