installing flat roof insulation

Avoiding The Pitfalls Of A Flat Roof Extension

If you are considering an extension or even an outbuilding for your home, you will have quite a few decisions to make. One such decision is the type of roof you’ll choose.  Gable, hip, Dutch, butterfly. There are many roofing options on offer.

Of course, the choice you make will depend on broad criteria including planning permission and the overall design you are looking to achieve.

However, one main consideration is the price.

Just how far will your budget stretch to get the roof you want?

Reasons for fitting a flat roof

Home and property owners who are sticking to a budget often opt for a flat roof finish on their extension or outbuilding as an affordable ‘no frills’ option.

However, there are other reasons for choosing a flat roof style.

You may want to keep your options open to adding a further storey to your new build at a later date. You also might like the idea of creating a balcony off a first story room that opens onto the roof. Or, you may want to create a storage area on top of your new outbuilding, where you can keep bulky items – like ladders, garden furniture or even bikes.

These are all very good reasons for finishing off your building project with a flat roof finish and with your mind made up you may be ready to go ahead with your plans.

But before you forge ahead, let’s look at some of the common challenges faced by home and property owners when it comes to a flat roof and what you can do to overcome them.

Taking the right corrective action can save you on disappointment and unnecessary expense further down the line and will mean your roof is fit for purpose no matter what you have in store for it.

Our guide to common flat roof problems and how to avoid them

1. Pooling water

Despite appearances, flat roofs aren’t completely flat. A slight incline is necessary to ensure water and snow is able to drain effectively. If water can’t drain away or evaporate within 72 hours it can damage the roofing material and cause leaks.

Small patches of pooling water can easily be patched up to prevent further accumulation.

Simply dry the roof area and patch over with a layer of rolled asphalt before sealing with a thick layer of rubber. Large pools of water are often a sign of severe damage and may require the whole roof membrane to be replaced.

2. Obstructions

Many things can obstruct the gutters and drainage points of flat roofs, including leaves, twigs, snow and household objects such as balls and toys. Over time this can lead to severe blockages and pooling water which can lead to leaks and unnecessary stress on the roof.

Regularly inspect the roof to remove any obstructions and check for damage. This is particularly important during the autumn and winter months as wet leaves and twigs can quickly cause significant blockages. Gutters should be cleaned at least twice a year to prevent build-up.

3. Blistering

Moisture can get trapped between the membrane of the roof. On a particularly hot or sunny day this water expands, causing the roof membrane to lift away in small bubbles. Over time these bubbles can burst, leaving the inner layers of the roof exposed. Once it has popped, you can repair or replace the affected section of your roof membrane.

Make sure the new membrane extends a minimum of 6 centimetres beyond the edge of the bubble so it remains waterproof. You should regularly clean your flat roof, as a build-up of moss and algae can trap moisture and accelerate blistering.

4. Cracking

The weather plays a significant role in the health and longevity of your flat roof. Intense periods of sunlight, wind and rain causes the surface to expand and contract over time. This can cause the roof surface to crack.

This phenomenon is also known as ‘alligatoring’ as the pattern it causes is similar to an alligator’s hide!

To fix the issue and prevent the cracks from expanding, apply a primer followed by a new layer of coating to the surface the roof. If the cracks are severe or extensive you should seek professional help as the integrity of the roof may have been compromised.

5. Damaged flashings

Flashings are essential for preventing water seeping into the structure. If they become damaged or are improperly installed they can create gaps, leaving the roof vulnerable to leaks. Damage can also be caused when moisture builds up and allows fungus to grow, pushing the flashing out of position.

To prevent this, regularly inspect and maintain all flashings. If they begin to come away from the roof, replace them immediately. This will help to maintain the integrity and waterproofing of the roof. If flashings aren’t regularly maintained and a leak does occur, the roof will need replacing.

DIY or call in the experts?

Fitting a flat roof is something that you can do yourself, although it’s always best to bring in the experts to complete the job if you want a roof that will stay in tip-top condition for the long-term future.

Call Keay Roofing services on 01753 358267 or email office@keayroofingservices.com to give your latest building project a finish you can rely on.

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