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Charleston Roofing: Article About Living Roof Pros and Cons

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Although homeowners may think of living roofs as being new as a result of the green movement, they have an ancient history. The Vikings, for instance, had sod roofs. Today, a living, or green, roof is simply a roof with vegetation growing it, and the plants may cover all or part of the roof. Plants growing in containers sitting on the roof have some advantages but are not regarded as a living roof.

When a homeowner has decided to invest in a living roof, it's necessary to have a waterproof membrane installed between the soil and the roofing material. The roof must also be strong enough to support the weight of the soil, water, and vegetation. The experts at Charleston Roofing can evaluate roofs for strength and install any necessary waterproofing.

A basic rooftop garden can be a waterproof membrane covered with a growing medium and planted with various plants that the homeowner waters by hand. Owners may choose to include a root barrier to further protect the roofing material, and an irrigation system may be added to make watering easier. Depending on the roof, a drainage system might be necessary. The plants can be any grasses, flowers, or vegetables that will grow in the local climate.

There are three primary kinds of living roofs.

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Intensive roofs will have a variety of vegetation and can be easily accessed for maintenance. Extensive roofs will only support a light weight, such as a thin layer of soil and ground cover like mosses. They usually require little attention from owners. Semi-intensive roofs fall between these two.

Living roofs offer many advantages. Plants anywhere add oxygen to the air. Planting them on a roof adds another layer of insulation to the home, which can significantly decrease energy loss and reduce the cost of heating or cooling a home. A living roof will absorb water from storms and reduce runoff. As well as benefitting homeowners, green roofs provide habitat for a variety of birds, butterflies, and helpful insects. Migratory birds can also use them as a rest stop.

There are disadvantages to living roofs, the primary one being cost. Reinforcing the roof of an existing home can necessitate expensive structural changes. If the protective waterproof membrane is not correctly installed or if roots penetrate it and the roofing material, water leaks can damage the interior. Water leaks can also occur if drainage is not adequate. A roofing professional can discuss these factors with homeowners who are considering a living roof.

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