Flat Roof

Parent Q&A

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  • We are looking to replace our flat roof, as it is about 30 years old. It is currently tar and gravel, above the second story.  It is pretty simple - no skylights and in pretty good shape.  No major wood rot or leaks that we know of.  Does anyone have any estimates or costs they actually paid, and that they'd be willing to share, on a roof replacement in the last 5 years, being aware of course that costs vary in each case?  

    We just paid about $18k for our flat roof (about 1200 square feet). Collins Roofing did a great job and were very professional.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Roofer - General Roofing Co. - Flat Roofs - IB Sys

Nov 2011

Has anyone used General Roofing Co.? Did you have a good experience? Did you install the IB system? Thanks, Kim

Michael Green of Precision Roofing Co (510 436 7575) came out to give an estimate to fix a badly leaking skylight. He took a look at it, tested with a hose, and pointed out a couple of missing screws on the frame. He suggested I replace the screws and apply some caulk under two corner shims. That took care of it. All at no charge. Nice guy! Daniel

Flat Roof - what kind to get?

Nov 2011

Time for a new roof on our flat topped house. If you have researched the options, I'd like to know what you know about the various kinds of roofing available. Thanks very much. Leaking again.

Last winter I had my flat roof replaced. I got three estimates and not only was precision roofing reasonably priced, they were the only company to offer a 10 Yr guarantee against leaks, he even offered a 20 year guarantee if I called him to maintain it at 10 years. Plus Michael at precision was a pleasure to work with. I believe he did a 3 layer roof when others were only going to do 2. Dani

Need to replace our flat gravel roof with poor drainage

Jan 2011

We have a flat gravel roof with poor drainage. We will be needing a new roof soon and would love advice about any different kind of roof we can get. Our neighbor has a foam roof that was put on their flat roof and they love it but I've also heard negative reviews on foam roofs also. Suggestions and advice are appreciated. anon

I have a 'flat roof' which used to be a foam roof. I had it replaced this past summer with a torch-on membrane roof, which is performing well.

Previously when it rained, my old roof would drain very slowly, taking many hours to drain after the rain stopped. I thought that enlarging the scupper would help, and it did, but along with that and from talking to my roofing contractor, I found that my foam roof was soaking up water. So in essence, I had a bathtub up on my roof.

On the positive side, I think that foam roofs provide insulation value, like attic insulation.

I've been happy with my roofing contractor, Hernandez Roofing Service, located in San Leandro. I was referred to them by my general contractor, who has been using them exclusively for the past 10 years or so. The owner, Cris, is very friendly and helpful.

Good luck and I hope this helps! Ken

Foam roofs are o.k. but this is also an opportunity to get yourself an attic storage area, by changing to a pitched roof system. Just a thought. AB

May 2010

Our flat roof has sprung leaks in several places. I suspect that it will need replacing soon. What options are there to the tar and gravel? I'm hoping to find something that insulates well and can be combined with solar installation. Or do I keep patching it?

Sounds like a good candidate for a foam roof. There are many benefits of a foam roof vs. your standard tar and gravel roof.

1. Foam roof has an insulation value of R-7 per inch and is covered with an acrylic top coat that makes is a cool roof.

2. The foam roof is sprayed on and is an absolutely seamless system. Because there are no laps and seams, there are no weak points which means, NO LEAKS.

3. If you are considering a full roof replacement, usually you need to tear off the old roof prior to re-roofing. A foam roof can be installed over the old roof once the gravel has been removed. This of course, will save on labor costs & the environmental impact of disposing of the old roofing material.

4. Foam roofs last much longer than standard roofing materials.

Dec 2009

My flat roof needs to be re-done, and I'm wondering whether I should do a ''cool roof''. I don't have air conditioning, so it would necessarily save me much money, but it seems like the upstairs of the house would be cooler in the summer at least. Does anyone have any recommendations? My primary concern would be durability. Also, any recommendations for roofers would be welcome! Ready for a new roof

With a flat roof it should be no problem putting a light-colored capsheet on, or some of the specially designed highly reflective cap sheets, which would give you the cool reflectance that you want. It wouldn't bug your neighbors, like it might if you have a sloped roof with white shingles. Just talk to your roofer.

