A guide to flat roof options

When choosing the right flat roof covering, you need to take a number of considerations into account, including the look you want to achieve, the size of your flat roof, the type of weather it’ll face, and the amount of labour it will require.

Taking on a flat roof construction, repair, overlay or replacement? It's critical that you choose the best flat roof material. Read on to understand the different types of flat roof covering, their advantages, and the various installation methods available


EPDM Roofing

Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM) is a single-ply rubber roofing system, which is fitted without the need for joins, making it an attractive prospect on many levels. Simple and safe to install, with no naked flames, the synthetic rubber is glued to a clean roof decking. A wet bonding adhesive and a stronger contact adhesive are applied around the perimeters. Trims are fitted around the edges to waterproof the flat roof – giving a smooth, clean finish.

Extremely lightweight, tough, and elastic, EPDM is the right choice for you if you are worried about expansion and contraction, often an issue with larger flat roofs. With a lifespan of up to 50 years, our Resitrix and Hertalan EPDM range of membranes offer sealing versatility for every challenge and, provided the decking is sound and the structure can carry the extra weight, they prove to be the perfect flat roofing ‘overlay’.

Root penetration is not a problem for rubber membrane. Its excellent waterproofing properties make it ideal in the construction of green roofs (see below).


Cure-IT GRP Roofing

A Cure It roof is a Glass Reinforced Polyester (GRP) fibreglass roofing system. Constructed from a GRP laminate, it has a specially formulated liquid roofing resin and reinforcement mat. Suitable for complex shapes, the material is cut to suit the roof and, again, no heat is required! The Cure It flat roof materials come with a 20-year guarantee.

The laminate is applied over a securely fixed Oriented Strand Board 3 (OSB3) 18mm tongue and groove (T&G) deck, while the perimeter is finished with Cure It trims. Finally, the entire flat roof is coated with topcoat. This finish is available in a wide choice of colours and, installed correctly, a Cure It roof has a lifespan in excess of 50 years. If you have a small roof, you might want to opt for our Cure It Roofing Kit. It provides everything you’ll need (apart from trims and rollers) to create the perfect 12m² roof. For flat roofs of other dimensions, there’s a helpful Cure It app to tell you everything you'll need to know.

Cure It mixing ratios are adapted to suit variations in temperature allowing year-round installation, even when temperatures drop to 0°C, by using the specially formulated Extra Cold resin.

Note: Training is recommended before using the Cure It system and we offer regular certified training courses in our local depots. Please contact us for further information.


What about traditional flat roof felt?

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it! Bitumen flat roof felt is affordable and provides a great waterproofing result. The longevity of the roof depends on the quality of the materials used.

In the traditional ‘pour and roll’ process, bitumen is supplied in blocks, broken up and heated in a boiler until molten. Once at the correct temperature, it is ladled into a bucket and poured hot onto the deck, insulation, or lower layer of the membrane. Layers of membrane are rolled into it.

For all sorts of industry demands, our bitumen boilers are an excellent choice. Robustly constructed, they come with essential accessories. These include a heavy-duty burner, three-metre armoured hose, and an adjustable regulator. Choose from our 10, 15 and 25-gallon sizes. Delivery will be direct to you within just a couple of days from receipt of order.

In our roofing tools section, you will also find accessories to suit all your felt flat roofing needs, including galvanised V-lipped steel pouring buckets, tar bowls, and more.


Modified bitumen - the ‘Torch-On’ felt technique

‘Torch-on’ flat roof felt comes in roll format. In the manufacturing process, a base felt is pulled on rollers through large tanks of bitumen mixes until saturated with a tar-like bitumen mixture. The result is a roll of water-resistant yet breathable material.

Modified bitumen refers to when the tar has been mixed with filler components. These fillers provide rigidity and tear resistance. Fillers can include limestone, sand or polymers, including styrene-butadiene styrene (SBS) – a synthetic rubber additive that increases elasticity. The advantages of SBS modified torch-on are a faster flow of bitumen, less heat required (resulting in cost, time and energy savings) and greater flexibility in cold climates.

Torch-on flat roofing construction follows the same principles as pour and roll, except that modified bitumen adhesive is applied to the felt during manufacture. Heated onsite with a gas torch, the modified bitumen pours down the face of the roll to form a small pool. The felt is rolled forward into the hot bitumen.

We have a large range of torch-on flat roof felts from leading manufacturers including Geco, Bailey and IKO online and in-store.

Products come in a variety of colours and surface finishes that resist oxidisation and damage from UV rays. Geco copper-faced felt is also available to offer a flat roof covering that is not only striking in appearance, but performs in temperatures as low as -25°c. We also stock a range of propane torches and torch kits that combine affordability with great performance, along with every solution you will require, including bitumen primer and felt adhesives to enable felt roofing efficiency.

Note: This is a hazardous job, requiring  high safety levels. Rather than tackling this roofing job without the essential skills, we always recommend contacting a professional.


Green Flat Roof Alternatives

A green flat roof alternative is a type of living roof, consisting of a layer of vegetation placed on a rooftop. If yours is visible from above, imagine looking down onto an attractive point of interest! Green roofs provide wildlife habitats for insects and birds in an otherwise redundant space. So, they’re not only beautiful to look at, but also provide an ecological and environmental benefit by absorbing the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Have you heard of the ‘urban heat island’ effect? Green roofing reduces the impact of the summer heatwaves forecast to be an increasing problem in the future. The fact they are a great natural insulator will save money and reduce energy costs.

The heat-regulating effect keeps your building cool in summer and warm in winter – saving on your energy bills! The sound-reducing properties of a green roof means they are chosen to provide more peace and quiet. Not only do they provide protection from noisy aircraft/traffic, but also heavy rainfall or hail, which can cause problems on a flat roof.

Easy to install, the tiles of this flat roof material click together, so there’s no experience or green fingers necessary! They’re also self-sufficient, requiring no irrigation and zero maintenance. Our pre-grown, ready-to-use complete green roof kits are from GrufeKit. Simply choose from sedum or sedum and wildflower mix. Both provide evergreen colour all year round.

Get in touch to discuss your flat roof options

When considering the best flat roof material, your priorities and budget will factor considerably in your decision. Hopefully, the various flat roof covering options outlined above will give you a clearer idea of what you need for your project.

We pride ourselves on our comprehensive product range, which is why we have all the additional tools and equipment you’re likely to need. Shop online and in-store for the premium-quality walkway matting, vents, drains, outlets, solutions and sealants to complete your flat roof construction.

If you need any help choosing the right flat roof coverings or with any other issue, our friendly team are here to advise. Please give us a call on 0800 124 4431, visit your nearest Burton Roofing depot, or email enquiries@burtonroofing.co.uk and we’ll be happy to help.