Flat roofs leak. It is a fact of life. Whether your flat metal roof will fail or develop leaks is not a question. It is a question of when. Flat, metal roofs offer commercial building owners the option to maximize space by placing utilities and more on the typically unused surface of the roof. The trade-off in this situation is slow drainage, pooling, and other issues. Luckily, some savvy mitigation techniques, preventative maintenance, and good planning can all extend the life of your flat metal roof.


For years, the standard for flat, metal commercial roofs was terne (which is a tin/steel alloy), or perhaps even copper. Both materials are prone to leakage over their lifespan. In today’s modern construction environment, aluminum has become the choice of roofing contractors. Aluminum offers lifespans approaching 30 years, particularly with the correct sealing and coating materials (like the Rugged Roofing System).


There are several roof coating options, as well as protective sealants.

Rubber has become popular in recent years for its cost-effectiveness. Bluntly: it’s cheap. Take EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) rubber, a synthetic rubber that comes in rolls and is installed similarly to a carpet pad. It’s very inexpensive but comes with a labor and time intense installation process. EPDM struggles with good seals, however, especially at the seams.

Some applicators have turned to spray-applied liquid rubber. Of course, as with all spray-applied products, the issues of seams disappear with this option. If the spray-applied rubber is applied correctly, it can be a viable option but is susceptible to deterioration without a top coating of a protective material (such as Rugged Silicon or Acrylic Coatings).

Modified Bitumen is also common for flat, metal roofs. The material is thin rolls of asphalt. It creates a bond and seals with your roof under the application of heat by using a high-powered blow torch. It’s dangerous and labor intensive but can provide some insulative properties.

Elastomeric coatings are the “just right” option for many commercial roofing applications. They balance cost and performance well. Elastomeric coatings provide a waterproof flexible membrane, sealing the entire roof. Elastomeric coatings also provide insulative benefits, creating cost savings for the building owner. Finally, Elastomeric coatings are labor efficient to install, meaning downtime is limited, and labor costs are minimized for the installation.


As we’ve mentioned before, elastomeric coatings can be further fortified with the proper coatings to expand the roof’s lifespan. It’s important to note that while any coating is better than none, not all coatings are created the same! The amount of material applied, as well as the material makeup itself, will all affect the roof’s lifespan. Silicone coatings, for instance, can withstand pooling water (unlike acrylic coatings), which is a key factor for flat metal roofs.

The most robust option for your roof is a combination of an SPF coating and a protective coating of either acrylic or silicone. That’s precisely what makes up the Rugged Roofing System. It’s a combination of Accufoam® roofing foam and Rugged Coatings’ Acrylic or silicone. It’s the best of both worlds and yields an excellent life span.

If you’re ready to explore the best roofing system in the industry for cost, value and lifespan, call us today!