Welcome to the ultimate guide for roofing contractors looking to elevate their skills in advanced built-up roofing installation and membrane selection. Built-up roofing is a time-tested and reliable method that, when executed with precision, ensures the long-lasting protection of structures. This guide is designed to provide you with the knowledge and expertise needed to excel in this field.

The Importance of Advanced Built-up Roofing

Advanced built-up roofing techniques are crucial in today’s construction industry. These roofing systems are known for their durability and weather resistance, making them popular for many buildings. To maintain the integrity of structures, it’s essential to master the installation of built-up roofing and select the right membranes for the job.

Here’s why advanced built-up roofing matters:

Prolonged Roof Lifespan

When properly installed and maintained, high-quality built-up roofing can significantly extend a roof’s lifespan. This longevity is a cost-effective choice for building owners, reducing the need for frequent replacements.

Advanced built-up roofing systems are renowned for their ability to withstand various weather conditions, including heavy rains, snow, and intense UV exposure. This makes them an ideal choice for regions with diverse climate challenges.

Properly selected and installed roofing membranes can contribute to energy efficiency. They help regulate indoor temperatures and reduce heating and cooling costs, benefiting both the environment and building owners.

Step-by-Step Guidance for Roofing Contractors

As a roofing contractor, mastering advanced built-up roofing involves understanding the installation process and choosing the right membranes. Let’s break down the essential steps to become proficient in this field:

Step 1: Assess the Building

Before installation, thoroughly assess the building’s structural condition. Identify any existing issues that may require repairs and ensure the roof can support the added weight of the roofing system. Building assessment is crucial to the success of your project.

Start by examining the structural integrity of the building. Ensure that the foundation and walls are in good condition and capable of supporting the added weight of the roofing system. If there are any structural concerns, address them before proceeding with the roofing project.

Additionally, inspect the current roofing system. Identify any damaged or worn and tear areas needing repairs or replacement. Properly assessing the existing roof condition will help you determine the extent of work required.

Consider the roof’s age, leaks or water damage, and previously used materials. These details are crucial in deciding whether to remove the existing roofing entirely or to install the new built-up roofing system over the old one.

Moreover, it takes into account the local climate and environmental conditions. Regions with heavy rainfall, snow, or extreme temperatures may require specific roofing considerations. Understanding the unique challenges of your area will guide your membrane selection and installation techniques.

Step 2: Select the Appropriate Membrane

Choosing a suitable roofing membrane is crucial. Factors to consider include the building’s location, climate, and intended use. EPDM, TPO, and modified Bitumen are popular options, each with advantages. The right membrane choice sets the foundation for a successful roofing system.

The roofing membrane is a critical decision in the roofing process. Different membranes have distinct advantages, and your selection should align with the project’s specific requirements.

EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) is a synthetic rubber membrane known for its durability and resistance to extreme weather conditions. It is particularly effective in colder climates and offers excellent protection against UV radiation. EPDM membranes are available in black and white, providing some reflectivity for increased energy efficiency.

TPO (Thermoplastic Olefin) is a single-ply roofing membrane praised for its energy efficiency and reflective properties. TPO roofs are typically white, which helps reflect sunlight and heat, making them suitable for warm climates. The heat-welded seams of TPO roofing provide effective water resistance.

Modified Bitumen, consisting of asphalt and rubber modifiers, is another popular choice. This combination offers exceptional waterproofing and durability, making it suitable for regions with extreme weather conditions. Modified Bitumen is available in various installation methods,

including torch-applied, cold-applied, and self-adhering, providing flexibility for different projects.

Your membrane choice should be based on the location of the building and the expected weather conditions. EPDM or modified Bitumen may be preferred in areas prone to heavy rainfall for their waterproofing capabilities. On the other hand, buildings in warm climates can benefit from the energy efficiency of TPO roofing.

Step 3: Prepare the Roof Substrate

The substrate should be clean, dry, and free of any debris. Proper preparation ensures adhesion and prevents moisture-related issues down the road. Adequate substrate preparation is essential for a durable roofing system.

Once you’ve assessed the building and selected the appropriate membrane, it’s time to prepare the roof substrate. The substrate preparation quality significantly impacts the roofing system’s success.

Here’s how to ensure a properly prepared substrate:

Clean the substrate: Start by removing debris, dirt, or loose materials from the roof surface. Use brooms, brushes, or air blowers to clear the area. A clean substrate provides a smooth surface for membrane installation.

Repair existing damage: Any issues with the roof deck, such as damaged or rotted sections, must be repaired or replaced. Addressing these problems before membrane installation is crucial to prevent further damage.

