Flat Roof Options – The Pros and Cons

June 18 2019 0comment

Flat Roof Options – The Pros and Cons

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Flat roofs have improved radically in recent years, thanks largely to advances in materials development which have combined to offer building owners a wider range of choices than ever before.  However, with the increase in options choosing which would be best for your premises can become a little more challenging as there are now so many factors to consider. 

Here at D-marc, we’ve put together a handy table that you can use to examine the advantages and disadvantages of some of the roofing types so that you can make an informed decision and ensure that you’ve made the right choice for your building.



EPDM Rubber

Built-Up (BUR)


Torch-on felt roofing uses 3 layers of modified bitumen, melt-welding them onto the roof surface using a blowtorch.  Felt roofing is versatile as it can be used on both flat and pitched roofs and has been the traditional option for many years.

EPDM Rubber has become a popular option in recent years due to the advantages it offers.  It’s made from very strong rubber and is easily installed in one sheet, with no need for joins.

A BUR roof uses hot tar and gravel which is installed in layers.  It’s not the most common type of roof here in the UK as it performs better in warmer climates.


Strength – although not the strongest roof type, felt is durable enough to withstand the weather and is resistant to tears and leaks.

Cost-efficient – this is often the most inexpensive option.  Rolls of roofing felt are relatively inexpensive but must be installed by a professional roofing contractor.

Strength – EPDM rubber is a strong roof covering, withstanding both hot and cold temperatures and extreme weather conditions.  It’s also fire-retardant.

Durable – EPDM has a life expectancy of up to 50 years, making it the longest lasting choice.

Eco-friendly – EPDM is non-toxic and durable and easier to dispose of.  These roofs are green-system compatible, with insulating properties which help save energy.

Installation – is easy and can be done in one large sheet.   What’s more becoming a certified installer involves just one day of training.

Low Maintenance – EPDM is low maintenance and deters moss and algae growth, meaning it just needs removal of debris and regular inspections.

Aesthetic Appeal – because it is installed in one sheet, EPDM looks neat and tidy.

Resistance – the gravel ballast on this type of roof makes it very fire-retardant.  This type of roof is also UV resistant which makes it an ideal choice in hotter climates.

Aesthetics – the top layer of gravel means that this type of roof can look really good on a building.


Short Lifespan – felt roofs have a lifespan of around 15 – 20 years which is less than other flat roofing options.

Installation – must be done by a professional roofing contractor which adds to the initial expense.

Repairs – when repairs are necessary, they often look patchy and untidy.

Durability – although it’s strong, felt roofing is not considered as weatherproof as other options.  Hot temperatures, in particular, can cause the felt to become brittle and the surface becomes worn quickly.

Damage – can sometimes occur, as with any other roofing membrane.  Although EPDM is durable, it’s not indestructible and may tear.  However, tears can be easily repaired with a small repair kit.

Weight – due to the materials involved, this type of roof is heavy and not suitable for many buildings.  Buildings which feature this type of roof must be reinforced so that they are strong enough to withstand the weight.

Lifespan – this type of roof will typically last 10 – 15 years, although many roofers will advise that (with regular maintenance) it can last up to 30 years.

Messy – the number of layers necessary make this messy to install and it’s not recommended for properties that are already in use.  We’ve reported in the past on the problems that arise when seagulls and other large birds pick up the gravel and drop them from the air, damaging cars on the ground.

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