Flat roofs have a reputation for leaking but they are a widely-used construction technique because they're cost-effective to build. And if they're well-maintained you can expect yours to last for many years.
How to maintain your flat roof
Two common problems faced by owners of flat roofed properties are the build-up of moss or silt and the free movement of improperly-secured gravel chippings or pea shingle from the surface.
These issues are not something that you should encounter in the natural lifespan of your flat roof so should be taken as a sign warranting investigation. Flat roofs made with asphalt or tar paper may have a life expectancy of as little as 10 or 12 years, asphalt shingles can survive for around 35 years, whereas a well-made metal or slate pitched roof can last as long as 150 years. Whichever type of roof you have, it’s vital that you obtain adequate home insurance cover in case your shelter ever begins to leak.
Make sure your home insurance covers your flat roof. With HomeProtect insuring a flat roof costs less than you think!
Gravel flat roofs and pea shingle flat roofs
Gravel and pea shingle have two primary purposes on a flat roof; they provide a 'loading coat' and they afford UV protection. As ballast, the gravel will help anchor the material underneath and lower the risk of it being blown off in high winds. As protection, the stones absorb some of the sun's rays, preventing the roof material from becoming brittle over time.
Both of these key functions can be impaired if the gravel has not been sufficiently fixed to the surface material. If it is not secure, then both functions can be negated completely, allowing under secured patches to catch the breeze and over-exposed areas to suffer from the sun.
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Flat roof surface material
The shingle, when first laid, should be bonded properly to the surface material. This is usually achieved by being laid on mastic asphalt roofs while the mastic is still warm, or by being fixed down with a bitumen adhesive. Simply scattering stones across an unprepared or dry roof will not provide a surface that will withstand the test of time, and can be seen as a sign of poor quality workmanship.
It is important when getting a flat roof fitted, or re-fitted, that you make sure to use reputable tradesmen such as a member of the Flat Roofing Alliance. Because flat roofs are more vulnerable to wind uplift than a pitched roof, if the gravel is not there to weigh it down then the nails fastening the material to the timber are the only things that stand between your roof and Mother Nature!
Managing moss or silt on a flat roof
If you find that moss or silt is building up on your flat roof, then it might be an indicator that the roof has not been built at the proper incline – yes, even flat roofs should have a slight incline to facilitate sufficient drainage. The incline should be somewhere between 1 in 40 and 1 in 80, to prevent rainwater pooling. Vegetation and moss can indicate that water is being held in sufficient quantity to allow growth and this can affect the timber sub-surface, ultimately leading to warping, ponding and internal leakage.
Insuring a flat roof
Because flat felt roofing is seen as more vulnerable than standard pitched tiled roofs, you may find that obtaining house insurance is more difficult. Insurers can be reluctant or even unable to cover a property where more than 33% of the roof is flat because of the additional risk perceived. On top of this, many of the materials used to construct a flat roof deviate from the insurance industry’s preferred standard materials. Non-standard materials can also impact on your insurance.
However, at HomeProtect, we can provide you with an immediate online quote for flat roof home insurance, regardless of the proportion of your roof that is flat, and even if it is made from non-standard materials.
Frequently asked question
What is Acrypol?
Actpol is a waterproof coating used in flat roof repairs. Acrypol is often used for patching repairs and can be applied in all weather conditions. It is an effective waterproofing solution for emergency flat roof repairs.
Simply easy to use website from an insurer that provides cover for flat roofed properties. - Trustpilot Monday, 23 January 2017