Check for moisture: Ensure the substrate is dry and moisture-free. Moisture can compromise the adhesion of the membrane and lead to issues like blistering or delamination. Use moisture meters to confirm that the substrate is within acceptable levels.

Inspect the deck for structural integrity: The roof deck should be in good condition and capable of supporting the roofing system. Look for signs of sagging, deterioration, or damage and address structural concerns.

Prepare the substrate based on the type of membrane: Different membranes may have specific requirements for substrate preparation. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure compatibility and warranty coverage.

Adequate substrate preparation is crucial for membrane adhesion and long-term performance. It creates a stable foundation for the roofing system, preventing issues like moisture infiltration or poor adhesion.

Step 4: Install Insulation

Adequate insulation is key to energy efficiency. Ensure insulation materials are correctly installed to create a thermal barrier within the building. Proper insulation is essential to maintaining indoor comfort and reducing energy costs.

Insulation plays a vital role in the energy efficiency and comfort of the building. It creates a thermal barrier that prevents heat transfer between the structure’s interior and exterior. Proper insulation can lead to reduced heating and cooling costs, improved indoor comfort, and a smaller carbon footprint.

When installing insulation for a built-up roofing system, consider the following key factors:

Choose the right insulation type: The choice of insulation material depends on factors like your local climate, budget, and thermal resistance requirements. Common insulation types include fibreglass, foam board, and mineral wool.

Ensure proper R-value: The R-value measures the insulation’s thermal resistance. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation’s ability to resist heat transfer. Determine the required R-value for your project based on local building codes and climate conditions.

Install insulation boards: Insulation boards are typically used in built-up roofing systems. They are placed on the roof deck and provide thermal insulation. Ensure that the panels are correctly aligned and secured.

Seal gaps and joints: Seal any gaps or joints between insulation boards to prevent air leakage and maintain the integrity of the thermal barrier. Proper sealing enhances the insulation’s performance.

Consider moisture resistance: Depending on the roofing system and location, you may need to use moisture-resistant insulation materials to prevent damage from water infiltration.

Insulation installation should comply with local building codes and manufacturer guidelines. Properly installed insulation helps regulate indoor temperatures, reduces energy costs, and improves the roofing system’s efficiency.

Step 5: Apply Vapour Retarder

A vapour retarder helps control moisture flow within the roof system. Proper placement prevents condensation and moisture-related damage. Installing the vapour retarder correctly is vital to the roofing system’s performance.

A vapour retarder is a crucial component of a built-up roofing system. It helps control moisture flow within the roof assembly, preventing issues like condensation and moisture-related damage.

To apply the vapour retarder effectively, follow these steps:

Choose the right vapour retarder: The selection of a vapour retarder should be based on the local climate and the roof’s intended use. Vapour retarders are available in various types, including built-in options on specific roofing membranes.

Install the vapour retarder below the insulation: The vapour retarder is typically placed directly below the insulation layer. It is a barrier, preventing moisture from moving through the insulation and reaching the roof deck.

Overlap seams and joints: When installing the vapour retarder, ensure that seams and joints are adequately overlapped and sealed to create a continuous barrier. Proper sealing is essential for preventing moisture infiltration.

Use compatible adhesives: Adhesives should be consistent with the selected vapour retarder material. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for adhesive application to ensure a secure bond.

Inspect for damage: Before proceeding with membrane installation, inspect the vapour retarder for any damage or punctures. Damaged areas should be repaired or replaced to maintain the barrier’s integrity.

Properly applied vapour retarders control moisture and prevent issues like condensation within the roofing system. Their effectiveness contributes to the overall performance and durability of the built-up roofing.

Step 6: Install Roof Membrane

Carefully adhere or mechanically fasten the selected membrane to the substrate. Pay attention to proper overlaps and seams to ensure a watertight seal. A precise membrane installation protects against the elements.

The installation of the roofing membrane is a critical step in the process. The membrane serves as the primary waterproofing layer of the built-up roofing system. Proper membrane installation is essential for a watertight and durable roofing system, whether using EPDM, TPO, or modified Bitumen.

Here are the steps for membrane installation:

Position the membrane: Unroll or place it on the roof substrate, ensuring it is correctly positioned and aligned. Take care to avoid wrinkles or bubbles in the membrane.

Adhere or mechanically fasten the membrane: The attachment method depends on the membrane type and the manufacturer’s guidelines. Some membranes fully adhere to the substrate, while others are mechanically fastened. Follow the recommended installation process for your chosen membrane.

Seam and overlap as required: To create a watertight seal, overlap membrane sections as specified by the manufacturer. The seams should be securely bonded, preventing moisture infiltration. Pay attention to seam and overlap details, which prevent leaks.

