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5 Sturdy Commercial Roof Types to Consider for 2024

Written by

Leroy Whitt

The roof of a commercial building is not just a protective barrier; it plays a crucial role in maintaining the structural integrity and energy efficiency of the entire establishment. When it comes to commercial roofing, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.

Various commercial roof types offer distinct advantages and disadvantages, catering to different needs and budgets. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore:

  • Different commercial roof types
  • Their pros and cons
  • Installation costs
  • Their lifespan
  • Signs that indicate the need for roof replacement

Ready to decide on the best commercial roof for your property?

a roofer installs a rubber roof

5 Types of Commercial Roofing Systems

Wondering which commercial roofing system is right for you? Here are the top 5 types of commercial roofing on the market.

1) Single-Ply Roofing

Single-ply roofing systems are popular choices for commercial buildings due to their cost-effectiveness, ease of installation, and flexibility. There are two primary types of single-ply roofing materials: TPO (Thermoplastic Olefin) and EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer).

✅ Pros of Single-Ply Roofing:

  • Affordability: Single-ply roofing materials are cost-effective, making them a budget-friendly option for many businesses.
  • Energy Efficiency: They offer good insulation and can help reduce energy costs.
  • Durability: TPO and EPDM roofs can withstand harsh weather conditions and are resistant to UV rays.
  • Low Maintenance: These roofs require minimal maintenance, which can save on long-term expenses.

❌ Cons of Single-Ply Roofing:

  • Lifespan: Typically, single-ply roofing systems have a shorter lifespan compared to some other options.
  • Susceptible to Punctures: They can be vulnerable to punctures from sharp objects.

Built-Up Roofing (BUR)

Built-up roofing, also known as “tar and gravel” roofing, has been a go-to choice for commercial properties for decades. It consists of multiple layers of asphalt-impregnated felt alternated with layers of hot-applied bitumen.

✅ Pros of Built-Up Roofing:

  • Durability: BUR roofs are known for their longevity and ability to withstand heavy foot traffic.
  • Waterproofing: They provide excellent waterproofing and protection against leaks.
  • Fire Resistance: BUR systems offer good fire resistance due to their multiple layers.
  • UV Resistance: Gravel or mineral surfacing provides UV protection.

❌ Cons of Built-Up Roofing:

  • Heavy Weight: BUR roofs are heavy and may require additional structural support.
  • Installation Complexity: Installing BUR roofs can be labor-intensive and require skilled professionals.
  • Limited Insulation: They may not offer the same level of insulation as some other options.

3) Modified Bitumen Roofing

Modified bitumen roofing is an evolution of traditional BUR, offering improved flexibility and ease of installation. It consists of modified bitumen sheets applied to the roof surface and sealed with heat or adhesive.

✅ Pros of Modified Bitumen Roofing:

  • Durability: Modified bitumen roofs are durable and resistant to extreme weather conditions.
  • Flexibility: They can expand and contract with temperature changes without cracking.
  • Leak Resistance: Modified bitumen membranes offer excellent waterproofing.

❌ Cons of Modified Bitumen Roofing:

  • Limited Aesthetics: They may not provide as many aesthetic options as other roofing materials.
  • Lifespan: The lifespan of modified bitumen roofing is moderate, not as long as some other options.

4) Metal Roofing

Metal roofing systems, often made from steel, aluminum, or copper, have gained popularity in the commercial roofing market. They are known for their durability and modern appearance.

✅ Pros of Metal Roofing:

  • Longevity: Metal roofs can last 50 years or more with proper maintenance.
  • Energy Efficiency: They reflect sunlight, reducing cooling costs during hot weather.
  • Low Maintenance: Metal roofs require minimal maintenance and are resistant to mold and mildew.
  • Sustainability: Many metal roofing materials are recyclable, making them environmentally friendly.

