Common Flat Roof Problems


Covering a flat roof will be different from a traditional sloped roof for many reasons including the materials required. While a pitched roof can use overlapping shingles or tiles, this method is likely to lead to leaking for a roof without any slope. There are many different materials and methods to installing a flat roof, including rubber, thermoplastic, tar and gravel and modified bitumen, but which one is best?

Rubber membranes such as EPDM (ethylene propylene diene terpolymer) are often applied in giant custom sized sheets to fit your flat roof. This material is durable, and the custom size limits the areas where a leak could occur. This kind of rubber can be more expensive than other materials.

Thermoplastic materials such as PVC (polyvinyl chloride) or TPO (thermoplastic olefin) are durable options, due to heat-welded seams, and offer improved energy efficiency. However, roofs made of these materials can be difficult to repair.

Tar and gravel are used in the Built-Up Roof (BUR) method. While this is typically a cheaper way to cover a roof, it can be heavy and messy to install and is usually accompanied by a strong odor. If you get a leak in this kind of roof, it may be hard to detect where it started.

Using modified bitumen on a flat roof can help save on costs as compared to newer technologies. The installation process can be very time-consuming and labor-intensive due to the number of layers and roll-on method of installation. It can also be difficult to detect the origin of leaks in a modified bitumen roof


A Design & Materials Guide for Residential Flat Roofing Systems

Flat Roofs Are Everywhere – But What About Homes?

Flat roofs are a familiar sight throughout North America. Any typical mall, warehouse, apartment building or school usually features a flat roof. This roof type is easier to install over large surfaces and is the most common choice for commercial, industrial and institutional buildings.

Why Are Flat Roofs Less Common For Houses?

Also known as low slope roofs, flat roofs are less common in North American residential construction because the low slope of a flat roof has an increased tendency to collect water rather than shed, like its more steeply pitched alternative. This may make it less ideal for rainy or snowy climates.

Flat Roof Drain Types

So, even though flat roofs are ideal for drier landscapes, in climates with heavy precipitation, a properly installed flat roof can be a fine choice for a homeowner – especially thanks to ever-improving waterproof materials and installation techniques.

It looks good

Flat roofs are an attractive aesthetic choice that give homes a unique form. If you love the landscape or cityscape around your home, a flat roof can help complement that without obscuring the view

Flat Roof Space Is Usable Space

Unlike a steeply pitched roof, most of the square footage of a flat roof is available for use. This offers the option to add a unique application such as a rooftop patio, garden or green roof. Solar panels also are popular among homeowners and are much easier to install – and hide from view – on a flat roof.


Tips on Choosing the Right Roofing Material for Your Home

The right roofing material will do more than keeping your home dry and damage-free. It will set the ambiance, highlight your home’s style, and boost its curb appeal. When choosing the best material for your residential roofing, consider the essential factors to meet your needs.

Consider Your Roof’s Structure

Every roofing material will perform well when installed in proper roof slopes. For instance, when it comes to flat roofs, metal is better than others since it sheds water and snow easily. Meanwhile, clay or concrete tile works best in steeper sloped roofs since they need reinforced roof framing to support their weight. In summary, the heavier the materials, the more structural modifications they require. This will cost you more on labor and materials.

Check Your Home’s Architectural Style

Pick a roofing material that historically matches your home’s architectural style. This way, you can improve your home’s personality and make it stand out. For example, a concrete roof tile works well with Tuscan, Mediterranean, and European homes due to its distinctive shape and texture. Meanwhile, a metal roof looks excellent in bungalow, ranch, and modern homes because of its sleek appearance.

Scrutinize the Material’s Features

Each roofing material has its own set of qualities, so choose the one that will meet your needs. Consider factors like performance, longevity, energy efficiency, affordability, and maintenance. Being clear about your priorities will help you make the right decision for your roof replacement.


Tips for Choosing New Flat Roofing in Milwaukee (That Won’t Leak)

Replacing your flat roof can cost up to $11,000 according to recent data. Normal and natural weather conditions, such as winter storms and rainy spouts, can cause your roof to slowly deteriorate over the years. But, the condition of your roof, whether you have experienced leaks or not, is not a home component that you can ignore for long.

