What Deck Is Right For Your Roof? - Digital Roofing

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What Deck Is Right For Your Roof?

What Deck Is Right For Your Roof?

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Before putting on a new roof deck, there are essential factors to take into consideration.

Depending on the type of roof deck you’re looking to build, using the right materials matters.

Things like weight, roof-deck type, and structure are all elements you should look into when installing one.

First things first…

What is a Roof Deck?

Rooftop decks are a vital component of your home’s roofing system. Essentially, it serves as the backbone and is found in-between your roofing system and trusses.

Now, here’s where the weight comes in. Since your roof deck supports the weight of your roof, using materials that aren’t durable or strong enough will cause your roof system to collapse.

This is one repair job you don’t want to have to deal with. The costs are high and the installation is also a time-consuming process.

With that said, we’ll guide you into which materials suit your home best and provide the best support to keep your roof safe and well-maintained.

Types of Roof Decks

For residential buildings, plywood and wood groove roof decking are the most common types used since wood carries strong durability and can support the weight of most roofing materials.

Commercial and industrial buildings typically use steel, cement, or concrete.

Commercial buildings usually carry more weight than residential buildings such as air conditioning pumps, vents, skylights, and air conditioners.

Also, because commercial buildings require more maintenance, it’s important to take these into consideration.

Whether you’re in need of a roof deck for either residential or commercial purposes, let’s take a closer look at what each type of roof deck can offer.


A steel decked roof carries many advantages. For starters, its lightweight frame makes it easy to install and comes with a high impact strength.

You also don’t have to worry about moisture content with steel since it’s virtually at zero moisture content, making your roof deck less susceptible to mold, rot, and mildew.

Against hail and other weather factors, steel is durable and resistant to these conditions. Even during warm or hot summer months, you’d think that metal decking on roof systems would result in poor insulation.

That isn’t the case with steel since it’s able to reflect heat efficiently compared to any roofing material, which provides reduced energy costs for your home.

Due to the cost, it is very rare to see a steel roofing deck on a residential home.


Installing a wood deck on your roof is also a good option, especially for residential homes since wooden decks are cost efficient and can support any kind of weight a home would experience (people, snow, etc.)

The materials used for wood can vary such as plywood, Oriented Strand Board (OSB), zip wood, or wood planks.

Zip wood is a preferred decking material for most residential homes because it has a water-resistant barrier, making it highly moisture resistant, but that comes at an additional cost.

In addition, durability and strength are zip wood’s most significant advantages for your roof, which makes this a solid choice for your roof.

For plywood, there are two types: CDX and FRT.

FRT plywood provides a flame retardant composition; however, there have been several occurrences of faulty FRT plywood installed in homes. This is one of the reasons why FRT is a discouraging project to opt for.

CDX plywood, on the other hand, has high durability thanks to its layers of wood pressed together. Every layer carries a different wooden grain, which adds to the durability of the deck material.

CDX also has adequate resistance to rain and moisture, making this a good option as well for homeowners.

Finally, we believe the best cost to value ratio is plywood as OSB can warp and expand if it gets any moisture on it.


There are many types of concrete rooftop decks used in the construction of commercial buildings. We’ll go over each one before deciding which concrete works best for your deck.

Structural Concrete

Structural concrete can be installed in various fways such as pre-cast, post-tension, and cast-in-place. Structural concrete rooftop decks are solid and sturdy foundations worth the investment.

What makes structural concrete stand out is its ability to handle huge weight loads, making these more fitted for commercial buildings.

Composite Concrete

Composite types follow a steel panel deck construction that contains normal concrete. A composite concrete rooftop deck is ideal for homeowners who have future plans of installing an additional roof level.

Lightweight Concrete

Lightweight concrete is a supporting rooftop deck system that’s usually placed on top of a corrugated steel rooftop deck. Lightweight concrete is also lightweight and has low-density, allowing for an easier installation process.

Among all concrete types, structural concrete is a solid and sound option. If you’re willing to spend more than your budget, concrete provides a sturdy design and build capable of withstanding heavy loads.


Porcelain rooftop deck systems offer aesthetic design, durability, low-maintenance, and a lightweight frame. It also comes with a variety of aesthetic design options, giving your roof a visually appealing look.

Apart from its reduced maintenance costs, porcelain is ideal for nearly any type of building because its lightweight frame doesn’t put any load on your roofing structure.

Roof Decks You Should Avoid

Now that we’ve discussed the various rooftop decks you should consider for your home, let’s get into the types you should avoid.


We don’t recommend PVC as a rooftop deck to opt for because of its vulnerability to temperature fluctuations.

This causes PVC to constantly expand and contract, which leads to damages in your deck and possibly even leaks if left untreated.

The high maintenance costs along with its susceptibility to temperature fluctuation exposure makes it a costly choice.


Stone is without a doubt, durable and sturdy. In fact, it’s one of the sturdiest and most resistant to wind, snow, and rain. The biggest problem with stone though is its weight.

A stone rooftop deck construction requires a foundation strong enough to handle the weight of stone tiles.

Almost all the time, you’ll have to upgrade your structural integrity and other roofing components to be able to support the weight.

Overall, this makes the project as a whole costly and prohibitive.

Composite Decking Board

Composite decking boards are ideal for ground-level decks, but not for a rooftop deck at all. Its vulnerability to the sun and constant weather exposure will cause the design & appearance to fade over time.

In the long run, you’ll also see aesthetic failings which might lead to even more damage to your deck.

What is the Best Rooftop Deck?

Roof deck systems can vary for every home, so ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is my deck capable of handling a heavy roof system? You might install a system with higher psf (pounds per square foot). If you cannot handle this load, you’ll have to think of alternative options of what you can upgrade in your structure.
  2. Does my deck have adequate pullout resistance? This is in regard to wind design. If you live in high-wind zone areas, for example, the design requirements are different than those who live in low-wind zone areas.
  3. Will there be impediments to the accessibility of my home when installing a rooftop deck? Accessibility is vital to streamlining the project, construction process, and to prevent damage to your home interior.
  4. Is it safe to remove different sections of my deck? In the event it needs a roof replacement, can this be done easily? This mostly concerns safety and should be discussed with your contractor.
  5. Will I be able to easily install roofing flashing or will this require significantly more time and labor?

Key Takeaways

Before you go, here are important tips, reminders, and pointers you should remember about rooftop decks:

  1. Roofing decks are the foundation and form the base of protection of every home. The construction and installation process is crucial to the performance of your deck.
  2. Always run a thorough inspection of your load system. Any decking material with a heavyweight frame should meet all the standard requirements needed to keep your roofing structure integrity stable.
  3. Consider the possibility of revising a few structural elements in your roofing. Construction-wise, this may be added cost but if it will help your deck system last longer and perform better, it’s worth it.
  4. Make sure you consult the project and construction concerns with a structural engineer. Having a structural engineer will help you identify the magnitude of your project, scope, and installation.
  5. Before the construction of your rooftop deck, be wary of any power lines or the street-level activity. This is to ensure safety and the necessary equipment be used to handle any debris.

Final Thoughts

Constructing roof decks might seem like a complicated process, but with a professional by your side, it should be reasonably straightforward.

Make sure to take all these types into serious consideration before constructing your rooftop deck. Most of all, consult a professional if you aren’t sure of have doubts about the project.

This will help you take care of all that’s necessary and give you the most out of your plans before diving right into building your rooftop deck.

As a final note, make sure your roofing warranty covers the type of deck you are considering.

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