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Rolled Roofing for Flat Roofs

Numerous commercial buildings, residential homes, sheds, and other structures feature flat roofs. This type of roof can be covered with a variety of materials, but rolled roofing is among the most prevalent.

Rolled roofing is a thin, light, flat, mineral-coated asphalt roofing product that comes in rolls. Each roll measures approximately 100 square feet, which is equivalent to one square of shingles or tiles. The rolls typically measure 36 feet by 26 inches and weigh approximately 75 pounds. Typically, roll roofing is used to cover flat commercial, industrial, and apartment roofs. It is utilized by homeowners to cover low-slope or flat roofs, lean-to additions, sheds, garages, workshops, patios, gazebos, and other outbuildings. Roofing rolls are typically black, but they can also be brown, gray, or white. This is a low-cost, affordable, and widely available roofing option, despite its apparent simplicity. Not only is it one of the most affordable roofing materials available, but it is also relatively simple and straightforward to install. 

A professional roofing contractor walking on top of a commercial Denver roof.

Advantages of roll roofing

  • Not expensive
  • Simple installation
  • Simple to manipulate and transport
  • Compatible with existing shingles
  • Numerous applications
  • Optimal for flat roofs
  • Simple to use and cut
  • Excellent fire resistance
  • When the best materials and coatings are used, the product has a long lifespan.
  • Negatives of roll roofing:
  • Less durable and with a shorter lifespan than other materials such as shingles, tiles, or metal.
  • Thin material that is inherently more susceptible to severe weather
  • Not a reliable insulator
  • Not suitable for steep slope roofs.
  • Not suitable for foot traffic

What materials make up rolled roofing?

MSR roofing is an asphalt-based product derived from petroleum. It consists of a felt or fiberglass sheet saturated with asphalt and covered with mineral or stone granules.

A MSR sheet may be comprised of organic felt, plastic, fiberglass, or mixed fibers. The mineral granules may be comprised of inexpensive sand or more substantial stone granules, and they may be applied to both sides or just the weather-exposed side. Its underside can be left uncoated, coated with self-adhesive, or made ignitable.

As can be seen, the composition of MSR roofing is comparable to that of asphalt shingles. The structure is the primary difference between these two products.

A flat roof on a commercial building.

What types of roll roofing are offered?

  • Typically, roll roofing refers to MSR, or mineral-surfaced roofing. However, it is not the only roofing material available on a roll. Here are the four roll roofing options available to homeowners.
  • MSR: asphalt-based mineral-coated roofing.
  • Asphalt strengthened with fiberglass and combined with polymerized rubber or plastic.
  • EPDM rubber is a membrane composed of ethylene propylene diene terpolymer.
  • TPO, also known as thermoplastic polyolefin, is a synthetic white roofing membrane.

What is the lifespan of rolled roofing?

Rolled roofing is not particularly sturdy. It can last between 5 and 10 years, and at most 15 years. Many of these items will begin to degrade within 5 to 8 years.

It has a shorter lifespan because it is a single-ply product.

What is the cost of rolled roofing?

  • MSR roofing is very affordable. Materials can be purchased for less than two dollars, while labor is priced slightly higher.
  • From $0.50 to $1.50 per square foot for MSR material. This ranges between $50 and $150 per roofing square.
  • Labor for roll roofing: $1.50 to $4.00 per square foot
  • Total labor and material costs for installing roll roofing range from $2 to $5.50 per square foot.
  • Old roof removal work: $1 to $2 per square foot more expensive 

How are rolled roofing materials installed?

  • Collect your supplies and equipment.
  • shingles shears or a utility knife
  • Roofing cement or adhesive
  • Nailer for roofing and roofing nails
  • Roof covering
  • Spade or brush
  • Roll roof coverings
  • Wash the roof.
  • Roll roofing must be applied to a surface that is clean and dry. Therefore, always remove any dirt, gravel, or other debris from the roof. 
  • Roll roofing can be installed over an existing roof. And this is a common practice when it is employed as a temporary solution. However, old roofing materials should be removed before applying MSR.
  • Apply subflooring.
  • Roll roofing can be installed without an underlayment. However, it will make the roof more water- and moisture-resistant and help the installation last longer.
  • If roll roofing is used as a temporary covering, this step can be skipped. Otherwise, it is preferable to apply a base layer of roofing felt or a more durable synthetic underlayment.
  • Determine the length and cut accordingly.
  • Measure the length of the roof, then cut the roll roofing so that it extends beyond the edges on both sides.
  • Apply roofing cement or adhesive to the roof’s surface with a trowel or brush. Ensure that it is uniform and smooth everywhere the MSR will be installed.
  • Install the roofing roll.
  • Install roll roofing now. From one end of the roof to the other, unroll the roofing from the bottom of the roof upwards.
  • Press the roofing material firmly into the adhesive.
  • It is possible to overlap and nail the roofing section into place. If so, nail along the overlapped length, leaving 6 to 12 inches between each nail.
  • Sharpen the edges.
  • After the roll roofing has been completely installed, the edges and corners must be secured.
  • First, determine the adhesive’s holding power. If the roof is lifting due to poor adhesion, apply additional adhesive or cement.
  • Then complete the edges by folding and nailing them over. Install roofing nails every 6 to 12 inches.
  • Close the seams.
  • Seal any exposed seams with roofing cement or asphalt-based caulk. This step is optional but recommended for roofing rolls intended for long-term use.
  • Reduce it.
  • To cut away excess roofing material, use roofing shears or a utility knife.
  • Cover it.
  • Protect the completed roof with a roofing coating. Optional coatings include elastomeric and aluminum. This should be done for roofing installations with a long lifespan, as the coating will improve the roof’s weather resistance, energy efficiency, and durability.
  • Install rolled roofing material.

Roll roofing may be the most straightforward roofing material to install. Those who enjoy home improvement projects can complete these tasks within two hours.

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