A rooftop party might sound like something exclusively for college kids or downtown bars. But you, too, can turn an unused roof space into a party spot if your roof is relatively “flat” (or with the addition of a flat roof extension if your current roof is too sloped).

How about a beautiful outdoor oasis, a stargazing getaway, or a relaxing lounge? A Colorado custom decking contractor can help you build your dream retreat and maximize underutilized rooftop area, adding to your home’s living space (and, likely, its value, too). Also, it can be a great alternative to having little to no backyard and can allow for more enjoyable outdoor time with fewer bugs.

Convert Your Flat Roof Into a Balcony or Terrace

(rentcenter_izcalli / pixabay)

***Note: Technically, a balcony is smaller than a terrace and projects off of a room, away from the house, while a terrace is at ground level or on a rooftop. In the rest of this article, we will use the word balcony to refer to either a true balcony or a rooftop terrace.***

A Flat Roof Isn’t Flat.

A low-pitch or low-sloped roof is often called “flat,” but any genuinely flat roof would have drainage problems over time. Low-pitch roofs may appear level, but they have some slant to them in reality. These roofs are the perfect foundation for a rooftop balcony or terrace since walking and setting furniture, fire pits, or grills on them would be easier and less dangerous. Your professional contractor can tell you if your roof has the right “pitch” needed to drain water yet is safe enough for people to walk on without slipping.

Roof Condition

Your roof wasn’t made to support constant foot traffic, so a rooftop balcony project calls for a professional balcony installer who can make it functional, aesthetically pleasing, but most importantly, safe. To get started, a custom balcony installer or roofer will need to assess the condition and slope of your roof. Depending on what your roof is made of, it might need reinforcing before it can support foot traffic or a grill.

Permission Required

Once your roof has been inspected, you and your contractor will need to get any permission and permits required before your rooftop renovation can begin. If you live in a neighborhood governed by an HOA, you will need their approval before your installer starts any work. There’s usually a bit of paperwork and waiting time involved in this step, so diligence and patience are necessary.

Getting the mandatory approvals and permits before starting any remodeling or upgrades ensures that you and your contractor’s time, efforts, and expenses aren’t in vain. You don’t want to finish a project and find out that it is lacking the proper permits or that regulations have been violated.

Flooring Material Options

When choosing a suitable surfacing material for your project, consider the Colorado weather and how you will be using your balcony. Look for water- and slip-resistant, comfortable material that can stand up to hail, snow, wind, and sun. If you plan to have a grill or fire pit, you might also want to choose a heat/fire resistant flooring material

  • Fiberglass/FRP/GRP
  • Artificial turf
  • Asphalt
  • Patio slabs
  • Decking (e.g., vinyl/PVC, composite, hardwood)
  • Tiles (e.g., playground, perforated, PVC plastic, rubber, temperature-stable)

Balcony Essentials

Depending on the flooring you choose for your rooftop balcony, your project may need waterproofing substances added to it, such as rubber slabs or plastic during installation.

To prevent falls, your contractor will install safety guards and handrails, which must be of certain height and spacing to meet safety codes.

Based on whether your rooftop balcony is over a garage, kitchen, or bonus room, insulation between the surface of your balcony and the room or building underneath may be needed to block out the noise of foot traffic and regulate temperatures.

Other Considerations

While rooftop balconies are a fun addition to your home, you’ll need to consider more than the layout and surface materials before your project can begin. For instance, you may have party wall requirements between you and neighboring homes. Here are some other factors to consider before having a contractor start:

  • Your neighborhood–If you live in a historic district, you’ll need to ensure that your rooftop terrace is not viewable from the street.
  • Fire codes–People must be able to escape quickly in an emergency.
  • Electrical and Plumbing–Will you require electrical wiring or a hose bib for watering plants? What about a bathroom for entertaining convenience?
  • Food–Will you make the most use of your rooftop getaway if there is a refrigerator or grill there? How about a wet bar or kitchenette?
  • In-the-way Structures– Is there an a/c unit, chimney, or lights to be removed or built around?
  • Indoor Access Point–Many homeowners with an outdoor ladder or staircase admit to wanting an internal stairway to their rooftop balcony for ease of access from the inside of their home. Do you have a space in your home for a staircase that leads to the roof?

The addition of a rooftop balcony will add space and charm to your home. It could improve its value, too. With so many options and details to consider, contact one of Denver’s custom balcony installers at SRI Decks to start planning your rooftop oasis today.