Choosing the Best Flat Roof Sheeting Material

Flat Roof Sheeting

When it comes time to re-sheat your flat roof, you want to make sure you choose a durable material that will stand up to your region’s weather conditions for decades. As a homeowner, you have several options to consider the best Flat Roof Sheeting, each with pros and cons regarding longevity, cost, and installation.

Doing thorough research on the front end will help ensure you make the best choice for your needs and budget. Carefully evaluating factors like material composition, warranty, and average lifespan will help guide you to the optimal flat roof sheeting for your property. With the variety of products on the market, you owe it to yourself as a homeowner to make an informed decision that you can feel confident in for years to come.

Flat Roof Sheeting

What Is Flat Roof Sheeting?

Flat roof sheeting refers to the waterproof membrane installed on low-slope or flat roofs to protect the roof deck from weather damage. There are several options to consider when choosing a flat roof sheeting material:

  1. Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) is a popular synthetic material used for flat roofs. PVC sheeting is durable, flexible, and resistant to chemicals. However, PVC can be difficult to install and repair. PVC roofing has an average lifespan of 20 years.
  2. Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO) is another synthetic material gaining popularity for flat roofs. TPO sheeting is heat-weldable, meaning sheets can be fused together for a seamless finish. TPO is also highly reflective, which can help reduce cooling costs. However, TPO has only been used for roofing since the 1990s, so its long-term durability is still unknown. TPO roofing typically lasts 15-20 years.
  3. Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM) is a durable synthetic rubber material used for flat roofs. EPDM sheeting is very flexible, waterproof, and resistant to damage from temperature extremes. EPDM roofing can last 20-30 years with proper installation and maintenance. However, EPDM sheeting requires adhesives for installation, which can release volatile organic compounds.
  4. Modified Bitumen is composed of asphalt and plastic or rubber polymers. Modified bitumen sheeting is seamless, durable, and resistant to damage. Modified bitumen roofing typically lasts 10-30 years depending on the type. However, asphalt-based materials are petroleum products and installation requires hot asphalt, which can be hazardous.

In summary, the best flat roof sheeting material depends on your needs, priorities, and budget. Discuss the options with a reputable roofing contractor to determine the most suitable for your building and circumstances. Proper installation and maintenance of flat roof sheeting is critical to maximize lifespan.

Pros and Cons of Different Flat Roof Sheeting Materials

When selecting a flat roof sheeting material, you must consider several factors to determine the best option for your needs.


The material’s durability and lifespan are important to consider. Like galvanized steel or aluminum, metal sheeting typically lasts 40-50 years. TPO and PVC membranes have a lifespan of 20-30 years. Asphalt-based roll roofing usually needs replacement after 10-15 years.


Cost is also a significant factor. Asphalt roll roofing is inexpensive but has a shorter life expectancy. TPO and PVC membranes have moderate upfront costs and a longer lifespan. Metal sheeting is more expensive initially but lasts the longest. You must weigh the initial investment versus longevity and replacement costs.

Weather Resistance

The material’s ability to withstand weather impacts its performance and durability. Metal sheeting is resistant to damage from wind, hail, and rain. TPO and PVC membranes can withstand moderate impacts but are prone to punctures. Asphalt sheeting offers basic weather protection but can degrade faster in extreme heat or weather.

Ease of Installation

Consider the complexity of installing the material. Asphalt roll roofing is easy for DIY installation but has a limited lifespan. TPO and PVC membranes require professional installation for the best results and performance. Metal sheeting can be installed by pros or experienced DIYers but requires proper tools and safety equipment.

In summary, when choosing a flat roof sheeting material, you must evaluate factors like durability, cost, weather resistance, and ease of installation. Selecting the right option for your needs and budget will help ensure maximum protection and performance for your flat roof.

Flat Roof Sheeting Options: Metal vs. Membrane

When selecting a flat roof sheeting material, you have two main options: metal panels or membrane sheets. Each has pros and cons to consider based on your needs and budget.

Metal Sheeting

Metal sheeting, such as aluminum or galvanized steel, offers durability and energy efficiency. Metal roofs can last 40-70 years and resist weather, rot, and insects. They also reflect heat well, which can lower energy costs. However, metal sheeting tends to be more expensive, especially if you need structural reinforcements for the added weight. Installation also requires specialized skills to ensure proper sealing and avoid leaks.

