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What are The Different Flat Roofing Material Types?

Different Types of Flat Roof Materials

While many homes feature pitched roofs, you might come across some with flat roofs. Flat roofs are not only cost-effective but also require minimal maintenance, making them an ideal choice for contemporary homes. When considering flat roof types, it's crucial to select the right flat roofing material to ensure durability and longevity of the structure.

Flat roofs have gained popularity in commercial buildings and modern homes due to their practicality and versatility. They offer usable space that can serve various purposes, including reducing heat absorption through the application of reflective roof coatings (which can lead to significant energy savings), creating outdoor living areas, installing green roofs, and mounting solar panels. However, selecting the right material for your flat roof can be challenging, as different materials come with varying costs, durability levels, and maintenance needs. Several technologies have emerged in recent years and are shaping the future of the roofing industry. In this article, we will explore three types of materials for flat roofing, along with their advantages and disadvantages.


Built-Up Roof (BUR)

The traditional hot-tar-and-gravel roof consists of three or more layers of waterproof material, which are alternating with hot tar and then ballasted with a layer of smooth river stone. Initially, these roofs were made of tar paper, but nowadays, they are increasingly incorporating more advanced materials such as fiberglass membranes.



Gravel serves as an effective fire retardant, making it a desirable choice.

It adds an appealing aesthetic for windows and decks with a view of the roof.

It’s the cheapest of the roof varieties.



Very heavy.

Joists sometimes have to be strengthened.

It emits strong odors and creates a messy installation process.

Installation is not recommended for occupied homes.

It’s not suitable for DIY installation and locating leaks can be challenging.

Gravel can clog gutters and scuppers.


Modified Bitumen Roof

A single-ply rolled roof, resembling ice-and-water shield but with a mineral-based wear surface, is commonly used. Torch-down systems require heating the adhesive while unrolling the material. Alternatively, newer peel-and-stick systems are considered safer and simpler to install.



Homeowners can install peel-and-stick material themselves.

Its light-colored mineral surface reflects heat, leading to reduced energy bills.

Its price falls in the middle range compared to other roofing options.



Torch-down application is considered a fire hazard and is not recommended for occupied buildings.

It lacks the scuff or tear resistance typically found in rubber-membrane roofs.


Rubber Membrane Roof

EPDM, short for ethylene propylene diene monomer, is a genuine rubber material. This durable single-ply membrane resembles an inner tube but is designed to withstand damage from sunlight. EPDM can be mechanically anchored using fasteners, ballasted with stone, or glued in place.



The material is relatively lightweight yet highly resistant to scuffs and tears.

Homeowner-friendly installation.

Leaks are easy to patch.



The standard black material absorbs heat, while light-colored coatings, recommended in warm climates, can increase the cost by 30% or more.

It’s more vulnerable to punctures than other choices.

Choosing the appropriate flat roof materials from a wide array of material types is crucial for ensuring the durability and longevity of your roofing, especially when considering the specific needs of a flat roof. The contractor recommended a durable type of flat roof material for your building's renovation project.

Flat roofing offer a cost-effective, low-maintenance solution for protecting your home. However, it’s crucial to consult with a roofing professional to assess your specific roofing requirements and determine the most suitable type of material for your flat roof.

There are various roofing material types available for different types of roofs, including flat roof material options. Exploring the diverse range of flat roofing materials reveals numerous choices suited for various flat roof types. Contractors often assess the specific needs of a project to determine the most suitable flat roofing material among the available types. Understanding the distinct characteristics of flat roofing materials aids in selecting the appropriate type for a particular flat roof installation.

If you are looking for a roofing contractor for your upcoming home renovation projects at New America Construction we provide roofing estimates for all NJ homeowners.

Call us for more information 973-804-9400 

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