Navigating the complex world of roofing terminology can be challenging. Nowadays, there’s a huge variety of roofing systems available, each specifically suited for certain environments or aesthetic tastes. There are several flat roof replacement options in particular worth exploring. Before you decide, you will want to consider the architecture of the building, the way it will look, and how it will perform long-term.

Single-Ply Roofing

A single-ply roof consists of one layer of synthetic material like PVC or ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM). Synthetic single-ply roofing materials come in large sheets which are rolled onto the roof. These “membranes” seal the roof from water leaks and are strong enough to withstand most inclement weather conditions. Among synthetic single-ply materials, TPO, or Thermoplastic Polyolefin, has gained steam since the 1980s and remains a popular choice today. Most thermoplastic membranes are attached to the roof by direct adhesion or through induction welding. It’s also possible to secure a thermoplastic membrane using ballasts or mechanical means, but this method is potentially vulnerable to high winds. One of the big upsides to single-ply roof systems is their ability to reflect the sun’s heat and harmful UV radiation away from the building. This can contribute to increased energy savings over the years. The prospect of energy savings from a single-ply roof system like TPO or EPDM is a major reason why it’s a common choice for many companies. Additionally, synthetic roof materials like these are excellent at repelling oil and chemical residue often found around industrial environments or restaurants.

Built-Up Roofing

Built-up roofing or BUR refers to the process of adding multiple layers of roofing material to create a seamless, waterproof barrier. In traditional BUR roof systems, a combination of fiberglass, tar, and plyboard are layered on top of one another. Most modern built-up roofs can last 25 or 30 years if properly maintained. Due to the increased materials and labor needed in built-up roofing, these systems tend to cost more than single-ply options. However, built-up roofs have been around for over a century and have acquired a reputation for reliability. Depending on the level of protection desired, up to 5 layers of bitumen and other materials may be applied. Gravel is often added to the top layer which serves two purposes: First, to further protect the layers beneath from the elements, and second, to help weigh down the roof materials. One thing a built-up roof has in common with some single-ply systems is the application of this layer of gravel. Some single-ply rooftops are secured by larger stones called “ballast stones” and provide further protection from the sun. For BUR systems, these stones may either be embedded directly into the tar and bitumen material or loosely spread across the surface to create a durable defense against rain, wind, or snow.

Felt Underlayment

Roofs with felt underlayment are designed to breathe while simultaneously protecting the building from moisture. For many homes, it may be required to have felt underlayment installed for a roof to be assigned a Class A fire rating. To prevent water from entering penetration points on a flat roof, many consider PVC sheets or thermoplastic systems to have superior waterproofing attributes. Most single-ply roofs do not require an additional moisture barrier to prevent leaks. Your roofing contractor will discuss the various roofing options which will work best for your style of roof and the type of weight threshold it can support.

If you’re considering a roof replacement for your Mid-Hudson building, call Vanguard Roofing today for expert roofing assistance. Our professional roofing technicians will discuss the various roof systems which would work for your building to help you decide between a single-ply or built-up roof system. Ask about our energy-saving solutions or having a reflective coating applied to your roof to decrease cooling costs year-round. We have a track record for being among the safest roofers in the region, having won the Northeastern Subcontractors Association Safety Award 6 years in a row. For over 25 years, Vanguard has provided superior roofing services to our valued customers throughout New York. Call us today to schedule a free consultation. We will conduct a thorough inspection of your roof and answer any questions you may have, guiding through the roofing installation process from start to finish.