What Are the Best Roofing Materials for Flat Roofs?

Have you ever asked why most buildings use flat roofs?

While a lot of homes have flat roofs, these roofing types are best suited for commercial properties. There are several reasons. One, flat roofs are less expensive than sloped roofs. Two, they allow extra space for rooftop equipment like HVAC. Three, additional spaces on roofs can be used for meetings or gardens.

If you’re going to start a physical business or plan to replace an old roof, it’s good to know what your options are. In this blog post, let’s talk about 6 types of roofing materials for flat roofs. Keep reading.

6 Roofing Materials for Flat Roofs

1. Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM)

EPDM is classified as rubber roofing. This flat roofing dominates the market because it’s affordable and strong.

Compared to older roofing systems, EPDM weighs lighter. This lightness eliminates the need for owners to use reinforcement for their roof decks. Roofing contractors can install EPDM using different methods. They use fasteners, adhesives, or use stone as ballast.


  • They’re easy to install. However, please avoid a DIY installation. Only a licensed roofing contractor is supposed to handle these roofs as they follow proper guidelines.
  • Can be recycled. In fact, the EPDM Roofs Association researched the possibility of recycling EPDM. Their program had been successful as they were able to recycle more than 13.5 million square feet of EPDM. This has drastically lessened the number of roofing materials in landfills.


  • The first thing you’ll notice about EPDM roofs is their dark color. Dark surfaces absorb the heat of the sun. This increases indoor temperatures, forcing air conditioners to work harder. Building owners can eliminate this disadvantage by applying reflective white coatings. Check out our EPDM restoration service.

2. Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO)

TPO roofing membranes are often thought of as a hybrid between EPDM and PVC membranes. TPO roofs possess their positive features. Aside from the main rubber ingredients, fillers (such as fiberglass and talc) have been added to keep TPO strong.


  • Savings-wise, yes, TPO is a great way to spend less on roofing materials for flat roofs. In many cases, you’ll find TPO a more affordable choice than EPDM.
  • Characterized by their white-colored surfaces, TPO roofs are energy-efficient.


  • These materials vary in thickness and may lead people to think that thicker means durable.
  • Since TPO is new in the market, manufacturers continue to improve TPO.
  • Shrinking and cracking occur over time since there will be a lot of seams. Seams are the areas where two roofing systems meet. These are susceptible to leaks.

3. Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF)

Professional contractors install SPF roofing by spraying it on an existing roof. The material expands like a foam and hardens. SPF presents a ton of benefits to building owners who want more energy savings. If you want a better ROI, you won’t go wrong with SPF roofs.


  • SPF roofing saves you more energy by keeping the heat inside during winter months. When it’s summer, it reflects back heat to maintain a cool indoor temperature.
  • Since the material expands when sprayed, small holes are sealed. Your roof increases in strength. As a result, SPF protects your building from the entry of pests and moisture penetration.


  • Only skilled and experienced roofing contractor should apply SPF on your flat roof. SPF requires proper installation techniques and specialized training.
  • Careless application results in premature roof failure.

4. Modified Bitumen

This is otherwise known as “roll roofing.” Modified bitumen can have a granulated or smooth surface. Contractors use various techniques to apply this material using heat or cold adhesives. When flame is used, buildings become at risk for fires since some buildings have structures that easily catch fire.


  • Being light in color, modified bitumen keeps the sun out. This lowers down your cooling bills.
  • One of the main advantages is that modified bitumen is low-maintenance. Thanks to its durability, the material expands in cold weather. It also stands up against wind and hail.
  • These roofing materials for flat roofs can be recycled. Therefore, they make an environmentally-friendly choice.


  • To maximize the performance of this roofing material, skilled contractors are needed. This may explain why only a few buildings these days don’t use modified bitumen.
  • If people will keep accessing the rooftop, modified bitumen isn’t the best choice. Tears develop over time due to repetitive foot traffic.

5. Green Roof System

A green roof is also called a rooftop garden. Nowadays, green roofs have become increasingly popular – thanks to their multitude of benefits. Compared to traditional roofs, they provide a high ROI. Buildings with green roofs create a positive impression on people since they are thought of as eco-conscious.


  • Rooftop gardens reduce the number of environmental pollutants. They maintain a cleaner air.
  • Stormwater runoff is reduced since the much of rainwater will be utilized by the plants.
  • Plants offer shade to the roofing surface. This lowers the temperature inside the building and conserves more energy.
  • Your building increases in appeal as green roofs are an attractive feature.


  • In terms of maintenance, green roofs need more attention than typical roofs. If you don’t have a lot of time or aren’t willing to spend money to keep them all year round, invest in another roofing.
  • Some buildings aren’t capable of supporting rooftop gardens. They weigh more and therefore need additional support.

6. Built-Up Roof (BUR)

BUR systems exist for more than a hundred years already. To install BUR, several layers of bitumen and fabrics are applied. As you can tell, installing BUR can be messy. Therefore, it deserves the attention of a skilled contractor.


  • BUR roofing materials for flat roofs last up to 15 years without showing signs of damage. During these years, building owners get the best value for their money.
  • Your building receives excellent protection from damaging UV rays. BUR systems also resist the effects of bad weather.


  • Harmful fumes can be released into the air.
  • If you’re after a faster installation process, know that the process involved in BUR is lengthy.

Consult with a Commercial Flat Roofing Contractor

Now that you know the 6 types of roofing materials for flat roofs, you’re ready to choose. If you need more advice, don’t hesitate to approach a local roofing company.

Here at Central Roofing Solutions, we help take care of flat commercial roofs through our repair, replacement, and restoration services. We work with products from Conklin Roofing Systems to provide you a flat roof that’s beautiful and long-lasting.

Learn more about flat roofing. Get your free estimate now!

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