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Old 08-19-2011, 01:27 PM   #1
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Flat Roof Advice

I've gotten 3 different quotes for a rip off and re-roof of my residential flat roof. All in the same ball park $ wise. One suggests replacing my EPDM with EPDM, another with TPO, and another with ice guard material and granular roof material on top of that. I live in snow country and have a lot of trees on the property-if that makes any difference to the suggestions. I've been reading up and still not sure what to do as EPDM didn't last that long for me last time I did it 11 years ago. It is leaking at all the seams and was poorly installed.


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Old 08-19-2011, 02:58 PM   #2
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You always get a better job with a tear off. You may be at the maximum number of layers, I don't know, but if so a lay over may be illegal.

There's no reason to isntall ice shield and then modified unless the salesman is uneducated and thinks the self adhering base sheet is ice shield. I'm not a fan of modified anymore but when installed properly can be a fine roof. I'm also not a fan of isntalling torch on modified without some kind of cover board over the wood substrate, assuming it is a wood substrate. Be very careful when playing with fire.

There's nothing wrong with EPDM, but I prefer TPO because of the heat welded seams. TPO has an iffy reputation with some early failures. PVC has a good reputation, like epdm, and heat welded seams like TPO, so it's a win win. But PVC costs more than TPO or EPDM.

Here is another thing to consider. Where do you live? Reflectivity may be an important concern for energy effeciency reasons. TPO is usually white, though available in other colors. And EPDM is usually black, though available in white for an upcharge. White is reflective and is pretty much the norm for a majority of the flat roofs we install.

The roof is more than just the membrane. God I am getting tired of typing this out every day, there are a dozen posts with similiar information, but here gos anyways. The roof is more than just the membrane. It is also possibly cover board, possibly insulation, possibly ventilation, and all the details. The details include wall terminations, pipe flashings, drainage and/or gutter and more and more. It's the accessories and details that really make up the roof. Neglect one detail and a flat roof will leak. Neglect an essential accessory and the roof won't last as long as intended. In comparing proposals from licensed and certified roofing contractors, you must consider ALL variables, not just the membrane.

Learn more about your flat rofoing options.

If you have existing epdm, it should last longer than 11 years WHEN PROPERLY INSTALLED. Even 45 mil should last longer than 11 years. You may benefit from a seam and penetration restoration, the epdm membrane may be in good shape. The EPDM should last forever, it's the seams and adhesives that fail. If the roof was poorly installed you can't blame the membrane.


-Grumpy http://www.illinoisroofinspections.com
The information found in this post is not to be considered legal advice. The author of this post takes no responsibility for any losses that occur. Use at your own risk.
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Old 08-19-2011, 03:39 PM   #3
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I'm in Cleveland, OH. The TPO will be white and EPDM will be black according to quotes. I must have tear off cause the wood beneath is rotten. Sounds like you're advising TPO. I do have a chimney that they need to go around. No one has mentioned PVC as an option and I'm done getting quotes. Need to get it done since it is leaking into room below.


Last edited by and_denise; 08-19-2011 at 03:42 PM.
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Old 08-22-2011, 01:07 PM   #4
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Sheet or liquid applied

Denise, the problem with sheet goods is if they leak, and the weak spot is the seam, then water will migrate over the entire roof surface. I would also avoid any built up roof system - again seams fail, leaving no protection for a flat roof.

You should consider liquid applied roofing materials - not the acrylics, but 2 component urethanes, or a methacrylate roof (more money). The acrylics are good top coats, if you want white, but they have limited resistance to ponded water and do best when there is a slight pitch.

Call Soprema or Johns Manville or one of the higher end roofing companies for their recommendation. Also look for Tank Liners - products intended to line water tanks so water immersion is no problem.

The point is that a material that adheres to your roofing substrate will do better, in my opinion, than Anything with seams, particularly the EPDMs, TPOs, and PVCs that aren't well adhered.

You will need to tear off, repair the rot left from the last seam that failed. This would be a good time to add more insulation - there are roofing designs that allow that either under or over the liquid applied membrane.

Good Luck

Last edited by ChezProvence; 08-22-2011 at 02:35 PM.
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Old 08-23-2011, 04:23 AM   #5
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grumpy is absolutely right. he had a lot of good insight when i replaced my flat roof
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Old 08-24-2011, 03:07 PM   #6
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I have a flat tar and gravel roof that is 1 1/2 inches thick what is the best way to tear it off?


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