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A Guide to Flat Roofs

The roof is a very important structural component of a house. People have constructed roofs in many different shapes, structures and from various materials. There are many prominent roof types and each one has been designed to serve a specific purpose and fit into a particular area’s climatic conditions. Flat roofs are found all over the world but the materials used to construct it vary according to that place’s climatic conditions.  Flat roofs are either horizontal or almost horizontal with a very small inclination.

Purpose of a roof

The major function of a roof is to keep rain and snow from entering the house. Several times, a cooling agent is coated over the roof to keep the interiors of the house cool and pleasant, in spite of the harsh sunny climate outside.

Similarly, an anti UV radiation layer is coated on the roof to protect the structure against damage caused due to sun’s radiations. Depending on the area you live in, you have to decide what all various purposes you want your roof to fulfil.

Uses of a flat roof

If you live in an area where there is water shortage, you can practise rain water harvesting. It’s the process of storing runoff water for future use. In that case, the flat roofs are designed in such a way that either they act as reservoirs to collect the rain water or are slightly sloped to slowdown speed of the rainwater and collect it in a tank kept at a lower level than roof, through pipes.

Materials used to construct the roof

The materials used for constructing flat roofs vary from place to place. A simple sheet of steel or asbestos and various forms of wood are used for constructing roofs. In places where timber is not easily available, flat roofs are built of brickwork or concrete. This is good at keeping out the sun’s heat and is inexpensive and easy to build.

These roofs are not suited in areas where water in the form of rains or snow can seep into the brickwork and damage it.

Most flat roofs make use of tar paper which is applied on the roof decking to provide protection from rains. A layer of gravel is used to completely cover the tar paper. This is done to protect it from scorching and degradation due to UV rays, heat and weather.

A roof built in this manner is known as built up asphalt and gravel flat roof system or BUR. BUR is one of the most common and popular type of flat roof.

Benefits of a flat roof

A flat roof is highly cost efficient and offers complete value for your money as its utility is very high. It can be used as a green roof planting (growing small plants and herbs on the roof) with a simple addition of water proof membrane.

It can be used as an extra storage space or recreational place, say, open air barbecue.

If well maintained, a normal flat roof lasts up to 10 years and a BUR around 20-30 years. Maintenance is very simple and includes things like patching up the leaks (if any) quickly, avoiding water clogs and fixing blisters.

Warranties to be considered

There are two warranties to be considered when you get new roofing.

First is the manufacturer’s warranty. Usually, this warranty covers manufacturing defects. Once the roofing project is completed, make sure that the manufacturer gives you a record of everything that is installed.

The second type of warranty is the one provided by the contractor and it covers his workmanship. Usually, this covers installation and other relevant aspects. The warranty contains list of all installations covered under it and also provides details about cases where the warranty will become void. Contractors usually provide a warranty of around between 2 to 3 years.

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