Inspect for wrinkles and bubbles: After installation, inspect the membrane for any wrinkles, bubbles, or imperfections. Address these issues promptly to ensure a smooth and effective roofing surface.

Use the appropriate adhesive to secure the membrane to the substrate for fully adhered membranes. For mechanically fastened membranes, ensure that fasteners are correctly placed and confirmed. Membrane installation should comply with the manufacturer’s recommendations and industry best practices.

Step 7: Add Protective Surfacing

Top layers, such as gravel, cap sheets, or reflective coatings, protect the membrane and enhance the roof’s performance. The choice of surfacing depends on your specific project requirements. Protective surfacing ensures the longevity and effectiveness of the roofing system.

Protective surfacing is the final layer of a built-up roofing system. It serves several essential purposes, including membrane protection and enhanced performance. The choice of protective surfacing depends on the project’s specific requirements and can include options like gravel, cap sheets, or reflective coatings.

Here’s why protective surfacing is crucial:

Protection: Protective surfacing shields the roofing membrane from potential damage, such as UV radiation, foot traffic, and extreme weather conditions. It extends the lifespan of the membrane, preserving its integrity.

Reflectivity: Some surfacing materials, like reflective coatings, can increase the roof’s solar reflectance and thermal emittance. This enhances energy efficiency by reducing heat absorption, making it an excellent choice for warmer climates.

Enhanced durability: Protective surfacing reinforces the roofing system, improving its resistance to wear and tear. It ensures the roof can withstand ongoing exposure to the elements.

Customisation: Protective surfacing can be tailored to your project’s requirements. Different materials offer specific benefits, allowing you to select the most suitable option.

Before applying protective surfacing, consider the project’s location, climate, and environmental factors. Certain regions may benefit from reflective coatings, while others require protective layers like gravel or cap sheets. Consult the project specifications and manufacturer recommendations for the most appropriate surfacing material.

Step 8: Conduct Regular Inspections

Frequent inspections are essential to detect any issues early. Schedule routine maintenance to prevent minor problems from escalating into costly repairs. Regular inspections are key to maintaining a reliable roofing system.

Like any other building component, roofing systems require regular inspections and maintenance to perform optimally. Reviews are crucial for identifying issues early and preventing minor problems from turning into major, costly repairs.

Here’s why regular inspections matter:

Early issue detection: Regular inspections allow you to identify and address problems early. This prevents minor issues, like small leaks or membrane damage, from escalating into more significant and costly repairs.

Prolonged lifespan: Proper maintenance and prompt repairs extend the lifespan of your roofing system. A well-maintained roof can protect your building for decades, saving you money in the long run.

Cost savings: Regular inspections and maintenance are cost-effective. Small, manageable repairs are less expensive than major overhauls. By addressing issues early, you avoid costly emergency repairs.

Preventing water damage: Roofs are the primary defence against water infiltration. Inspections help identify potential points of entry, ensuring that your roofing system remains watertight.

Conducting inspections involves a thorough assessment of the roofing system’s condition. Look for signs of damage, wear and tear, or material deterioration. Pay special attention to areas like seams, flashings, and drainage systems, as these are common locations for issues to arise.

Regular inspections should be scheduled at least twice yearly, typically in the spring and fall.

Additionally, inspections should be performed after severe weather events like storms or heavy snowfall.

Step 9: Stay Informed

The roofing industry is continually evolving. Keep informed about the latest advancements in roofing materials, techniques, and safety standards to ensure your work is cutting-edge. Staying informed is crucial for offering the best solutions to your clients.

As a roofing contractor, staying informed about industry advancements is essential for providing the best possible service to your clients. The roofing industry continually evolves, with new materials, techniques, and safety standards emerging regularly.

Here are some key reasons why staying informed is crucial:

Adopting new technologies: New roofing technologies and materials can enhance the performance and longevity of roofing systems. Staying informed allows you to adopt these innovations and offer your clients the most advanced solutions.

Meeting safety standards: Safety is a top priority in the roofing industry. Keeping up with the latest safety standards and regulations ensures that your work complies with industry best practices and provides a safe environment for your team.

Offering energy-efficient solutions: Energy efficiency is a growing concern for building owners. Staying informed about energy-efficient roofing solutions enables you to provide options that help clients reduce their energy consumption and costs.

Adapting to changing climates: Climate change is affecting roofing requirements. Staying informed about the evolving environment and its impact on roofing can help you adjust to new challenges and provide effective solutions.

Networking and education: Attending industry events, conferences, and seminars is an excellent way to stay informed. Networking with other professionals and participating in educational programs can broaden your knowledge and expertise.

