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What is the best material for a flat roof? 

man laying membrane on a flat roof

If you have a flat roof, making sure you pick a material that is durable, insulating, and ideal for your climate makes a huge difference for when you need to replace it next time. So, what is the best material for a flat roof? Technically, your roof can be made of any material, but there are a few that have been shown to stand the test of time and look amazing while doing it. 

Top 3 Flat Roof Materials To Choose From

EPDM Membrane Roofing

This rubber roofing material (short for ethylene propylene diene monomer, but that’s a mouthful) is one of the biggest contenders. It’s simple to install (even for a homeowner), lightweight, resistant to tearing, and leaks are relatively easy to patch up. 

Since it’s black rubber, it does absorb heat though. If you’re in a hotter climate and would prefer a lighter color, that can add an additional 30% onto the cost as well. Despite this, your EPDM membrane roofing can net you about 50 years of life expectancy. 

Standing Seam Metal Roof

What is a standing seam metal roof? Put simply, it’s a roofing system that has metal panels that lock together and seams. This is an excellent option for flat roofing materials as it allows the metal panels to expand and retract with the temperature, leading to less issues with cracking or warping. You also have tons of metal roof colors to pick from to customize your home! 

These types of roofs also last at least 50 years, though with proper maintenance and repair, they can last even longer! Our blog How to clean a metal roof? covers all you need to know from safety, to tools, and procedures! Get the most out of your investment by caring for it properly! 

TPO Membrane Roofing

TPO, or thermoplastic polyolefin, is a material that features a single-ply white membrane. Similar to EPDM in a lot of ways, the main difference between the two is that TPO reflects heat instead of absorbing it. 

With just that feature, it’s easy to understand that people who live in hotter climates may choose this roofing material as the answer to “What is the best material for a flat roof?”. It keeps the inside of your home cooler, but since it’s a bright white, dirt and grime build up is noticed a lot quicker than its black rubber cousin. And, while there are some great benefits to this roofing material, it’s life span is only about 25 years. That’s half of what you get from EPDM. But the quality of life improvement might just be worth it! 

Honorable Mentions For Flat Roofing Materials

There are tons of options for flat roofing materials! Here are a few runner ups that we would consider in the realm of top possible roofing materials as well. 

Built- Up Roof

Layers of tar and gravel building up to make a texturized, durable roof that has a life span from 15-30 years. They are on the pricier side, much more heavy, and more susceptible to weather damage.

PVC Membrane Roof

Almost identical to TPO roofing, we didn’t think putting both on the list would make sense. One of the biggest differences for PVC membrane roofing is that it is more flexible than TPO roofing. You can also get about 25 years of life out of it! 

Modified Bitumen

Ever wanted to peel-and-stick a roof? While that sounds questionable, modified bitumen roofs are safe and easy for homeowners to install. There are some “torch-down” systems that require heating as the rolls are installed to activate the adhesive, and those can be a fire hazard. So just be careful if you decide to go with one f

Cost of New Flat Roof

The standing seam metal roof is one of the best options in attractiveness and durability. But it can be pricier than the other options. Check out our metal roof cost calculator to estimate the cost of using metal as your roofing material. 

Other than that, the cost of your new flat roof can vary based on the size of your home, which material choice you end up going with, the condition of your current roof and underlayment, as well as labor costs and accessibility issues. 

A flat roof can be anywhere in the $5,000 range with smaller roofs and more cost effective materials, or up to $80,000 for a premium metal roof made of copper (which is gorgeous!). Instant Roofer can help find a roofer in your local area that has the skills, expertise, and knowledge to make sure your flat roof replacement or upgrade goes smoothly and fits into your budget. 

Fact checked by Christin Perry – 4/5/2024