Rubber roofing tips: advantages, applications and adaptability

Dec 19, 2013 in Uncategorised

Until recently, it was widely acknowledged that British weather consisted of grey skies and rain clouds. However, in the last few years, it has become more unpredictable. If it’s not torrential downpours in June, then it’s mild temperatures in October – we’ve even seen snow in April. One thing is certain, you can never entirely be prepared and that’s a fact that worries a lot of property owners.

Exposed to a plethora of increasingly extreme elements, commercial and residential buildings require extra protection. One such effective tool is rubber roofing, a product that can keep the weather out and the building safe, when used correctly.

What is rubber roofing?

Essentially, it is a toughened rubber that can be affixed as a membrane to flat roofs in order to resist the effects of weathering. Most incorporate a slight camber or gutter via which rainwater can run off. It is installed by trained specialists, rolled into place and affixed using a strong adhesive. All seams are then covered by a similarly water-tight tape.

There are several different variations available but the predominant product – and arguably the best – is ethylene-propylene-diene monomer. Understandably abbreviated, EPDM is a flexible rubber that is also used in seals, cars and to provide a non-slip surround for swimming pools.

Applications

Rubber roofing possesses slightly elasticated properties and is easy to cut to shape, hence it is suitable for a number of applications. It is commonly used on both domestic and commercial projects, including balconies, garages, extensions, office blocks, schools, warehouses, sports centres and portable huts. If desired, skylights and ventilation can also be factored in.

It is also used popularly to replace old, damaged or inefficient roofing, with EPDM recommended as the ideal product for an upgrade, given its strength and long ‘shelf-life’.

The benefits of rubber roofing

The advantages of rubber roofing over other flat roof methods like tar and gravel, asphalt or concrete, is that is provides an impenetrable barrier between the building structure and the elements. Where an inferior product has become cracked and has leaked, it can take a long time before evidence is spotted – by which point, a lot of damage has been done.

EPDM, however, won’t crack. It can cope with temperatures that range from -50C to 150C and even better, some products can be paired with a special fleece backing that prevents punctures, to further protect against leaks.

This protective element means that efficient rubber roofing can save money – especially if you use a premium EPDM which offers a lifespan of 50+ years. Leak-free, you won’t need to pay for repairs and in fact, could find it adds financial and aesthetic value to the property. What’s more, rubber roofing can offer an insulating effect, which could reduce heating bills in winter or air-con costs in summer.

Another benefit is that EPDM in particular is non-polluting – it does not contaminate rain water. Therefore ecologically-minded individuals don’t need to worry about undesirable after-effects. Plus the water can still safely be used in rainwater harvesting systems.

Durability

A flat roof, you would think, is bombarded by all forces of nature; from the hot temperatures of an unprecedented heatwave, to the icy conditions of midwinter. That’s not mentioning torrential rain and strong winds. It’s essential that your rubber roof is robust enough to cope with such a variety of meteorological situations.

Some flat roofs, admittedly, can fall foul to pecking birds or human activity i.e. when further building work is carried out. To guarantee your roof’s durability, you should choose a product with a good performance record and check the credentials of those installing it. If the roof is to be walked upon, then care should be taken to apply a safe surface on top of the rubber. In some cases, wooden decking, tiles or stone slabs can be fitted to prevent actual contact with the rubber. A flat roof will, naturally, last longer if it is properly maintained.

Care and maintenance

A good rubber that has been installed correctly should need minimal maintenance; that’s the joy of a premium EPDM product. It can be installed and you can practically forget all about it for half a century as it doesn’t require maintenance, repairs or replacing. This is the ideal product for property-owner that wants to get good value for money on their investment, or perhaps doesn’t want to have to think about their roof for a long time.

Other, cheaper varieties probably will require some regular care. Experts say a full assessment every ten years is a good idea, though it’s key to carry out general housekeeping more frequently, i.e. after any heavy storms and to ensure drains are kept clear of leaves to prevent blockages and subsequent problems. It’s also crucial that rainwater is removed to prevent it pooling and seeping in – those roofing systems that include drainage are thus a popular choice.

For those that wish to upgrade their existing flat roof to a rubber system, the best time is typically in the drier months of late spring and early summer as installation can be negatively affected if it takes place during windy or rainy conditions.

Ultimately, rubber roofing is a product that provides protection to the property and the wallet, leaving you safe in the knowledge that your building can cope with whatever natures throws at it!