How to Insulate the Flat Roofs
If you are having a flat-roofed addition built, then insulating the roof is easily done at the building stage. Existing flat roofs pose more of a problem since it is not easy to get at the voids above the ceiling.
It is possible to add secondary roofing above the existing one and sandwich insulation between the two. But this is a very expensive solution and not likely to be cost-effective for many years - if ever. Should the existing roof be in need of replacement, however, then this method might be a possibility.
Other methods should be tackled from inside the house. Taking down an existing ceiling is a fairly clean exercise if it is a modern sheetrock (drywall) type, but quite a dirty job if you have to knock down a lath and plaster construction.
Polystyrene slabs or insulation blanket are fitted between the roof joists and a layer of polythene stapled to the joists. The polythene prevents condensation forming in the roof void and damaging the insulation. It also serves as a vapor barrier to moisture created in the room below which, in the case of a kitchen or bathroom, could be considerable. You can then fix a new sheetrock ceiling to the joists.
You must ensure that the roof space remains well ventilated, otherwise the roof structure could become moist and start to rot. Allow for a 2in wide gap between the top of the insulation and the underside of the roof and drill ventilation holes in the soffits on both sides of the roof so that there is a continuous cross-flow of air.
An alternative method involves adding a sheetrock ceiling to the interior surface, while sandwiching insulation material in between the old and new ceilings.
First you need to nail a framework of spacers about 4in below the existing ceiling. Then add insulation blanket or polystyrene slabs between the two surfaces, followed by a polythene vapor barrier and a layer of sheetrock. Alternatively, you can nail sheets of insulating board directly to the ceiling. This board incorporates a vapor barrier and a layer of rigid foam insulation.
Another option is to fix a new tongued and grooved board ceiling and fill the cavity above with polystyrene slabs or insulation blanket. Since wood itself has excellent insulation properties, this is a particularly effective method.
Finally, you can use a proprietary suspended ceiling comprising a framework of metal channels supporting insulating tile panels.
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