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6 Most Common Commercial Roofs and Roofing Materials

Commercial roofs come in many forms, with each one built according to the needs of the building and the budget of the owner. The kind of roof your commercial property has plays an integral role in the overall health of the building, and the longevity of the roof itself. The surrounding environment, typical weather, and any extraneous variables such as animals, foliage, etc. will also have an impact on the integrity of the roof over time.

To help you gain an understanding of what it takes to construct a quality commercial roof, we’re going to look at the most common classifications of commercials roofs and the roofing materials used to create them.

It’s important to note that most commercial roofs are either flat or low slope, which narrows down the available roofing materials. The six most common roof classifications include:

  • Built-Up Roofing (BUR) Membrane
  • Metal Roofing
  • Modified Bitumen Roofing
  • Thermoset (EPDM) Roof Membrane
  • Thermoplastic (PVC & TPO) Roof Membrane
  • Garden “Green” Roofing System

1. Built-up roofing membrane

Built-up roofing, or “BUR” as it’s commonly known, is essentially your standard tar-and-gravel roof. It’s built with multiple layers (piles). This is a flexible roof type as the number of layers can be varied to help control costs or meet certain durability requirements you may need to address. It’s a very old low-slope roof system, and is one of the most cost-effective and tough roofing types available today.

2. Metal roofing

Metal roofing is a very popular commercial roof type because there are so many different kinds of metal materials available for use in such a roofing system, including:

  • Corrugated galvanized steel
  • Aggregates of zinc, aluminum, and silicon-coated steel
  • Metal tile sheets
  • Copper
  • Aluminum
  • Stainless steel
  • Stone-coated steel
  • Tin
  • And lead

Since metal is susceptible to rusting, protective surface layers are added to manage damage from prolonged exposure to sunlight and other environmental dangers. Metal roofing also has the advantage of having an attractive, finished look, but when budget and durability are of the utmost importance, it’s wise to go with what works best rather than what looks best. Metal roofs do, however, have strong fire resistance ratings, and are both stronger and more durable compared to traditional commercial roofing options. They also help create a more sustainable design for your building.

3. Modified bitumen roofing

Reinforced roof fabrics are applied to act as “carriers” for bitumen, which is later cut and installed in layers similar to BUR membranes. These roofing systems are generally fastened to commercial rooftops as two-ply systems, adhered to the roofing deck for maximum stability and protection.

Maintenance of modified bitumen roofs are simple and can typically be handled with annual inspections and cleaning. They offer enhanced tensile strength compared to most other flat roof types that experience regular foot traffic, and that means if you anticipate a lot of activity on your commercial building roof, modified bitumen may be ideal.

4. Thermoset roof membrane

Also known as EPDM roofing, Thermoset roof system offer long-lasting durability and versatility, paired with a simple installation and ease of maintenance/repair when compared to most other commercial roof types. EPDM boasts a strong resistance to ultraviolet light and ozone, and is constructed from a single-ply rubber material.

Other benefits include great flexibility in colder temperatures; resistance to some acids, solvents, and alcohol; and reflective properties that help lower cooling costs.

5. Thermoplastic roof membrane

Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO) and Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC) roofing systems are lightweight, highly reflective, and provide excellent weathering and resistance to UV light, punctures/tears, and most chemicals, including oils, animal fats, and bacterial growth. The seam strength offered by thermoplastic roofs make it ideal for second-generation applications, too. The nature of these resistances makes thermoplastic roof membrane popular for restaurants and other businesses that emit oils and/or fats from their ventilation systems.

Other benefits range from a high-temperature tolerance to high resistance to fire and high winds.

6.  Green roofing

Green roofs are perhaps the most versatile kind of commercial roof around today. They’ve not only become popular in recent years, but they present a truly sustainable option for commercial properties and businesses. The leading advantage of green roofing systems is their ability to protect commercial buildings from the elements while simultaneously managing water, drainage, and improving energy efficiency. They’re beautiful to look at and a huge step toward a more sustainable, environmentally friendly commercial property.

If your commercial property needs a new roof or you’re considering all your commercial roofing material options, take a look at what some local experts are doing to see what might be right for you.