One suggestion that we did on our flat roof that made a huge difference for both heat and cold is to install rigid insulation under roofing. This is a 2'' thick rigid foam that gets nailed down onto the roof and then the built-up roofing is installed over it. We saw a big difference in our summer comfort, and in winter the house did not cool down overnight the way it had previously. Adds some cost but very worth it.

Feb 2008

Anyone able to recommend a roofer for a flat roofed bungalow? We have a dip where water pools, but otherwise I think the roof is in good shape. We are in the Oakland/San Leandro area. Thanks! anon

If the roof is fine except that it pools, you may not need any work done. It's kind of the nature of flat roofs to pool some water even when they've been done right. Flat roofing is inherently a a fairly poor design (a big area traps water and then it supposed to drain out of one or two 2-inch holes), and when the roof is working right there is some dependence on just evaporating water from the roof. If it's not leaking, it may be fine.

I used Jay's Roofing to replace my flat roof a couple of years ago. He was quick, professional, and very tidy. He was also the least expensive. He's located in Oakland. Phone number is (510) 532-1975. There are other rave reviews about him on BPN as well. LT

Excellent roofer (we went through 3 other ''reputable'' roofing companies in the East Bay before finding this guy) Bill Ricci- (415) 822-0600. He lives north of here but does roofing as far south as Palo Alto. He is TOPS. He goes up on your roof and takes digital images of the problem, then shows you the images on his computer to let you know what the problem is. He guarantees his work so if it did not stick (not our problem fortunately!) he will return. happy customer

March 2006

I have a flat roof over an old sunroom. I think it's basically flat sections of roofing with tarred seams. At the moment it is leaking rather spectacularly. The first guy who came to see it said his company didn't do piddly little jobs like this, and not to bother him unless I want to do the whole building. (I will, eventually, but not with Elliott) The second guy is unwilling to try tarring it, and was to get back to me about re-roofing only that area (but hasn't yet). Meanwhile it is still not water tight. I don't have much money for this project at this time, so the re-roofing just has to wait. Is there anyone who would just come and put some goop over the seams for now? I think it's all it really needs.

In response to the request for repair not replacement I recommend Michael Green who owns Precision Roofing 510-436-7575. I also had leaks in poorly constructed nearly flat roof and was frustratred to the point of wanting to replace parts of it. He came out and recommended repair only. He came on time, finished on time, cleaned up everything and left us toasty and dry. Not only that he warrantied the repair for five years! Next time I need roofing help or replacement he will be my first choice. jmz

I want to echo recommendations of Adrian Gomez Roofing, (510) 780-6432. Others on the list have recommended him for large jobs, but I want to say that he's also great for smaller stuff. We had a leak that had grown worse through all the rains this winter. Collins Roofing didn't call back; Jay Roofing came out and nicely told us the roof needed to be patched, but that he wasn't interested. Adrian got right on it and patched the roof quickly -- and now that we're in the middle of our 2nd rainstorm since the roof was fixed, I can be sure that it's not gonna leak again! happy to be leak-free

We needed a quick patch to our flat roof. Eric Gascoyne from Ascential roofing came out and did a bid the day after calling him and fixed it the next day. He was friendly, professional, and bid us an excellent price. Ascential Roofing 510-652-3533. Stefanie

Nov 2005

In response to a question here this week: we learned about Berkeley Roof Services from UC Parents 4 or 5 years ago, and have been extremely pleased with the work done by them (Christoph Lars is the owners), (510) 524-2352. We have a large flat roof, that had some challenging problems, and while other roofers recommended a complete new roof, Christoph solved the problems in creative ways, and all has been well for five years. He does annual inspections and 'touch ups' at very modest cost. John

Feb 2005

Does anyone have a somewhat recent recommendation for a roofer that repairs and/or replaces flat roofs (tar and gravel). In calling around I have found that few people do this type of roof anymore. The one estimate I got was very expensive ($8,000 to replace), ($300 to look for leak). amy t

Beck Roofing in Hayward does tar & gravel roofs, and I would recommend them. We paid about $8K for a fairly large roof, so they are not cheap, but tar & gravel lasts longer than composite shingle roofs. DR