Flat roofs can be a real pain in the rear-end. If you live under one, you may have experienced the pain. So, what do you do when your flat roof starts to leak and it seems like every $600.00 repair is useless? First, is your existing roof 10 years older or more? If so, you may want to think about forgetting the repairs and choose a permanent, leak-free roofing system, like sprayed polyurethane foam (SPF).
Most conventional, flat roof systems only have a lifespan of about 10-15 years and that’s if the installer was really good at what they were doing 10 or 15 years ago. If you’ve just started the process of entertaining the idea of roofing bids, you’ll hear everything from 20 years to “lifetime” from the salesperson. This may be true, but it’s not 20 years to life when it comes to the actual workmanship and certainly not for leaks. These long-term warranties are for the product, not the service. A spray foam roof will literally “last a lifetime” if properly cared for and re-coated before the end of the warranty period.
Until recently, there were few choices when it comes to flat roof products. Probably the most popular is tar & gravel. A tar & gravel roof that was installed in the 60’s & 70’s is a much different flat roof system than they are today. In fact, you’d be hard pressed today to find a company that will install tar & gravel, simply because flat roof products have changed over the years and have been pushed into a corner by environmental laws.
Some of your more “modern” flat roof applications are bitumen, TPO (single ply), PVC, torch down & sprayed polyurethane foam (SPF). When I say modern, I mean all of these flat roof applications have been around for more than 30 years. Tar & gravel just hasn’t been able to keep up with the environmental requirements, so is fast becoming outdated.
Most flat roof systems these days are made with a light (white) color or once the installation is finished, coated white with a silicone or acrylic elastomer. The reason for this is to hide & protect the roofing system from the sun. The sun’s UV rays are every roof’s enemy and all but a sprayed polyurethane roof will eventually need to be replaced and here’s why:
- Conventional flat roofs are affected by gravity and will eventually collect standing water with the exception of a spray foam roof. A spray foam roof becomes it’s own structure adding strength rather than weight. When applying a spray foam roof, these areas of standing water can be “sprayed out”, so the water will move towards it’s natural drainage and will never return to that area.
- Conventional flat roofs have seams, so no matter how much you try to cover the roof with a reflective coating, those seams will come apart. A spray on foam roof is completely seamless and typically has a 1.5″ – 2″ barrier between the substrate and the top of the roof. A TPO or PVC roof has become popular these days, due to the cost effectiveness of the product. So much so that the manufacturers are pushing the material on every contractor and their brother. The problem with these roofs is they use screws & glue to keep the roof down and we all know what happens to screws & glue, right? They come up and they come apart. Eventually, the 20 year material will separate and you will be replacing the roof every 10 years or so. As well, these flat roof systems can’t compete with the spray foam roof’s insulation qualities. In order to have an insulated PVC or TPO roof, the contractor will need to install a 3″ foam board underneath. What happens when water gets underneath these materials? The foam board insulation will absorb the water and now you’ve got water trapped under your roofing material. A spray foam roof is spray applied and is 100% attached to the substrate. A spray foam roof is the only roofing system that has naturally occurring insulation during the installation and will not absorb water. Spray foam does not leak!
- Not only is a spray foam roof the perfect solution to a flat roof problem, but an SPF roofing system is the only roofing system that offers a full, “no-leak” warranty for a period of 15-20 years. A spray foam roof will not crack or break, it only compresses. In fact, a closed cell urethane will close back on itself if it’s punctured. A spray foam roof is almost indestructible and millions of square feet of spray foam roofing are applied every year where people are fixing HVAC units, skylights and all kinds of mechanical equipment. Yes, you can walk on a spray foam roof!
If you’re tired of repairing your flat roof, whether it’s currently a tar & gravel or any of the other products mentioned in this article, you really should consider a spray foam roof. If you currently have a spray foam roof and it’s leaking, please give us a call and we’ll do everything we can to restore it. Over 90% of the existing spray foam roofs that have been applied since the 1970’s can be restored, so don’t let anyone tell you it needs to be replaced until you call Foam Roof Solutions. Our telephone number is (800) 878-1480 or you can reach Gus on his cell phone at (925) 433-1192 direct. We offer a free consultation and can usually give you a quote over the phone using modern technology like Google Earth and a few other tricks of the technology trade.