Home ยป Basics Of A Roofing System: Understanding Flat Roof Materials

Basics Of A Roofing System: Understanding Flat Roof Materials

Basics Of A Roofing System: Understanding Flat Roof Materials

A little bit of curiosity goes a long way. Not only does knowing about the foundation of your flat roof keep you informed, but it can also be helpful in times of emergencies and quick fixes. 

Not taking after their name, Flat roofs are known to have a slight pitch in slope that varies between half to a 1/4th of every foot. This slope is quite advantageous in ensuring proper drainage. To prevent the usual leaks or repairs, there’s plenty of materials available that add to its durability.  

Let us take a look at what constitutes the following roofs:

  1. A Modified Bitumen Roof
  2. A Spray Polyurethane Foam Roof
  3. A BUR Roof
  4. A Single Bitumen Roof

Flat Roof #1: A Modified Bitumen Roof

This type of roof uses the same technology as a BUR Roof with the addition of a reinforced polymer. 

Developed in the 1960s, they can be installed using multiple techniques, like cold-applied, hot-applied, self-adhered, and torch-applied. Attaching them is not a task either, you can do it with either hot asphalt tar or cold adhesives as mentioned above. It is more commonly used than other types of roofing because of its many advantages. They are:

1 Since it can be repaired quickly, it is easy to maintain.

2.It expands without losing its shape and is flexible. 

3.The layer on top has the unique ability to reflect sunlight and also releases absorbed heat and can hence be considered energy efficient. 

4.Lastly, it is ideal for monsoons as all of its layers make it waterproof. 

Flat Roof #2: Spray Polyurethane Foam Roof

The base of a spray polyurethane foam roof is the high-density polyurethane foam itself. The foam is sprayed either by a sprayer or a wand. After some research, you will be able to identify the spray pattern while it is being applied. An elastomeric coat is added as a second layer. It can be either white or gray. If the top coating is wearing thin, the polyurethane foam will reveal itself, and you’ll know it’s about time to call in a roofing specialist. 

Flat Roof #3: BUR

If you have noticed roofs that look like tar and gravel, with some tar stuck in the gravel or where the flashings are covered in the tar, it was probably a BUR. 

Built-up roofs are the traditional roofs from back in the day. They have technically done away with the low-roofing issue that was a major concern for many years. These roofs are installed by the industrial workers by applying multiple layers of asphalt into a liquid that is mixed with bitumen. It is applied to the roofs with a hot mop. The hot tar is then coated with a layer of crushed stone granules. It protects the roof from the harsh weather and the damaging effects of UV light.

Flat Roof #4: A Single Bitumen Roof

Also known as the elastomeric roof membrane, this roof keeps up with the latest technological advancements.  

They are made of materials like PVC, EPDM, Neoprene, Polymer-modified bitumens, and Chlorinated polyethylene. Homeowners prefer the EPDM Rubber Roof or synthetic rubber. The thin sheet materials are applied to the roofs in a single layer. The synthetic rubber is flexible and elastic. There are multiple ways of attaching the roofs. Adhesives are used to fasten Neoprene and EPDM roofs. Another advantage is that they can handle temperature changes.


Knowing the type of flat roof materials used in your building will be useful while servicing, repairing, or replacing your roofing system. Besides, having insights into the roof’s structure can help you in dealing with any issues. However, you must always seek professional assistance when in doubt.

This is a collaborative post. All views and text are my own. 

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Jocelyn Brown
Jocelyn Brown

A former school teacher, Jocelyn Brown created Hip Mama’s Place in 2007. Her motto for this blog is: get inspired, create and share! Jocelyn loves sharing about food and recipes, crafts, DIY projects and her random travels with her family. She also loves all things social media, but her latest obsession is Instagram.

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1 Comment

  1. 01/26/2022 / 2:50 am

    we have had issues replacing our roofing system before. But knowing something about the flat roof materials help

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