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What are Common Disadvantages of Flat Roofing?

A Flat Roof

A common roof style for large commercial structures is flat roofing, or what appears to be flat.  Technically, the roof has some slope to it so that the water can drain instead of pooling up on the roof.  However, if the drains are clogged, the water will pool, causing damage to the flat roof. Repairing this damage sooner rather than later is important for the protection of the structure. 

How does a flat roof get damaged? 

There are several benefits of flat roofing, starting with the cost-effective installation. They are easy to access and are energy efficient. An exception to flat roofing is a perfect place for several types of building components like communication equipment and the HVAC unit. equipment.

But a flat roof can have issues and problems too. Ten things that can create vulnerability and need flat roof repairs are: 

1. Exposure: Every roof is exposed to the elements, and a flat roof is no exception. The UV rays and other weather elements, like chemical exposure and pollution, can take a toll on a flat roof over time. Routine inspections are needed to stay on top of flat roof repair needs.

2. Leaking: Flat roofs are known for leaking, but with proper installation, and maintenance, which includes cleaning the roof surface and drains, and routine inspections, leaking can prevent the need for emergency flat roof repairs.  

3. Ponding: Innately, without clear and properly placed drainage, water will pool up on flat roofs. That pooling water will sit on the roof and begin seeping into the membrane. Soon, leaking begins and if not discovered and flat roof repairs are done, it leads to structural damage. 

4. Punctures, Splits, and Tears: A flat roof is prone to punctures and tearing caused by foot traffic and storm damage. With a professional inspection after a weather event, flat roof repairs can be addressed and prevent any further damage. Days, weeks, and months of weather exposure can cause membranes to split, and if flat roof repairs aren’t done to repair those splits, a leaking roof will soon follow.

5. Building Movement: Buildings will move with the temperatures, contracting and expanding. These can cause a roofing membrane to crack, tear, or split. This also affects the energy efficiency of the interior, causing energy bills to increase. Routine inspections are important to address small issues before they become extensive problems that require expensive flat roof repairs. 

6. Debris Collected: It is normal for debris to collect on a flat roof, typically dirt, dust, leaves, and tree limbs. Routine cleaning should be performed along with inspections.  Keeping the roof clean will minimize damages that require flat roof repairs. 

7. Growths: Routine cleaning of a flat roof will minimize any growth forming from the debris and any stagnant ponding water, which can damage a roofing membrane, leading to expensive and multiple flat roof repairs. A dirty roof also dims the reflective ability of a flat roof, which can cause energy bills to increase. 

8. Blistered Surface: A blistered roof surface and defects like alligatoring are common occurrences for flat roofing and can be an indication the roof may need to be replaced.  A professional roofing contractor can inspect the roof and advise if flat roof repair or replacement is needed. 

9. Shrinking Membrane: Flat roofing of a synthetic rubber membrane will experience shrinkage. This can pull the seams apart, exposing part of the roof which can lead to leaking. Prompt flat roof repairs are needed to prevent this from happening. 

10. Maintenance Neglected: This is the number one cause of needing flat roof repairs.  Keep the cleaning, maintenance, and inspection schedule will minimize, and even prevent needing frequent flat roof repairs. 

How often should flat roofs be cleaned and inspected?

The recommended maintenance schedule is twice a year and after any significant weather event. This should include cleaning the roof surface, the drains, and around roof protrusions. If the roofing system has gutters, those should be cleaned at the same time. 

During the cleaning, inspecting the roof at the same time should be standard procedure. Once a year, schedule an appointment with a professional roofing contractor for an inspection. If a severe, significant weather event comes through, having the roof professionally inspected afterward is recommended.  This allows you to stay on top of any issues for flat roof repairs. 

In Closing 

The average lifespan of a flat roof depends on the membrane that is installed, and the follow-up maintenance. Most flat roofs that are properly installed with top-quality roofing material and adhering to a maintenance schedule can last up to 25 years. Some examples of lifespans include: 

  • BUR roofing, a combination of gravel and hot tar typical lifespan is between 15 and 20 years.
  • Single-ply roofing has a lifespan expectancy of 30 years. 
  • EPDM rubber membrane roofing can last up to 30 years. 

