Options for Replacing a Flat Roof
LESLIE: Sam in Utah, what can we help you with here at The Money Pit today?
SAM: Yeah, I have a flat roof and it’s leaking. We’re needing to get it replaced.
SAM: So I was wondering – we have a couple options of either to replace the tar or else get what they call a TPO membrane roof.
SAM: I don’t know if you know which is better; which will last longer.
TOM: Well, you know, a good old-fashioned, built-up tar and slag roof is just terrific if it’s property installed.
TOM: I mean it can last you 25, 35 years. Now, a built-up roof is called that because that’s how it’s made. It starts with the raw roof deck and then they put hot tar on …
TOM: … and then they put a tar paper and then more tar and more tar paper and so on; ending up with a layer of either stone or shells, depending on the part of the country you’re in, to help reflect sunlight off of it.
TOM: That’s a traditional roof. Been done that way forever on commercial buildings. You know, it works until it leaks.
Now, these membrane roofs are also excellent. Have great UV resistance. Again, they have to be properly put down. They have to have the right kind of base. Are you planning on stripping the first roof or putting the second roof over it?
SAM: All of the estimates we have is they’re going to take off all the tar.
TOM: Great, because that’s absolutely the best way to do it.
So the second one sounds like an elastameric membrane roof. Is it ballasted? Is there going to be anything on top of it when it’s done?
SAM: No, it’ll just be the membrane.
TOM: Membrane itself?
TOM: You know, I think that they’re both good options. One is sort of, you know, traditional and one is more of a modern technology. I think that either option is fine. I would probably base my decision on the experience of the roofing contractor.
TOM: Are both these recommendations coming from the same roofing contractor or is it two different roofing contractors recommending two different things?
SAM: Well, the contractors that do tar recommend tar and the ones that only do membrane recommend membrane.
TOM: That’s what I thought. Yeah, you know, because these guys recommend whatever they’re used to working with and listen, as long as you’re comfortable that the contractor you choose is experienced, has a good reputation and will stand behind his work, from a longevity perspective I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend either one.
SAM: OK, thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.