Flat roofs can be installed in residential homes but it is more commonly used in commercial building. A flat roof that needs repair before it reaches its minimum life expectancy of the material only show that it was not properly installed; perhaps it was installed by a contractor who does not really have experience in installing flat roofs.
If one uses a single ply rubber membrane in a flat roof, and if it was not properly installed, then the roofs will leak easily. The material used for flat roofs before was not single ply rubber membrane but it was made up of a base sheet and multiple layers of felt paper and hot asphalt or coal tar. With the use of a gravel cover, the flat roofing materials increased its life. What this is commonly called is built up roofing. When used residentially, the built up roofing outlasts the roof that uses single ply rubber membrane despite using less high tech materials. And the reason for this is because of the inconsistency in installation procedures.
If you want to replace your flat roof instead of repairing it because of expense, then you should hire a roofing contractor that has experience in installing flat roofs. You need to know that they actually know how to install flat roofs and you can determine this by checking out their references, and then you can sign the contract. It can be difficult to find a competent roofer that knows how to install flat roofing on a residence. You don’t automatically be an expert in installing flat rubber roofs properly even if you know how to install asphalt shingle roofing. There are flat roof installers around who would prefer to work on commercial flat roof installations rather than residential roof installation, but it is still not impossible to find a good flat roofer for residential applications.
If you are installing flat roofing, you can use one of several materials. Single ply membrane is used in most low slope commercial roofing. However, others claim the newer materials like self adhering membrane system, or a PVC membrane which uses hot air welded seams. Roofing contractors would use materials that fits their preferences. Choose a roofing contractor in your area with plenty of experience. There are materials that work best in extreme heat or cold and this means that your location can make a difference.
If you have a single ply membrane flat roof and you think that it can still be repaired then you have some options for repairing it. You can use a black rubber glue or a peel and stick flashing material with a rubber primer that covers the seams of the membrane which is where the leaks occurs.
Life can be extended to your roof for a limited period. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money for repair materials since they don’t come in small quantities, you should find a roofing contractor who will sell you the amount that you need.