5 Key Facts About Low Slope Roofs That Contractors Should Know

Despite the setbacks experienced due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, forecasters predict that the roofing industry should rebound. It’s predicted to grow by 0.2% per year, reaching 253 million square meters by 2024.

So, if you’re a contractor, you should prepare yourself for busy days ahead.

You can get started by finding out more about the finer details of low slope roofs and why you should recommend them to your clients.

1. Types of Low Slope Roofs

Low slope roof options are usually the first choice for commercial buildings, but they’re becoming more popular for residences too.

These roofs are flat or nearly flat, with a slope of less than 3:12. That means the roof extends less than 3 inches up for every 2 inches of its length.

Low slope roofs consist of various materials but most of them comprise the following:

  • A weatherproofing layer to repel water
  • Reinforcement to add resistance and strength to the membrane
  • Surfacing that protects the other layers from rain, snow, fire, and hail

Some types of surfacing materials also increase solar reflectivity.

Residential low slope roofing falls into one of two categories. These are:

Large Flat Roof Applications

These commonly occur on buildings like row homes, condominium complexes, and townhouses. Contractors can install these roofs to comply with Energy Star requirements. So, building owners may qualify for tax rebates for installing these roofs.

Small Flat Roof Applications

These types of roofs are common on structures like porches and garages. These fixtures often occur in conjunction with steep-sloped roofs.

Contractors can color-coordinated these flat roof surfaces to match the existing shingles.

2. Easy Maintenance and Installation

It’s easy to install low slope roofing solutions. Contractors needn’t haul large trusses up to the top of the building, they install supports from the side of the structure instead.

When compared to installing shingles one by one, it’s quick and easy to roll out and seal the materials used in low slope roofs.

This means fewer labor costs and lower overall cost when installing these types of roofs.

Although low-slope roofs require more frequent cleaning than pitched roofs, it’s easy and safe to walk around on them to get the job done.

The benefit of regular cleaning means you’ll pick up any issues with your roof quicker. So, you can take action in time to prevent costly repairs.

3. Energy-Efficient Advantages

Flat roofs usually beat pitched roofs when it comes to thermal performance. That’s because of new innovative low slope roofing materials that lower overall cooling and heating demand on the building.

Low slope roofs usually comprise sheets of rigid insulation topped with a membrane system. Rigid insulation is a type of continuous insulation, which means it has the same R-value (resistance to heat flow) at every point.

In simple terms, that means it has no gaps in it.

Due to this, it retains hot and cold air more efficiently than the typical fiberglass insulation used in pitched roofs.

4. Low Slope Roofs Have Few Disadvantages

Due to their low pitch, snow, water, and ice don’t slide off low slope roofs very readily. This can lead to leaks and damage unless homeowners remove these elements regularly.

Even in summer, debris can accumulate on a low-pitched roof and damage the roofing material. That’s why you need to choose roofing materials carefully when installing this kind of roof.

Asphalt shingles are the best way to prevent build up on roofs, but these aren’t suitable for roofs with a slope less than 8.5 degrees. Fortunately, there are other materials highly suited to this purpose.

5. The Best Materials for Low Slope Roofs

Low slope roofing systems are the ultimate option for these types of roofs. They’re made up of a specific combination of materials designed to improve efficiency and withstand the weather.

These are the best materials for low slope roofs:

Built-up Roofing

BUR roofing systems are completely watertight. They comprise alternating layers of asphalt and reinforcing fabric, with a top layer of stone or gravel aggregate.

The first layer’s always made of asphalt which adds strength to the roofing system.

Rubber Membrane Roofing

Rubber membrane roofs require expert construction. They’re made of a thick rubber layer secured with roofing glue and metal anchors. You seal any seams with specialized waterproof tape.

These types of roofing systems are also known as EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) roofing. EPDM’s suitable for new roofing constructions as well as re-roofing or repairs to existing flat roofs.

Modified Bitumen

Modified bitumen roofs closely mimic BUR roofing. The main difference is that modified bitumen roofing’s installed in pre-made sheets. You don’t have to build it up layer by layer on-site.

This means you’ll end up with a smoother more even surface than with BUR roofing.

Single-Ply Roofing

A single-ply thermoplastic roofing system works well if thermal capabilities are a priority.

The factory set up usually has a white color that reflects UV radiation, helping to keep the building interiors cool. These sheets of roofing membrane are large and wide, so there are fewer seams involved.

You also don’t need to work with hot asphalt or torches when installing these roof membranes.

Although shingles aren’t suitable for shallow slope roofs with a gradient of 2:12, you can use specialized low slope roof shingles on the upper range of low sloped roofs i.e. 3:12.

Click here for more detailed information on the best materials for low slope roofs.

Better Homes Start With the Best Roofing Advice

From this, it’s easy to see that low slope roofs have many benefits for residential applications, although they’re widely under-utilized in this sector.

Are you keen to find out more about low slope roofs and other housing maintenance topics? Keep browsing our website for the best information on a wide range of topics.

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