5 commercial roof types to consider

Innovative Roofing Commercial Roof Types
March 31, 2024 at 6:00 a.m.

By Matt, Innovative Roofing Group. 

When it comes to picking a roof for a commercial project, it’s important to examine the life cycles of each material to pick the best roof in the long run. 

Understanding the long-term performance of different roofing types is key to choosing the right roofing system for your property. There are many different types of roofing materials, including TPO, EPDM, PVC, metal roofing and built-up roofing. The experts here at Innovative Roofing Group recommend considering performance, maintenance needs and costs to determine if a roof material will have the long-term performance you are looking for. It is also beneficial after the installation as you are already informed of the best maintenance practices to maximize the lifespan of the roof and your investment.  

It’s always best to consult with a professional commercial roofing contractor to discuss the best option for your specific roof types and needs, and to ensure a high-quality installation and proper maintenance. 

1 - TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin) 

TPO is a popular commercial roofing material for commercial buildings because it’s durable, energy-efficient and easy to install. It’s made from a blend of plastic and rubber, which makes it resistant to the sun’s rays and able to withstand high temperatures. TPO roofs usually last between 15 to 20 years, depending on factors like installation quality, maintenance and local weather conditions. 

Factors affecting TPO life expectancy: 

  •     Sun exposure and extreme temperatures 
  •     Proper installation and strong seams 
  •     Regular inspections and maintenance 

How to maintain a TPO commercial roofing system: 

  • Inspect the roof at least twice a year and after major storms 
  • Keep the roof clean by removing dirt, debris and algae growth 
  • Fix any damaged seams or holes right away 
  • Make sure water drains properly to avoid standing water 

2 - EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) 

EPDM is a synthetic rubber roofing material that’s flexible, long-lasting and affordable. EPDM roofing systems typically last between 20 to 25 years, with some well-maintained roofing systems lasting up to 30 years. This commercial roofing system can handle extreme temperatures, sun exposure and other weather conditions. 

Factors affecting EPDM life expectancy: 

  • Sun exposure and changing temperatures 
  • Correct installation and flashing details 
  • Regular inspections and maintenance 

How to maintain an EPDM commercial roofing system: 

  • Inspect the roof at least twice a year and after major storms 
  • Keep the roof clean by removing dirt, debris and algae growth 
  • Fix any damaged seams, holes or flashing problems right away 
  • Make sure water drains properly to avoid standing water 

3 - PVC (polyvinyl chloride) 

PVC roofing is a durable and versatile commercial roofing system that resists chemicals, fire and sun damage. PVC roofs usually last between 20 to 30 years, depending on the thickness of the material and the quality of installation. This type of commercial roofing is great for buildings with rooftop equipment or facilities that handle chemicals, as it can handle exposure to grease, oils and other substances. 

Factors affecting PVC life expectancy: 

  • Thickness of the material and installation quality 
  • Exposure to chemicals and sun damage 
  • Regular inspections and maintenance 

How to maintain a PVC commercial roofing system: 

  • Inspect the roof at least twice a year and after major storms 
  • Keep the roof clean by removing dirt, debris and chemical residues 
  • Fix any damaged seams, holes or flashing problems right away 
  • Make sure water drains properly to avoid standing water 

4 - Metal roofing 

Metal roofing is a popular choice for commercial buildings because it’s long-lasting, durable and energy efficient. Common materials used for metal roofs include steel, aluminum, copper and zinc. Metal roofs can last between 40 to 70 years, depending on the type of metal commercial roofing system and how well it’s maintained. 

Factors affecting metal roof life expectancy: 

  • Type of metal and installation quality 
  • Regular inspections and maintenance 
  • Local weather conditions and sun exposure 

How to maintain a metal commercial roofing system: 

  • Inspect the roof at least twice a year and after major storms 
  • Keep the roof clean by removing dirt, debris and any signs of corrosion 
  • Fix any damaged seams, holes or flashing problems right away 
  • Make sure water drains properly to avoid standing water and rust 

5 - Built-up roofing system (BUR) 

Built-up roofing, also known as tar and gravel roofing, consists of multiple layers of waterproof materials, including asphalt and a top layer of gravel or crushed stone. These types of commercial roofing systems are known for their durability, weather resistance and affordability. BUR roof systems typically have a life expectancy of 20 to 30 years, depending on the number of layers and the quality of installation. 

Factors affecting BUR life expectancy: 

  • Number of layers and installation quality 
  • Regular inspections and maintenance 
  • Local weather conditions and sun exposure 

How to maintain a built-up roofing system: 

  • Inspect the roof at least twice a year and after major storms 
  • Keep the roof clean by removing dirt, debris and loose gravel 
  • Fix any damaged areas or signs of water intrusion right away 
  • Make sure water drains properly to avoid standing water and potential leaks 

When should you choose one roof material over another? 

TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin) ideal for: 

  • Buildings that require energy efficiency 
  • Commercial roofing projects with budget constraints 
  • Regions with high-temperature fluctuations 

EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) ideal for: 

  • Large, flat roofs that require a cost-effective solution 
  • Buildings in areas with extreme temperature changes 
  • Facilities where puncture resistance is less of a concern 

PVC (polyvinyl chloride) ideal for: 

  • Buildings exposed to chemicals or harsh environments 
  • Restaurants or facilities with grease or oil exposure 
  • Projects that prioritize long-term durability and chemical resistance 

Metal roofing systems ideal for: 

  • Buildings in areas with high wind or severe weather conditions 
  • Facilities with a focus on energy efficiency and long-term durability 
  • Property owners willing to invest in a higher upfront cost for a longer-lasting roof 

Built-up roofing (BUR) ideal for: 

  • Buildings that require a durable, weather-resistant roofing solution 
  • Projects with moderate budgets 
  • Facilities with easy access for heavy equipment needed for installation 

When selecting the right commercial roofing systems for your commercial property, consider the specific needs of your building, the local climate and your budget. Consulting with a professional commercial roofing contractor will help you make an informed decision that best suits your building owners’ situation. 

Original article source: Innovative Roofing Solutions 

Disclaimer: The information provided on AskARoofer.com or information sent by emails is the opinion of the writers. It is the responsibility of the reader to check for accuracy in one's own jurisdiction, as there are different codes and restrictions for different parts of the country. AskARoofer.com does not accept any liability for the use of information on this website or email. AskARoofer.com has no controls over product failures, installation, or climate conditions that may change the roofing process in your area. Our information is in general to our area and cannot be the same as your local town or state. It is advised to seek the local Building Department, Licensed Contractor, and local Product Representative for proper installation requirements and code enforcement when installing a new roof.

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