Torch on Roofing: Characteristics and Costs


What is torch on roofing?  This is a great question considering how common this type of roofing installation is for commercial and even residential properties.  In a nutshell, torch on roofing is suitable for flat or low-slope roofs; and, as you may expect it is named for the process in which it is installed.  The method of application of torch on roofing involves laying roofing materials and then torching the material so it essentially melts and seals your roof.  Torch-on roofs provide a secure and waterproof barrier to inclement weather that is durable, flexible, and provide excellent insulation.  So, what are some of the characteristics and costs of torch-on roofing?

There are two basic types of torch on roofing: double-layer triple-layer torch-on systems.  As you may have guessed, a two layer torch-on roof features two layers: the base and the torch on layer.  On the other hand, three-layer roofs have a base and two torch-on layers – one smooth and one granular.  On average, triple-layer roofs last about 20-30% longer than double-layer systems.  A well maintained triple-layer roof will last more than 20 years, whereas a double-layer roof might last 15 or more years.  Choosing between these systems will ultimately depend on your budget and your climate.  Where triple-layer roofs provide better leak protection in harsh weather, they are more expensive.

The installation process of torch-on roofing requires specialised skills, knowledge, and equipment.  Since high heat is applied to the roof via an actual torch, the installation process can also be quite dangerous – certainly it’s not something that’s left to novice hands.  As mentioned, these roofs are highly durable and resist even the harshest weather for many years, so they can be somewhat expensive.  On average the cost for torch-on roofing systems can vary between $400 and $1000 per square foot.  The variability in costs depends on a number of factors including the quality of the materials used, seasonal price fluctuations, and even the expertise of the roofing professional.  More expensive roofs tend to feature thicker materials, better quality underlay, improved resistance to weather, and better durability. 

Obviously, roofing replacement and repair can be expensive no matter what type of materials you are using.  There are certainly lower cost alternatives to torch-on roofing, but this type of roofing application has become a mainstay of commercial roofing and residential roofing because torch-on roofing is effective and durable.  If you want to save on your roofing costs, it is not recommended that you compromise the quality of your roof.  Instead, seek out roofing professional during their slow season (usually late winter or early spring) – low demand motivates roofers to offer their services at discounted rates.

Pro tip: Regular maintenance of your current roof will allow you to keep your roof in optimal condition but also to schedule repairs or replacements based on roofer demand.