To stay informed, consider subscribing to industry publications, participating in training programs, and attending seminars and conferences. Additionally, networking with other professionals in the field can provide valuable insights into industry trends and best practices.

Step 10: Safety First

Prioritise safety on every job. Roofing can be hazardous, so provide your team with safety equipment and training to minimise risks. Safety measures are paramount to protect your team during roofing projects.

Safety should always be a top priority in the roofing industry. Roofing projects involve working at heights and handling materials that can pose safety risks. To ensure the well-being of your team and prevent accidents, prioritise safety at every job.

Here’s why safety measures are paramount:

Minimising risks: Roofing can be a hazardous profession. Safety measures help minimise risks associated with falls, material handling, and exposure to the elements.

Protecting your team: Providing your team with the necessary safety gear and training ensures their protection. Safety equipment like harnesses, helmets, and non-slip footwear can prevent injuries.

Complying with regulations: Safety regulations are in place to protect workers. Complying with these regulations safeguards your team and ensures your business operates within the law.

Preventing accidents: Accidents can lead to delays, increased costs, and damage to your reputation. Implementing safety measures reduces the likelihood of accidents on the job.

Education and training: Properly train your team in safety procedures and equip them with the knowledge to handle potential risks. Regular safety training sessions are essential for keeping everyone informed and prepared.

Remember that safety is a collective effort. Encourage your team to report safety concerns and near-miss incidents and address any issues promptly. Making safety a priority creates a work environment where accidents are less likely to occur.

Choosing the Right Membrane

Selecting the appropriate membrane is a critical decision that influences the performance and longevity of the roofing system.

Here are some insights into common roofing membranes:

EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer)

EPDM is a single-ply rubber membrane known for its durability and flexibility. It’s particularly effective in cold climates and offers excellent resistance to UV radiation. EPDM is a reliable choice for roofing projects in various regions.

TPO (Thermoplastic Olefin)

TPO roofing is popular for its energy efficiency and heat-welded seams. It reflects sunlight and heat, making it an excellent choice for warm climates. TPO is a versatile membrane suitable for a range of projects.

Modified Bitumen

Modified Bitumen consists of asphalt and rubber modifiers. It provides exceptional waterproofing and is often used in regions with extreme weather conditions. Modified Bitumen is a robust membrane choice for challenging climates.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

FAQ 1: What are the key advantages of built-up roofing systems?

Built-up roofing systems offer prolonged lifespan, weather resilience, energy efficiency, and enhanced structural integrity. These benefits make them a reliable choice for various buildings.

FAQ 2: How do I choose the suitable roofing membrane for a specific project?

Selecting the appropriate membrane depends on location, climate, and building use. EPDM, TPO, and modified Bitumen are versatile options for different requirements.

FAQ 3: What is the significance of insulation in advanced built-up roofing?

Proper insulation regulates indoor temperatures, reduces energy costs, and improves the roofing system’s efficiency. It is essential for comfort and cost savings.

FAQ 4: Why is regular roof inspection and maintenance important?

Regular inspections identify issues early, preventing minor problems from becoming costly repairs. Maintenance ensures the long-term performance of the roofing system.

FAQ 5: How can I stay updated with advancements in roofing?

Stay informed about the latest advancements in roofing materials, techniques, and safety standards through industry publications, seminars, and training programs.

FAQ 6: What safety measures should be in place during roofing projects?

Ensure your team is equipped with safety gear and has received proper training. Safety measures reduce the risks associated with roofing projects and protect your team.

FAQ 7: Can EPDM roofing be used in warm climates?

While EPDM is more commonly used in cold climates, it can still be effective in warm regions. Consider reflective coatings to enhance its heat resistance.

FAQ 8: Is TPO roofing suitable for cold climates?

TPO roofing’s heat-welded seams provide effective cold-weather resistance. Proper installation is key to its performance in colder regions.

FAQ 9: What are the maintenance requirements for modified bitumen roofing?

Regular inspections and maintenance are essential for modified bitumen roofing. Ensure that seams and flashings are well-maintained to prevent leaks and ensure durability.

FAQ 10: Can built-up roofing be applied to all building types?

Yes, built-up roofing systems are versatile and can be applied to various building types, including commercial, industrial, and residential structures. Their adaptability makes them a valuable choice for different projects.


Mastering advanced built-up roofing requires a comprehensive approach that includes precise building assessment, judicious membrane selection, meticulous installation, and ongoing maintenance. Staying informed about the latest industry developments and prioritising safety are critical components of success in this field. By integrating these elements, roofing contractors can ensure the delivery of durable, efficient, and cost-effective roofing solutions. If you need expert advice, don’t hesitate to contact us for guidance and support. Our expertise is your resource for confidently navigating the complexities of advanced built-up roofing.