5 Roof Access Tips For Commercial Roofs

Posted on: 21 December 2021


Don't overlook access when it comes to the installation of a new roof. An access hatch on a flat commercial roof makes it much simpler to reach the roof for routine maintenance of the roof itself or of any rooftop appliances.

1. Accessibility

If your current roof doesn't feature an access hatch, then you will need to work with your roofer to determine the best access method that fits in with your local building codes. Roof hatches can be accessed by pull-down ladders, fixed ladders, or stairs. A pull-down or fixed ladder is a good choice if only minimal accessibility is needed, while stairs may be needed if you expect workers with tools or equipment to need regular roof access.

2. Hatch Material

There are a variety of material options for a roof access hatch panel. Aluminum and galvanized steel are your lower-cost options, with the main benefits being cost, light weight, and rust resistance. If you want a stronger hatch or if you are very concerned about rust, such as in wet climates, then a stainless steel hatch may be the best option even if it costs a bit more.

3. Size and Dimensions

Roof hatches come in a large range of standard dimensions. The smallest hatches will provide access for one person and not much else. Any tools must be passed through the hatch after the person has gone through. The largest hatches are big enough to carry small rooftop appliances through with no issue. You can also have a hatch custom-made to fit the size and space you have available on your roof.

4. Waterproofing

The reason hatches are installed by a roofer is because they must be integrated into the existing roof. Most modern commercial roofs are made of some sort of rubber or thermoplastic membrane system, such as EPDM. On a membrane roof, the roofer will use a rubber flange and roofing caulk or tar to seal the hatch in place so it doesn't leak. On tar and asphalt roofs, a combination of roofing caulks and flashing may be used to create the watertight seal.

5. Finishing Touches

A couple of finishing touches should be considered. For example, have the outer part of the hatch door finished in white. This matches most modern roof membranes and is considered more energy-efficient, and it helps prevent the door from becoming too hot to the touch. Further, although hatches should be lockable, choose one with a safety lock that won't accidentally latch and trap a worker on the roof.

Contact a commercial roofing company if you are ready to add an access hatch to your roof, like Drey Roofing.