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Single Ply Roofing vs Felt Roofing: Which Flat Roof is Best?

Flat roofing has taken off enormously in recent years. It’s easier than ever before to install a flat roof, with a choice of materials and a huge list of benefits over traditional roofing styles. Two common flat roofing materials used today are single ply and felt. Both have their own set of benefits, but in the end, which of these flat roofing materials is best? That’s what we’re finding out in this article.

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Single Ply


Single ply membranes are a versatile roofing technology used for roofs of any shape. They’re often used for flat roofs because they’re durable, waterproof and quick to install.

You’ve probably seen single ply systems on commercial roofs, or on the roofs of large apartment buildings. As flat roofing becomes the primary choice for modern building works, you’re likely to see even more single ply roofs than you do now. Broadly, these following features of single ply roofing is instrumental to this:

  • Long service life – single ply membranes last around 40 years.
  • Waterproof and fire resistant – protection from the elements and from fire damage is highly sought after in any property. Single ply roofs bring both.
  • Low maintenance – Other than the quick once-over every now and then, single ply systems are durable and won’t require anywhere near as much maintenance as felt roofs.
  • Lightweight – Quick and non-disruptive to install, you won’t have to wait long for a single ply roof to be ready – and you’ll barely notice it being fitted.
  • Attractive – As a modern, low-key design, single ply roofing brings a desirable aesthetic to commercial, industrial and domestic roofs. It’s a vast improvement over the old felt style.

As an added benefit, single ply systems are installed by reputable contractors. Systems such as Renolit and Sarnafil, for example, are only installed by trusted contractors, such as Salmon Solutions. This way, you know from the outset that you’re getting a reliable, safe and high quality roof installation. Single ply is also recyclable, so when it does reach the end of its lifespan, you don’t have to worry about the environmental impact of disposing of it or replacing it.

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Felt roofing


Felt roofs have long been the go-to for many homeowners. The process has changed over the years, with torch-applied felt roofing now standard as opposed to the old roll-on method. However, some things have not changed.

Felt remains a widely available roofing material, so you don’t necessarily need to find a specialist to install it. Felt roofs are also very strong, so you’ll get a good amount of protection from a  proper, built up installation.

However, felt does have its drawbacks. Namely, it’s more prone to damage over time such as splitting, cracking and UV damage. That means repair and maintenance is more of an issue.

Felt also has a shorter lifespan, averaging at around 25 years. During this period, don’t be surprised if you need to make some repairs to keep it up to scratch. Once it does need replacing, you’ll find felt to be much less environmentally friendly. If you like the idea of recycling a roof once it’s served its purpose, felt isn’t the material for you.

Difference in cost


In terms of cost, there is a noticable difference between felt and single ply. As you might expect, felt has a much cheaper initial cost – which makes it an attractive option for many. But while single ply membranes are more expensive in the beginning, their overall benefits outweigh that first install price.

You won’t be spending any more on maintenance or repair, for example. Plus, you’ll also have future-proofed your roof with one of the most modern, high performance roofing materials available.

Over the decades, single ply roofs will work better than felt; you’re not limiting the performance of property. And if you think about selling your home, a single ply roof is a better selling point than a standard felt system.

Take all of these points into consideration, and – if it works to your budget – then why not talk to the professionals about single ply roof installation today?

Salmon Solutions are metal roofing and single ply membrane specialists. We work across the domestic, commercial and industrial sectors, providing a fully accredited installation service for roofs of any size, shape or style. Our expert team will work closely with you to ensure your new roof meets your every expectation, so if you require brand new single ply roofing for your property, contact us today.

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