Flat roofs

by Nick 15. February 2012 22:39

Flat roofs

Q. We live in Heswall, Wirral. Our master bedroom looks out onto a flat roof extension. We are aware that the roof is nearing the end of its useful life. Are there any options to improve the appearance of the flat roof and / or prolong its life?

A. We receive many queries regarding the appearance and life span of flat roofs. The same principles apply to new builds, extensions and refurbishments.


In the past flat roofs have received a bad reputation due to poor detailing, construction and the use of unsuitable products.


With advances in the technology and construction the life expectancy of a flat roof has increased and insurance backed warranties of 15, 20 and even 25 years are now available, provided an approved installer is used.


The use of flat roofs on extensions and new builds should not be dismissed based on past reputations. They can offer the most appropriate aesthetic design solution, particularly for single storey buildings. The detailing and construction is key to their success.


We usually provide a parapet wall to the roof edge. This gives a clean line avoiding unsightly views of the gutters and roof membranes from outside the property.


If the roof is to be viewed from windows above it is possible to make a new or existing flat roof ascetically pleasing in a number of ways:-


1.      Green roofs come in various forms, the simplest of which is a sedum blanket rolled over the roof.

This provides an attractive finish. Sedum plants do not grow too high, the roof does not become overgrown and maintenance is minimal. A green roof system also improves the insulating properties of the roof and protects the roof from damage. This increases the predicted life expectancy of the membrane. I have heard manufacturers predict a life expectancy of 60 years although they are unable to prove this at this stage.

www.bauder.co.uk and www.protan.co.uk are useful sources on information on flat and green roofs.


2.      Convert the roof into a terrace. Deck or pave over the roof to provide and interesting outdoor space. Access and edge protection will need to be provided.


3.      Installing a roof lantern will transform a room. When viewed from above it also reduces the expanse of roof finish and allows interesting views into other parts of the property.


4.      Changing the roof to a pitched roof may, in some circumstances be more visually appropriate. The chosen finish (tile, slate, sheet metal) will dictate the required pitch and consideration must be given to any first floor windows.


When changes are made to an existing roof consideration will need to be given to the details and any structural implications. There may also be Planning / Building Regulations requirements.

Always use a reputable installer and obtain a warrantee.


 green roof with roof lanterns


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