The Pros and Cons of Choosing Flat Roofing

Types of Residential Roofing Chicago

Sorting through the different types of roofing often comes down to a few key factors – weather resistance, drainage, cost, and durability are the most important. While each type of roofing has its own pluses and minuses, let’s focus in on flat roofing (of which there are several types) and some of the positives and negatives to opting for flat roofing for your residential, industrial, or commercial property.

Before we jump into the upsides and downsides, it’s important to know that flat roofing doesn’t come in a single option – there are three main types of flat roof systems, including Membrane or “Single-Ply” Roofing (such as EPDM), Built-Up Roofing (BUR for short), and Modified Bitumen Roofing. EPDM is the newest in flat roofing technology, with BUR the oldest, while Modified Bitumen is relatively more recent.


  • Flat roofing is generally low maintenance and will cost very little to maintain throughout its lifetime
  • If repairs are needed, they are relatively inexpensive and often something homeowners themselves can do without needing professional contractors
  • Durability – the various types of flat roofing all have expected lifespans of more than a decade, with EPDM surfaces often lasting between thirty and fifty years and BUR ten to fifteen
  • Easy to create seamless areas that encase an entire roof and are resistant to the wear and tear of feet on the surface
  • Easier and less intensive to install than other complicated forms of roofing, such as shingle or sheet metal
  • Reliable in all types of weather


  • Depending on the type you choose, extreme cold weather may tax the flat roofing more than other types due to a lack of material flexibility
  • Can sometimes be hard to find the source of a leak if one appears, which requires removing pieces or more intensive work to do so
  • Initial installation costs can be high in some cases
  • For certain types of flat roofing, specifically BUR, installation can take some time due to the variety of materials involved – there are also often fumes and vapors involved with this type of flat roofing
  • The slope of the roof is minimal when compared to other types of slanted roofing (such as shingle), which means drainage is not always as effective as roofing with steeper slopes
  • If your property is in an area that experiences frequent rains or snow melts, drainage can be a significant concern