The Unique Requirements of A Flat Roof

With the recent trend toward midcentury modern-style architecture and the modern box-shapes of a lot of new construction, we are seeing more and more flat roofs around the area. And though they may look appealing, they come bearing their own headaches, particularly around drainage issues.

The Architects of Midcentury Had Their Own Drainage Issues

In California, we are influenced by the architecture of Joseph Eichler. Even Frank Lloyd Wright, who trained many of the classic midcentury modern architects had the same drainage problems with many of his designs.

Jeffrey Herr, the curator of Wright’s Hollyhock House in Los Angeles highlighted its flaws. “The roof design itself has some interesting design issues that almost guaranteed water penetration.”

Watching for Problems with Flat Roof Styles

Although the resurgence in these styles gives us a sleek and modern look, the flat roof style offers more problems than a typical sloped roof. Consequently, homeowners need to understand the higher risks for leaks and damage and keep watchful for common problems.

Disclaimer: although flat roofs look flat, they do have a minor pitch that moves the water to drain away from the roof.

Water Pooling

Over the years, a flat roof will develop uneven areas and depressions. Without the slant of a traditional roof, water tends to pool in these areas. If water is left to remain over time, they can become areas that are prone to roof damage and leaks.

While roofing materials are designed for this, over time these materials can degrade. After a storm or other weather occurrence, it’s a good idea to inspect for standing water on a flat roof surface.

Water Stains

If you see water stains in your home, this is one clear sign of a possible leak. Leaks left unchecked can cause structural damage to your home as well as create a breeding ground for mold and mildew.

Bubbling or Cracking

Often known as alligatoring, a flat roof may begin to crack or bubble over time. Flat roofs do not have the same flexibility as slanted roofs and, over time, it will lose the elasticity that it does have. Unfortunately, if you see bubbling or cracking, it most likely will signal the need for a new roof.

Flashing Problems

The expansion and contraction of roofing materials over the years may cause flashing to deteriorate and begin to peel away, exposing areas of the roof structure to the elements. This creates a potential for leaks and further risks to the structure underneath.

Membranes Buckling

Flat roofs are typically constructed with an asphalt membrane that is laid across the expanse of the roof. While that is flat when it is first laid, over the course of time it will move and shift, potentially causing wear and tear to it.

Periodic inspections are necessary to ensure that this hasn’t happened. If so, it may indicate that you will need immediate repairs at the very least and often a roof replacement.

Install the Right Drainage

Flat roofs often require special drainage that ensures their longevity. These can be

● Interior drains – these will be placed in areas where water is likely to build up.
● Specialized gutters – gutters placed alongside the edge of the roofline to carry water away from the roof structure.
● Scuppers – square openings at the edge of the roof, either attached to a downspout or not, that allows water to drain

The stylized look of the midcentury modern and modern flat roof is a beautiful and coveted trend. To keep your flat roof properly maintained and repaired for years of enjoyment you should contact a roofing company in San Jose that has experience with flat roofing systems to conduct periodic inspections and make repairs before they become large problems.

When you call the professionals at Falcon Roofing, you can have peace of mind that your flat roof is being properly maintained and cared for so your midcentury modern or modern-style home will stay beautiful for years to come. Contact us for a free quote.

Mariano Renteria

Author Mariano Renteria

Mariano is more than just the owner of Falcon Roofing—he’s the heart of our company. His commitment to our customers, employees, and community sets the tone for everything we do. He is a night owl who enjoys ocean fishing, spending time with his family, and the occasional slice of apple pie. He organizes yearly trips for all their workers, emphasizing the importance of team building and camaraderie.

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