Make Sure the Company You Choose for Roofing in Milwaukee Uses Correct Materials

On a flat roof, in particular, a strong rubber membrane is placed on top of the roof shingles. These rubber membranes are barriers put in place to prevent any type of water pooling from collecting on your flat roof over time.

Choose a Roof With Longevity

When you spend thousands of dollars replacing your roof, you surely want it to last. Pick a material that is flexible and sturdy. Other options besides PVC include TPO membrane and EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer). These are materials that are also single-ply membranes.

Flat Roofs Need the Right Insulation

High-quality insulation is another aspect of your new flat roof that requires special attention because you don’t want temperature fluctuations inside your building during the cold or hot months. Eliminate the issues with poor insulation by acquiring the best rigid foam material to insulate your building so you keep your roof intact for many happy years ahead.

Hire Trained Contractors

Don’t try to replace your roof on your own. Doing your own repairs can be extremely dangerous and can lead to severe consequences. What if you fall off a ladder and injure yourself? Leave roofing repair up to the expert since they know exactly how to properly evaluate the condition of your current roof. Professionals will also look for potential leaks and can provide your roof with the right sealants to ensure a long-term fix.




Every flat roof in the history of mankind has either eventually failed, or been replaced or removed before it failed. The harsh truth about flat roofs, as with any type of roof and most anything in the world, is that they deteriorate and eventually fail. Some roofing materials are stronger than others and will provide protection from the elements for a longer time, but all roofing systems will eventually fail. You need to prepare for your roof’s inevitable failure, and have a plan in place for your commercial flat roof replacement project.

Factors to Consider Before Choosing a New Roofing System

No roofing system is the right choice in every situation. While some roofing systems are better than others and are right in more cases, it is still extremely difficult to know in any given situation which roofing system is best. For this reason, you should never choose a roofing system only because you heard it was “the best” or because a colleague has it and recommends it. You should carefully examine some factors about your building, your current roof, and what you want out of your new roof. After examining these factors, you can make an informed decision for your flat roof replacement.

The Slope of Your Roof

Considering the slope of your current roof, which roofing systems are available to you? Materials like shingles and concrete tile depend on water running quickly off the roof to be effective, is your roof too flat for them? Or is your roof too steep to receive rolled on single-ply roofing materials? The steepness of your roof may rule out certain roofing options.

The Drainage of Your Roof

If your current roofing system has poor drainage that you would like to improve, certain roofing systems will require repairs be made to the roof deck prior to installation. Or, should you select a more versatile roofing system, such as spray foam and restoration coatings (depending on the drainage required) you can apply the material in varying depths and thereby improve the drainage without significant repairs

Expected Structural Load

After your flat roof replacement, what is the load you expect to be placed on your roof? A restoration coating will not add much, if any, strength to the roofing system. While they add waterproofing, they won’t make your roof any stronger. So if you expect a heavy load, coatings aren’t for you, and spray foam may be perfect for you (SPF can withstand a car driving on its surface). However, if you don’t expect a heavy load on your roof surface, restoration coatings may be perfect for you. Single-ply systems may also work well as they don’t add much strength, but are typically good reflectors of the sun.

Use The Best Roof Installation For Your House

4 Steps in Roof Installation

A roofing project is a long process that requires careful planning. When you hire the right roof installation contractor, you can minimize stress because your contractor will operate with transparency, guiding you every step of the way.

4 Steps in Roof Installation

Here are the basic steps that a quality contractor will follow during a roof replacement project:

  1. Protecting the Property

The first step is to secure the client’s property so that all areas will be safe from damage while work is underway. A true professional will keep the area safe for residents, workers and passersby alike.

  1. Removal of Shingles

Some contractors may suggest installing new shingles over your existing ones, but this is a bad idea. Failure to remove the existing shingles means your contractor won’t be able to inspect the underlying parts of your roof, which could be harboring damage. Avoid costly roof repair down the road by working with a contractor who will remove your existing shingles before installing new ones.

