What is the Best Type of Flat Roof?

Everything You Need to Know About Flat Roof Replacement and Repair in Santa Fe, NM

We know that a roofing decision is a significant investment and shouldn't be taken lightly. When installing and maintaining flat roofs in Santa Fe, there's no one more qualified than us! But which type of flat roof is best? From TPO to Modified Bitumen to Foam-, our experts have put together a guide so that you can make the best decision possible for your home--and everyone under your roof.


Modified Bitumen vs. TPO vs. Foam Roofing

mod-bitLet's examine the benefits and drawbacks of each type of roof.

What is Modified Bitumen?

Modified Bitumen, also called "brai", is often installed in a 2-ply system with a base layer and a cap sheet. The top layer usually has a granular texture similar to asphalt shingles.


Modified Bitumen Benefits

  • Installation ease: Modified bitumen roofs have evolved to come in self-adhesive rolls, which means they're safer and easier to install.

  • Walkability: The textured surface prevents slipping when you need to check on your roof or perform maintenance. The exterior also offers impact/puncture resistance.

  • Flexibility: Mod Bit's makeup allows it to expand/contract with the building structure and with temperatures. This also helps lengthen the lifespan of the roof.

  • Temperature: Modified bitumen roofing is well suited for arid climates, as its light color and reflective mineral surface provide extra insulation from heat.


Modified Bitumen Drawbacks

  • Low energy efficiency: Mod Bit's dark color tends to absorb heat and store it on the surface instead of deflecting it. This also makes the material subject to UV damage.

  • Moisture vulnerability: Flat roof systems can allow seepage of ponding water accumulation from a poor drainage slope and be badly damaged by ice damming.


What is TPO?

more tpo

Due to its growing popularity, you've probably spotted this white roofing around the southwest. Thermoplastic polyolefin consists of a single, synthetic layer that naturally deflects UV rays.

TPO Benefits

  • Reflective surface: TPO's chemical makeup and light color allow it to reflect heat instead of absorbing it. This reduces the buildup of snow/ice since it melts faster. The reflective surface also makes TPO a great option to put over living spaces because it'll keep rooms cooler.

  • Energy efficiency: As mentioned above, TPO's light and reflective material keep the surface temperature low--an average of 30 degrees cooler than the darker Modified Bitumen roof. Over time, this can make a difference in your budget with the lessened need for air conditioning.

  • Large medium: TPO is applied in broad sheets, which means fewer seams and fewer potential points of failure. This also helps it resist the seepage of ponding water leftover from rain or melted snow.

  • Easy maintenance: TPO's laminated single-ply membrane surface makes it unnecessary to pressure wash. It's challenging for any fungus or algae to grow on it.

TPO Drawbacks

  • Slipping hazard: The laminated surface is hazardous to walk on when wet.

  • Vulnerable to damage: TPO is more subject to impact damage from hail and can be cut or punctured more easily than some other flat roof material. Furthermore, the aesthetics of a white roof means that any wear and tear will be visible more quickly.

  • Trapped moisture: It's exceedingly important to have trusted professionals install the roof, as it can trap condensation if not adequately adhered to, leading to costly damage.

  • Rigid membrane: TPO doesn't boast the same flexibility as other flat roofing materials, such as modified bitumen. It does not expand/contract as easily, and in extreme cases, it can separate from the parapet.

What is Foam Roofing?

Patrick G Santa Fe

Applied by spraying, this roof consists of a layer of spray polyurethane foam (SPF) covered by protective silicone coating layers. The foam height is customized to each roof to provide adequate drainage.

Foam Roofing Benefits

  • Seamless: Since this type of roof is sprayed on, it doesn't have any seams, which means fewer places for damaging water to drip through. Its easy installation also reduces labor costs.

  • Waterproof: The material is insulating and does not soak up water.

  • Walkable: Foam roofs harden into sturdy surfaces that allow walking--especially useful when you want to inspect for damage.

Foam Roofing Drawbacks

  • Overspray: If the foam is applied in windy conditions, there's the possibility that a breeze can carry a spray onto surrounding things, such as cars or landscaping. Be sure to take precautions.

  • Small installation window: There can't be any moisture on the roof before application. So any morning dew or leftover rainwater will postpone the installation of the roof. Fortunately, New Mexico weather is suitable for foam roof installation almost year round.

What to Consider When Choosing a Roofing Method

Now that you know the pros and cons of these popular roof types, it's time to decide which one best fits your needs. And when considering longevity, keep in mind that all types have a 20-30 year lifespan when properly maintained. These roofs perform well in the New Mexico climate. Here are some questions to ask when selecting your roofing type:

  • What do you want to get out of the roof?

Is it impact resistance? Modified bitumen's 2-ply system is better equipped to hold up under pressure and is more safely walkable. Do you want to achieve energy efficiency? TPO's white color and reflective surface help to keep internal temperatures down.

  • What specific challenges does your house have?

Do you have poor sunlight exposure that leads to snow and ice buildup, and later ponding water? Is your residence expensive to cool in the summer months?

Repair or Replace?

Depending on where you are in your roofing journey, you may be asking yourself whether it's worth it to repair your roof, or whether it's time to replace it altogether. Pay attention to the extent of the damage. Do you have an isolated leak/crack, or is it more widespread? Have an inspector look at the age of your roof and the severity of any damage, such as:

  • debris pileup

  • cracking/warping

  • water leakage

Our Service Guarantee

At Santa Fe Stucco and Roofing, we treat every home like it's our own. Selecting the right kind of flat roof is a significant investment, so we ensure that you get the roof you want with the quality you deserve. Move forward with your next roofing project with complete confidence.

Are you in need of flat roof repair or flat roof replacement? Call now at 505-690-6215 for a free quote, or visit our Quote page.




Related Posts

Flat Roof Replacement and Repair in Santa Fe, NM

Everything You Need to Know About Flat Roof Replacement and Repair in Santa Fe, NM

Read More

Summer Time is the Perfect Season for Flat Roof Repairs

Flat Roof Repair in Santa Fe, NM

Summertime in Santa Fe, New Mexico, brings warm temperatures and...

Read More

The Effects of Heavy Snow on Your Roof

According to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS), roof damage from snow and...

Read More

Get a Quote

Complete the form below and we will contact you to get started on your next roofing or stucco project.