What Is the Best Material for a Flat Roof?

What Is the Best Material for a Flat Roof?

So you need a new roof? It’s not necessarily the most exciting place to be, but since you’re looking for a new roof, the situation comes with opportunities. Clearly, the previous roof left something to be desired, so this time around, you can do your homework and make sure you get the best roof that you can.

If your roof is flat, then you won’t be looking at shingles, tiles, or metal. Instead, flat roofs need materials that do better with pools of water. There are plenty of materials available, so if you want to narrow it down to the best, we have five for you to consider. Each is ideal under certain circumstances. By the time you finish this guide, you’ll be ready to take a hard look at the right material for your new roof.


Thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) is an industry standard when it comes to flat roofing. It’s very popular for commercial roofs for a few reasons. First, it’s great with ponding. TPO creates excellent water seals that require fairly little maintenance.

Additionally, TPO is white, which helps it to reflect sunlight. Ultimately, this makes it more thermally efficient, and it can lower cooling costs inside of the building. When it comes to hot Texas summers, TPO is invaluable.


PVC is another great choice. It typically costs a little more than TPO, but it also usually lasts a little longer too. PVC is also great at dealing with water, which is why it’s such a good choice for flat roofs.

PVC is white like TPO, making it good with the heat.

Where PVC differs is in its flexibility. The natural flex in PVC helps it withstand hail and other blunt-force damage. That helps PVC outlast TPO, and when you consider lifespan, PVC is a competitive choice for overall cost-effectiveness.


Built-up roofing takes a completely different approach. The previous two roofing materials are known as single-ply roofs. That means that a single layer is all that is needed to protect from the elements. It also means that they are light and can’t handle as much weight.

Built-up, as the name suggests, has multiple layers. There is a material layer, tar, and asphalt. That is repeated as many times as is necessary to meet the roofing specifications.

Built-up roofing is much heavier than the other roofing materials on this list, but because of that, it can also handle the most weight and traffic.

On top of that, built-up roofing has asphalt or gravel on the top layer. That provides nonslip footing, making built-up the safest roofing material for foot traffic. If your roof is going to regularly have people on it, built-up is an easy choice.

Modified Bitumen

Modified bitumen looks a lot like built-up roofing, but it is much thinner. Because of this, it’s the second-best roofing material for foot traffic, and it comes with some trade-offs as compared to built-up roofing.

Modified bitumen is one of the more aesthetically pleasing flat roof styles. The thin layers look nice and provide something of an industrial finish.

Modified bitumen costs less than built-up roofing. It’s also much easier to install, so you can save money on the material and the installation. It’s a win-win.

On the downside, modified bitumen doesn’t last as long as most of the other roofing materials on the list.


Ethylene propylene diene terpolymer (EPDM) is the last on the list. It’s a black rubber membrane. It creates excellent water seals, and with virtually no maintenance, it will prevent leaks, even in cases of ponding water, for many years.

It’s arguably the most durable roofing material on this list, and when maintained, it can actually last a lifetime. On top of that, it is more repairable and maintainable than the other single-ply roofing materials.

The downside of EPDM is that it is black. That means it absorbs more heat, which is not ideal in plenty of cases. But for commercial buildings where interior heat is not a major concern, EPDM is often the very best material you can choose.

All Roofs Are Winners With Paradigm Roofing

While it’s understandable that you want the best roof possible for your building, the truth is that the installation and maintenance matter at least as much as the material. That’s why you need access to roofing professionals who can do it all and will take the time to explain options to you.

With Paradigm Roofing, you get the best no matter what you choose. We’ll work with you to help you make the best possible selection. When that is done, we’ll install the roof and ensure that it is in the best possible condition. An amazing new roof can be yours. Simply contact us today to get started.