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What is the Best Material for a Flat Roof

firestone for rubber roofing in the ukWhat is the best flat roof, or roof material for flat roof replacement? This is a question I have asked a whole lot, and to be honest there was never a right or wrong answer – But the advice I was given by Richard Davies of when I called his company out for the roofing of a new extension,  there’s sometimes a kind of flat roof that will suit a flat roof of a particular size, shape, detail level or budget. So if you want some impartial guidance on the kind of roof I generally go for these days when remodeling properties free of sales patter, read on.

Rubber Roofing

These have stormed onto the UK market after extended results in the USA and some other countries. The rubber or E.P.D.M. (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) is normally made by Firestone, and can often be installed in one full layer without having to use joins (dependant upon size) which makes it an appealing prospect. It is very lightweight per square metre, extremely elastic and tough, so it lends itself to a lot of roofing situations. Nearly all new residential rubber roofs are glued down to a new wooden roof substrate, although they can in some situations be laid on top and mechanically fixed or weighed down with ballast. My personal preference for domestic roofs is a new install with new roof decking as a single ply membrane.

A well installed rubber roof, to the right roof, could last up to Half a century. Some firms will supply a guarantee for 50 years, but this guarantee varies from installer to installer. I question whether the company is still going to be trading in 50 years or if they’d honour the guarantee after a couple of decades have passed, so take this with a pinch of salt.

The Benefits of Rubber for the Roof

Price – Competitively priced, expect to pay 20-30% more than a torch on felt roof.
Suitability – Ideal for green roofs, light-weight, flexible and solid. Will not install well into roofing with tricky details, pipes, curved upstand walls, complicated gulleys or gutters because it will become full of joints, which can look ugly and lead to leaks. Good for nice simple shaped roofs, no naked flames needed.

Damage level of resistance – An incredibly durable roof, it can resist nearly all kinds of punishment besides heavy impact from pointed objects, but not being cut or vandalised.

Repairability – It is usually repaired very easily with rubber patches, similar to a cycle tyre, although they are not pretty to look at.

Appearance – For me personally, right here is the achilles heel. It’s a personal factor but a big sheet of black rubber, looks like a big sheet of black rubber if you ask me. Of course if it’s not noticeable from a window, should it matter?
Installation problems – Regrettably the evident ease of install has attracted shady roofers who fancy some fast cash. Look for a roofing company with good trading reviews or a history of fitting other kinds of flat roof. A large rubber roof will shrink over time, some say up to 10%, personally I’ve seen it at about 5%. Shrinkage may cause edge details and upstands to pull away from wall structure if they’re not fitted with the right fitting details, like a russ strip (mechanically fixed edge fixings). A better made fleece backed EPDM will resist or stop shrinkage, so if you have a large roof, this can be worthy of a look. A simple roof can be installed in rubber by a savy DIYer.


My personal choice these days when dealing with a new flat roof is rubber, for the reasons mentioned above, but there are lots of other options available which all have their own merits and qualities. In the North East I always use Responsive Roofing for my flat roofing projects, thye specialise in Rubber but take a look at their site if your in the area for more information on various other materials for flat roofs. For the DIYer you can buy the material direct from Permaroof UK Ltd.


Hiring Roofers

dont get screwed when hiring a roofing companyHow do I choose a Roof Specialist?

I’ve dealt with my fair share of roofers in my time, some good, some bad, others down right awful, I hope the guide below finds you before you find the bad or the downright awful!

One of the best places to begin looking for a roofer is trade association websites such as the NFRC or CORC. Always make sure the roofing contractor you hire is registered with at leasat one major. Consider at least 3 quotations from three different companies before choosing one. This is the suggested approach when choosing any home professional or contractor.

Weeding out the cowboys, or how to spot a dishonest contractor

It’s every property owner’s headache: Choosing a contractor that looked capable on first impression, only to have him/her make a mess of your lovely home through lack of skill! The good news is, your best defense against this disappointment is good old-fashioned word-of-mouth. Ask friends, family or nearby neighbours for referrals (or warnings!) relating to local companies. Ask them if the work was finished in schedule and within budget. Also, you can ask the potential contractor for a portfolio of personal references and images of their work. Any good contractor is going to be happy to provide you with these. If they’re not, it’s probably wise to look somewhere else. A list of costumer’s addresses would also be helpful, as you could personally see the work.

Evaluate the problem yourself first

One of the key signs that your roofer might be a dodgy tradesman is if he exaggerates the scale of the problem, how much work he will have to do and, subsequently, what kind of money you’ll need to shell out. It was actually a roofing company in Barnet who gave me this advice ( SQR Roofing And Building Services) , it’s so simple and yet makes so much sense, on further research it is actually recommend by industry experts that you attempt to evaluate the problem yourself first prior to calling anybody out. For example, if your roof leaks from one small, single area, it is unlikely you need a full re-roof and instead will simply require one section to be patched and repaired.

If you have a friend or member of the family with knowledge of home improvements or DIY, ask if they would take a look for you. If not, use a ladder to safely and carefully look at the damage yourself.

Check their credentials

It is vital that you always look into a company diligently before employing them to complete any work. This means ensuring that they are a qualified, experienced and insured company with the related accreditations and trade associations.

One of the most effective ways to work out swiftly if they are a well established firm is to ask for all their details – which includes their address and telephone number. Any roof contractor who just gives you a mobile number should raise your suspicions as they are then almost untraceable.

Inquire about their experience

Before contracting a roofing company, even one reccomended like SQR roofing & Building were recomended to me to re roof my flat roof industry experts suggest that you make sure they’ve got related experience executing the job you need them to do. It is ineffective to hire a roof contractor with unique experience in thatched roof restorations when you need a new flat roof installed and it’s likely that, following their work, you will have to hire a second roofer to fix the job the first one didn’t do!

Instead, ask them to be truthful with their working experience. You want to ensure you employ a roofer that has a wealth of knowledge and professional experience undertaking the actual job you require. There’s no point wasting your time – or theirs!

to do fix the roofIn Summary

Finally, trust your intuition. If a roofer rubs you up the wrong way, even at the contract stage, don’t be afraid to back out prior to signing and resume your search. Unless water is pouring in overhead, it pays to take your time on this major financial commitment.

The BBB ( better business bureau) offer some good advice in the video below before hiring a roofer: