There are two different types of roofs: steep sloped (pitched) and low slope (flat). Obviously one type of roof has significant slope to it while the other looks nearly parallel to the ground below (Flat) the truth is even “flat” roofs have slight slope to allow for drainage, but there are some other important differences between these types of roofing which set them apart from each other. In fact, their construction, care, and maintenance are all dramatically different from each other. On this blog, we’ll take a look at several important differences between these different types of roof.
Both types of roof can be used for both residential and commercial buildings. However, flat roofs are far more common for commercial purposes than steep roofs, whereas steep roofs are generally found more frequently in residential applications. Both flat and steep roofs can be found on residential and commercial buildings. However, it’s significantly less common to find flat roofs on residential buildings and more common to find them on commercial buildings. The opposite can be said about steep roofs, these are found more commonly on residential buildings than commercial. Many commercial structures mount a number of things on their roof, including solar panels, HVAC equipment, refrigeration equipment, which makes it more beneficial for them to have flat roofs.
Conversely, homeowners generally only tend to mount solar panels on their roofs, and solar usually benefits from using the slope to its advantage anyway. That being said, many modern homes are starting to utilize flat roofs for their aesthetic qualities.
There are many different types of materials that can be used for steep roofs. In the southwest, clay and concrete tiles are extremely common roofing materials because of their low cost and durability when it comes to withstanding the harshness of the sun and scorching triple-digit heat. In other areas across the country, asphalt shingles, wood shake, and even metal like copper and galvanized steel are also common steep-roof materials.
For flat roofs have a considerably more diverse and less well-known selection of materials. Built-up roofs are one of the most common type in the Southwest due to their durability to UV radiation and heat, but they’re fairly difficult to install and can run on the expensive side. It’s usually easy to identify a built-up roof by its top layer of gravel and small rocks placed over a thick seal of asphalt tar.
Another common flat-roof material Polyurethane Spray foam roofs; these roofs are lightweight and easy to install. Because it’s sprayed as a liquid that quickly “sets” into a durable closed cell roofing system it is seamless and chemically adheres to all roof penetrations where most leaks happen over time. Spray Foam is an extremely popular material for major commercial and industrial buildings like warehouses and factories. The foam itself acts as an additional layer of insulation above the roof line. The white color is reflective of sunlight and helps keep the area underneath cooler, which can go a long way to saving energy and money during the heat of summer as well. May residential homes use foam over livable areas because of the energy benefits.
Like we mentioned earlier, there’s no such thing as a truly “flat” roof. Flat roofs are actually pitched at a very small angle, the angle may be so small that it can’t be detected without equipment and have drainage solutions installed so the water can easily leave the surface.
Flat roofs, even with this small slope, are far more prone to leaks. Sloped roofs are designed to divert water away from the roof as quickly as possible. The less time water spends on your roof, the less likely it is to wear away at the materials, slip through a small crack, and create leaks. Conversely, the low slope of flat roofs make them more vulnerable to pooling and other flaws which can lead to increased chances of damage. In these instances, maintenance is the key.
Steep roofs tend to be more expensive to install than their flat counterparts due to their inherently more difficult installation process that includes more risk. However, the trade-off is flat roofs are generally more difficult to care for, are more prone to leaking, require more maintenance, and are generally more expensive to repair. Whichever roof you have, there are ways to minimize expenses- as we always say- the best cure for a leak is prevention.
Do you need your roof serviced? Whether steep or low slope, trust your DFW roofing specialist, Waters Custom Roofing! Call us at (520) 447-2522 to request an appointment n