What Are Common Disadvantages of Flat Roofing?

Roofer Installs a Flat Roof

Get Expert Flat Roof Repair

For any type of structure in the Woodward, Pennsylvania area, the roof must be durable. The weather here can go from layers of ice and piles of snow to hard rains and winds to blistering sun rays. And for the many commercial structures that have a flat roof, repairs aren’t unusual. 

Restore your flat roof’s strength and protect your property with FIVE STAR ROOF SOLUTIONS, INC. expert repair services in Woodward, PA. Say goodbye to leaks and water damage. Our skilled team ensures quality craftsmanship, prompt solutions, and competitive pricing. Don’t wait; safeguard your investment today. Trust us for reliable, efficient flat roof repairs. Your peace of mind starts here! Give us a call at 814-810-6982.

How are flat roofs installed?

There are a variety of flat roofing styles for commercial structures in this area, each installed a little differently. The type of business being conducted inside, the owner’s budget and the weather are all factors that determine which type of roofing system is best. The different types of common roofing and their installation process include: 


Abbreviated as BUR, this is one of the oldest types of roofing on commercial structures. And while there are newer types, this one is still being installed all across the country.  A BUR system is installed in a continuous and semi-flexible membrane fabric or felt layers that are alternated with asphalt-based materials like aggregate and bitumen. 

This is an ideal roofing system that is durable, requires minimal upkeep and flat roof repairs are relatively easy. Routine inspections are recommended twice a year to stay on top of small issues and make any flat roof repairs needed to maintain a leak-free roofing system. 


These are thermoplastic single-ply membranes that offer significant benefits, especially in terms of reflectivity with the white surface. They are chemical resistant, ideal for a structure that houses a restaurant or food production operation because it is resistant to fats and oils that escape at the roof. 

PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin) roof materials arrive in rolls that are laid across the flat roof. They are either adhered or mechanically attached to the roof decking. It is a labor-intensive, two-step process installation. These types of flat roof repairs are done using an adhesive and like-material patches.


This is another popular flat roofing material, a thermoset single-ply membrane that provides fatigue and scratch resistance. EPDM ( Ethylene propylene diene monomer) is a rubber-type material and has proven to be a durable roofing material over the past 50 years of existence. A highly durable roofing material that can withstand anything thing the weather sends. 

This flat roof repair is done by pressure-applying with a roller of like-material material. It isn’t the best in UV reflection due to the black surface, but a ballast of light color can be included in the installation to make it more energy efficient.


Another flat roofing system is also referred to as a rubber roof and is installed in layers of a petroleum-based substance and rubberized material. This gives the roof a strong foot-traffic resistance and is one of the easier roofing materials to install using a self-adhering process.  This flat roof repair is done when the roof surface is completely dry and then a liquid rubber coating is applied.

How much does a flat roof repair cost?

This will depend on the type of roofing material on the roof and the extent of the damage. The cost of flat roof repairs can start around $5,000 and reach upwards of $50,000 or more. By keeping up with routine inspections that catch the small issues will minimize that expense. 

What is the life expectancy of commercial flat roofs? 

Choosing the right type of flat roof material with the longest life expectancy is an important factor for the building’s owner. This isn’t an expense they want to repeat for many years! Lifespans of some flat roofing rubber-like materials between twenty and forty years such as EPDM, PVC, and TPO. Modified BUR and BUR lifespans are between 20 and 30 years.

What are some downsides to flat roofing?

Flat roofing can be an excellent type of roofing for a commercial structure, but some disadvantages include: 

  • Drainage issues
  • Constant inspections
  • Minimal insulation
  • Minimal curb appeal
  • Prone to Leakage
  • Roof buckling

Why does a flat roof leak in heavy rain?

Flat roofing is not truly ‘flat’, there is a slight slope to these roofs and drainage is crucial in preventing leaks. In heavy rains, because of the low slope, pooling is a common problem, putting the roof at risk of leaking. If the pooling continues, flat roof repairs will start with removing the pooling water, cleaning the drains, and if needed, replacing the damaged areas of the roof. 

