What Flat Roofing Materials Are Safe For You To Walk On?

What Flat Roofing Materials Are Safe For You To Walk On?

A flat (low-slope) roof is a precious thing. Oh, it’s not a jewel or a Tennessee racehorse, but it is both valuable and delicate. Any commercial building owner knows to keep feet off the roof. Yet some commercial roofs must be walked upon. What materials hold up best to foot traffic? 

These Boots Are Made for Walking

Workers’ boots are often viewed as a commercial roof’s worst enemy. Some third-party vendors must walk on your commercial roof, however, and could include:

  • HVAC contractors
  • Sign companies
  • Window washers
  • Radio mast maintenance crews
  • Cell phone antenna servicing
  • Plumbers
  • Electricians

Your own facilities crew needs to tread upon the roof to remove debris, inspect the roof, and clear internal drains and parapet scuppers. Tenants may also want to walk on the roof for special occasions or a bit of fresh air.  

Best in Show

Several commercial roofing materials are tough enough to withstand foot traffic. Among the best, and among those offered by Rackley Roofing: 

  • Green Roofing and Pavers — Possibly the best option for a high-traffic low-slope or flat roof, a green roof made from interlocking soil receptacles and pavers is fully walkable
  • Built-Up Roofing (BUR) — A BUR or tar-and-gravel roof is designed to take foot traffic thanks to the alternating layers of waterproof reinforcing fabric and bitumen, topped with crushed stone
  • Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO) — This single-ply system is resistant to tears, impacts, and punctures; its flexibility allows the underlying structure to thermally expand and contract; it is somewhat safe to walk on, though walk pads can reduce wear and tear
  • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) — Another single-ply system in many ways tougher and more durable than TPO, a PVC roof can easily withstand foot traffic in moderation; it cannot take careless tool strikes

Not So Fast

Of all the roofing options available through Rackley Roofing, we suggest treading lightly with ethylene propylene diene terpolymer (EPDM). EPDM can be walked on lightly during installation and with normal maintenance schedules. When your facilities crew is walking on an EPDM roof, encourage them to walk deliberately (not fast), avoid turning on the balls of their feet (which can stress the rubber), and keep tools secure to prevent punctures and tears.You have commercial roofing questions. We have more than answers; we have dedicated crews, advanced technology, and superior customer service. Contact us today at Rackley Roofing in the Southeastern United States to learn more about roofing materials suitable for walking.

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