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Flat Roof – Repair or Replace?

Commercial Flat Roof Repair You Can Count On

Does your commercial flat roof have a leak? Water damage and leaks can be the result of several issues – poor installation, improper maintenance, or just plain old age. When this happens, the big question is always should you repair or replace your roof?

How often should you replace your flat roof?

What type of flat roof you have will be a big determine factor in when your roof should be replaced. Different materials have different lifespan expectations. Here’ss what to expect from the main types:

  • EPDM Rubber – If you were to believe most of the information online about this material, you would expect it would last as long as 50 years, but its simply not true! Based on our experience out in the field, rubber is the least durable membrane and it will that last 10-12 years probably, at most under perfect conditions.
  • TPO – This material should last a good 15-20 years and is a quality product.
  • PVC – This is the longest lasting single-ply membrane, with a lifespan of 25-35 years, or more.
  • Modified Bitumen – Another short lived material. You should expect about 10-15 years.
  • Rolled Asphalt – Hardly ever installed today, and for good reason. Typically It will last only 5-7 years.

As you can see, depending on what you have and how many years its been since it was installed, you can get a pretty close sense of when it will be time to replace your flat roof. Its also critical to keep in mind that a lot of these materials can and will fail completely, requiring replacement long before these projected average life expectancies. This is usually due to faulty installation, or if the property is located in a particularly harsh climate.

Always Get An Inspection First

Commercial Flat Roof Repair ContractorsTo figure out whether you’re better off doing a roof leak repair or replacing it with a new membrane, ask a professional commercial roofing contractor to complete an inspection on your roof. Be sure that you hire an experienced professional, because a basic general contractor or a residential roofing contractor won’t know all the details and complexities of these materials. Because of this they could give you poor advice that will cost you more money and time to repair or replace in the future.

During the inspection, your contractor should include checking all of these items to be thorough:

  • – Seams
  • – Flashings
  • – Attachment points
  • – Check for cracks at joints and corners, around chimneys and ventilation slits.
  • – Assess any damage: deterioration, punctures, aging, leakage, ponding water, etc

It’s critical that they do a test-cut – cutting through the material to see what its like under the top layer. Often, they will find mold and rotted sheathing underneath that won’t be visible on the surface.

Commercial Flat Roof Repair Contractors With Experience

Cost to Replace

Prices will vary, also depending on what type of material you select.

  • EPDM is the least expensive option. It usually costs between $4.50 – $5.50 per sq.ft. But it also has the shortest lifespan and is more prone to moisture penetration than the other materials.
  • PVC is an excellent membrane that can cost $6.50 – $7.50 per sq.ft. It offers premium water resistance and durability.
  • TPO is a good value, typically costing $5.50 – $6.50 per sq.ft. It offers a compromise in terms of quality and price between the other single-ply materials.

How Do You Know To Repair Your Flat Roof?

If your roof has been properly installed, you’ve performed routine maintenance regularly, and it started to leak anyway, repairing is probably best.

There are a several things to consider:

  • 1 – If you don’t want an endless cycle of repairs every few months, get an expert, experienced, commercial roofing contractor to do the job. You might pay a little more money, but you will save yourself thousands of dollars, as well as avoid stress associated with recurring problems in the long run.
  • 2 –  If you have modified bitumen, you will most likely need a pro, as it requires torching to repair.
  • 3 – If you have a tar and gravel roof thats leaking, finding the source of the problem is not easy. Even the most skilled professional will probably have a repair success rate of 50% or less, so, it will most likely have to be replaced.
  • 4 – If you have a single-ply membrane, shy away from roof coatings. They’re expensive and only last a few years. The coating will eventually start to peel, chip and crack. If your roof still leaks, it becomes pretty much unrepairable.

Regular Routine Maintenance is Critical

Whether you have just replaced or repaired your roof, regular maintenance is the most important factor to its living up to its expected lifespan.

Even the best, most costly products won’t achieve their top performance without proper care and maintenance. It just takes a few simple steps:

  • As a rule of thumb, do maintenance at least once every year. You should also do the necessary upkeep on an as-needed basis, for example after a major snow/rain/wind storm, freeze/thaw cycles, etc.
  • Remove any loose or embedded organic debris like moss, sticks, branches, etc.
  • Check the seams and flashings for obvious wear and tear.
  • Clean the drains and keep them clear from any obstructions.

Here at Armadillo Roofing & Exteriors, we’ve been helping our commercial clients with their flat roofs since 2003. When you need a trusted, experienced commercial roofing contractor to inspect and give you advice about repairing or replacing your flat roof, give us a call at 512-333-7663.

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