7 Common Commercial Roof Types: A Complete Guide

by | Sep 5, 2023 | Roofing

When it comes to commercial properties, the importance of a sturdy and well-maintained roof cannot be overstated. Just like residential roofs, commercial roof types demand meticulous care to ensure longevity and safeguard investments. In this comprehensive guide, we take a look into various types of commercial roofs, shedding light on their unique characteristics, maintenance requirements, and benefits.

Commercial Roof Types

Flat Roofs

Flat roofs are a popular choice for commercial buildings due to their practicality and accessibility. These commercial roofs feature a nearly horizontal design, making them versatile for various commercial applications. Flat roofs provide ample space for rooftop equipment installations such as HVAC units and solar panels. They are often constructed using materials like built-up roofing (BUR), single-ply membranes (TPO, PVC, EPDM), and modified bitumen.

Metal Roofs

Metal roofs are celebrated for their durability and modern aesthetic appeal. Commonly made from materials like steel, aluminum, or copper, metal roofs are known to withstand extreme weather conditions and offer long-lasting protection. Their reflective properties make them energy-efficient, reducing cooling costs for commercial properties. Routine maintenance entails inspecting for corrosion, loose fasteners, and ensuring proper sealing around penetrations.

TPO Roofs

Thermoplastic Olefin (TPO) roofing has gained widespread popularity in the commercial roofing arena for its exceptional combination of durability, energy efficiency, and cost-effectiveness. TPO roofs consist of a single-ply membrane made from a blend of polypropylene and ethylene-propylene rubber. This combination creates a roof that offers remarkable resistance to ultraviolet (UV) rays, ozone, and chemical exposure.

Built-Up Roofing (BUR)

Built-up roofing systems consist of multiple layers of roofing felt and bitumen, creating a durable and weather-resistant membrane. These roofs are suitable for properties with high foot traffic or heavy equipment installations. Regular maintenance involves inspecting for blistering, cracks, and ensuring the bitumen layers remain intact to prevent water infiltration.

Commercial roofer installing single-ply membrane roof — one of many different commercial roof types.

Single-Ply Membranes

Single-ply membranes are popular due to their ease of installation and cost-effectiveness. Thermoplastic Olefin (TPO), Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), and Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM) are common materials used for single-ply roofing systems. These membranes offer excellent UV resistance and are relatively low-maintenance. Regular checks involve examining seams, ensuring proper adhesion, and addressing any punctures.

Modified Bitumen

Modified bitumen roofs combine the durability of built-up roofing with the flexibility of single-ply membranes. These roofs are created by layering modified bitumen sheets with reinforcing fabrics. They are resistant to expansion and contraction, making them ideal for areas with temperature fluctuations. Maintenance includes inspecting for cracks, blistering, and ensuring seams are well-sealed.

Asphalt Shingles

While asphalt shingles are predominantly associated with residential roofing, their versatility has led to their occasional use in certain commercial applications. These shingles are known for their cost-effectiveness and straightforward installation process. However, their application in commercial settings is limited due to their relatively shorter lifespan and less robust performance compared to other specialized commercial roofing materials.

Commercial Roof Maintenance

Regular inspections, timely repairs, and a proactive approach to maintenance are crucial to ensure that all commercial roof types provide optimal protection for the premises they cover. Whether it’s the flat efficiency of a flat roof, the durability of metal, the sustainability of green roofs, or the reliability of single-ply membranes, investing in proper maintenance is a key factor in maximizing the lifespan of commercial roofs and protecting the investments made in the properties they shelter.


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