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Commercial Roofing Systems: What Type Should You Choose?

If you’re considering a roofing system for your business, chances are low-slope roofing is what you have in mind.

Steep slope roofing is rarely used for commercial endeavors unless it’s part of the design of a smaller building. Water dams tend to form on flat roofs.

Commercial roofs usually appear flat, although most of them have a pitch of at least 2:12 or 4:12. Any roof with a pitch below 3in per foot is a low-slope roof.

It turns out there’s more to commercial roofing systems than you think. Read on for more about the pros and cons of each type.

1. Built-Up Roofing Systems

Built-up roofing, also known as BUR, is a basic tar and gravel roof.

It’s made from alternating layers of fiber-glass asphalt sheeting and hot bitumen. A final layer of gravel or crushed rock sits on top of the last layer of bitumen to hold everything down.

These kinds of roofing systems are fireproof and durable, lasting up to 20 years.

On the downside, the installation procedure is quite lengthy, resulting in higher labor costs.

2. Single-Ply Commercial Roofing Systems

These types of roofs are a top choice for building owners. They’re flexible, hardy and quicker to install than built-up roofing systems.

They’re made by installing a single layer of roofing material on top of a concrete roof deck.

There are three main types of single-ply industrial roof systems available:

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) is a tough, durable choice for commercial buildings. It’s lightweight and highly reflective, which cuts down your energy bills.

This material is resistant to UV light, fire, most chemicals, wind, punctures, and tears. It’s a popular option for restaurants and other businesses that emit fat and oil fumes from their ventilation systems.

It has a slightly higher installation cost than other types of single-ply roofing.

Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO)

TPO roofing has many of the same benefits as PVC except it’s eco-friendly and 100% recyclable.

The only (minor) drawback of this kind of roofing is that it hasn’t been around for a long time, so there’s uncertainty about how long it really lasts.

Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM)

On the other hand, EPDM roofing has been around for 60 years and has an excellent track record when it comes to durability.

Since it’s made from rubber, this type of roofing membrane is flexible and versatile and easily shaped to fit any roof. These roofs are usually black which makes them ideal for cooler regions.

Like any roof, EPDM roofing is easily converted into a cool roof so you can enjoy the cost-saving benefits of this type of roof.

This membrane does not have its own insulation, allowing the building owner to decide on this aspect themselves.

3. Modified Bitumen Roofing Systems

Modified bitumen roofing comprises asphalt mixed with a unique chemical polymer.

They are flexible and resistant to extreme temperatures. Thanks to this, you can install a modified bitumen roof at any time of year.

These roofs consist of many layers and are either self-adhesive or fixed together with hot-mopped asphalt.

After installation, your contractor will melt the seams together, forming a secure bond. These roofs easily stand up to fire, hail, and wind.

4. Metal Roofs

Metal roofing is a good option for both commercial and residential roofing. It’s available in a huge variety of colors and materials, like

  • Stainless steel
  • Corrugated galvanized steel
  • Copper
  • Stone-coated steel
  • Aluminum
  • Tin

On its own, metal rusts easily, so it needs a protective coating to limit damage from the sun and rain. This means additional costs.

In the vast quantities needed for commercial roofing, metal is a costly option. During a rainstorm, you’ll hardly be able to hear yourself think above the noise.

Metal also expands and contracts with temperature changes. This can wear out the fasteners holding it together if it’s not installed properly.

On the plus side, metal roofs have supreme fire-resistance ratings and are impervious to punctures and tears.

5. Liquid Applied Roofing

This type of roofing is a combination of resin and polyester.

It’s usually poured onsite and the liquid flows easily into hard to reach areas and flashing, creating a seamless finish. As a result, liquid applied roofing is exceptionally waterproof. It’s also easy to repair.

Usually, it’s sprayed on or roller-applied in two separate coats. While this is a convenient process it’s also expensive and time-consuming.

For the best results, it’s important that you use a registered and experienced contractor to install liquid applied roofing.

6. Roof Coating Systems

Another great option for waterproofing and easy repair, roof coating systems adhere to the surface of your roof. The most common types of coatings used are silicone and acrylic.

These coatings are most often used to create cool roofs and are suitable for application on top of any kind of roof. They can extend the life of an old roof for many years at a fraction of the cost of a new roof.

Since this type of roofing system is a liquid application, it fills in any cracks and tears in your existing roof too.

There are very few drawbacks associated with coating systems.

They will lose their reflectivity over time and can tear more easily than other materials. Fortunately, they’re easy to repair when damage does occur.

7. Green Roofs

If you’re going to have a flat roof, you might as well make it a green one. Flat roofs are ideal for creating green spaces in built-up areas.

Green roofs are time-consuming and costly to install but they make up for it with many environmental benefits. They help to clean the air, reduce energy consumption, and can reduce the Urban Heat Island effect.

Do You Need More Information?

We hope you’ve been able to help you gain a better understanding of the types of commercial roofing systems available today.

If you have any further questions or still need help deciding which one is right for you, get in touch.

We have the knowledge and experience to assist you with all your commercial roofing needs.

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