Durable Roof Repairs for Durable Roofs

A flat roof may not give a commercial structure pizazz, but they are durable and serve many different industries well. By keeping a schedule or inspection twice a year, small issues can be addressed, minimizing expensive flat roof repairs or replacements. Working with an experienced commercial roofer is essential to get the best roofing installation that offers a long life expectancy with few problems going forward. Work with our team for flat roof repair in Woodward, PA by giving us a call at 814-810-6982.

A Flat Roof

Can a Flat Roof Be Repaired?

flat roof coating being applied to a flat roof

Learn more About Flat Roof Repair

It isn’t any secret that here in Woodward, Pennsylvania the winters are often brutal. The inches of ice followed by several feet of snow can cause havoc on a commercial structure with a flat roof. Repairs are common after winter because after the spring rains begin, the winter damage becomes apparent with leaking roofs.

How do ice and snow cause damage to a flat roof? 

Flat roofs are more susceptible to being damaged by ice and snow because they are flat. A roof with angles automatically discards the ice and snow as it melts. It is the sheer weight of ice and snow accumulated on a flat roof that bears down the roof decking. This leads to water being forced under the top roofing layer, and then it leaks into the interior of the building. 

Yes, that white stuff is pretty to look at, and it feels light and airy, but a cubic foot of snow can weigh around 8 pounds. And if the snow is packed, it can weigh as much as twenty pounds per cubic foot. And the ice that usually comes after the snow, another 60 pounds per cubic foot is added to the roof. If that ice and snow aren’t cleared routinely, you can be pretty sure you’ll need flat roof repair or replacement when spring comes around. 

Another cause of ice and snow causing flat roof repairs is the freeze-and-thaw cycle. Flat roofing will fluctuate between contracting and expanding, which is caused by the repeated freezing, thawing, then refreezing routine. 

As the snow melts, it will pond and puddle on a flat roof. Some of the water will evaporate, some will drain off, and what doesn’t evaporate or drain will refreeze. The original freeze and the thawing can cause damage that results in flat roof repair from the water seeping into cracks and crevices of the roofing membrane. This is why monthly roof inspections are recommended, especially when there is communication equipment, electrical equipment, and the HVAC system on the roof. 

Why are there flat roofs then?

After reading about the ice and snow damage that leads to expensive and extensive flat roof repairs, you may be wondering why commercial structures have flat roofs anyway. Well, the primary reason is because of the cost.  A sloped roof construction requires more materials, an expenditure that can be minimized by going with a flat roof instead. Other reasons for flat roofs on commercial structures include: 

  • Height restrictions in some municipalities.
  • Ground space is maximized by placing HVAC and other equipment on a flat roof. 
  • Aesthetics are often a key factor for designers of commercial structures. 

Are there different types of flat roofing materials? 

Yes, and which of the types you choose is important when constructing a new commercial structure. You need one that is within the budget allowed, but it needs to meet all building code requirements and restrictions too. A few options in flat roofing materials are: 

  • Built-Up Roof 

A short name for this is BUR and it is often referred to as a tar and gravel roof. This is perhaps the most common commercial flat roof because it is durable, effective, and budget conscious. The “built-up roof” is named that literally because it is ‘built up’ from the roofing surface using altering layers of asphalt paper and tar on a fiberglass matting for reinforcement. To finish off the build-up, a layer of tar is applied, followed by a layer of aggregate. 

In addition to being extremely durable, another advantage for this type of roofing material for flat roofs is the long lifespan, up to 50 years. The disadvantage of this roofing material is the cost can be higher than some because of the oil-based asphalt, the labor and time to install it, and the odor from the tar. 

  • Metal Panel Roof 

When cost savings are the focus, a metal panel roofing system is a frequent choice. The simple design of metal panels that are installed with a special sealant at the joints and then a neoprene seal at every washer. This is an inexpensive but durable roofing option. The major downside is the short lifespan. 

  • Single Ply

In comparison to other roofing materials, this one is relatively new but is quickly becoming the more popular one. Made with one layer of a synthetic membrane that is flexible, lightweight, and UV resistant. This type of commercial flat roofing is an economical choice based on the thickness chosen. 