  1. Laying Down Underlayment

After the skeleton of the roof is installed or repaired, it is time to install the underlayment, the water-resistant shield that keeps your home safe from leaks. Once this is in place, the roofers can start with the last step in the process.

  1. Installing Shingles and Other Parts

Your roofers will install the shingles once they remove the old material and the underlayment is ready. Depending on the material you choose, this part of the project can take one day to a week.



How to Fix a Roof Drip Edge

Felt over roof drip edge or drip edge over felt? Get the correct answers here.


The correct installation sequence for drip edge, roofing felt and ice and water shield can be confusing, since it changes from eaves to gable ends. Here’s how to keep it straight.

Tools Required

  • Hammer
  • Stapler
  • Tin snips

Materials Required

  • Drip edge
  • Ice and water shield
  • Roofing felt
  • Roofing nails
  • Staples

Project step-by-step (3)

Step 1. Installing roof drip edge flashing properly

Install roof drip edge along the eaves, add underlayment, then place drip edge along the gable end. The best way is to install the roof drip edge only along the eaves first, then place ice-and-water barrier (in the snowbelt) or felt paper (underlayment) over the drip edge. This lets any water that gets on the roof run down the underlayment and over the drip edge.

Step 2. Place the metal roof drip edge flashing along the gable ends


Once all the underlayment is applied, go back and place the roof drip edge flashing along the gable ends of the roof. Covering the ends of the ice-and-water barrier or felt paper with drip edge ensures that windblown rain that gets under the shingles will run over the underlayment, not on the sheathing. The drip edge also helps hold down the felt paper to keep it from blowing off before you install the shingles.

Step 3. Save yourself some aggravation

But save yourself some aggravation and get the corners cut on the gable and eave pieces so they mate properly before installing them. That’s the only way you’ll get clean locking corners.



A metal roof is a favorite among many homeowners because, when properly installed, it can perform for a lifetime. Metal roofing products are available as shingles, shakes, tile and standing-seam panels, and in a wide array of colors. Due to their very low weight, many metal roofs can also be installed over existing roofing materials.

As is the case with any roof system, metal roofing must be properly installed, and installation requires a wide assortment of tools, accessories and special techniques that only come from working with professionals. A DIY roofer may be able cover a shed or outbuilding with simple standing-seam panels, but most metal roofing systems are best left to those with experience. Homeowners should fully investigate both the metal roofing materials and the contractors they’re considering for installation.

Installation methods fall into two primary categories:

  • Through-fastened panels are systems in which the screw or nail that secures the metal roofing to the roof deck actually penetrates through the panel itself.
  • Clip-fastened panels, on the other hand, have specialized clips that attach to the panel or shingle. The fasteners are then driven through the clips and have no direct contact with the metal roofing.

In most cases, clip-fastened panels are designed so that the clip and fastener are concealed. The fastener can also be concealed on certain types of through-fastened panels as well.

According to the experts at Classic Metal Roofing Systems, through-fastened panels that utilize exposed fasteners are most common and are often driven through an overlap between panels (and other strategic locations). Exposed fastener systems are usually subject to lesser warranties than concealed fastener systems, because the exposed fasteners are susceptible to the elements and tend to fail much sooner.

Concealed-clip fastener systems also have another advantage: Because metal expands and contracts with temperature changes, sometimes panels have a tendency to “wrinkle” or “oilcan”. This distortion in the metal occurs when fasteners that are driven too tightly cannot move when the metal expands and contracts. If the fasteners are driven through a clip and not the panels, the result is a system that “floats” over the roof deck and is less susceptible to oilcanning.



Do You Need to Install a New Roof?

You might assume you don’t need to think about installing a new roof until the old one starts leaking, but if you wait that long it will be more expensive. Why? Because by the time you notice the leak, the structural damage will have already occurred.

Here are some tips to help decide whether the time has come to install a new roof:

How old is the existing roof? If installed properly and with good materials, an asphalt shingle roof should last 20 to 25 years, sometimes longer. It also depends on how many shingle layers you have and if it was properly ventilated. If you’ve lived there for many years and don’t know when the roof was last replaced, consider having a roof inspection.

