Flat Roofing: which material is best?

Posted on by Protech Roofing Team

The roof is an important feature of any home, and it’s vital that you’re clued up on the pros and cons of available materials so you can make a choice that’s right for you. With so many flat roofing materials on offer these days, it can be difficult to know what to choose for your domestic or commercial building. This guide aims to examine the most widely used flat roofing materials on the market to help you decide which material is best for you and your needs.

Asphalt-based Roofs

Description: Asphalt (bitumen) is a viscous substance, formed from crude oils. There are several types of asphalt roofing, such as felt and mastic. They often possess excellent waterproofing properties.

Installation: It has some danger attached to installation, as it often requires the use of an open flame and hot asphalt.

Durability & flexibility: Durable and firm, but brittle and inflexible, especially in heat.

Environmental properties: Not recyclable. This material is formed from distillation of crude oil hydrocarbons, so not the most environmentally friendly.

UV/Heat resistance: Asphalt is susceptible to damage and degradation from UV sunlight and heat, which can lead to weakening of the material and possible leaking over time. These materials also require thermal protection to be applied after installation.

Life expectancy: 15 – 30 years for felt, and up to 60 years for mastic asphalt.


Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM)

Description: This is part of the single ply group of flat roofing, which are a class of flexible, durable and synthetic membranes. EPDM is better known as rubber roofing and is available in a variety of thicknesses.

Installation: It is often supplied in rolls, some of which are large enough to cover an entire roof with just one sheet. This eliminates the need for any sealing joints, thus making it water tight.

Durability & flexibility: EPDM is very elastic and flexible, with strong ability to expand or contract in varying temperatures. It’s also tough and durable, with a strong ability to withstand the elements or any foot traffic. Punctures can occur but are fixable.

Environmental properties: The most environmentally sustainable flat roofing choice, according to Greenpeace.

UV/Heat resistance: EPDM is UV stable in UV and under intense thermal conditions,  meaning it does not require any protection measures e.g. a layer of gravel.

Life expectancy: Long-lasting with a 20-40 year life expectancy.


Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

Description: Like EPDM, PVC is also a single ply membrane, made from plastic polymers. An appealing trait is its availability in a wide range of colours. One type of PVC membrane is Sarnafil, a Swiss brand, which has a lacquered top coat which offers resistance to industrial waste and air pollution.

Installation: The joints of PVC sheets are heat welded together, forming very strong seams that make it incredibly watertight.

Durability & flexibility: PVC is highly durable and flexible due to the presence of plasticisers.  

Environmental properties: The manufacture of PVC does have some environmental concerns, however most PVC membranes are energy efficient, as they are very reflective of the sun’s rays. PVC is difficult to dispose of or recycle, but some schemes are in place to tackle this.

UV/Heat resistance: Resistant to UV radiation, along with other types of weathering. Some PVCs are self-extinguishing, such as Sarnafil.

Life expectancy: 20 – 30 years. Sarnafil PVC possesses a life expectancy of up to 40 years.
At Protech Roofing, we have years of experience delivering high-standard roof installations throughout Leeds and surrounding areas. We are trained at installing a variety of different roofs, including flat roofing materials EPDM and Sarnafil. Get in touch with our team today to discuss your project.

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