One of the main roles of any roof is to keep water out , and that’s why flat roofs are prone to problems. Because they have no slope , they can’t effectively discharge rainfall or snow melt. Wherever water ponds , there is potential for infiltration , and infiltrating water is a destructive force for virtually every type of building construction.
The vulnerabilities of flat roofs limit their performance , so counteractions must be taken to protect the building. To prevent water susceptibilities , membranes such as built-up roofs must be expertly applied to present a level surface , otherwise there may be ponding and possibly leaks. But these membrane roofs require high maintenance to keep them performing , and their life expectancy is relatively short , about 15 years.
That means replacement is inevitable , so it’s best to know your options. When faced with the need to replace a flat roof , many building owners find retrofitting a more viable investment , and so they erect a long-lasting , low-maintenance sloped metal roof. A metal roof has recently been shown to have a service life of 60 years or more , meaning it will likely last for the entire useful life of the building , eliminating any further replacement costs.
Custom-designed retrofit systems are available , such as Star Buildings’ Nu-Roof system. The concept can be applied to almost any flat roof , and low-slope or high-slope configurations are possible. In essence , a steel framework is erected over the existing roof. It is ready to accept metal panels. Then , a high-performance , low-maintenance standing seam metal roof is installed.
Low-slope solutions—as low as 1/4":12”—are possible , for a roof that would barely be visible from the street. High-slope roofs offer more architectural enhancement , and can be an opportunity to add color as well as protection. A wide variety of metal roof panel styles and colors are available.
Maintenance requirements , for retrofits and any other metal roof , are simple. The roof should be cleaned and inspected , twice yearly , for damage. Any scratches should be primed and painted , holes should be fixed. Hazards that might damage the roof (such as overhanging branches) should be removed. And if properly maintained , a metal roof can last for longer than the predicted service life of most commercial buildings.
In addition to the benefits of a high performing , low-maintenance roof system , a retrofit may offer the opportunity to increase the energy-efficiency of the building. The roof is often the most significant surface for summer heat gain and winter heat loss. Lowering that transmission through the roof can have a serious impact on heating and air conditioning energy expenses , and lower the environmental impact of the facility , as well. A retrofit often provides an opportunity to add insulation between the old roof and the new metal panels , or to use insulated metal panels for the retrofit. Either solution can have significant energy benefits.
In the end , retrofitting a flat roof with a low or high-slope metal roof is an excellent option that can do more than protect your building and add longevity to its service. It can also enhance the look and save long-term costs.