Rooftop Decks- Potential Problem Or Private Paradise?

If you live in a townhouse in a major city, you may want to install a backyard deck to enjoy on pleasant evenings. However, a deck in a small yard might take up too much space. Noise and other annoyances of city life will encroach upon your little oasis of peace and relaxation. You might consider a rooftop deck. However, there are issues to ponder when deciding whether to proceed with building your rooftop sanctuary.

Problems associated with rooftop decks.

Before you decide to proceed with building your rooftop sanctuary, you should consider the following potential problems:​

  • You will require a building permit which may have height and other restrictions on building in your area. Consult your local office that handles permits and building inspections before you attempt to build your deck.
  • Rooftop decks may greatly affect the integrity of your roof and will violate any warranty provided by the roofing company that previously installed or repaired your roof. When people walk on the rooftop deck, or when changes in temperature or humidity cause the wooden sleeper boards to shift, cracks in the roofing material are formed. This creates leaks in your roof.
  • Seemingly flat roofs are not really completely flat. They slope slightly to drainage points so that water doesn't pool on the roof when it rains. This is accomplished by a layer of filler material on the roof that is installed with a decreasing thickness from the center of the roof, outward. When uneven pressure is applied to the roof, pockets are created that create low spots on the roof. These fill with standing water and the weight of the water gradually creates a leak.
  • If you need roofing work done, the deck must be disassembled for the roofing company to gain access to the roof, then reassembled when the roofing repairs are completed. This is labor intensive and will greatly increase the cost of roof repairs.
  • If you have a black roof and live in a warm climate, the roof will absorb the heat and your deck may resemble a sauna on warm days and evenings. Reflective roof coating may help alleviate the problem, but may produce a reflective glare on bright days and is an additional initial expense to consider.

Benefits of building a rooftop deck.

Everything worthwhile comes with a cost. A rooftop deck is no exception. While there are potential problems, they are not insurmountable. A rooftop deck has considerable advantages to a backyard deck in the city. You get better views of the city skyline, less noise and more privacy. Rooftop decks can be as simple as deck planks screwed into wooden "sleepers" (2X4 planks placed on the side), or include amenities such as gardens, built in grills, and fireplaces.

You can still have rooftop space without the problems of a rooftop deck. There are special roof tiles made of wood with a cushioned backing that protects the roof. These wooden tiles interlock so they don't slip out of place, and can be removed easily if repairs are needed. Rubber mats designed for play areas can be used successfully and are found in a wide variety of patterns and colors.

If you really want a rooftop deck, and can handle extra expense, there are new rooftop deck support systems that are designed to alleviate the problems of weight distribution and water drainage. These are state of the art systems, so be sure to find a contractor who knows how to install them properly, or you will still be calling a roofing company eventually.


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