Within single-ply commercial roofing are three types: 

  • TPO (Thermoplastic Polyolefin) 
  • PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)
  • EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer)

Of the three roofing types described, which one requires the flat roof repairs more often? 

With proper maintenance and monthly inspections, flat roof repairs should be minimal regardless of the roofing materials. But when flat roof repairs are needed, you want to choose one where the repairs are easy and inexpensive. 

The built-up flat roof repairs are relatively easy using waterproof roofing cement for sealing the small cracks. Larger damaged areas are repaired with the same material as what the roof is made from. 

 Metal flat roof repairs can be done by soldering and small cracks can be sealed with aluminized caulk and fiberglass patches over larger damaged areas.

water damages on a flat roof

Which type of roofing material is best for flat roofs in winter weather?

In an area like Woodward, PA where the winters are longer and more prominent, the best type of flat roof materials are PVC and TPO. Both are single-ply roofing made of thermoplastic and are Hot Air Welded installed instead of an adhesive, making them more durable in the freeze/thaw/refreeze cycle.

Between PVC and TPO roofing materials, when it comes to flat roof repairs, you’ll have less with a PVC roof versus the TPO roof. While TPO is cost-effective on the install side, it has more flat roof repair needs because it isn’t as durable. 

In Closing – Maintenance, Maintenance, Maintenance

It can’t be stressed enough that maintenance is the key to a long-lasting flat roof material no matter which one you choose. With monthly inspections, routine cleaning, and getting any flat roof repairs done as soon as they are noticed is important for a long lifespan.

FIVE STAR ROOF SOLUTIONS, INC. is here to help with your flat roof repair in Woodward, PA. Contact our team at 814-810-6982 to get started.

What Is TPO roofing?

A Roofer Installs TPO.

What is TPO roofing?

Have you ever seen a bright white roof on a business? This is most likely TPO roofing (Thermoplastic Polyolefin), one of the most common types of roofing used on commercial and industrial facilities. They are often used on flat roofs.

As a single-ply membrane, you’ll benefit from it in many ways, including energy savings. Other benefits include:

  • Reflective and energy efficient: It reflects UV radiation, reducing heat absorption and improving energy efficiency.
  • Class-A fire rating: Chemicals added in the manufacturing process make the material fire-resistant.
  • Ease of installation: Easier installation lowers labor costs.

If you are looking for an energy-efficient and durable roofing system, a TPO roof might be the right choice for you. To learn more about TPO roofing in Woodward, PA, contact FIVE STAR ROOF SOLUTIONS, INC. at 814-810-6982.

How long will a TPO roof last?

TPO roofing has a relatively long lifespan, varying by thickness. Typically, the thicker the material, the longer it will range. For TPO thicknesses range from 45 mil to 80-plus mil. At 80 mil, a TPO roof comes with a 25-year warranty, but with regular maintenance, it can last 30 or more years.

Is TPO a good roof?

Among single-ply roofing systems, TPO has over the past few decades begun to surpass PVC and EPDM in popularity. Why is this? Its many advantages outweigh its disadvantages. Some of the benefits of TPO include:

  • Cost-effective: It tends to be offered at a lower price point than similar materials like PVC
  • Strength and durability: It has a strong ability to resist tears and punctures as well mold and dirt build-up, especially at the seams. Its seam strength is three times stronger than other rubber roofing systems.
  • Energy efficient: UV resistance properties will ease cooling costs in warmer months.
  • Easy installation: It requires less labor time to install than other membranes like EPDM.

One of the few drawbacks of TPO roofing is its difficulty to manage extreme heat. This is primarily a concern in warmer climates.

Which is better, TPO or EPDM?

In many cases, the roofing system you choose will depend on your needs and budget. In general, single-ply membranes like TPO or EPDM are valued more than older systems like built-up roofing. Energy efficiency is a big draw with these systems.

