Like most things in life, there is a time and place for flat roofs. Although some will argue that flat roofs have no redeeming qualities, there are good reasons why so many homes and buildings across Atlanta are covered with flat roofs.
When Flat Roofs Make Sense - The Pros
Flat roofs are a good choice for cooler climates, where space is limited and where installation costs need to be minimized.
A flat roof is more effective at capturing heat from the sun than a pitched roof. Regardless of the time of day, the entire flat roof is always exposed to the sun. As a result, the roof can capture the sun's energy all day, making it a nice heat source for the rest of your home or building during the colder seasons of the year.
In addition, the installation of a flat roof is relatively inexpensive, compared to a pitched roof. A pitched roof requires engineered trusses or rafters, while a flat roof can be supported by simple horizontal beams. The cost difference in materials, assembled trusses versus straight beams, is significant. Installing trusses also requires more labor, which drives the cost of a pitched roof up even further.
Flat roofs also give you more bang for the buck in terms of livable and usable space. While a pitched roof adds cost during installation and creates attic space, this space is often not an area that you can occupy. On the other hand, a flat roof allows you to extend your interior ceiling practically all the way to the roof. You can also create recreational space on top of a flat roof, if it is designed to support the additional weight.
When Flat Roofs Don't Make Sense - The Cons
Flat roofs are not the ideal choice in hotter climates, as they absorb more of the sun's heat than a pitched roof and pass it on to the building below.
A flat roof is also not a good choice if you are not willing to perform periodic maintenance on it. By nature, a flat roof, has greater potential to hold water than a pitched roof. If water ponds on a flat roof, even in small areas, it can enter the seams in the roof and cause further damage to the roof and other structures. So, flat roofs should be inspected routinely for ponding water, and should be cleaned and repaired as needed to ensure water can drain properly.
Flat roofs can also have shorter life spans than pitched roofs, depending on the type of materials used. There are many material options for flat roofs, such as modified bitumen, TPO, PVC or EPDM rubber. You need to review the options with your roofing contractor to understand how long the materials and flat roof may last. A common range is 10-15 years.
Finally, if a flat roof is not properly maintained and becomes severely damaged, the effort to replace it can be costly.
Should You Make Your Atlanta Roof a Flat Roof?
There is definitely a time and place for a flat roof, but it does not fit in all situations. You must consider the pros and cons thoroughly before you can decide if a flat roof is the best solution for your Atlanta home or building. If you need help making the decision between a pitched or flat roof, we invite you to contact us today for a free consultation.