If you are replacing the flat roof on your building, one of the things you want is a long roof life. The following tips can help.
1. Go Lighter
Going lighter references roof color, not roof weight. A flat roof will absorb a lot of heat over its lifespan. Darker roofs absorb even more heat. Not only does this make the building under the roof hotter and more expensive to cool, it also wreaks havoc on the roof. Excess heat can cause the roofing membrane to develop bubbles or even separate from the substrate over time. It's also more difficult to maintain a hot roof, simply due to the higher temperatures during the summer months.
A light-colored roofing membrane reflects the sun's rays. The roof surface (and the building below) will be cooler. This cooling also minimizes the chances of heat damages from bubbling and separation. By treating a light roof with a UV sealer, you can prevent most damages caused by sunlight -- thus leading to a longer roof life.
2. Add Drains
Another major life shortener for a flat roof is poor drainage. Water that ponds on the roof can degrade the substrate, lead to membrane damage, and cause structural damage from the additional weight of the water. Further, standing water can attract nuisance pests like birds.
Drains, combined with roof slope, solve issues with standing water. Smaller roofs need a system of perimeter drains that empty out of spouts or into drain pipes. The roof should be slightly higher in the center so it can slope toward these drains. Larger roofs may require central drains, which empty into a drain pipe that routes into the building's sewer or stormwater system. The roof will be designed to slope toward these drains so water flows easily off the roof without pooling.
3. Prevent Birds
Birds aren't a feathered friend for a flat roof; instead, they are the foe. Bird droppings are highly acidic, which means they can eat right through the standard flat roof membrane if given enough time. Further, nesting materials and feathers from flocking birds can clog drains and damage vents or the building's HVAC and plumbing systems.
Your commercial roofer can install devices to minimize bird nesting and congregating on the roof. Bird spikes are popular options, but there are also tacky substances that can be applied to prevent birds. Scare devices, such as those that move or make noises, are also popular and effective options.
Contact a commercial roofing contractor for more help with choosing your new roof.