Most commercial buildings – whether office building, condo complex, airport terminal or car dealership – have flat roofs. You may not have ever thought about the roof on all of these professional buildings, but there are distinct reasons that architects often choose flat roof design for these properties. This article will explain why this type of roof is preferred in commercial settings.
Advantages of a Flat Roof
A flat roof is nearly level, but it is not completely flat by design. Most have a slope, also known as pitch, of 1/4 inch per foot (or less) so that any water will be able to drain away.
Many commercial buildings, including warehouses and storage units, have flat roofs. Although not everyone loves the aesthetics or function of a flat roof, they are a great choice for many reasons. Here are five advantages to flat roofing on commercial buildings.
- More Affordable to Construct: A significant advantage of commerical flat roofs is that they are generally less expensive to build than pitched roofs. This is due to the fact that they require less material and less labor to build.
- Fewer Maintenance Requirements: Flat roofs are safer to work on and are much more accessible that pitched roofs. They are also easier to maintain. This is vital because any needed repairs or maintenance can be completed quickly and easily without requiring specialized equipment or training.
- Additional Usable Area: Flat roofs provide more useable space than pitched roofs. When a roof is angled, it cannot be used for any other purpose. By comparison, a flat roof can be used for storage or other functional needs – even as a recreational space for employees, such as a break area.
- Ideal for HVAC and Solar Panels: Flat roofs offer an appropriate surface for air conditioning and heating units or telecommunications equipment that would otherwise have to be installed on the ground outside the building. Should the architect or property owner wish to install solar panels or even skylights, a flat roof makes the process that much easier.
- Better Wind Resistance: A properly constructed flat roof is well-positioned to resist the high winds that come with storms and bad weather. In areas that are more vulnerable to high winds, such as Florida during hurricane season or areas that are prone to tornados, this feature can represent a significant advantage.
Flat Roofs are Not Without Their Concerns
One possible issue with flat roofs is ponding water, which can happen when water cannot drain adequately and so pools on the roof’s surface. While most commercial flat roofs are built to avoid ponding, it can still occur if there is a torrential rainstorm, or if the roof has not been maintained as recommended. Ponding water can cause damage the integrity of the roof and lead to leaks, so it is crucial to proactively prevent the situation.
Another potential disadvantage of flat roofs is that they may offer a shorter lifespan than sloped roof systems. Water is more likely to intrude and cause damage if it can’t roll down the roof and away from the building. Also, depending on the type of material used, some low-slope roofs are less energy efficient because they absorb more heat and UV rays from the direct sunlight. This can lead to higher cooling costs, especially during the summer.
Roof Coatings Dispel Disadvantages
While there are pros and cons of flat roofing for commercial buildings, one simple solution can dispel all of the issues associated with the design. Roof coatings are a relatively inexpensive solution that seals the roof, prevents leaks from ponding water and can be highly reflective to improve energy efficiency. In fact, roof coatings can extend the life of your flat roof by decades.
If you would like to learn more about the many benefits of roof coatings for your commercial flat roof, call Unicoat Industrial Roofing today.