Last edited 05 Oct 2020

Inverted roof

An inverted roof, also referred to as a ‘protected membrane’ or ‘upside down’ roof, is form of flat roof in which the waterproofing layer is beneath the thermal insulation rather than above it.

The waterproofing layer is typically a liquid-applied membrane above a concrete roof slab, with insulation boards laid over the top, weighted down with either paving slabs or gravel ballast to protect against wind uplift and flotation. Rainwater percolates down through and between the insulation boards to the membrane where it is drained away through rainwater outlets.

One of the main benefits of the inverted roof method is that the membrane is protected by the insulation from the expansion and contraction caused by weather fluctuations, such as frost and solar radiation. It is also protected from damage by traffic on the roof, such as people walking, the movement of equipment and so on.

When calculating the U-value of the roof, consideration must be given to the fact that the insulation is likely to be wet a lot of the time, with some moisture trapped beneath the boards. This can create the risk of condensation occurring within the build-up of the roof, as the temperature of the membrane can be below the dew point. However, once the roof deck (and the membrane) warms up, the condensation will be able to evaporate. Problems can occur if the accumulation of condensation persists.

For more information, see Specifying insulation for inverted roofs.

For a case study of an inverted roof defect, see Inverted roof defect - case study.

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