Get A Free Roof Inspection

How Long Does a Commercial Roof Last? (2024)

Written by

Leroy Whitt

The roof of any building is its unsung hero, shielding occupants from the elements and preserving the integrity of the structure below. However, when it comes to commercial properties, the stakes are higher, and the demands on the roof are greater.

Unlike residential roofs, which may endure less foot traffic and smaller loads, commercial roofs face a myriad of challenges ranging from heavy equipment installations to frequent maintenance activities. How long does a commercial roof last? We’re here to break down the various factors, including:

  • Their lifespan
  • Materials
  • Maintenance strategies
  • The critical decision of when to replace them

What Makes a Commercial Roof Different from Residential?

BUR commercial roof

Commercial roofs are engineered to withstand heavier loads and greater foot traffic compared to their residential counterparts. They often feature flat or low-slope designs, allowing for efficient use of space and easier installation of HVAC units and other equipment. Additionally, commercial buildings may have specific requirements for insulation, drainage, and ventilation to meet regulatory standards and ensure optimal energy efficiency.

One significant distinction between commercial and residential roofs lies in their materials. While residential roofs commonly utilize asphalt shingles or tiles, commercial roofs are frequently constructed with materials such as single-ply membranes (e.g., TPO, PVC, EPDM), built-up roofing (BUR), modified bitumen, metal, or spray foam.

Average Lifespan of a Commercial Roof

Determining the exact lifespan of a commercial roof can be challenging due to various factors, including climate, maintenance practices, and the quality of installation. However, on average, a well-maintained commercial roof can last anywhere from 10 to 40 years. The type of roofing material plays a significant role in determining longevity, with some materials outperforming others in specific conditions.

Lifespan by Material

Knowing the roofing materials used in your commercial roofing system, can help you pinpoint it’s life expectancy.

Single-Ply Membranes

There are three main types of single ply membrane roofs:

  • Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO): TPO roofs typically have a lifespan of 15 to 30 years, depending on factors such as UV exposure and installation quality.
  • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC): PVC roofs boast a similar lifespan to TPO, ranging from 20 to 30 years with proper maintenance and installation.
  • Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM): EPDM roofs can last between 20 to 30 years, making them a popular choice for commercial buildings due to their durability and flexibility.

Built-Up Roofing (BUR):

BUR systems, consisting of multiple layers of bitumen and reinforcing fabrics, have a lifespan of approximately 20 to 30 years. Proper installation and maintenance are crucial for maximizing longevity.

Modified Bitumen

Modified bitumen roofs typically last between 10 to 20 years. Their lifespan can be extended with routine inspections and timely repairs to address any membrane damage or wear.

Metal Roofing

Metal roofs are renowned for their longevity, with lifespans ranging from 30 to 50 years or more. Proper coating and maintenance can further enhance their durability, making them a cost-effective choice in the long run.

Spray Foam Roofing

Spray foam roofs have a lifespan of around 20 to 30 years. Regular inspections and recoating every 10 to 15 years can help prolong their service life.

How to Extend Your Roof’s Lifespan: 5 Maintenance Tips

While the lifespan of a commercial roof is influenced by various factors beyond your control, there are proactive measures you can take to maximize its longevity:

1) Regular Inspections:

Schedule annual inspections by qualified roofing professionals to identify potential issues early and address them promptly.

2) Preventive Maintenance:

Implement a comprehensive maintenance plan that includes cleaning gutters, removing debris, and repairing minor damage to prevent larger issues from developing.

3) Roof Coatings:

Apply reflective coatings to protect against UV radiation and extend the lifespan of your roof. These coatings can also improve energy efficiency by reducing heat absorption.

4) Drainage Management:

Ensure proper drainage by keeping gutters and downspouts clear of debris and repairing any clogs or leaks promptly.

5) Addressing Ponding Water:

Address areas of standing water on flat or low-slope roofs promptly to prevent water infiltration and structural damage.

When to Replace Your Roof

Despite diligent maintenance efforts, there may come a time when roof replacement is inevitable. Signs that your commercial roof may need replacement include:

  • Multiple Leaks: If your roof is experiencing frequent leaks despite repairs, it may be a sign that the membrane has reached the end of its lifespan.
  • Blisters or Bubbling: Blisters or bubbles on the surface of the roof membrane indicate trapped moisture and potential membrane degradation.
  • Extensive Damage: Severe storm damage or deterioration beyond repair may necessitate roof replacement to ensure the structural integrity of the building.
  • Energy Inefficiency: If your energy bills have been steadily increasing due to poor insulation or heat absorption, it may be time to invest in a more energy-efficient roofing system.

Cost of Commercial Roof Replacement

The cost of replacing a commercial roof varies depending on factors such as the size of the roof, the type of material selected, and any additional structural modifications required. On average, commercial roof replacement can range from $5 to $15 per square foot, with complex installations or premium materials commanding higher prices.

Your Go-To Source for Commercial Roofing Systems

overhead commercial roofing system

In the realm of commercial roofing, longevity is both a goal and a challenge. By understanding the unique demands placed on commercial roofs, selecting the appropriate materials, and implementing proactive maintenance strategies, building owners can maximize the lifespan of their roofs and protect their investments for years to come.

However, when the time for replacement inevitably arrives, careful planning and professional installation are essential to ensure the continued safety and functionality of the building. With proper care and attention, a commercial roof can transcend its expected lifespan, serving as a steadfast guardian against the elements for generations to come.

Want to learn more about the installation process for your new commercial roof? Contact Whitt’s Quality Roofing today to get the facts!

Leroy Whitt

We've Got The Answers.

We've Got The Answers.

From Our Blog

We'll go the extra mile for you!

Reach Out Today