Flat roofing, for residential, commercial and industrial buildings, is becoming increasingly popular. Why? There are three reasons behind the popularity of flat roofing: affordability, functionality and flexibility. Flat roofs provide ample space which other kinds of roofs, including sloped ones, lack. Plus, they are low maintenance and can last for decades. It’s a versatile roofing option, isn’t it? But do you know what makes this roofing so versatile? It is the different materials from which they are made, each with its own pros and cons. Keep reading this blog post and to find out everything you need to know about flat roof materials.

Here’s What You Need to Know About Flat Roofing Materials


1. PVC Membrane

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is the most popular and durable material used for flat roofing. In fact, a single-ply PVC membrane can cover an entire roof irrespective of its size. This is because the seams are heat-welded to create a watertight bond necessary to keep out water and other forms of moisture. In addition, PVC comes in a wide variety of colours.  But choosing white is always a good idea as it reflects sunlight, thus cutting down on heating and cooling needs.


  • It is one of the strongest roof membranes available
  • Its watertight bond prevents the accumulation of water
  • PVC is resistant to fire, wind, chemicals and water


  • It is more expensive than other roofing materials

2. EPDM Membrane

Ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) is a tough synthetic rubber roofing membrane. It is cheaper than PVC and is known for its affordability and strength. It also weighs less compared to older roofing systems. Flat roof contractors use several methods and elements, such as adhesives, fasteners and stone as ballast, to install EPDM membrane.


  • It is easy to install but best left to professionals
  • EPDM is recyclable
  • Its reasonable price makes it a popular choice among commercial and real estate builders


  • The rubber seams are not as strong as PVC
  • It absorbs heat rather than reflecting it, making it less energy efficient
  • It is not environmentally friendly as both ethylene and propylene are made from natural gas and oil

3. TPO Membrane

Thermoplastic polyolefin membrane (TPO)is often a mixture of EPDM and PVC. Apart from the rubber elements, it employs fillers such as talc and fiberglass to make it stronger.


  • It is affordable and durable
  • It is available in white colour that radiates heat and makes the building more energy-efficient.


  • Shrinkage and cracks may occur over time due to its many seams, eventually leading to water leakage
  • TPO is a new material prone to constant redevelopments by manufacturers

4. Modified Bitumen

Modified bitumen is an asphalt-based roof material which can be installed using either cold or hot adhesives. It is a multi-ply membrane, meaning it is applied in layers; for instance, the base is installed first followed by a single-ply overlay which is fixed using a permanent adhesive. The final layer has a smooth surface.


  • It is sturdy and less prone to typical roof damages like blistering and cracking
  • Available inlight colours that reflect sunlight to keep indoors cool
  • It is recyclable making it an eco-friendly choice


  • The building should be evacuated before installation as it applied via torch
  • The seamless surface can lead to standing water collecting on the roof

5. Tar and Gravel

A built-up roof, or BUR, is made with tar and gravel. This type of roof is made with alternating layers of asphalt, coal tar and adhesives. In the end, gravel is laid on as the outer layer. This is one of the most durable roofing choices and can last for decades.


  • It has a longer lifespan compared to other roofing materials
  • It helps water evaporate quickly
  • It provides better protection against ultraviolet rays and harmful weather conditions


  • Moisture trapped under the rocky surface can cultivate mold

These are the materials mostly used for flat roofs in commercial and residential properties. All have unique pros and cons. Choose the one that suits your requirements and budget. Once you are sure of your decision, contact a professional flat roof contractor to install your flat roof.

Published by Eric Foley