How do you waterproof a flat roof?

flat roof with seams

Do flat roofs always leak?

Commercial structures commonly have flat roofs, and even though they are built to protect the contents and occupants, for any flat roof, waterproofing is needed. There are several flat roof waterproofing materials available on the market, which one to use depends on what type of roof coating is on the roof, the climate, the environment, the condition of the current roof. Dial 775.358.7663 to connect with our team now about flat roof waterproofing in Sparks, NV and more!

Flat roofing gives the impression of being cost effective and simple, but then the stories you hear about flat roofs leaking is discouraging. Especially if the building is located in an area prone for a lot of rain. Much of what you hear about flat roofs leaking is often exaggerated. 

Yes, flat roofs are more prone to leaks, which is why it is important that flat roof waterproofing is done. Because they are “flat” they aren’t able to shed water like a pitched roof.  A two things that should be pointed out about flat roofs: 

  • They are not 100% flat. There is an ever-so-slight slope to allow water to run toward drains that are installed on a flat roof. 
  • A poor installation job during construction is usually the culprit which is often human error. This happens when a contractor is cutting corners to make the budget usually. Even the best contractor could make a miniscule mistake that would cause a flat roof to have ponding though. 

Irrespective of the workmanship, there isn’t a roof of any design that doesn’t have any potential of leaking during its lifespan. A flat roof that is properly maintained can give your building 30 years of excellent protection. That maintenance includes taking precautions like doing monthly inspections, have repairs done, and waterproofing flat roof coating installed as recommended by your roofing contractor. 

Are there issues with flat roofs?

When you own a commercial building with a flat roof, you know that you will have maintenance and upkeep that you may not have with other types of roofing, like flat roof waterproofing. That isn’t although when it comes to a flat roof. Over time, you know that any roof will need replacing, and with a flat roof, you may have a concern about finding a roofing contractor to do the job, the same with repairs. You don’t want to have just any roofing contractor to do the job; you want experience. 

There are many significant benefits to having a flat roof, waterproofing it will eliminate many worries. Here, we will share six problems that owners flat roof building owners experience. 

  • Alligatoring–The asphalt that is used to build a flat roof will lose its elasticity as it ages, and lost its elasticity, causing it to bubble, crack, and look like alligator skin. When a flat roof gets to this point, unfortunately, no amount of flat roof waterproofing or coating will save it.  Time to shop for a roofing contractor that is experienced in flat roofs. 
  • Leaks, Moisture – For flat roofs, this is like the most common problem. However, flat roof waterproofing is an effective way to deal with it if caught in time and stay in check with the roof’s condition. Because the roof is flat, the only place water can go is straight down, and using no flat roof waterproofing options available today, that moisture will seep into the roof, then you have fungus and mold problems.  The routine monthly inspection and follow through with maintenance and repairs as needed can prevent this from happening. 
  • Membrane Buckling – Asphalt flat roofs and shingled roof are constructed similar with the material of asphalt soaked membrane that is laid across, making the roof. Where they differ is on a flat roof, the membrane is one piece and as the building shifts and the roof constricts and expands with the weather, the asphalt membrane will buckle. As soon as this is noticed during a monthly inspection, getting the roof replaced is suggested. 
  • Water Pooling – Rain and snow have no place to go when it lands on a flat roof. Over time, as a building settles over time, the roof will shift some. This can cause water to pool in the dips and divots and should be drained off quickly. Check to make sure the water didn’t seep through the membrane to the roof layers below.
  • Cracks in Roof – Pressure is extensive for flat roofs and that pressure increases to the point of excessiveness, causing it to crack. Any sign of this, call a professional roofing contractor immediately. This crack could be more than just the roof, the structure could be compromised and may require an engineer inspection. 
  • Flashing – The metal flashing on a flat roof will contract and expand with the weather, like any other material. That continuing contracting and expanding will loosen the flashing from the roof, leaving a place for water to seep in and start leaking. Monthly inspections should catch this and if repaired immediately, there shouldn’t ever be a problem. 
water on a flat roof

How many years does a flat roof last? 

Several factors can affect the lifespan of a flat roof. With proper inspections and maintenance, including flat roof waterproofing, and repairs as needed, a flat roof membrane can last up to 50 years. 

How do I stop my flat roof from ponding? 

There are different flat roof waterproofing methods that can take care of water ponding, but first, you need to find the problem.  The following steps are recommended by roofing contractors: 

  • Clear all drains and drain channels
  • Clear the gutters and downspouts – make repairs if needed
  • Any puddles indicate low spots – repair those
  • If the slight slope is missing – have it repaired 

Do flat roofs need gutters?

Yes, it is recommended by expert roofing contractors. Flat roofs need some type of lean to that route the water toward the gutters, which should be installed at 5” and 6” drop from roof edge. 

Final Words 

As a commercial business owner, taking care of the roof is just as important as the HVAC, office supplies, and vending machines. If your roof isn’t in excellent condition, the structure is at risk, and that can be more expensive than flat roof waterproofing, repairs, and especially replacement. Connect with us now by calling 775.358.7663 to learn more about flat roof waterproofing in Sparks, NV.