Increasingly, roof decks are gaining popularity around the country and in particular, in the greater Boston area. After all, roof decks create valuable outdoor space, along with great views of the neighborhood or city. But, what are roof decks and what does a homeowner need to consider when looking to build one for their home? To help, the following outlines everything you need to know about roof decks.
What is a roof deck?
Roof decks, also known as a rooftop deck (which definitely differs from roof decking), transform unused space on top of a building into usable outdoor space. Roof decks are as simple as they sound, a deck on top of a roof, and are found on residential or commercial buildings. In urban areas or towns with small lots, roof decks add usable square footage, while offering stunning vistas and outdoor space.
Are there different types of roof decks?
In addition to adding roof decks to residential or commercial buildings, there are different design and material types based on the underlying structure. As a result, there are a few common types of roof decks.
Built-Up Roof Decks
Built-up roof decks are one of the more common types. These roof decks provide a sturdy foundation for various outdoor flooring options because they consist of multiple layers, including a waterproof membrane, insulation, and protective surfacing. Therefore, built-up roof decks offer excellent durability and weather resistance, making them suitable for various climates, along with customization of the deck design as well.
Lightweight Modular Systems
Lightweight modular systems are gaining popularity due to their ease of installation and versatility. These systems are pre-fabricated roof decks that are assembled on the roof. Additionally, these systems are made from lightweight materials, such as aluminum or composite decking, which enables easy maneuverability and reduces structural load. As a result, these roof decks work well when retrofitting existing buildings because they may minimize the need for significant structural modifications.
Wood Rooftop Deck
A wood roof deck refers to a type of rooftop deck that utilizes wood as the primary material for the deck surface. It is a popular choice for creating an attractive and natural outdoor space on rooftops. Wood roof decks offer a warm and inviting aesthetic and can be customized to suit various design preferences, however, they are heavier than some alternatives so professionals must determine if the building can bear the weight of the roof deck and amenities.
Metal Roof Decks
Metal roof decks utilize metal as the primary material for the deck surface, which provides a durable and versatile option, particularly in commercial or industrial settings. In a metal roof deck, the deck surface is typically composed of metal panels or sheets and commonly made of steel and aluminum. While metal roof decks are known for their strength, durability, and resistance to weathering and corrosion, they are also prone to becoming very hot, slippery and noisy.
Compared to the other roof deck options, green roofs provide a sustainable option because they incorporate vegetation. Also known as vegetative or eco-roofs, they create a living surface that offers numerous environmental benefits. Additionally, green roofs enhance insulation, reduce stormwater runoff, improve air quality, and provide habitat for plants and wildlife. Depending on the design, green roofs can be easy to maintain or support a range of plants that require significant maintenance. Ultimately, green roofs offer an attractive outdoor space but provide the added element of environmental sustainability.
What to consider when designing a roof deck?
When it comes to building a roof deck, there are several design considerations that should be taken into account to ensure a safe, functional, and aesthetically pleasing outdoor space.
- Weight Restrictions: Roof decks have weight limitations imposed by the structural capacity of the building. It is essential to understand these restrictions to prevent overloading the roof. It is vital to consult with a qualified roofer, architect, or structural engineer to determine the maximum weight the roof can support and plan the design accordingly.
- Access and Egress: Plan for safe and convenient access to the roof deck by considering the location of staircases, ladders, or access hatches to ensure easy entry and exit. It is important to comply with local building codes and regulations regarding accessibility and safety measures for accessing the roof deck.
- Wind and Sun Exposure: Analyze the prevailing wind patterns in your area to determine the potential impact on the comfort and functionality of the roof deck. If wind is an issue, then consider incorporating windbreaks or privacy screens to mitigate strong winds and create a more pleasant outdoor environment. Additionally, evaluate the sun exposure to determine if shading elements like pergolas, umbrellas, or awnings are necessary to provide shade and protect against excessive heat.
- Privacy and Views: Assess the surrounding environment and determine the desired level of privacy and views for the roof deck. During the design process, it is important to understand the placement of walls, screens, or landscaping elements to create privacy barriers from neighboring buildings or to frame desirable views.
- Safety Measures: Prioritize safety when designing the roof deck. Install sturdy railings around the perimeter to prevent falls and ensure compliance with local safety regulations. Additionally, select non-slip materials for flooring to reduce the risk of accidents, especially when the deck surface becomes wet.
- Drainage: Proper drainage is crucial to prevent water accumulation on the roof deck. Therefore, be sure to incorporate a well-designed waterproofing system that directs water away from the deck and ensures proper slope for efficient drainage. During design, consider the installation of scuppers, downspouts, or drainage channels to guide water off the deck surface.
- Aesthetics and Functionality: Design the roof deck to align with your aesthetic preferences and functional requirements. Consider the layout of furniture, planters, and other elements to optimize space utilization. Incorporate appropriate lighting for ambiance and safety during nighttime use. Explore materials, colors, and textures that complement the architectural style of the building and create an inviting atmosphere. Work with the building and design team to understand any utilities or services required if amenities like an outdoor kitchen are part of the plan.
- Building Codes and Permits: Work with an experienced roof deck design team that understands the local building codes, zoning regulations, and permit requirements for constructing a roof deck. It is important to comply with all relevant regulations and obtain the necessary permits before starting the construction process.
Finally, it is crucial to consult with professionals such as architects, structural engineers, and contractors during the design phase of your roof deck project. They can provide expertise and guidance to ensure your design meets all safety standards and local regulations while creating a beautiful and functional outdoor space.
Roof decks provide a unique opportunity to transform unused rooftop spaces into valuable outdoor living areas. By understanding the different types of roof decks available, you can make informed decisions that align with your needs and preferences. During the initial discussions, it is important to prioritize safety, consult professionals, and let your creativity shine when designing your dream roof deck. At Ranch Roofing, we are experienced in building roof decks, so if you are in the greater Boston area and interested in adding a rooftop deck to your home, then contact us today for a free consultation. By working with an experienced team, you’ll be able to embrace the possibilities and enjoy the exceptional new living space that roof decks provide for years to come!