What flooring features are good for rooftop patios?

Avoid Tar Beach - Get the Most out of Your Rooftop Patio

By Kim Butler

As the weather warms, homeowners and apartment dwellers are looking for ways to maximize their outdoor entertaining spaces, and create inviting open air living environments. Similarly, the trend in restaurants is to add seasonal seating areas for their guests to dine al fresco.

In urban areas where space is at a premium, these folks are looking up - to their roofs. A flat roof can make a great patio or deck, but you can't just put out a bistro set and sit back and enjoy the view. No one wants to hang out on 'Tar Beach.' An unfinished roof surface can be dirty, sticky and dangerous. Waterproof membranes on some roofs are easily punctured, and you don't want your roof damaged by moving furniture or high heels. To avoid these problems, make sure to start your rooftop patio design with a solid flooring choice.

Conversely, maybe you already have a nice space like a condo balcony, but you don't like the look of a drab concrete floor, or your patio surface is damaged or deteriorating.

The solution to these problems is a floor tile system designed specifically for roofs. The number one concern is that the outdoor tile must be UV and weather resistant. Lots of beautiful plastic indoor/outdoor rugs are available, and while durable, they are lightweight and not suitable for all installations.

Another major consideration is drainage. Standing water and water runoff on a flat roof is a challenge as it is - but you don't want pooling water where your family and guests are hanging out. Wet areas can be slippery, and standing water can encourage mosquito growth and damage furniture. Here's a rundown of some of the choices in flooring specifically designed for use on roofs, patios and balconies.

Rubber Rooftop Patio Flooring

Rubber is one option. Lighter weight than concrete, rubber is durable but won't require roof reinforcement.

Sterling Brand Roof Top tiles, which come in 2X2 foot tiles, in black, terra cotta, green, blue, grey, and brown as well as more than eight different multicolor blends. The tiles interlock, and borders and corner ramps are available to increase safety and give your space a finished look. This attractive and professional quality product also comes with a 10 year limited warranty, and just hoses off with water. At almost 20 pounds a tile, these tiles are heavy enough to avoid lifting in strong winds and won't fade or curl in extreme temperatures.

Blue Sky Brand Interlocking rubber tiles allow water to flow underneath the tile and protect fragile underlayments like waterproof membranes. The surface is non slip and will not mold or mildew. This brand of tile is suitable for use with rubber roof membranes, and ships from the east coast. With six standard and more than 10 mixed colors, you are sure to find a coordinating color that suits your outdoor space.

If you want the durability of rubber, but are on a tight budget, MX Outdoor Rubber Tile 1'' tiles might be your option. Available in black, green, grey or red standard colors and nine other premium colors, these tiles run about $6 to $10 a square foot. Made of recycled rubber, these tiles offer LEED points, and are made in the USA. MX tiles are manufactured in the south east. Shipping to nearby areas will be most affordable. They have a superior UV fade resistance and a 15 year warranty.

Plastic Rooftop Patio Flooring
If weight is an issue, PVC outdoor tiles weight around 1 pound per tile and can start at less than $3 per square foot. Interlocking design makes installation a snap. The perforations allow for drainage and the tile itself will not absorb water or get slippery. It's a great option for patios and rooftop in rainy climates., however they are not recommended for rubber membrane roofs.

Greatmats.com, a leader in specialty flooring, carries its own brand of PVC tiles, which are UV treated and come with a 1 year limited warranty. These tiles are available in light grey, blue, and terra cotta.

StayLock Brand PVC interlocking tiles allow water to drain through their perforated surfaces, making it a great choice for locations with heavy rainfall. The soft PVC plastic feels good to the touch and is comfortable to play or stand on. The tiles are available in 5 colors that are UV stable for 7 years. This brand features a 5 year warranty and is suitable for roofs with rubber membranes.

Treated Wood Patio Flooring
If you like the look of wood without the maintenance, a new product called GreatDeck Outdoor Hardwood Deck tiles are made of thermo treated wood which resists rotting, decay and fungal growth. The process also prevents the wood from warping, chipping, shrinking or expanding. Made from North American White Ash from well managed forests, this product comes in several wood tones and will withstand the harshest climate, with an expected lifespan of 25 years or more. These 2X2 foot wood tiles are installed without adhesives or fasteners, which makes them easy to move. The PVC connectors allow the wood to flex and contour to surface irregularities which make these tiles a great solution for transforming your roof or patio.

Synthetic Turf Patio Flooring
If you are looking to create an outdoor oasis without the mowing, consider Outdoor Deck Turf Tile. The artificial grass top is soft on bare feet, but the treated lumber surface underneath conforms to uneven surfaces, and is safe for rubber roofing membranes. Water can drain through the 2X2 foot tiles. The grass itself is made from recycled plastic, and is suitable for use with tables. The wood base is warrantied for 25 years.

Whether you chose rubber, perforated PVC, wood tiles or simulated grass, your new roof or patio floor will give your outdoor space project a solid footing. Make sure to get some free samples from an online retailer to really get a feel for what surface you like.

Do some more research on the pros and cons of each material to make sure it works for your specific project, or save yourself some time and talk to the experts at Greatmats.com, or check out the product lines at a home improvement store.

Summer is short in many parts of the world - so get started now to make sure you can enjoy and make the most of those lazy days of summer on your new roof deck or patio.
Sterling Rubber Rooftop Tiles
Staylock Plastic Rooftop Tiles
Greatdeck Treated Wood Rooftop Tiles
Deck Turf Rooftop Tiles