Usually, when we think of a home, we picture a building with a pointed roof. But did you know that some homes have flat roofs? Yes! Flat roofs can exist on both commercial and residential buildings. If you’re curious about flat roofs, we have compiled the pros and cons of having one.
Flat Roof vs. Pitched Roof
Before learning the ins and outs of flat roofing, it is important to know your roofing terminology. The ridge of a roof is the point where two roof planes intersect. Pitched, or sloped, roofs have this feature while flat roofs do not. For houses, flat roofs appear more in contemporary styled metropolitan homes. Pitched roofs, on the other hand, are seen more in traditional homes.
Pros of Having a Flat Roof
Having a flat roof in your home can have its advantages. Flat roofs are usually cheaper because there is less material involved. The installation and repairs also don’t take as long as with a shingled roof. Flat roofs are much safer for your roofer to walk on, inspect, and clean as well.
A flat roof can also be used as a rooftop patio. If it is constructed for this, you could turn your roof into somewhat of a backyard! You could explore a new aesthetic by adding patio furniture and maybe even a garden. Rooftop gardens are so common that they have become known as “Green Roofs”. According to Angi.com, “Green roofs are particularly energy efficient because they provide shade and remove heat from the roof’s surface and surrounding air”.
Even without greenery, flat roofs are considered to be more energy efficient. If you were to install solar panels on your roof, the flat surface would provide more direct sunlight than a pitched roof. Solar panels on pitched roofs have to rely on the direction in which the roof itself is facing.
Cons of Having a Flat Roof
Unfortunately, owning a house with a flat roof can also have its disadvantages. While flat roofs tend to have sophisticated irrigation systems, their drainage may still be lacking in certain situations. The natural water runoff of a sloped roof helps remove water no matter what. Since flat roofs do not have this slant, the water may pool. If water remains on a roof for over 48 hours, this could cause leaks, structural damage, and other issues. This is especially a concern in colder climates where snow is common. Snow could pool on the roof and cause ice dams, completely undermining the drainage system.
Though green roofs are a popular and echo-friendly choice for flat roofs, they could cause issues. If not properly maintained, the roots of some plants may continue to grow and penetrate your roof. This causes structural damage and could lead to major leaks. You would need to keep a close eye on your rooftop garden to prevent invasive plants.
The life span of flat roofs is also much shorter than that of sloped ones. Pitched roofs can have a lifespan of 30 to 50 years. Flat roofs only last for about 12 to 15 years. This difference, as well as the water pooling issue, means that flat roofs require more inspections. This also means that flat roofs require more maintenance and repairs than sloped ones.
Without the extra room that a pitched roof provides, flat roofs remove the option of an attic. This means less space and less insulation. While your attic may act as a storage room or miscellaneous space, it also creates insulation. This large space between the inside and outside of your home works as an extra layer. It further separates your living space from the weather. Without it, extreme temperature changes from outside may be felt in your home.