In general, all types of roofs aren’t safe to walk on, especially if you don’t have the necessary training. Any inspection or repairs that require access to the rooftop is better left to the professionals. Although flat roofs are less precarious than pitched ones, you still run the risk of damaging the felt and potentially puncturing the membrane. A commercial flat roof can be used for recreational purposes or to create extra storage space, but it must be constructed to withstand the foot traffic and the extra weight of any equipment you bring up.
Flat Roof Surfaces You Can Walk On
For rooftops that also serve as decks, you can use a roofing material designed for heavy foot traffic. Again, flat roof waterproofing requires immense experience and expertise. Whether its BUR (Built-up Roofing), TPO (Thermoplastic polyolefin), Modified Bitumen, or Single Ply Roofing, your roofing professional can apply the right waterproofing membrane to make it possible to walk on.
Sometimes referred to as tar-and-gravel roofs, BURs are designed with alternating layers of hot tar and waterproofing material. It’s then ballasted with a final layer of gravel. Some modern types of BURs, however, use fiberglass membranes as opposed to tar paper.
Other flat roof membranes that you can walk on include:
- Hot Rubberized Asphalt Waterproofing
- Cold Applied Polyurethane Reinforced Waterproofing
- Cold Applied Rubberized Waterproofing (Non-reinforced and Reinforced)
- Single Ply Roofing
- Torch Applied Waterproofing
Flat Roof Surfaces You Cannot Walk On
Some types of flat roof membranes shouldn’t be walked on for two obvious reasons: safety and susceptibility to damage. If the roofing membrane isn’t tough enough to withstand the extra weight of foot traffic, it can easily give in, posing danger to the person walking on it while at the same time causing costly damages to the roof. Some examples of flat roofing membranes you shouldn’t walk on include:
- GRP fiberglass flat roofing – A glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) is quite resistant to high temperatures and harsh chemicals. However, it often fails prematurely when used on larger commercial roofs and may not support foot traffic and heavy equipment.
- Metal flat roofing – Flat or low-slope commercial roofs can also be covered with steel, zinc, aluminum, or copper. However, standing-seam or screw-down metal panels are not practical to walk on. They can easily bulge and cause leakages that will be costly to repair.
Benefits of Being Able to Walk on your Flat Roof
Being able to walk on your commercial flat roof offers a myriad of benefits such as making maintenance easier. Additionally, you won’t need to worry about damaging your roof and you can have extra space to add things such as HVAC systems.
During heavy rains or snows, you can easily get rid of ponding water promptly by installing roof drains or scuppers at your roof’s edges or use automatic siphons for ponds at the center of your roof. The quicker the water is cleared off the roof, the less chance your roof will experience leakages.
And since flat roofs should be inspected semi-annually and after every major storm, being able to walk on it will make it hassle-free for your roofing contractor to carry out routine inspections. This also brings down the labor cost for any minor repairs since your roofer won’t need sophisticated equipment to access the roof.
More Utilization of the Extra Space
If you can be able to walk on your flat roof, you can do a lot with the extra space, including creating a rooftop patio or garden. You could also install solar panels to generate green energy and cut down your utility bills. A flat roof is the most cost-efficient roofing style since all room space can be used fully (both below and above the roof). This style roof also provides ample space for essential heating and cooling systems. You only need to apply a tough waterproofing membrane to form an ideal substrate for green roofing schemes.
Where space is limited, you can use your flat roof as a living space, with bathrooms, sheltered kitchens, and living or sleeping areas. You could even use the space to store extra equipment.
Ultimately, you need to work with a reputable commercial roofing contractor to ensure that your flat roof will safely withstand heavy foot traffic without posing danger to you and your employees. Commercial structures require the right roofing material and excellent workmanship to protect inventory, equipment, customers, and employees. So, there is much at stake. At A-1 Property Services in Miami, FL, we understand this and will strive to provide a solid flat roof system that will serve you for years to come. Contact us today for more information about walking on flat roofs or to schedule a roofing inspection.