Common Coverings for Flat and Low Slope Roofs

Common Coverings For Flat And Low Slope Roofs

It’s goes without saying but, you can’t use shingles on flat or low slope roofs because they are vulnerable to leaks. However, several types of coverings can work for your flat or low slope roof. For more information about a material that can work for you, call Nelson Contracting at (402) 464-2418. We provide professional commercial roofing services in Omaha and Lincoln, NE.

To make the best decision, you will want to weigh the pros and cons of each option based on your needs. Climate should factor into your decision, as you want a flat roof that can handle rain and snow.

Tar and Gravel

This roofing is also called built-up roofing or asphalt and gravel. It is a more traditional method of roofing. The process of installation requires these layers:

  1. A base layer this is waterproof
  2. Layers of roofing felt combined with tar
  3. A final layer of gravel on top (to shield it from the sun)

While this roofing can last for about 25 yearswith some maintenancethere are several drawbacks to consider. The installation process is long and challenging, and the fumes from this roof are toxic. Also, if the roof begins to leak over time, it can be hard to find the source of the leak.

Modified Bitumen

This covering is similar to the built-up roof but is a newer version. It consists of layers of polymer-modified bitumen. Granules cover the top layer to make it resistant to tears and UV radiation.

The construction process of this membrane is simpler than that of a tar and gravel roof. The seams of the layers are welded together with a torch. Alternatively, they can be connected with adhesives. Modified bitumen has elasticity, which makes it resistant to impact.

The elasticity also helps in cold weather. While it is more expensive than tar and gravel, it can last up to 35 years.

PVC or Vinyl

PVC is a popular plastic roof covering material because it can be easily manipulated and is very durable. Contractors apply this material in rolls. Then, they weld them together. It is hard for water to penetrate this material.

The downside to PVC is that it is not environmentally friendly. The way that it is manufactured and disposed of is environmentally harmful. Also, PVC coverings are not compatible with asphalt. Contractors have to be careful to use separator sheets between PVC roofing and asphalt.


Rubber roofs are also called EPDM roofs. These roofs are made of synthetic rubber, and they can withstand all sorts of weather. This covering is easy to apply and affordable, which makes it an excellent option for both homeowners and contractors.

EPDM and PVC membranes are not applied in layers, but they still effectively keep water out. Right now, the EPDM roof is the most common flat roof material in the United States. It has a lifespan of 20-30 years.

Regardless of material, you want to stay on top of maintenance to increase your flat roof’s longevity. Over time, ponds of water can cause your roof membrane to pull at the seams. If you need flat roof replacement or repair, contact Nelson Contracting at (402) 464-2418.

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