Many Northampton homeowners have flat roofs on their garages, porches or extensions because of their compact design and space-saving features. Flat roofs are also popular because they give properties a sleek and modern look.
What is a flat roof?
The term flat roof is a misnomer as they are actually installed at a slight angle. In fact, they are easy to install, requiring less time and labour than a standard roof. Like all structures, you will need to look after your roof carefully and ideally fix any damage as soon as you notice it. However, what should you do if the cracks and holes are too large or numerous? Will you need a flat roof repair or a full replacement? Here is some information to guide your decision.
What is the average lifespan of a flat roof?
One of the main reasons for the popularity of flat roofs for garages and extensions is their durability and affordability. On the downside, they can be vulnerable to leaks, which means you may have to repair or replace your flat roof every 20 to 30 years or so.
Do you need to repair your old flat roof or install a new one?
Usually, a replacement roof is more expensive than a repair job. However, certain factors can influence your decision. For instance, if you can afford a better roofing system, why not go for the upgrade? You may also wish to replace your roof with one that is more suited to the unpredictable Northamptonshire weather.
There are various types of flat roofs:
- Built-up roof (BUR)
- Ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) rubber roofing system
- Bitumen, modified
- Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) flat roof
There are certain situations where you will need to replace your existing flat roof with one made from a different material.
How to check for repairs
By undertaking some simple preventive maintenance, you will be able to detect any sudden leaks or damage to your flat roof. Then, you can contact a flat roof repair expert while the damage is still only minor.
The most common flat roof repair issues involve water leaks. If you spot a leak, you should take action immediately because left unchecked they can cause substantial damage to your property.
If water is allowed to leak through the flat roof, it will pass through the roofing substrates, insulation and structural decking.
Bituminous felt and other similar materials are commonly used in flat roofs. However, if they are not installed correctly, you may need a replacement within ten years. The degradation will only accelerate if the flat roof is exposed to extreme weather conditions, such as heavy rain and strong winds. Even a well-maintained flat roof can suffer damage caused by one of the following:
- Physical impact, such as falling tree branches
- Wildlife making a home within the structure of your flat roof
- Everyday wear and tear
Should you carry out the flat roof repair yourself?
This will depend on several factors, including:
- The extent of the damage
- Where the damage occurred
- Whether you have the correct repair materials and necessary know-how
- Whether your repair will withstand the weather
If it’s an emergency, you should try to carry out a temporary but safe flat roof repair until you can contact an experienced roofing company to assess the problem.
Repairs for different types of flat roof
- A single-ply roof or rubber-type roof may require special maintenance work; for example, welding the material with a heat gun.
- Flat roof repairs involving fibreglass materials often require a full ‘kit’ of components with strict procedures to follow.
- You can repair felt roofs by “patching” them using a variety of materials, such as paint.
It is often easier to repair newly formed punctures and cracks, especially if they have not been exposed to excess water. However, most leaks are gradual in nature and remain undetected until it’s too late. For this reason, periodic flat roof inspections can save you from having to pay for a costly repair or even a full replacement in the long run.
You can also purchase kits for emergency repairs. Nevertheless, although they are useful for preventing further water ingress, they do not address the issue of rotting. Once you have completed the repair, you should ask a professional to inspect it and offer some advice.
Most flat roofs with felting have bitumen underneath. Roofers often melt the bitumen and attach it to the wooden structure using a blowtorch. Unfortunately, the only way to determine whether you need to replace the wooden beam and struts is to remove the felting. This will add to the cost of repairing or replacing your flat roof.
How to check a rubber flat roof and carry out repairs
With the appropriate knowledge, tools and repair materials, you should be able to carry out minor flat roof repairs.
- Locate the crack and determine the extent of the damage. It is easier to locate the source of the water pooling by looking for damage inside rather than outside.
- Use a tape measure to determine whether the leak is coming from outside the flat roof. Even if it seems minor, repairing it immediately will reduce the risk of further damage and unnecessary expense. You should also check for any signs of wear and tear.
- Clean the area first. You can use a broom or cloth to remove any mud, dirt, gravel or debris from the area you’re working on. Also, you must wait for the roof to dry before you begin the repairs.
- Seal the leak. You can use adhesive patches to cover any small cracks and holes. To avoid wastage, make sure you measure the damage first.
As a general rule, you should reseal your flat roofing system every five years, even if there are no leaks or waterproofing problems. Resealing is an essential maintenance technique that will prolong the service life of your roof.
When should you replace a flat roof?
A full replacement is often the best option if a flat roof repair would be too extensive and costly. For instance, if you pull back the felt and uncover rotten timber, the only solution is to replace it.
Although flat roofs are affordable, many people consider them to be a short-term solution as the material used is either chipboard or plywood. Nevertheless, you can extend the lifespan of your flat roof by using superior-quality decking timber.
You can also help protect your flat roof and enhance its aesthetic qualities by adding stones and chippings. These materials can protect the felt roofing from ultraviolet light and thus extend its service life. Adding insulation can also reduce your maintenance and repair costs.
How can I avoid expensive flat roof repairs?
Once your new flat roof has been installed, you should clean it on a regular basis and carry out periodic maintenance checks. Never ignore seemingly minor problems, such as hairline cracks, as they may be an indication of more severe damage.
Furthermore, if repair work is unavoidable, you should contact a specialist as soon as possible. If the problem is dealt with at an early stage, you can avoid the pain of facing a bigger bill when the damage gets worse.
Only employ an expert
If you live in the Northampton area, hiring a reputable flat roof repair expert will not only keep your home protected but it will also save you from unnecessary costs. There are various ways of ensuring that you employ the right person for the job:
- The roofers should have the necessary licences and insurance. At Kingsley Roofing Services, we have comprehensive and current accident insurance. We are also an accredited member of the National Federation of Roofing Contractors.
- Even if the flat roof repair is an emergency, the roofing company should always provide a written and detailed quotation that sets out the scope of work, the labour costs and the price of materials.
Favourable customer reviews and testimonials are also an excellent indication of a roofing company’s positive reputation. If you visit the Kingsley Roofing Services website, you will find lots of glowing reviews from our satisfied customers.
While national roofing companies seem to enjoy a good reputation, local Northampton-based companies offer more benefits. At Kingsley Roofing Services, we provide competitively priced and tailored services. And, by hiring us, you will also be supporting the local economy.
What should you expect from a flat roof repair?
As soon as you contact Kingsley Roofing Services, we will arrange to visit your home to assess the condition of your flat roof and determine whether it needs repaired or completely replaced. We will also examine the roof for signs of damage and the roof timbers for signs of rot.
As well as providing a free, written quotation, we will also factor in other essential considerations, such as:
- If the old flat roof is dismantled, will it be taken away from the property?
- How much will the scaffolding cost?
- How much are the flat roof repair materials and what are the service costs?
Our extensive experience of repairing flat roofs enables us to offer reliable advice on how to repair or replace your roof quickly, efficiently and at a reasonable price.
At Kingsley Roofing Services, we have a team of reputable and experienced flat roof repair experts who are always ready to provide a high-quality service in the Northampton area. If you require our roofing services or have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. We also offer free and no-obligation quotations for your flat roof repairs.