While commercial roofs might not always attract as much debate compared to residential roofs, their significance when it comes to business infrastructure cannot be overstated. Commercial roofing systems protect warehouses, bustling offices, and thriving businesses day in and day out, shielding them from the elements and ensuring operations run smoothly.
Most business owners do not give much thought when it comes to deciding the right material for their commercial roof replacement because they aren’t sure about all their options. But over the years, this industry has seen some vast improvements, and there is now a wide variety of durable materials available.
If you are also a business owner struggling to find the best commercial roofing system for your property, this guide is for you. Today, we’ll unravel the often overlooked yet pivotal aspects of these roofs that protect everything from skyscrapers to local businesses.
We’ll explore the different types of flat roofing systems used for commercial spaces, talking about their durability, versatility, and lifespans.
Types of Commercial Roofs
In the U.S. there are various types of commercial roofing systems available, each with its own set of advantages and applications. Understanding the different types is key to making informed decisions when it comes to installation, maintenance, and repair. Here are some of the prominent types of commercial roofing systems commonly found across the country:
Single-Ply Roofing Systems:
As the name suggests, this is a type of roofing material that consists of a single-ply synthetic sheet. The contractor will install this sheet on a flat roof and seal it through heat or other adhesive methods. These systems are among the most popular for commercial buildings due to their ease of installation and flexibility. You can further enhance them using commercial roof coatings.
Popular single-ply roofing membranes include EPDM, TPO, and PVC. We will discuss these options in the section below.
Ethylene propylene diene monomer, or just EPDM, is currently one of the best and the most popular commercial flat roofing systems used in Mississippi.
EPDM is a type of single-ply membrane that is made of synthetic rubber polymers. The rubber composition helps give the material flexibility and versatility. Though on the surface they don’t look very impressive, EPDM roofs are durable and highly resistant to weathering, making them suitable for various climates.
There are two types of EPDM membrane roofs available. One is the typical black EPDM, which is the most common option. The other is white EPDM, which is popular in areas that have consistent sunlight. Though both of them have the same effectiveness and features, the white EPDM roof can be more expensive.
Here are some of the pros and cons of EPDM commercial flat roofs:
Pros of EPDM:
EPDM roofs are known for their durability, capable of withstanding various weather conditions, storms, and extreme temperatures. You can expect good longevity from this synthetic roof, lasting in the range of 40 to 50 years on average.
Installation costs for EPDM roofs tend to be lower compared to some other commercial roofing options, such as TPO and PVC. Additionally, their longevity contributes to cost-effectiveness over their lifespan.
EPDM roofs generally require minimal maintenance. Their black color reduces the need for regular cleaning. They are also resistant to damage from UV rays and ozone exposure, so you don’t need to repair them as frequently.
EPDM roofing membranes are highly flexible, making it easy for contractors to install it over a variety of roof sizes. Apart from commercial flat roofs, it has various other applications as well.
EPDM roofs, especially white EPDM, offer high reflectivity, which can help lower energy costs by reducing heat transfer into the building.
Cons of EPDM:
While sturdy, EPDM roofs can be vulnerable to punctures from sharp objects during installation or due to foot traffic.
Seams in EPDM roofs can be prone to leaks if you do not maintain your commercial roof properly.
Limited Aesthetic Options:
EPDM typically comes in either black or white, limiting aesthetic choices compared to some other roofing materials.
Also Read: Commercial Roof leak blog
Thermoplastic polyolefin, commonly known as TPO, stands tall as a prominent contender in the realm of commercial flat roofing systems across the U.S. This single-ply membrane is made from a blend of synthetic materials such as polypropylene, a thermoplastic compound.
TPO roofs are known for their exceptional flexibility and resilience, making them a sought after choice for various commercial structures. Unlike EPDM, TPO typically comes in light-colored sheets that offer superior reflectivity.
Pros of TPO:
This is a standout feature of this membrane roofing system. TPO is available in white colored sheets, which makes its high solar reflectivity possible. This helps effectively bounce off the sun’s rays and reduce the heat absorbed by your building.
