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A flat roof is a popular choice for many homeowners and businesses due to its unique characteristics. It is a type of roof that is completely or almost horizontal with a slight slope for drainage purposes. Flat roofs are commonly found in commercial buildings, but they are also becoming more popular in residential properties.

With this type of roof, there are several options to choose from, each with its pros and cons. In this article, we will explore the different flat roof types and their benefits and drawbacks.

Built-Up Roof (BUR)

Built-up roofs are also known as tar and gravel roofs. These are one of the oldest types of flat roofs.

They consist of multiple layers of bitumen (a sticky, black, and viscous liquid) alternated with layers of reinforcing fabrics or felts. These layers are then topped off with a layer of gravel for protection.


BUR is relatively inexpensive to install compared to other flat roof options. This makes it a popular choice for budget-conscious homeowners and businesses.


The multiple layers of bitumen make BUR roofs highly durable and able to withstand heavy foot traffic and extreme weather conditions. They also have a long lifespan, with some lasting up to 40 years.

High Maintenance

One of the main drawbacks of BUR is the high maintenance required. The gravel layer needs to be regularly inspected and replaced, and any cracks or damage to the layers below must be promptly repaired to prevent leaks.

Modified Bitumen Roofing

Modified bitumen roofs are an evolution of BUR, using a similar layered approach but with added polymer modifiers for increased durability. These roofs come in two types: torch-down and peel-and-stick.

Easy Installation

Modified bitumen roofs are relatively easy to install, making them a popular choice for DIY enthusiasts. However, it is still recommended to have a professional install the roof for proper installation and maximum longevity.


These roofs can be installed on both low-slope and steep-slope roofs, making them a versatile option for various building designs.

Prone to Damage

While modified bitumen is more durable than BUR, it can still be prone to damage from heavy foot traffic or extreme weather conditions. Regular maintenance and prompt repairs are necessary to ensure a long lifespan for this type of roof.

EPDM Roofing

Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM) roofs are made of a synthetic rubber material and are popular for their cost-effectiveness and ease of installation.

Low Cost

EPDM roofing is one of the most affordable flat roof options. This makes them a popular choice for homeowners and businesses on a tight budget.


The lightweight nature of EPDM makes it an ideal choice for buildings with structural limitations as it exerts little weight on the structure. It is also easier to transport and install compared to other flat roof types.

Susceptible to Punctures

While EPDM roofs are durable, they can be punctured by sharp objects or heavy foot traffic. This can lead to leaks and require prompt repairs to prevent further damage.

PVC Roofing

PVC (polyvinyl chloride) roofs are made of a single layer of thermoplastic material and are known for their energy efficiency.

Energy Efficient

PVC roofs have a reflective surface that helps to reduce cooling costs in hot climates. This makes them a popular choice for businesses looking to save on energy expenses.

Long Lifespan

PVC roofs have a long lifespan of up to 30 years, making them a durable and cost-effective choice in the long run.

High Cost

PVC roofs are one of the most expensive flat roof options due to their energy efficiency and durability. This can make them less feasible for budget-conscious homeowners or businesses.

TPO Roofing

Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO) roofs are a newer type of flat roof, gaining popularity for their energy efficiency and durability.

Energy Efficient

Like PVC roofs, TPO roofs have a reflective surface that helps to reduce cooling costs. They also have added insulation properties, making them even more energy-efficient.


While TPO roofs may have a higher initial cost than EPDM or BUR, they are still more affordable than PVC roofs. This makes them a popular option for those looking to balance energy efficiency and cost.

Prone to Shrinkage

One potential downside of TPO roofs is that they can shrink over time, leading to gaps and potential leaks. Regular inspections and repairs can help prevent this issue.

Green Roofing

Green roofs, also known as living roofs, are a type of flat roof that is covered with vegetation and plants.

Environmental Benefits

Green roofs offer environmental benefits such as improved air quality, reduced urban heat island effect, and stormwater management. They can also help reduce energy usage by providing additional insulation.

High Maintenance

One major drawback of green roofing is the high maintenance required. The vegetation and plants need to be regularly maintained to prevent overgrowth, which can damage the roof structure.


Green roofing is one of the most expensive flat roof options due to the additional costs of installation and maintenance. However, it can offer long-term cost savings in energy usage and environmental benefits.

Solar Roofing

Solar roofing is a type of flat roof that incorporates solar panels to generate electricity.

Renewable Energy Source

One of the main benefits of solar roofing is its use of renewable energy. This can help reduce carbon footprint and energy costs for homeowners and businesses.

Requires Professional Installation

Similar to SPF roofs, solar roofing requires professional installation and specialized equipment. This makes it a more expensive option.

Limited Lifespan

Solar panels typically have a lifespan of 25-30 years, which may require replacement before the roof itself needs to be replaced. This can add additional costs in the long run.

It’s important to find reputable solar providers in your local area to ensure proper installation, maintenance and replacement of your solar roofing if needed. For instance, if you live in Fresno, you should also find solar companies in Fresno to ensure that they are accessible.

Explore the Different Flat Roof Types

Each flat roof types have its own set of pros and cons. When considering a flat roof for your home or business, it’s important to weigh these factors and choose the type that best fits your needs and budget.

Regular maintenance is key to ensuring the longevity of any flat roof, so be sure to schedule inspections and prompt repairs to avoid potential issues in the future. With proper care, a flat roof can provide a durable and cost-effective option for your building.

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