How Do Professionals Repair a Flat Roof? (Step by Step Guide)

March 1, 2023

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If you need to repair a flat roof, it’s best to rely on a professional. Trained, experienced contractors ensure quality roof fixes that last. Also, note that walking on a flat roof incorrectly can just cause more damage! On the other hand, a professional avoids that damage while providing reliable repairs you can trust.

However, knowing more about how the pros repair a flat roof can help you understand what to expect on your property. This information can also help you choose the best pro for the job, one who’s knowledgeable about flat roofs! With this in mind, check out how most pros address needed flat roof repair.

repairing a flat roof

Step One: Determining the Materials

Before making repairs, a roofer needs to determine the materials used for your roof! Consider the most common flat roof repair materials used In the U.S.:

  • Rubber roofing resembles the materials used to make tires. These materials are durable and help insulate against sound.
  • TPO roofing is similar to rubber but has a reflective white membrane over its surface. This roof material helps reflect heat, cooling a structure’s interior.
  • Bitumen roofing isn’t as common as other options. Manufacturers create this material from asphalt, similar to shingles. However, it’s applied with an open flame, making it more dangerous to work with than other choices.
  • Tar and gravel roofing consists of several layers that a roofer applies during installation. A popular option, tar and gravel roofs are durable and last for decades!
  • PVC roofing offers a strong, durable surface and is also lightweight and flexible.

Step Two: Finding the Flat Roof Leak

Finding a roof leak isn’t always as simple as you might assume. One reason for this is that running water travels before it drops. Two, worn or faded spots along the roof might look like they’re creating leaks when they’re simply discolored from age.

With this in mind, a professional roofer will usually inspect the area of a roof leak from inside the structure. Also, they’ll check more than just the roofing material. For example, they might look for damage around vents, skylights, and other obstructions. Flashing installed in these spots can suffer tears and leaks just as easily as roof materials!

Step Three: Determining the Cause

Determining the cause of a leak is vital for any roof repair! Skipping this step can mean inadequate repairs that don’t last. For instance, contractors might need to replace an aged roof rather than simply patching a few worn spots. On the other hand, patching over minor storm damage can be effective for some roofs.

Also, some property owners mistakenly think that they can walk on flat roofs without causing damage. Moreover, falling tree branches from nearby trees can damage flat roofs. A roofing contractor might need to warn property owners against this added wear and tear. Doing so will ensure their fixes stay intact and that your roof lasts as long as possible.

Step Four: Making Roof Repairs

Roofing contractors will typically ensure all connectors are intact as part of their repairs. This includes screws, bolts, nails, and other materials. Over time, these can pop, rust, or just outright fall away from roofing materials. Neglecting to address this issue can mean more roof damage down the road.

To fix holes, punctures, tears, and leaks, roofing contractors typically use fresh tar for tar and gravel roofs. This mixture seeps into leaks and helps bind roof materials together. Also, a contractor might use rubber patches to address torn rubber or TPO roofing. Strong adhesives bond these patches in place, keeping the roof watertight.

Lastly, roofing cement is a great choice for repairing various flat roof materials. As with any patching cement, this material binds to the roof and provides a watertight seal. It also helps keep the material from tearing or pulling away from the decking under it.

How Long Will a Flat Roof Last?

As with any roof design, a flat roof’s lifespan depends on its materials and everyday wear and tear. For instance, tar and gravel roofs usually last between 15 and 20 years. Bitumen roofs might last 10 to 15 years. Rubber roof lifespans can last 10 to 20 years or more.

However, how you treat a roof can affect its overall durability and when it needs replacing. With this in mind, note some quick tips for ensuring your flat roof stays intact as long as possible:

  • Avoid walking on a flat roof as much as possible. Walking on a roof pulls at its materials, risking premature tears and leaks.
  • Keep trees nearby trimmed as needed. Branches scraping along a roof’s surface can tear and dislodge its materials, risking leaks.
  • Invest in professional services for repairs, rooftop AC compressor installation, and the like. Professional contractors are more likely to ensure proper sealing of openings, reducing the risk of leaks.
  • Recoat the roof as often as needed. Coatings add a layer of protection against water damage and other such issues.

How Often Should a Flat Roof Be Recoated?

In most cases, property owners should invest in a flat roof recoating no more than every 5 years. Also, roofs exposed to strong storms typically need more frequent recoating than others, usually every other year. In turn, if your property is in the tropics or a place with lots of snowfall, have that roof recoated often!

Above all, remember that a roof repair contractor near you can advise on how to maintain your roof. He or she might recommend more frequent coatings or better repair methods. They can also tell you when it’s time to replace that roof entirely rather than attempt repairs.

RC Roofing is happy to help explain how professionals perform flat roof repairs. You can also visit our other entries for more information on roof fixes and replacement advice. Also, call our Rhode Island roof repair contractors when you’re ready for expert services. We’ll schedule a FREE inspection and price estimate at your convenience. For more information, contact us today!

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