The choice between TPO or EPDM often comes down to price. EPDM is typically less expensive than TPO roofing but it also has weaker seams which leads to greater risks of leaks. Even though TPO is a little more expensive to install, it takes less time to install and its seams are much stronger, so water intrusion is less likely. It’s also typically easier to repair than EPDM, most often just requiring patch over the damaged area.

EPDM can save you money if you’re working on a larger roof. It also fares better in coastal regions where high winds and salt spray are common.

Can you recoat a TPO roof?

If your TPO roofing is damaged or beginning to show signs of wear, you might not have to go to the expense of tearing it off and completely replacing it. Depending on its condition, one repair option is to coat the roof with a silicone or acrylic coating. These coatings seal up leaks and make TPO even more energy efficient.

Better still they’ll extend your roof’s life by 10 or more years and can be recoated. FIVE STAR ROOF SOLUTIONS, INC. specializes in roof restoration coatings. We are also happy to upgrade your warranty when the roof is recoated.

Can you walk on a TPO roof?

One myth that seems to be upheld with single-ply roofing membranes is that you can’t walk on them. But this just isn’t true. You can walk single-ply membranes like TPO. They can handle light foot traffic, which may be necessary for repairs or maintenance.

However, to avoid damaging the roof, we recommend wearing soft-soled shoes. If heavy foot traffic is anticipated, special membranes can be placed over the areas such as around HVAC systems where traffic is expected.

You also should take care to avoid dropping heavy tools or equipment or leaving these materials on the roof as this could lead to damage.

Can TPO roofing be repaired?

Although TPO roofing is highly tear- and puncture-resistant, it’s not immune to damage. Fortunately, TPO is one of the easier types of roofing systems to repair. Because the material is heat weldable a simple puncture can be repaired with a patch.

Another way to repair TPO is to cover it with either a silicone or acrylic roof restoration coating. A new coating can be added as time passes.

Check your warranty before making a repair to make sure the warranty won’t be voided by the repair.

Can TPO be painted?

Although most TPO roofing is bright white, the material can be installed in a variety of colors that match your building’s look. Darker-colored TPO may lose some of its effectiveness with cooling the building. These darker colors might also begin to fade over time. To match the rest of the building, some building owners may elect to paint the roofing material. This is perfectly fine.

If the paint job is a DIY affair, you want to take precautions not to damage the integrity of the material. You want to make sure the paint you use is compatible with the material. If you do not use an elastomeric paint, you will need to prime the roof with a water-based primer and use an acrylic resin emulsion paint.

TPO roof installers near me

A TPO roof has a lot of advantages over other single-ply membranes, including tougher seams that prevent leaks. It’s a popular choice for commercial flat roofs and it’s easily installed which will save in labor time and costs.

If you are interested in TPO roofing in Woodward, PA, you can always rely on FIVE STAR ROOF SOLUTIONS, INC. as a trusted source for all your commercial roofing needs. Schedule a time for an estimate today by calling 814-810-6982. We are always ready to help.

TPO Roofing Installation

Is Single Ply Roofing Any Good?

A Roofer Installs TPO.

What is single-ply roofing?

When it comes to commercial roofs, more and more businesses are choosing single ply roofing systems. These types of roofs are used on buildings designed for flat or low-slope roofs. Made from flexible synthetic polymer sheets, facility managers and building owners like this material because it can be used on so many types of buildings from large industrial complexes to residential garages.

The membranes are durable and easy to install, which lowers labor costs when putting on a new roof. They also provide considerable UV protection, especially when paired with a roof coating, and will improve the building’s overall energy efficiency.

If you would like to know more about using single ply roofing in Woodward, PA for your next roofing project, give FIVE STAR ROOF SOLUTIONS, INC. a call at 814-810-6982.

Is single ply roofing the same as TPO?

TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin) roofing is one type of single ply roof membrane. Its use in commercial roofing has grown over the past few years, and many prefer it over similar materials like EPDM and PVC.

These roofs are typically bright white and valued for their UV protection. They reflect the sun’s rays, so there is less heat absorption which leads to less energy used up by your heating and cooling system. This means you’ll save on long-term utility costs.

Most TPO roofs have flame-retardant materials added to them during the manufacturing process which makes them highly fire-resistant.

