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Allan Frizzell of roofing specialists Topseal looks at how innovation in roof coverings has taken the hassle out of flat roof maintenance.


F


lat roofs have a long history in the UK, and their benefits in terms of affordability and ease of construction have made them a popular choice for buildings in multiple occupation and home extensions.


Compared to pitched roofs that can obstruct views, flat roofs are by nature able to keep the height of a building to a minimum, which has contributed to their popularity. Many of the early flat roofs gained a reputation for being high-maintenance, but innovation has led to the development of new materials such as Glass Reinforced Polyester (GRP), which offer better durability. Latest generation GRP flat roof replacement systems can ensure that flat roofs can be refurbished effectively.


Affordable and versatile


Flat roofs are a popular choice as they offer both aesthetic and practical benefits. Their flat profile enables them to keep the height of a building to a minimum, while a pitched roof may interfere with existing sightlines. From an aesthetic point of view, they are often considered more contemporary looking compared to the more traditional pitched roofs, and are therefore becoming increasing popular, particularly in urban areas or for bespoke ‘one off’ home designs. Flat roofs are also extremely versatile, providing the option for mechanical services such as air


“GRP refurbishment roof coverings are the most cost-effective option for the long term”


44 | HMM March 2017 | www.housingmmonline.co.uk


conditioning units and plant rooms to be located there, or even for building occupants to benefit from a roof garden or balcony. When it comes to the installation of flat roofs, some traditional materials


have been found to degrade more quickly than others – for example, when exposed to the sun – that can reduce their lifespan.


Low maintenance future


The question facing facilities managers and building owners when a flat roof becomes a maintenance burden is whether to repair the damage or replace the whole system with a more modern roof covering. When faced with that dilemma, a number of options need to be taken into consideration. Firstly, an initial survey of the roof must be carried out to identify any issues, including damage to the surface membrane. Afterwards, there is a need to check that the underlying substrate is sound. Damage to the waterproof membrane is a common issue on flat roofs especially in areas of heavy footfall, which can dramatically reduce the material’s life expectancy. If the building owner or facilities manager is taking a long-term view of


the building’s maintenance requirements, then the most cost-effective option could be to specify a modern GRP refurbishment roof covering. This type of roof covering is effective as it is ultra-low maintenance and in some cases comes with a guaranteed lifetime of 20 years.


Time is money


Building owners also need to factor in the maintenance labour time and cost savings when considering whether to replace a flat roof that has been damaged or started to leak. Frequent repairs can prove too costly, and that


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