TPO’s lightweight and wide sheets make installation a quicker and more straightforward process, often resulting in lower labor costs compared to some other roofing options.
Thanks to its reflective properties, TPO roofing membranes aid in maintaining cooler indoor temperatures, reducing the need for excessive air conditioning and thus lowering energy bills of your business.
Resistance to Dirt and Stains:
TPO roofs tend to resist dirt accumulation, maintaining their reflective surface and ensuring consistent energy efficiency over time.
Tear and Puncture Resistant:
When well-installed and maintained, TPO roofs demonstrate remarkable resistance to tears, punctures, and mold growth, contributing to their longevity.
Cons of TPO:
Poor Seam Strength:
While TPO roofs generally have strong seams, improper installation or inadequate sealing can lead to seam failures, resulting in potential leak issues.
Long Term Performance Variability:
Some variations in TPO material quality among manufacturers have been reported, which might affect long term performance and durability. It’s essential to choose a reputable brand for a reliable roofing solution.
Susceptible to UV Damage:
In certain cases, TPO might be susceptible to UV degradation, particularly in regions with intense sunlight exposure over extended periods.
Consulting with roofing professionals for expert guidance specific to your location and building requirements is always advisable.
PVC (polyvinyl chloride) stands as a durable and popular choice in the commercial roofing landscape, offering a range of advantages tailored to various building structures and environmental conditions. This single-ply membrane system has gained traction for its robust performance and exceptional longevity.
PVC roofs are constructed from a flexible and highly durable synthetic material. These roofs come in rolls that are welded or adhered together on-site, creating a seamless and watertight surface.
Pros of PVC:
PVC roofs are highly durable and resistant to damage from chemicals, grease, and punctures. They have a proven track record of withstanding harsh weather conditions, including high winds and extreme temperatures.
PVC roofs often come in white or light-colored membranes, providing excellent reflectivity and reducing heat absorption. This reflective quality contributes to lower cooling costs, making it an energy-efficient choice.
PVC roofing membranes require minimal maintenance due to their resistance to dirt, algae, and mold growth. Routine inspections and occasional cleaning suffice to maintain their integrity.
Cons of PVC:
While PVC roofs offer numerous benefits, they tend to have higher upfront costs compared to some other commercial roofing options. However, their longevity and minimal maintenance requirements often offset this initial expense.
Prone to Shrinkage:
PVC is known to shrink and pull away from the roof deck over time, potentially leading to leaks and other issues.
#4 Metal Roofs
Despite the popularity of single-ply membranes like EPDM and TPO, metal roofs continue to maintain their place as a resilient and favored option for commercial structures. The appeal of metal roofs lies in their durability, variety of material options, and distinctive aesthetic appeal.
Metal roofing materials, including steel, aluminum, and copper, offer diverse choices to cater to different needs and preferences. These roofs are constructed from large metal panels or shingles, presenting a sleek and modern appearance to various commercial buildings.
Pros of Metal Roofs:
Metal roofs are renowned for their longevity. Irrespective of the style of metal roof you install on your roof, you can expect it to last for more than 50 years with proper installation. This durability far exceeds many other roofing materials in both the commercial and residential industries.
Variety of Options:
Different metals, such as the ones listed above, provide options for varying budgets, aesthetic preferences, and performance needs. Each metal type offers its unique set of advantages in terms of durability, weight, and resistance to corrosion.
Metal roofs are highly fire-resistant, which is a significant advantage for commercial structures seeking added safety and reduced fire risk.
These roofs excel in adverse weather conditions, providing excellent resistance to rain, snow, hail, and high winds. They also shed snow and ice efficiently, preventing excessive buildup.
Cons of Metal Roofs:
The installation process for metal roofs can be more intricate and labor-intensive compared to some other roofing materials, potentially increasing initial installation costs.
In certain circumstances, metal roofs can be louder than other roofing types during heavy rain or hailstorms. However, proper insulation can mitigate this issue.
