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Should I turn my flat roof into a summer hang-out spot?

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With spring advancing and summer on the way, many homeowners are starting to dream of those long June and July days when they can turn off their computer screen and relax with family and close friends and what better way but to turn your flat roof into a party zone.

And for those whose houses have flat roofs, the idea of turning these spaces useful as a hang-out zone may be a tempting one — especially for those who live in heavily developed regions like the Greater Toronto Area, where it is necessary to make the most of the space you have.

But what are the practical challenges of turning your flat roof into a seasonal deck? Is it possible to do so without damaging the roof itself?

In this blog, we’ll explore some of the risks of transforming a functional area like a flat roof into an extension of your living space using pads or a floating deck, and provide some tips as to how you can do this safely.

Flat roof maintenance and care

The first thing you should take into account when considering alternative uses for your flat roof is the state of the roof itself.

There are wide range of different materials used in flat roofing, including:

  • Tar and gravel
  • EPDM (Rubber)
  • Spray Polyurethane Foam
  • Modified Bitumen
  • Roofing Membranes

Each has its own particular qualities, and figuring out what kind of roof you have will help you determine what kind of maintenance and care it needs.

This is important, because a tar and gravel roof shouldn’t be walked on at all, while a membrane roof can handle light traffic without any trouble. In the case of the former, you may need to consider a floating deck that will keep the roof itself free from disturbance.

It should go without saying that if your roof is showing signs of age and wear, you should hire a roofing company in Ajax and have a new roof installed before moving forward with any plans.  

What are my options for deck materials?

If you have a membrane roof covering a porch that can be accessed from the second floor, you may simply want to put out a few deck chairs and enjoy the breeze. But if you really want to transform a section of roof into a patio or deck, you’ll need to be a little more careful in your planning.

You can find plenty of tutorials online that can help you build what are known as floating decks, which sit atop a section or roof but are not themselves anchored to the house. These projects often involve quite a bit of technical skill and know-how, though, and it might make more sense to hire a contractor to take care of the job for you.

This is not the only option, however. There are other ways to make a roof top deck that don’t require you to build a more permanent structure, but which also provide necessary protection to keep your membrane or tar and gravel from being damaged by foot traffic. One of the easiest and most popular is pavers or walk pads that provide extra protection.

These can be purchased at some hardware stores or construction materials outlets, and laid down by hand. They are not an all-year solution, though, and will need to be removed in the autumn and reinstalled in the spring.

How to install and use a roof deck safely

Once you’ve taken these concerns into account and decided on which style of roof deck is ideal for you, you can start looking at options for installation. As mentioned above, it is a good idea to have a floating deck professionally installed, not only to ensure the work is done correctly, but also to ensure the added weight won’t place undue strain on the building structure.

You will also need to think about the particular section of roof itself — flat roof garage design makes these spaces perfect for adaptation, but if you want to install a deck on top of your house, you’ll also need to take factors like how to get up there into consideration. The last thing you want is a deck that is difficult to reach safely.

Local building codes will need to be taken into consideration as well, and before any work begins you should make sure to apply for any permits you might need. A deck not built to code will reduce the value of your property and can lead to fines.

With all that being said, a deck can be an excellent way of expanding your living space, enjoying the fresh air, and improving the livability of your home, so if this is a project you are interested in pursuing, get in touch with Ajax roofers today to start exploring your options.

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