Flat roof design ideas, inspiration & pictures

Yes or no to a flat roof?

When picturing your typical house, most people envision a structure flaunting a prominently pitched/sloped roof on top – and although there is nothing wrong with that, there is so much more to roofing than the mainstream sloped designs.

Here is where flat roofs come in. Any roof with a gradient of less than 15 degrees is classified as flat. Flat roofs are generally installed on commercial properties and haven’t gained a major reputation as a residential roofing option for everyone. However, more modern and contemporary structures (houses and others) have more flat roofs these days, which has helped to shine the light on flat-roof designs. But as a South African homeowner, is it a good option for you? Take the following into consideration:

·         Flat roofs are budget-friendly. Although there are a multitude of flat roof designs varying in styles, materials and prices, they are much easier to install than a sloped roof. They also require less material than a pitched design.

·         Flat roofs are easy and safe to maintain. As it’s easier to walk on a flat roof (for inspection purposes), it’s also safer and helps you to spot any problems quicker. Repairs are much simpler to complete, seeing as you don’t need to be strapping in and holding on to anything to prevent yourself from falling off.

·         Flat roofs are easier to clean because of their low inclines.

·         With the watertight nature of all roofs, rooftop gardens or green roofs are much easier to add to a flat roof than a sloped one, should the need to do so arise.

·         Flat roofs are energy efficient. Whether you’re simply looking to save on costs or want to do your part to help the environment, energy efficiency is increasingly becoming a concern for many homeowners. A flat roof makes both options possible by limiting the amount of heat that is absorbed and transferred into your home. Thanks to reflective properties, many types of flat roofing can bounce back heat from the sun, keeping the indoor temperature of your home cooler – a fantastic advantage in a warm country such as ours. Avoiding excessive heat helps your home stabilise its indoor environment, keeping your HVAC system from overworking to meet heating and cooling needs. And seeing as that HVAC system won’t be working so hard, it will treat you to a lower energy bill.

Although flat-roofed houses are very popular in South Africa, it is important to remember that a flat roof still requires a slight pitch for water drainage. A minimum gradient of 3 - 5 degrees is recommended, depending on the roof material. Although all types of roofs require the occasional maintenance, a flat roof will need more attention, seeing as the biggest damage to this type of roofing will occur due to leaks and wear and tear.

Different types of flat roof materials

The majority of flat roofs of residential homes in South Africa are made of concrete, even though other options also exist:

·         Roof sheets are a very cost-effective option in our country. Bear in mind that, in direct sunlight, sheet-metal roofs will absorb a lot of heat, leading to very hot interiors. Also take into account the noise in areas where it often rains or hails, which makes insulation important.

·         A wooden flat roof is built with joists, which also act as rafters, running across the roof. Continuous decking is placed at right angles on top of this, followed by the roof covering.

·         Clay and concrete roof tiles are inherently suited to the South African climate, although both options provide their own pros and cons.

What are the costs of a flat roof in South Africa?

Although flat roofs are simpler (and quicker to install) than pitched roofs, the pricing depends on numerous factors, such as:

·         The size of the roof

·         The materials used

·         The relevant supplier

·         Weather conditions (i.e. will it rain and cause the roofing work to be moved out)

·         Installation method

·         The complexity of the job.

However, you can expect to pay around R280 per square metre for a flat roof design, which translates into R56,000 for a regular 200m² roof. However, like with any building project, it’s best to shop around for various suppliers and compare quotes before settling on a final provider.

How to maintain your flat roof

The maintenance measures that come with low-slope or flat roofs include recoating. This needs to be completed according to the recommendations of a qualified roofing repair professional. It’s also crucial to ensure that there’s a proper working drainage system and that any water collection or accumulation is minimal enough to evaporate within a day of raining.

How homify can help

Whatever style roofing you desire (flat, gable, hipped, etc.) or the kind of building/designing project you require (from fixing a bathroom leak to re-designing your guest bedroom), homify has tonnes of inspiration to help you. Furthermore, we also help to put you in contact with the right professionals for the right job (such as architects, roofers, carpenters and many others).