❌ Cons of Metal Roofing:

  • Installation Costs: The upfront installation costs of metal roofing can be higher than other options.
  • Noise: Rain and hail can be noisy on metal roofs, but proper insulation can mitigate this issue.
  • Expansion and Contraction: Metal roofs can expand and contract with temperature changes, which may lead to noise or stress on fasteners.

5) Green Roofing

Green roofing systems, also known as living roofs or eco-roofs, are environmentally friendly options that involve planting vegetation on the roof surface. These roofs can be extensive (thin soil and drought-tolerant plants) or intensive (thicker soil and a variety of plants).

✅ Pros of Green Roofing:

  • Environmental Benefits: Green roofs improve air quality, reduce heat island effects, and provide insulation.
  • Aesthetics: They offer a unique and aesthetically pleasing appearance.
  • Energy Efficiency: Green roofs can reduce heating and cooling costs by providing natural insulation.

❌ Cons of Green Roofing:

  • Installation Complexity: Installing a green roof requires specialized expertise and may involve higher upfront costs.
  • Maintenance: Regular maintenance is necessary to ensure the health of the vegetation and prevent leaks.
  • Weight: Green roofs can be heavy, so structural reinforcement may be necessary.

Commercial Roof Installation Costs

The cost of installing a commercial roof can vary widely depending on various factors, including the type of roofing material, the size and complexity of the project, and the geographic location. On average, here’s a rough estimate of the installation costs per square foot for different commercial roof types:

  • Single-Ply Roofing: $3 – $7 per square foot
  • Built-Up Roofing (BUR): $4 – $8 per square foot
  • Modified Bitumen Roofing: $4 – $9 per square foot
  • Metal Roofing: $6 – $12 per square foot
  • Green Roofing: $10 – $25+ per square foot (including vegetation and waterproofing)

It’s important to note that these are just ballpark figures, and actual costs can vary significantly. To get an accurate estimate for your specific project, it’s advisable to consult with a roofing contractor who can assess your needs and provide a detailed quote.

Commercial Roof Lifespan

The lifespan of a commercial roof depends on several factors, including the type of roofing material, the quality of installation, maintenance, and local weather conditions. Here’s a rough estimate of the lifespan for each commercial roofing type:

  • Single-Ply Roofing: 15 – 30 years
  • Built-Up Roofing (BUR): 20 – 30 years
  • Modified Bitumen Roofing: 20 – 30 years
  • Metal Roofing: 50+ years
  • Green Roofing: 30+ years (with proper maintenance)

Signs That You Need to Replace Your Commercial Roof

overhead shot of a roofer installing a rubber roof

Regular roof maintenance is essential to extend the life of your commercial roof. However, there will come a time when replacement becomes necessary. Here are some common signs that indicate the need for a commercial roof replacement:

  • Water Leaks: Persistent roof leaks, despite repairs, can be a sign of underlying structural issues that require replacement.
  • Blisters and Bubbles: If you notice blisters or bubbles in the roofing material, it may indicate trapped moisture, which can weaken the roof’s integrity.
  • Sagging or Ponding: Roof sagging or water ponding on the surface can lead to structural damage and requires immediate attention.
  • Extensive Damage: Severe storm damage, fire, or other significant events may necessitate a full roof replacement.
  • Frequent Repairs: If you find yourself constantly repairing your roof, it may be more cost-effective in the long run to invest in a new one.
  • Aging Roof: As your roof approaches the end of its expected lifespan, it becomes more vulnerable to issues and may require replacement to maintain safety and integrity.
  • Energy Inefficiency: Rising energy bills and difficulty maintaining a comfortable indoor temperature can be signs that your roof’s insulation is no longer effective.

Commercial Roof Experts

Choosing the right commercial roof type for your building is a crucial decision that requires careful consideration of your budget, needs, and local climate. Each roofing material has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and understanding these factors can help you make an informed choice. Regular inspections and timely repairs can help extend your roof’s life, but eventually, all roofs will need to be replaced. Looking for a roof replacement? Contact Whitt’s Quality Roofing today to learn about your different options when it comes to commercial roofing materials!

Leroy Whitt

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