Roof DecksRoof deck construction options
Rooftops offer great opportunities for creating attractive entertaining or relaxing areas, but this useful space is so often wasted. Building a rooftop deck on an existing building is often seen as expensive, time-consuming and very difficult. But it needn’t be that way. There’s a number of excellent options that don’t involve constructing elaborate and expensive support structures of wood or steel, or potentially damage or penetrate existing waterproof membranes.
1. PORCELAIN PAVERS
For large rooftop decks and especially in commercial locations subject to heavy foot traffic, we suggest using structural porcelain pavers to construct a slightly elevated deck surface supported on adjustable height pedestals. These 3/4″ thick pavers are available in an exceptionally wide range of colors and styles like interior ceramic tiles, but are exceptionally strong, scratch resistant, stain resistant, frost proof and non-combustible. They don’t lock together like interlocking deck tiles mentioned above, but are simply positioned with the corner of each paver placed on the head of a support pedestal where inbuilt spacer tabs keep them accurately aligned and correctly spaced.
If your rooftop has service pipes, an uneven surface or slopes in multiple directions, one of the major advantages of this pedestal paver system is it enables you to raise the deck surface over the service pipes and create a perfectly level, elevated roof deck surface. A pedestal paver system can raise the deck height from as little as 1/2″ to over 3 feet if required. And all this is achieved without any permanent structures such as beams or bearers or other deck support foundations being installed on the rooftop. The pedestals are simply placed on top of the existing surface or waterproof membrane, the wide, flat circular base avoiding any damage to membranes.
Porcelain pavers are considerably lighter than concrete pavers and thus much easier to transport to your rooftop and install, compared with concrete pavers. They are also wear resistant, stain resistant, fade resistant and freeze/thaw resistant. They are also available in an exceptionally broad range colors including simulated stone and simulated wood, so you have the ability to construct a wood look roof deck in locations which may have strict fire codes prohibiting or restricting a natural wood roof deck.
2. IPE WOOD DECK TILES
If you long for the classic beauty of real wood deck, are not concerned about regular, long term maintenance and provided local fire codes permit a solid wood deck on your rooftop, solid Ipe wood structural tiles are another option to consider. These modular tiles are not interlocking, but like porcelain pavers mentioned above, are designed to be used with a pedestal support system. Just like porcelain pavers, these 24″ x 24″ or 24” x 48” tiles are simply positioned with each corner placed over an adjustable height pedestal, again enabling the construction of a perfectly level deck without any expensive substructure. Nevertheless, these wood tiles will still require regular oiling to keep them looking in top shape and will fade over time to a soft grey color.
3. PEDESTAL SUPPORTED WOOD PLANK DECK
A somewhat more expensive option for a classic wood plank look but still avoiding the construction of any ‘permanent’ structure on the roof, is to use wood (or metal) bearers supported by adjustable height pedestals. The ‘Eterno’ range of pedestals are available with a special head designed to support wood bearers which are held securely to the pedestal head with screws. This enables a conventional wood plank deck to be built on a rooftop but potentially overcoming restrictions the building owner may place on ‘permanent’ structures being built on the roof top. You can see more details about this application here.
4. INTERLOCKING DECK TILES
The principal advantage of interlocking deck tiles for a rooftop deck is their simplicity. These tiles have an inbuilt plastic mesh base that serves both to channel water under the tiles and provide a means of securely locking the tiles to each other. You simply snap the tiles together directly over the existing surface, creating an instant ‘floating’ rooftop patio. Since there’s no adhesives, fixing devices or special tools required, for most homeowners, it’s a trouble-free, do-it-yourself job that can be typically completed in less than a day. As the existing roof surface deck will normally slope for drainage, with interlocking deck tiles, your new deck will also slope in the same direction. And in most cases, you can lay the tiles directly over any drainage holes in the rooftop area.
If you live in a condo building, generally speaking, building owners won’t permit the construction of any ‘permanent’ structures on a rooftop. But with interlocking deck tiles, since you are not building any permanent supporting structures nor disturbing the waterproof membrane, the building owner/manager will hopefully not raise any objections to laying interlocking deck tiles.
Nevertheless one of the most common questions asked is ‘will the deck tiles damage the rooftop waterproof membrane?’ All interlocking decking tiles have a large number of ‘feet’ on the underside of the integrated plastic base. These ‘feet’ distribute any load evenly over the surface below, so under normal circumstances with typical waterproofing membranes, these ‘feet’ should not dig into or damage the membrane.
But if you or the building owner still have concerns about possible damage to waterproof membranes on the rooftop, we suggest laying down an extra protective layer of EPDM sheeting over the existing roof surface. You can buy EPDM in various widths with lengths up to 50′ wide from specialist suppliers such as Best Materials or Resource Conservation Technology who can also custom fabricate a single sheet to avoid seams. They can also supply a complete system for your roof deck that includes adhesives, sealants etc.
Whichever roof deck option you select, decking tiles or a pedestal paver system using either porcelain pavers, Ipe wood deck tiles or a conventional plank style wood deck laid over bearers on pedestals, before you start, you must always seek permission from the building owner or other organizations concerned with the care and maintenance of your building. You should also check that local regulations permit your preferred deck material to be installed on your rooftop.
For example, in some urban areas, there may be fire regulations which could restrict the building of a wood or composite wood deck on a roof top. Although the Ipe wood used on our SwiftDeck Ipe wood deck tiles and structural wood tiles has a Class A (highest) fire rating, even this may not be sufficient to satisfy some authorities.
Fortunately the option of a pedestal paver system with porcelain pavers will still give you the ability to build a wood lookalike roof deck either using 24″ x 24″ or 16″ x 48″ porcelain pavers or the elegant 12″ x 96″ porcelain planks of our DeckWay system.
If you’d like further information on building roof decks with either interlocking deck tiles or a pedestal paver system, just give us a call on 866 206 8316 or send us an e-mail.