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Exploring 5 Different Commercial Roof Types

When it comes to commercial buildings, the roof is often an overlooked yet crucial component. A well-maintained roof not only protects the building and its occupants from the elements but also enhances energy efficiency and contributes to the overall aesthetics.

Today, we’ll delve into the world of commercial roofs, exploring:

  • Different commercial roof types
  • Installation costs
  • Maintenance requirements
  • Signs indicating it’s time for a replacement

Understanding the Differences Between Flat vs. Sloped Roofs

Before delving into specific commercial roof types, it’s essential to grasp the fundamental distinction between flat and sloped roofs.

Flat Roofs:

Flat roofs, as the name suggests, have minimal slope, typically less than 10 degrees. They are commonly found in commercial buildings due to their cost-effectiveness, ease of installation, and suitability for rooftop equipment such as HVAC systems.

Sloped Roofs:

On the other hand, sloped roofs have a noticeable incline, providing efficient water drainage and reducing the risk of water pooling. While sloped roofs may be more complex and expensive to install, they offer various design options and often have a longer lifespan compared to flat roofs.

When to Replace Your Commercial Roof

working on a commercial roof

Knowing when it’s time to replace your commercial roof is crucial for avoiding costly damage and ensuring the safety of occupants. Here are some signs indicating that it’s time for a replacement:

  • Age: Most commercial roofs have a lifespan of 20 to 30 years, depending on the material used and maintenance practices. If your roof is approaching the end of its lifespan, it’s wise to start considering a replacement.
  • Leaks: Persistent leaks, despite repairs, suggest underlying structural issues that may necessitate a roof replacement.
  • Visible Damage: Cracks, blisters, or punctures on the roof membrane indicate deterioration and may compromise the roof’s integrity.
  • Increased Energy Bills: A poorly insulated or damaged roof can result in higher energy consumption as the HVAC system works harder to maintain interior comfort levels.
  • Sagging or Ponding: Any signs of sagging or water ponding on a flat roof indicate structural problems that require immediate attention.

Exploring 5 Different Commercial Roof Types

BUR roof

Commercial roofs come in various materials, each offering unique benefits and drawbacks. Let’s explore some of the most common types:

1) Built-Up Roofing (BUR):

Built-up roofing consists of multiple layers of asphalt and reinforcing fabric topped with a layer of gravel or mineral granules. BUR systems are durable, fire-resistant, and suitable for flat or low-sloped roofs. However, they can be heavy and may require periodic maintenance to prevent water infiltration.

2) Single-Ply Membrane:

Single-ply membranes, such as TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin) and EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer), offer lightweight and flexible roofing solutions. They are easy to install, resistant to UV radiation, and require minimal maintenance. Single-ply membranes are ideal for both flat and sloped roofs, making them a popular choice among commercial property owners.

3) Metal Roofing:

Metal roofs, typically made of steel, aluminum, or copper, are known for their durability, longevity, and energy efficiency. They come in various styles, including standing seam, corrugated panels, and metal shingles, allowing for versatile design options. While metal roofs may have a higher upfront cost, they require little maintenance and can last 50 years or more with proper care.

4) Modified Bitumen:

Modified bitumen roofing combines asphalt with modifiers such as APP (atactic polypropylene) or SBS (styrene-butadiene-styrene) to enhance durability and flexibility. This type of roofing is suitable for flat or low-sloped roofs and offers excellent resistance to weathering and thermal fluctuations. Modified bitumen roofs are relatively easy to install and maintain, making them a practical choice for commercial applications.

5) Green Roof:

Green roofs, also known as vegetative or living roofs, consist of a waterproof membrane, drainage system, and vegetation layer. They provide numerous environmental benefits, including improved insulation, stormwater management, and air quality enhancement. While green roofs require specialized installation and maintenance, they offer long-term cost savings and aesthetic appeal.

Cost Considerations

The cost of installing a commercial roof varies depending on several factors, including the type of material, roof size, location, and complexity of the installation. Here’s a general overview of the average costs:

  • Built-Up Roofing (BUR): $5 to $10 per square foot
  • Single-Ply Membrane: $3 to $8 per square foot
  • Metal Roofing: $7 to $12 per square foot
  • Modified Bitumen: $3 to $7 per square foot
  • Green Roof: $10 to $25+ per square foot

It’s important to note that these are rough estimates, and additional factors, such as insulation, roof accessories, and labor costs, can influence the total expense. Consulting with a reputable roofing contractor is recommended to obtain an accurate quote tailored to your specific requirements.

Maintaining Your Commercial Roof

Proper maintenance is essential for prolonging the lifespan of your commercial roof and minimizing the need for costly repairs. Here are some tips for maintaining your commercial roof:

  • Regular Inspections: Schedule routine inspections at least twice a year, preferably in the spring and fall, to check for signs of damage, debris buildup, or vegetation growth.
  • Clear Debris: Remove leaves, branches, and other debris from the roof surface and gutters to prevent water pooling and potential damage.
  • Repair Leaks Promptly: Address any leaks or signs of water infiltration immediately to prevent further damage to the roof and interior of the building.
  • Trim Overhanging Branches: Trim trees near the building to prevent branches from rubbing against the roof surface or causing damage during storms.
  • Maintain Drainage Systems: Ensure that gutters, downspouts, and drainage channels are clear and functioning correctly to facilitate proper water drainage.
  • Professional Maintenance: Consider hiring a professional roofing contractor for periodic inspections and maintenance tasks, such as resealing seams, repairing flashings, and conducting roof repairs as needed.

Commercial Roofing Systems You Can Count On

Investing in the right commercial roof type and maintaining it properly can significantly impact the longevity, performance, and overall value of your building. By understanding the different types of commercial roofs, knowing when to replace them, considering installation costs, and implementing a proactive maintenance plan, you can ensure that your commercial property remains protected and functional for years to come.

Remember to consult with experienced roofing professionals for personalized advice and assistance tailored to your specific needs. Contact Greentek Roofing today to learn about the different types of commercial roofing we offer.


“GreenTek was awesome to work with. My rep James was easy to get in contact with and answered all my questions and made the process quick and smooth. The roof came out great and everything was finished on time and they handled everything with my insurance company so I didn’t have to. It made the process stress free for me.”

-Dylan O.

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