Membrane vs. Standing Seam Metal – What’s Right for Your Home’s Flat Roof?


If your home includes one or more sections of flat roofing, you'll find that your options for covering these areas are a little different than you might expect. Typical roofing options, such as asphalt shingles, are ineffective on low-slope roofs. Since water drains from these roofing areas more slowly, there's a severe risk of moisture infiltrating underneath the shingles and causing severe problems.

Of course, many homes include traditional sloped roofs with sections of flat roofing. Since you may have shingles on the sloped part of your roof, you'll need an option for the flat areas to tie your roof together aesthetically while still providing protection. Membrane roofing and standing seam metal are the two most common options, but which is right for your situation?

Understanding Membrane Roofing

Membrane roofing is commonly associated with commercial structures, but it's also well-suited to residential applications. As the name implies, membrane roofing involves a sheet (or membrane) attached to the flat roofing substrate. This membrane provides a weather-resistant seal to protect the roof from rain, wind, and physical impacts.

EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) and PVC (polyvinyl chloride) are two relatively common options for this roofing type on residential roofing. Both options provide good protection, with appearance and reflectivity being their distinguishing factors. The best option will usually depend on where you're installing the roof.

Since EPDM roofing is black, it offers minimal reflectivity and tends to blend in more easily. The dark color will absorb heat but remain looking relatively good, making it suitable for highly visible areas where cooling isn't a concern. On the other hand, white PVC tends to be less attractive and more prone to stains but is far better at reflecting heat.

Understanding Standing Seam Metal Roofing

Standing seam metal roofing is arguably a much higher-end alternative when compared to membrane roofs. A standing seam roof will work for any slope, making it a suitable option for flat roofs. Since metal roofing comes in a nearly limitless array of styles and colors, you can easily choose an option for the flat portions of your roof to match your existing shingles.

There are few downsides to standing seam metal roofs aside from the cost. A metal roof can last for decades, making it a far more durable and long-lasting option than membrane roofing. The long lifespan also means that these roofs can pay off over the long run despite their higher cost, especially if you intend to live in your home for a long time.

Choosing the Right Option for Your Home

The best choice for your roof will ultimately depend on your budget and the location of your flat roof. Is the roof relatively hard to see from the ground or windows in your home? If so, a membrane roof will save you money and offers plenty of protection and longevity. On the other hand, standing seam metal roofs can add curb appeal to more visible parts of your home.

Whatever you decide, discuss your choice and options with a flat roofing service in your area. Every roof is unique, and a professional will help you evaluate your roof so you can decide on an option that works well for your circumstances.

About Me

The Life and Work of Roofers

Your home would not be a home without a roof. A good roof keeps the rain out, provides some insulation against sunlight, and does not easily become damaged when exposed to snow or ice. The roof was put in place by a roofer, who was probably one of the hardest-working people you'll ever meet. Who else can say they stand all day on a pitched surface and perform physical labor? Days as a roofer are long and hot, but we are all thankful for the work these professionals do. On this blog, you can learn more about roofers, their work, and their lives.

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