  • Go outside and look at the roof. Are the shingle lines still straight or can you see sags or other irregularities? A sag would indicate that the sheathing underneath is rotting. Pay close attention to the valleys, which are one of the most important part of your roof because it’s where snow and rain flow to the gutters.
  • When you clean your gutters (which you should be doing twice a year), do you find a lot of asphalt granules in the gutter? That’s a sign the asphalt shingles are breaking down.
  • Do you see cracked, curled or misshapen shingles? As shingles age, they begin to deteriorate. Are any shingles missing? Check to see if all of the tabs are intact.
  • Does your chimney flashing consist of roof cement or tar? Chimneys are a potential weak spot on roofs and need to have a long-term, water-tight fitting such as metal flashing.
  • Go up in the attic, preferably during or immediately after a good rain, and look for evidence of leaks or moisture. Also check to see if there’s any daylight streaming through the roof boards.

If you’re starting to see some of these warning signs, have a qualified roof inspector give you a professional assessment.


5 Things to Know Before You Replace Your Roof

For that kind of money, you want to make sure job is done right. Here’s what you need to know.

  1. Shop around

Some roofers don’t worry much about customer satisfaction since replacing a roof is a once-every-few-decades job, which means they don’t have to count on repeat business. Plus, many homeowners (mistakenly) choose their roofer based largely on price, and many roofing contractors hire low-wage workers so they can deliver the lowest possible bids. All of which is to say: You need to be extremely careful whom you hire. Get references from neighbors (or tradespeople or lumber yards) that you trust, and check major roofing manufacturer websites (,, for lists of certified installers. Then request client references from anyone you’re considering, and check out their reputations on Angie’s List and their backgrounds on ContractorCheck, suggests Stockbridge, Mass., general contractor Jay Rhind.

  1. Strip away the old

You’re permitted to have two layers of asphalt shingles on your roof, so if there’s only one in place now, you can have a new layer installed right on top. That will save you as much as $1,000 and a fair bit of mess, but it means the roofer can’t inspect and repair the decking and flashing underneath. If you live in a cold climate, stripping away the old roof allows the contractor to install ice and water shield, a rubber membrane used to prevent leaks at the eaves in the event of ice buildup. The tear-off gets a lot more complicated if you have something other than asphalt up there: If you can see original wood shingles on the underside of your roof when you’re up in the attic, you’ll need not only to tear everything off, but also to install new plywood decking, all of which likely adds $5,000 or more to your costs.

  1. Go top shelf

To make sure you don’t have to worry about your roof again—and give you some selling points when you’re ready to move—go for top-quality products. That means: 50-year-shingles (shingles with the longest available warranty add just $300 to $500 to your total cost) with an “architectural” look (varying color and thickness that creates upscale character for just $250 to $750 extra). You’ll also want to opt for copper flashing, the most durable metal for sealing the joints where a roof meets a wall or another roof, which might add $1,000 or more compared with aluminum.

  1. Pay attention to the paperwork

For such a quick job—two to five days, depending on the size and style of the roof—roofing involves a tremendous amount of liability and money. Three documents are essential: 1) Most towns require a building permit for a roofing project; this can help to ensure that your contractor follows building code. Plus, your roof warranty is likely void if you don’t get the permit. 2) A written contract that specifies all of the agreed-to details, products, and costs of the project. 3) A letter addressed to you from the contractor’s insurance carrier confirming that the specific project is covered under the roofer’s worker’s compensation and liability plan.

  1. Don’t pay until you see the magnet

If you’ve had old roofing stripped off, about 10,000 nails came with it—and most landed on your grass, mulch, and driveway. Contractors have a tool that makes it easy to pick these up—a giant magnet on wheels that they pass over the yard to grab the dropped fasteners so they don’t cause any flat tires or injuries. But workers don’t always remember to bring it to the jobsite. So if you’re seeing nails around (you’ll know), when your roofer comes by for the final payment, ask him to bring the magnet and do the honors while he’s there.