Flat roofs have actually been around for hundreds of years, and can be found worldwide. They are an ancient form, largely used in arid climates. In these warmer climes, where there is less rainfall and freezing is unlikely to occur, many flat roofs are simply built of masonry or concrete, which is good at keeping out the heat of the sun. It also has the added bonus of being cheap and easy to build where timber is not readily available. For these reasons, flat roofing has historically been widely used in areas like the Middle East and the American Southwest.
Flat roofs came into widespread use in Europe and America in the 19th century, when new waterproof roofing materials and the use of structural steel and concrete made them more practical. Following this, flat roofs fast became the most commonly used type to cover office buildings, warehouses and other commercial buildings, as well as many residential structures too. Metals such as lead, tin, copper, asphalt, galvanised steel and more have all been used over the years for roofing. Some have declined in use, however most of these have stood the time and are still used today.
In the 1950s we started to see the use of what is known as 'Mineral Felt'. However during the ‘60s this kind of flat roofing unfortunately earned itself a bad name. Today, those in the industry have been trying to re-build the flat roof reputation, with the introduction of GRP Fibreglass roofing and EPDM rubber roofing helping to regain their confidence in flat roofing systems.
EPDM rubber roofing (short for Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) is a synthetic rubber roofing membrane. The extremely durable material resembles an inner tube, but it's cleverly engineered to resist damage from sunlight. EPDM rubber roofing has remained relatively constant for the past 40 years, with roof systems installed in the 1970s still performing well. Nonetheless, EPDM rubber roofing manufacturers remain up to date with technological advancements, membrane research and contractor requests to evolve in line with the demands of the industry. EPDM systems are redefining the roofing industry and the expectations of architects, roof consultants and building owners alike.