Top 4 Commercial Roofing Types

Top 4 Commercial Roofing Types
  • Opening Intro -

    Like homes, commercial properties are subject to a variety of roofing problems.

    After all, they are also exposed to the harsh elements all year round—the only difference is weather damage to a building tends to be more serious and hard to deal with compared to residential properties.


For this reason, property managers should always ensure their roofing systems are always in top shape. Fortunately, swift repairs and scheduled maintenance work from local roofers usually do the trick. However, when your current system has already sustained extensive damage, whether because of age or extreme weather, the better and longer-lasting solution is roof replacement.

With this upgrade, you can maintain your commercial property’s beauty and weather protection, while ensuring its occupants’ comfort. Just make sure to cover all the bases before getting started on the project, beginning with understanding the differences between commercial and residential roofs.

commercial roofing types

What makes commercial roofing different?

Investing in a new commercial roof means traditional materials, such as asphalt shingles, slate, tile and wood, are out of the window. You can still use them if you want to, but you’ll have to deal with leaks and other problems on a regular basis. This is because these options work better with steeply pitched roofs, which allow for more effective drainage to ensure rainwater is properly shed.

Commercial roofing systems, on the other hand, are typically flat, with just enough slope to prevent standing water. You’ll want to choose a material that isn’t installed in overlapping layers, nor allow for any kind of seam. Your main goal in ensuring superior weather protection from your commercial roof is to create a barrier that’s impenetrable to water. You can make this possible by selecting the roofing material that best suits your commercial property’s needs.

Here are four exceptional options:

1: Built-Up Roofing

Also known as BUR or a ‘tar and gravel’ roof, built-up roofing is made of alternating layers of bitumen, which may include coal tar, asphalt and other adhesives. These layers are then topped with an aggregate layer of gravel or other materials. Together, these create a durable, watertight layer on your system. BURs have been in use for a hundred years—in fact, they used to be the go-to choice before the advent of single-ply roofing and modified bitumen. Their benefits include:

  • Long Service Life.

    BURs can last up to 15 years with proper installation and regular maintenance. They have thick coverage of the roof deck and are highly resistant to water and sun damage. Built up roofing can also withstand heavy impact damage and foot traffic, which is especially handy when the system requires repair. This means the roofing contractor who’ll handle the job won’t have a problem walking across the roof, allowing for easier and faster work.

commercial roof

Built up roofing is heavy, so make sure your building has reinforcement to the supporting structure.

  • Great Versatility

    There’s a variety of BUR types to meet your needs, including smooth asphalt, ballasted asphalt and cold built-up. Relate each option to your building’s specific needs and decide from there.

  • Easy Maintenance

    BURs require little maintenance throughout its service life. In fact, its ability to handle heavy foot traffic, plus the ease of removing its layers during repair or resurfacing work, allows for reliable, worry-free performance.

2: Modified Bitumen

Since its inception in the 1960s, modified bitumen has become a great alternative to built up roofing. It is a multi-ply material, consisting of a base layer mechanically attached to the roof deck via bars and plates. Using a permanent adhesive, a ply overlap is sealed to this base layer, with a granule top surface applied to improve aesthetics and energy efficiency. Unlike TPO and EPDM, modified bitumen is more resistant to sharp objects and collisions. Check out more of its advantages:

  • Stress-Free Installation

    Because modified bitumen is more lightweight and doesn’t require complex methods, it’s easier and faster to install. This lowers the potential for workmanship errors, while letting you save on labor costs.

  • Impressive Weather Protection

    Modified bitumen comes with a polymer roof wear layer, which ensures elasticity and flexibility when exposed to cold weather. Because it is applied in overlapping rolls, it creates large seamless areas that help prevent leaks.

  • Good Variety

    Modified bitumen is available in a range of application methods, from hot-applied and torch-applied, to cold-applied and self-adhered, giving you the opportunity to choose what will best suit you.

  • Recyclability

    At the end of its service life, modified bitumen can be recycled, letting you contribute to environmental responsibility by helping reducing landfill waste.

commercial roofing

Modified bitumen should be installed by an experienced roofing contractor. It involves application techniques that require open flame or torch, which mean special safety considerations.

3: TPO (Thermoplastic Olefin)

A single-ply roofing membrane, TPO uses chemically bonded rubber, ethylene, propylene and other filler materials. Its sheets contain colorant, UV absorbers, flame retardants and other protective substances to meet your specific needs. Introduced in the 1990s, it has since become one of the most popular commercial roofing options available. When you choose this roofing material, you’ll benefit from:

  • Improved Energy Efficiency

    TPO is readily available in white and light gray, which helps reduce radiant heat transfer to your building. This allows for cooler, more comfortable spaces while preventing extra load on your cooling system. This, in turn, results in more energy savings.

  • Cost-Efficiency Combined with Leak-Free Performance

    TPO is closer to rubber roofing in cost, but offers welded seams for extra durability and airtight seals. This eliminates the possibility of leaks and other damage, helping extend the roofing option’s service life.

4: EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer)

EPDM is commonly known in the industry as “rubber roofing.” It can made from recycled materials, making it an eco-friendly choice. Compared to other commercial roofing systems, EPDM is also more cost-effective because of its light weight. Here are more of its benefits:

  • Extensive Options

    EPDM roofing comes in a wider selection of textures and colors than other commercial roofing options, allowing for many design possibilities. They offer a great and effective way to spruce up your commercial property and add to its overall design.

  • Great Energy Efficiency

    Because EPDM helps insulate your roof and attic, it helps cut down your heating and cooling costs. It ensures heated indoor air remains trapped inside your building, leading to consistent indoor temperature.

  • Effective Weather Protection

    EPDM hold up well against rain, wind and fire, providing long-lasting weather performance. It doesn’t scratch or scuff easily, leading to easier repairs and maintenance.

commercial roofing

No matter your choice, it pays to hire a trusted roofing company to install your new system.

Choosing the Right Commercial Roofing Contractor

If you want to get the most out of your investment, make sure to work only with a premier roofing contractor in your area. After all, even the highest quality roofing systems are only as good as their installer. To ensure you get the results you want—superior weather protection and decades-worth of performance from your new roofing—choose a pro with these qualities:

  • Licensed –

    by the state to perform commercial roofing work in your area. This ensures legitimate work that adheres to the necessary building codes and safety standards.

  • Insured –

    with workers’ compensation and liability coverage to better protect your investment should anything go wrong during the project.

  • Certified –

    which allows access to high-quality commercial roofing products and the generous warranties included with them.

  • Experienced –

    enough to install your new roofing perfectly  the first time, which allows you avoid additional costs while ensuring the best results.

Getting a new commercial roof is a significant investment, so you’re going to want to make sure that your replacement project goes off without a hitch. Fortunately, you can guarantee that by choosing the right roofing material and working with the right installer. Should you wish to learn more about commercial roofing, don’t hesitate to give your local roofing expert a call today.

Author Bio:
Gary Howard took over Howard Roofing after his father Bobby retired. With 16 years of experience in the roofing industry already under his belt, he aims to take this premier roofing company to new heights, while maintaining the customer-first philosophy s that has guided it over the years. For more updates from Gary, check out the company blog!

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