Home Improvement Pros

Flat Roofing on Homes in Minnesota: Is it a Good Idea or a Bad Idea?

There are advantages and disadvantages for having a flat roof, instead of a slope roof, on residential homes in Minnesota. Slope roofs are designed to shed water where flat roofs need a drain system installed. Even though these roofs are said to be flat, they actually have minimal slope in them to help with the water draining, or when the roof is installed the drain hole area will be lower a bit to ensure water to flow to that drain.

Many MN homeowners, apartment buildings and business owners are beginning to go with flat roofs due to the lower cost, which is one advantage of flat roofs, and for the “green” living benefits. These roofs can be used for more than to cover the building like a garden or sitting area. They can also be useful for buildings in areas that need heavy HVAC units or other equipment installed onto an elevated flat surface, instead taking up space on the ground.

flat roofing

Think of Flat Roof Space as Usable Space

Unlike a steeply pitched roof, most of the square footage of a flat roof is available for use. This offers the option to add a unique application such as a rooftop patio, garden or green roof. Solar panels also are popular among homeowners and are much easier to install and hide from view on a flat roof.

Any of these applications will require certain design considerations (such as adding guardrails and other safety protections and/or using more heavy duty materials to handle roof traffic and weight). Special permits may be required from your local planning & zoning department, but these efforts may result in an entirely new feature to enjoy on your home.

Flat roofs are a cost-effective option for homes, thanks to the generations of use and development of flat roofing in commercial construction over the past decades. Recent advances in modern materials like TPO and innovative installation techniques has lead flat roofing to become a viable and long-lasting alternative to slope roofs. By choosing the proper materials, hiring an experienced professional to build and install the flat roof, and committing to regular inspection and maintenance, homeowners may count on many years of reliable performance when selecting a flat roof solution.

The Most Typical Material used for Flat Roofs in Minnesota

EPDM (short for ethylene propylene diene monomer) is a true rubber. The durable black material resembles an inner tube, but it’s engineered to resist damage from sunlight. EPDM can be mechanically anchored with fasteners, ballasted with stone, or glued. Not all flat roofs have a longer life than what some sloped roof materials can give. Most flat roof materials can last about 15-20 years before they need replaced.

EPDM diagram

Flat roofs generally can be less costly to install and maintain than sloped roofs. Using higher quality roofing materials like TPO or PVC membrane can make your flat roof virtually maintenance free and their rugged durability helps to reduce future repair costs. Plus you also get energy savings in the hot summer months because of the reflective white surfaces of TPO and PVC roofing membranes.

One advantage of flat roofs in areas that get an extremely heavy amount of snow is that it doesn’t fall off the roof onto sidewalks and driveways like sloped roofs. However, if really heavy snow and ice pile up on the roof it must be removed cautiously, so it won’t tear or damage the roof.

Many of the potential problems a flat roof may attract such as water pooling, leakage and resulting rot or damage are due to poor installation or poor maintenance. Pay careful attention to the roof throughout its lifecycle to help prevent these problems in the first place.

Essential Tips to Make Your Flat Roof Last

It is necessary for homeowners with flat roofs to regularly have their roof inspected and maintained. This will make a significant difference in extending its reliability and longevity. A basic inspection is suggested annually and after any severe storm. You’ll be well advised to only use a roofing professional who is fully versed in rooftop safety techniques and precautions.

Flat roofs should be repaired, installed, built and designed by professionals. However, there is a lot that can go wrong when someone that does not understand the principles of flat roofs works on them. Certain roof materials like TPO and PVC should only be repaired by a roofing contractor. There are some materials that are not compatible together and because of the way flat roofs are designed, sometimes leaks can be difficult to locate. You should always have a professional inspect your roof and repair leaks.

Homeowners Flat Roof Inspection Checklist

In normal circumstances, wait until 48 hours after a rainfall to clean and inspect the roof. Any water should have evaporated by this time. If it hasn’t, that’s a sign of a problem with roof drain parts or the drainage system. To help see where any water might be collecting, clean any debris from the flat roof surface, including sweeping or gathering fallen leaves or branches and clearing any loose debris or gravel that may block drainage holes.

Inspect flashings around the chimney and skylights. If the flashing material is cracked or rusty, you will want to have it repaired as soon as possible. Inspect the integrity of the top layer of protection, checking for any damage, puncturing, rips or wrinkling of the membranes. Any damage should be repaired immediately to return watertight protection to the roof and prevent further deterioration. If the roof membrane needs to be repaired or replaced, consult a roofing professional for proper application over the surface of the roofing material.

The Simple Solution to Maintaining and Prolonging the Life of a Flat Roof

Call Twin Construction, LLC at (763) 242-2103 for flat roof repairs, maintenance, or inspections and we will provide the answers and solutions for any flat roof problem that you encounter. We also can perform annual inspections and maintenance that will help you avoid problems with potential leaks and water damage to your property.

flat roofing in MN

Flat Roof Repair or Flat Roof Replacement for Commercial Property Owners

Twin Construction, LLC also has a Commercial Flat Roof division that repairs or replaces any type of commercial roof in Minnesota. Roofing installations include flat roofing with EPDM rubber roofing, PVC roofing, TPO roofing, as well as built-up roofing. We also provide installation of metal roofing including: standing seam metal roofing, metal shingles, rubber laminated shingles, architectural shingles, and of course, flat roofing repairs and flat roof inspections for commercial roofs in Minnesota. Click here to visit our Commercial Flat Roofing website.