A good quality flat roof should get a minimum of 20 years use. If your roof is 20 years old, has no leaks, and is in good condition, you may be able to stretch it to 25 years.Once it reaches 25 years, you should consult a roofing professional about next steps.
If you have been proactive, roofs that are 20 years old and in great shape are excellent candidates for a roof coating. Roof coatings are much less expensive than tear-off/replacements, and they often come with a 20-year No Dollar Limit (NDL) warranty that covers warrantyrelated materials and labor in the event that a roof leak does occur.
Why Roofs Fail
Generally, if a roof starts to fail before 20 years, it was either a bad installation or bad product, or both.
Installation errors are usually noticeable from day one. I’ve had building owners tell me their roof has leaked since the day it was installed. Immediate leaking suggests an applicator error.No roof should leak that quickly under normal wear and tear conditions. That said, if it is an isolated problem, it can be fixed. If it is a systemic problem with the install, it probably means the roof should be removed and replaced.
Premature weathering is a big problem with some roofs. Basically, the roof’s material integrity degrades due to the weather and ceases to be waterproof. If this happens to you and you have a manufacturer’s NDL warranty, you can file a claim. The manufacturer may be aware of a quality control issue that is causing premature weathering.
Flat roofing materials and processes have improved greatly in recent years. You don’t necessarily have to tear off and replace your commercial or industrial flat roof every 25 years. A 100-year-old roof is now a reality and the savings can be substantial.
Jared Van Vranken is Vice President and lead estimator at Flat Roof Solutions in Malvern, PA. Jared has directed the installation, repair, recovery, and replacement of commercial flat roofs for more than a decade at Flat Roof Solutions. He guides clients in selecting the best roofing material for their needs and budget.