Potential for Dents:
While highly durable, some softer metals like aluminum can be susceptible to denting if hit by large hail or heavy objects.
#5 Green Roofs
Let’s move to a new and sustainable option on our list of commercial roofing types: green roofs. Green roofing systems have emerged as an innovative and environmentally friendly alternative that is also still functional. Despite their relatively niche status compared to traditional roofing systems, green roofs have gained attention for their ecological benefits and unique aesthetic appeal.
A green roof, also known as a living roof, involves the installation of vegetation and plant life on a building’s roof surface. It consists of multiple layers, including a waterproofing membrane, root barrier, drainage system, growing medium, and vegetation.
Pros of Green Roofs:
Green roofs act as natural insulators. These can help to regulate indoor temperatures and reduce the urban heat effect. Plus, green roofs absorb carbon dioxide and pollutants while releasing oxygen, contributing to improved air quality and biodiversity.
The added insulation provided by green roofs can significantly reduce heating and cooling costs for buildings, thereby increasing energy efficiency.
Green roofs retain rainwater, reducing the volume of runoff and mitigating the strain on stormwater systems. This helps alleviate flooding and erosion, contributing to improved water management.
Beyond their environmental benefits, green roofs offer an aesthetically pleasing aspect to buildings, adding natural beauty and a sense of tranquility to urban environments.
The layers of soil and vegetation on green roofs act as sound insulators, reducing external noise levels, making them particularly beneficial for buildings in noisy areas.
Cons of Green Roofs:
Installation costs for green roofs tend to be higher compared to traditional roofing systems due to the added structural requirements, specialized materials, and maintenance considerations.
Green roofs require regular maintenance, including irrigation, weeding, and monitoring for plant health. Without proper upkeep, vegetation can die or become overgrown, leading to potential issues.
As green roofs are still a relatively newer concept, especially in the case of commercial roofing, there might be limited long-term information available regarding their performance and longevity.
#6 Modified Bitumen
Modified bitumen has carved its niche as a durable and reliable choice, particularly in the commercial roofing domain. This roofing membrane shares a similarity with asphalt shingles, using bitumen as the primary component. While asphalt shingles reign supreme in the residential sector, modified bitumen steps into the limelight for flat roof applications. This material is suitable for both small and larger-scale roofs.
Modified bitumen is an evolution of basic asphalt roofs, incorporating added polymer modifiers for increased strength and water-resistance. These roofs commonly come in rolls or sheets.
Pros of Modified Bitumen:
The addition of polymer modifiers fortifies the bitumen against temperature fluctuations, making it highly resistant to cracking, tearing, and UV degradation.
They offer multiple installation methods, such as torch applied, cold applied, or self-adhered sheets, providing flexibility and accommodating various building structures and needs.
Repairable and Maintainable:
Repairs and maintenance are manageable for this type of roof. In the event of damage, you can make easy repairs and targeted fixes without requiring a complete roof replacement.
Compared to certain high-end roofing systems, modified bitumen presents a cost-effective solution for commercial properties, providing a balance between durability and affordability.
Cons of Modified Bitumen:
Certain installation methods, particularly torch applied systems, require specialized training and equipment, making installation more complex compared to some other roofing types.
Vulnerability to Punctures:
While durable, modified bitumen roofs can be susceptible to punctures during installation or maintenance, potentially leading to leaks.
Limited Aesthetic Options:
Similar to EPDM, modified bitumen roofs often come in limited color choices, which may not suit specific aesthetic preferences.
Best Commercial Roof Installers In Gulf Coast, MS
We hope that with this guide you can make a better decision when it comes to selecting the right roofing material for your commercial roof replacement project. However, to ensure the longevity of your roofing system, it is essential that you hire an experienced roofing contractor like the team at Renova Roofing & Construction.
Our team offers professional roofing services in Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana. Our roofers are trained to install several types of flat commercial roofing systems. Contact us today at (601) 647-3433.