Flat Roof Repairs – Can I Do It Myself

When it comes to home maintenance, few issues get more bad press than a leaking roof. Depending on how you look at it, this is either the bugbear of having a flat roof or a minor problem that you can fix – if not easily- at least properly and somewhat permanently.

Using the right Methods and Products

Provided that you are using the right materials, there is a step by step rulebook of eliminating pitfalls and simplifying that flat-roof repair job you might have been putting off.

In this product guide, we’ll walk you through the most efficient practice from both cost and time perspective. So clear the drawing board and get ready to make your life simpler.

The Key Methods

Finding the right products means identifying which approach is best. Let’s begin with the three main options of fixing a flat roof. Consider what trying to accomplish before getting into the details about all the products available.

You might be after:

1. A quick fix to bide some time before a permanent repair later on.

2. A  long-term fix that won’t require full-roof replacement

3.A whole-roof repair.

Undoubtedly the main reason roof-leaks are seen as a nightmare issue comes down to the third situation. You may be trying to patch up a flat roof without much integrity.

What do we mean by a lack of integrity? Tell-tale signs of this are:

– Leaks in several or many places.

– A roof that is buckling, warping or dipping in the spaces between joists.

– A surface that has been damaged from UV exposure.

While many home-owners will try to attack such a problem by repairing it piecemeal, this comes at a great financial and material risk. Water tends to pool in places and then seeps into even the most microscopic structural cracks. Ultimately it will seep into the deeper roof structure itself.

This causes the well-known downward spiral of continuous repairs that eventually compromises timbers, ceiling boards and turns paint black with mould.

Which type of leak is worth repairing?

– Leaks that are caused by one-off events like the impact of a fallen roofing tile or impact from a heavy branch.

– Leaks affecting a small region because of minor tears in the bitumen, in the felt cloth or – with lead roofing – kinks and small holes caused by rodent damage or hail.

Typical Issues and Areas of Concern:

There are three most common areas you’ll typically look into to find repairable damage:

– A  seam that connects two pieces of felt, or a junction where two parts of the roof meet. This includes vertical walls where the felt has come loose.

– Areas where water is discharged onto the roof.

– Areas where water tends to pool (provided they aren’t the result of major structural damage underneath.)

A product guide:

With these preliminaries in mind, let’s discuss the materials and products you’ll need for your flat roof repair.

Lead Roofing

The advantage of lead flashing is its softness and malleability, but this same quality makes it prone to attack by squirrels who use it to sharpen teeth. It can also suffer damage from larger hail storms or from branches protruding over the roof.

Temporary fix:

The main factor to look for in a product of this sort is flexibility. You will also need to ensure that it doesn’t corrode the underlying metal and can withstand both high and low temperatures.

We’d highly recommend Everbuild’s Lead Mate in this vein. It is a great alternative to mortar since its a neater, much easier way of conducting repairs than that traditional method.

Medium Term Fix:

Assuming your lead flashing can undergo repairs, you have two options here.

-You can either cut away the damaged section and fit a new fold using a product like Lead Mate at

the joins

– or, provided you have the right welding skills, repair the damage yourself.

(Obviously, without any welding skills at hand, the first option is cheaper.)

Long Term Fix:

Rodents: Consider a material that rodents don’t like for sharpening their teeth on. Bitumen is a highly practical alternative.

Branches: If heavy branches are a problem you should remove any branches protruding over your flat roof to avert future challenges.

Hail: If hail is a common phenomenon in your area, consider installing a roof composed of SBS bitumen. Modified bitumen is especially resistant against hail storms and for this option, the industry gold standard is undoubtedly something with SBS technology.

Repairing an Asphalt Roof

Temporary fix:

As an emergency measure, you might consider a product like Rapid Seal to temporarily stop up the leak.

That said, anyone with DIY capabilities can fix smaller gashes or splits before having to call in the contractors. Make sure the area is clean and dry before applying two to three layers of roof seal.

You won’t go wrong with a high-quality sealant paint like H.E.R. Polyurethan flashing and roof repair sealant. The chemical technology used in this product means it can last as long as 10 years. This means that you will have to replenish the coating every five to eight years.

Alternatively, use a product like Karnac’s fibrate coating which lasts anywhere between 3 and 5 years. Here’s a handy YouTube guide.

Medium and Long Term Fixes:

A long term option assumes you want to augment the structure of your roof by adding an extra layer that is more resistant to future tears and holes. This option is cheaper in the long term, even if it costs more in the short term than the sealant option specified above.

You could opt for a torch-down bitumen method, which will last in the region of 15 years. However, this obviously requires you to be handy with a torch. The modern alternative which lasts just as long is self-adhesive modified bitumen sheet which can be rolled out by DIY home-owners.

Home Depot Carries a variety of products in this area. The key is to clear the area before installing the base sheet and cap sheet. Here is a handy guide.

In the medium term, you can replace the cap sheet every 15 years, leaving the underlying base sheet in place for up to 40 or 50.

Other Roofing Materials:

Fibreglass Roofing:

Fibreglass is known for its long-lasting qualities and is especially easy to repair. This can be done fore less than 40 dollars using a kit such as this boat repair kit on Amazon.

Mastic Roofing:

Despite being arguably highest grade of roofing material available, mastic asphalt is still susceptible to cracking from heavy movement. You can fix this type of – usually long and straight – crack by adding another layer of mastic asphalt. Another alternative is to torch over a layer of asphalt.
Rubber Roofing:

Rubber roofing can be fixed in under an hour using a product like Firestone sealer or Flashtape to seal up cracks or tears.