Flat Roof Sheeting Options: Metal vs. Membrane

Membrane Sheeting

Membrane sheeting, such as TPO or EPDM rubber, is lightweight, affordable, and easy to install. Membrane roofs typically last 10-30 years but need more frequent inspections and repairs. They are prone to punctures, tears, and sun damage if not properly maintained. Membrane sheeting can also lack dimensional stability in hot weather, leading to sagging, and does not reflect heat or metal, offering fewer energy benefits.

When determining the best sheeting material for your flat roof, weigh the pros and cons of each type based on factors like:

  • Cost: Metal sheeting is often 2-3 times more expensive than membrane sheeting. Consider your budget and how long you need the roof to last.
  • Energy efficiency: Metal sheeting offers significantly better heat reflection and insulation for energy savings.
  • Installation: Membrane sheeting is easier to install for a DIY project or if hiring a contractor. Metal sheeting requires specialist installation.
  • Durability: Metal sheeting lasts 2-3 times longer than membrane sheeting with proper maintenance.
  • Climate: Metal sheeting performs better in hot, sunny climates where membrane sheeting may deteriorate faster. Membrane can work well in temperate climates.

By evaluating your flat roof’s specific needs and conditions, you can determine whether metal sheeting or membrane sheeting will provide the best, longest-lasting solution. With regular inspections and care, the right sheeting material can protect your roof for many years.

How to Choose the Right Flat Roof Sheeting for Your Building

When choosing a flat roof sheeting material for your building, several factors should be considered to determine the optimal solution for your needs. The four primary options for flat roof sheeting are metal, built-up roofing (BUR), single-ply membranes, and spray polyurethane foam (SPF).

Metal roof sheeting, such as aluminum or steel, is durable and can last 30-50 years. However, it may dent or scratch more easily and conduct heat into the building. Metal sheeting is best for low-slope roofs with a pitch of 1/4:12 or less.

BUR, also known as tar and gravel, involves multiple layers of roofing embedded in hot asphalt. It has been used for over a century and can last 20-30 years when properly maintained. However, it requires ongoing maintenance to patch cracks and leaks and has a strong odor during application. BUR is suitable for roofs with a slope of 1/4:12 up to 3:12.

Single-ply membranes, such as TPO or PVC, involve rolling out large sheets of prefabricated material that are heat-welded together. They are lightweight, easy to install, and resistant to ponding water, with a lifespan of 15-25 years. However, they may shrink, crack or puncture more easily. Single-ply membranes can be used on nearly flat roofs up to slopes of 2:12.

SPF involves spraying two reactive chemical compounds onto the roof surface, expanding and hardening into rigid plastic foam insulation. It provides excellent insulation and waterproofing, with a lifespan of 30-50 years. However, it requires specialized equipment and applicators, may be difficult to repair, and can have strong fumes during application. SPF is ideal for flat roofs with little to no slope.

In summary, consider factors like cost, durability, maintenance needs, insulation, and slope requirements when determining the optimal flat roof sheeting material for your building. Any of these options can provide an effective waterproof covering if installed properly according to the specifications for your roof’s slope and climate conditions. With regular inspection and minor repairs as needed, a flat roof sheeting system should provide many years of dependable performance.


As you evaluate the options for your flat roof, consider the upfront and long-term costs and how the material will hold up to environmental factors like heat, cold, and moisture. The material you select should provide the protection and durability you need for your building and budget. Do some research on the options, read reviews from others who have used the materials, and ask contractors about their experiences with different flat roof coverings.

While price is certainly a factor, the cheapest option upfront may cost you more in the long run if it fails prematurely. By taking the time to make an informed choice about flat roof sheeting, you can gain peace of mind that you have selected the best solution for your needs. The effort will be well worth it when you have a durable, sustainable roof over your head for years.

FAQs About Flat Roof Sheeting

What are the common materials used for flat roof sheeting?

Common materials for flat roof sheeting include asphalt roll roofing, modified bitumen sheets, EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) rubber roofing, TPO (thermoplastic olefin) roofing, PVC (polyvinyl chloride) roofing, and metal roofing sheets.

How do I choose the right flat roof sheeting material?

The choice depends on factors like budget, climate, roof slope, durability, installation method, and compatibility with the existing roof structure. Consulting with roofing professionals can help you make an informed decision.

Can I install flat roof sheeting myself?

Installation can be complex and requires specific skills and knowledge. While some roofing materials might be suitable for DIY installation, it’s often recommended to hire professional contractors to ensure proper installation and avoid issues like leaks.