Flat roofs, also called low-slope roofs, are commonly found on commercial buildings. Although called flat roofs, they do not live up to their name; they are angled slightly to promote good water runoff. A roof’s pitch is measured by its fall over 12 inches. If a roof falls one inch over 12 inches, it has a pitch of 1 and 12. If the roof has a pitch of 3 and 12 or less, it qualifies for a low-slope roof. Sloped roofs have a pitch of 4 and 12 or greater.

Flat roofs have a reputation for being an imminent leak threat. Whether your roof is at risk for leaks depends a lot on the quality of installation.

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It is critical to have the roof pitched sufficiently so that swimming pools do not form on top of your roof. Water weighs more than eight pounds per gallon and will wreak havoc if left sitting on your rooftop. Also, older roofing membranes often had a 10-year life without much maintenance and another 5-15 years with ongoing repairs. Newer roofing membranes appear to be superior, and some come with 50-year warranties. Seams are the trouble spots; select a roof covering that is seamless.

What are the advantages of a flat roof?

A flat roof with large overhangs protects the siding, windows, and doors of your building from the brunt of the weather. This protection lowers the maintenance costs for these parts of your house. Because the roof slope is low, the overhang is angled out and does not block the windows, permitting sunlight to enter the room and providing pleasant interior light.

Flat roofs are more convenient, giving a handy place to install HVAC units or solar panels. Some people are exploring the options of creating a green roof by growing vegetation on their rooftop. If you are adding onto a building, a flat roof gives a uniform appearance and looks much nicer than a building with unblended roof pitches.

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