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Residential Metal Roofing: Is It Right for Me?

When the contractor delivered the sad news that my roof needed replacing, that led to a discussion of material choices. I was surprised to hear that metal roofing was an option. Sure, it was fine for commercial buildings, but a home? My contractor told me that metal is used for homes more than people realize. The panels can be designed to look like just about any type of roofing you can imagine. After looking at some samples and finding out about the long life of metal roofs, I decided to give it a try. Fifteen years later, my roof is still in great shape. If you are facing a roof replacement in the near future, let me tell you more about metal roofing. I'm betting that you'll decide this solution is right for your home.

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Residential Metal Roofing: Is It Right for Me?

2 Common Flat Roofing Methods

by Kelly Murphy

Flat roofs are especially common in hot, arid parts of the country. Yet even those who own flat roofed dwellings fail to appreciate the different methods of covering a flat roof. If you own a home with a flat roof that you are considering upgrading, read on. This article will introduce you to two of the most common flat roofing methods. 

Built-up Roofing

Built up roofing is the oldest means of protecting a flat roof. As its name would imply, a built-up roof consists of multiple layers applied one atop the other. Each layer is comprised of two elements: underlayment and hot asphalt tar. In most cases, so-called roof paper is used as the underlayment. 

Roof paper is actually a thin sheet of felt that has been thoroughly impregnated with asphalt. This creates a tough, durable sheet with strong resistance to both water and vapor. This water resistance is further enhanced by the application of hot asphalt tar--and also by the addition of further layers of roofing paper. Finally, the roof is finished off with a layer of fine crushed rock or gravel. This provides additional protection against the elements.

A complete built-up roof consists of between two and four layers of roofing paper and asphalt tar. As you can imagine, the installation of built-up roofing can be somewhat time-consuming--a fact which can increase its installation costs. Luckily, the durable nature of built up roofing means it is highly impervious to the elements and will last for many years before needing to be replaced.

Rubber Membrane

Rubber membrane roofing possesses one huge advantage, compared to built-up roofing: it consists of but a single layer. This layer may be made out of one of the following materials:

  • neoprene
  • PVC
  • chlorinated polyethylene
  • polymer-modified bitumen
  • ethylene propylene diene monomer, or EPDM for short

Of these materials, EPDM is the most commonly used today. Once cut to the appropriate size, the thin sheet of synthetic rubber must then be affixed to the surface of the roof. This may be accomplished in one of three ways. The simplest is to weigh the EPDM down with ballast--usually a layer of rock. Yet some roofs simply don't have the structural integrity to bear this heavy weight.

In that case, the membrane may be either mechanically attached or fastened by means of an adhesive substance. While effective, mechanical fasteners require holes to be made in the surface of the membrane. Even when properly waterproofed, such installation points represent potential liabilities, by increasing the chances of water penetrating below the membrane. Securing with an adhesive, while an intensive process, is the best way to ensure that the membrane stays in place without compromising its waterproof integrity.