Flat Roof Frequently Asked Questions

Flat roof faqs

Roofing isn’t something that’s the first topic of conversation for most people. We know this. However, it can become a huge problem if it’s ignored for too long, which happens when home and building owners don’t know what to look for or how to maintain their roofs.

Flat roofing is no exception. As it’s a different process from sloped roofing, people aren’t as familiar with how it works or how you fix a flat roof. They might be used to the tear-off and replace concept from shingle roofing.

While a whole tear-off of your flat roof membrane might sometimes be necessary, it’s a messy and expensive process. Leaking is not inevitable with a flat roof. However, it is more common and we’re equipped to deal with it by finding and fixing the problem. Whether that’s a localized leak or you need to have your roof re-covered, we will make it water-tight again.

Here are some of the more frequently asked questions about this process, to help you get acquainted:

Why Would You Recover a Flat Roof and Not Replace It?

There are several good reasons simply to recover a flat roof and only one common reason to tear it off. The one thing that would make it imperative to tear off and start again with your flat roof would be if your insulation is soaked through with moisture.

Generally, insulation is good unless this happens, so there’s really no reason to tear off if your insulation is still good. In fact, tearing it off could make you lose some of your insulation.

Good reasons to recover instead of tear-off are:

  1. Cost – It’s much cheaper to recover than to tear off. There’s a huge labor cost, first of all. It takes more guys to tear it off than to recover it. The disrupted business with all the noise and mess is a second reason it costs money to tear it off. Then there’s the dumpster cost because you are throwing away a lot of material in a tear off. It takes extra time to recover what you have torn off, so that’s more money too.
  2. Disrupted business – We have touched on this. However, because it’s labor-intensive and potentially exposes your building to the elements, it will disrupt the normal flow of business being conducted in your building.
  3. Exposure to Elements – Never a good thing when dealing with interior space. The weather has to be almost perfect to do a tear-off especially if you have a flat roof with an interior drain that drains from the middle of the roof. You basically have to pray for an extended amount of time without rain.

How Does it Work?

As I described in the previous article, Flat Roofing Materials and Why You Need Regular Maintenance, a flat PVC membrane is applied over the existing membrane. Air vents allow moisture to escape.

What Kinds of Roof Can Be Recovered?

Many types of flat roofs can be recovered, and we have experience with all of them: tar and gravel, rubber, asphalt rolled, and ballasted rubber.

What Kinds of Roofs Can’t be Recovered?

The kinds of roofs that aren’t good candidates for recovering are ones with a ton of water damage already that needs to be rectified, several layers of roofing already or poor decking. These structural issues do need to be addressed. There are ways to address isolated areas of the roof without tearing off the whole thing at once.


It’s always a good idea to call and get an inspection and estimate – even if you are afraid of the worst. Flat roofing doesn’t always have to be torn off and replaced.

Call us today to schedule an appointment. It would be our pleasure to help!

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