What is the most common type of single ply roofing?

There are three main types of single ply roofing: EPDM, TPO and PVC. For more than 60 years PVC was the most common (largely because they were the only) single-ply system on the market.

But, today most commercial buildings use EPDM or TPO with TPO gaining in popularity every year. Besides providing ample UV protection, TPO is also valued for its puncture- and tear resistance. Most are also fire-resistant.

All single-ply membranes share similar characteristics. They are, for instance, relatively easy to install. Ease of installation accounts for much of these systems’ popularity. It also cuts down on labor costs.

How long does single ply roofing last?

Single-ply membranes generally have a long life expectancy, in particular materials like TPO or PVC. These membranes can last anywhere between 25 to 45 years, depending on maintenance efforts.

What affects these roofing systems the most, creating the most problems, are faults in installation. The membranes themselves are pretty sturdy, but other components including insulation and the adhesive often affect the installation. A fault in any of these components can cause serious problems that will reduce the roof’s lifespan and lead to frequent repairs or even premature replacement.

To ensure you have a durable roofing system installed, look to the professionals at FIVE STAR ROOF SOLUTIONS, INC.. We are commercial roofing specialists that have the expertise to get the job done right the first time.

Can you walk on a single ply roof?

While single-ply membranes are sturdy, they typically aren’t designed to handle heavy foot traffic. These roofs can also be slippery when wet, so precaution must be used in inclement weather.

If you do expect heavy foot traffic on your roof, you might want to consider installing a walkway membrane.

Also, when you do have to walk on the roof for maintenance or repairs, service technicians need to be careful with their tools and equipment. Single-ply membranes can be punctured if heavy tools are dropped on them. Punctures in the roofing material can leave it vulnerable to leaks.

In addition, to prevent punctures it’s also wise to trim branches from any nearby trees and keep the roof clear of debris or loose equipment.

Benefits of single ply roofing

When property managers and building owners choose single-ply roofing they understand the benefits of using these membranes. Here are the key benefits of these roofing systems:

  • Ease of installation which lowers labor costs
  • Weather-, tear-, and puncture resistant
  • Resistance damage from UV which reduces wear and deterioration
  • UV protection lowers the heat absorption and improves energy efficiency
  • Material is environmentally friendly and recyclable

What are the disadvantages of single ply roofing?

No roofing system is perfect and this includes single ply roofing. Here are some of the disadvantages of single ply roofing:

  • Lacks a hard top layer to prevent punctures from dropped tools and equipment
  • Installation can be hampered by roofing accessories like vents or HVAC units. Additional membrane has to be installed around these areas and can be vulnerable to leaks.
  • Seams can be vulnerable to leaks but with a roof coating application, the seams can be sealed.
  • UV radiation can degrade the adhesives which makes the seams vulnerable to leaks. Any punctures or tears make the adhesives even more vulnerable to deterioration.

Single ply membrane with standing seam

Usually, when commercial buildings have steep-sloped roofs most designers and architects choose standing seam metal for roofing. Not only is metal roofing very durable, it’s also much more aesthetically pleasing. It’s also relatively costly to install.

While standing seam is durable and long-lasting, once it comes time to replace the roof, you might want to consider installing single-ply membranes instead. Although typically installed over flat roofs, they can be installed over steep-sloped roofs as well. Although they may be less aesthetically pleasing than standing seam metal, they are less cost-prohibitive and just as durable.

Moreover, there are some types of single-ply materials that can be molded to look like a standing seam roof.

One of the main reasons to avoid recovering a metal roof with single-ply roofing is that single ply can change the water flow on the roof. Poor installation of the single-ply material can lead to ponding or water pooling over the roof.

Single ply roofing companies near me

When you want a sturdy roofing system that’s easy to install you might want to consider single ply roofing. Whether it’s EPDM, PVC, or TPO, you get a system that can be used in multiple industrial and commercial applications.

For single ply roofing installation in Woodward, PA, you can always rely on FIVE STAR ROOF SOLUTIONS, INC. Schedule a free estimate by calling 814-810-6982.

A Single Ply Roof