So today, the team at Ohm Restoration is here to talk about the different types of commercial roofs. We will also discuss how to choose the right roof for your business. If you would like to discuss our roofing service, contact us today!
Types of Commercial Roof Materials
Below is a list of the most common types of commercial roofing materials and their pros and cons.
Thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) is a type of single-ply membrane common for flat and low-slope roofs. TPO sheets are heat-welded at the seams to create a tight and water-resistant bond. TPO consists of a rubber mixture of ethylene-propylene and polypropylene, giving it a high degree of flexibility. TPO is also heat-resistant and reflects UV rays. It comes in a wide variety of colors and has several options for commercial roofing installation, such as adhesives, mechanical anchors, or ballasts.
Most TPO comes in sheets between ten and 20 feet wide. According to the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA), TPO roofing makes up about 40% of all commercial roofing in the U.S. TPO roofing lasts approximately 15 to 20 years before requiring replacement.
- Easy to manufacture and install
- Wide range of colors
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Heat and UV-resistant
- Relatively lower durability
- Seams can split from impacts and wear & tear
- Quality can vary depending on the manufacturer
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) is a synthetic single-play plastic membrane that provides a flexible and fire-resistant roofing material. PVC roofing is highly durable and can withstand up to 350 pounds per square inch. PVC is also highly chemically stable, meaning it is resistant to chemical and UV weathering from the environment. PVC is generally more expensive than TPO but is more durable and longer lasting.
One of the best advantages of PVC is you can re-weld it to fix cracks and broken seams, extending its effective lifespan. It is also recyclable, allowing manufacturers to use old materials to produce new sheets. However, PVC can become hard and brittle in sustained cold weather, causing it to crack, chip, or shatter.
- Heat and flame-resistant
- Easy to repair
- Chemically inert
- High tensile strength
- More expensive than other types of single-ply membranes
- Does not handle cold weather well
Ethylene propylene diene terpolymer (EPDM) is another type of synthetic rubber popular due to its flexibility and elasticity. EPDM is very affordable, and manufacturing does not produce much waste. EPDM is 100% recyclable and effectively reflects UV rays, lowering your building’s energy consumption. EPDM is very popular for commercial properties because it is cost-effective and easy to install.
EPDM roofing allows for several types of installation, including ballasts, adhesives, and mechanical anchors. However, EPDM can shrink as it ages, exposing your roof deck and flashing. Shrinking makes the membrane more susceptible to puncturing.
- Flexible and elastic
- UV and heat resistant
- Environmentally friendly
- Shrinks as it ages
- Susceptible to puncturing
4. Modified Bitumen
Modified bitumen is a type of asphalt-based roofing system that incorporates synthetic polymers for flexibility and heat resistance. Bitumen shares a lot in common with more traditional types of commercial roofs, such as tar or gravel, but has the energy efficiency of modern, single-play materials. Bitumen is highly durable and stands up well to foot traffic on your roof. Business owners also have several thickness options to choose from.
The main downside of bitumen is it absorbs heat and is minimally reflective. You can reduce heat absorption by installing reflective caps. Installing modified bitumen requires using a propane blow torch, making installation expensive and unsafe.
- Extremely durable
- Compatible with most roofing slopes
- Available in multiple thicknesses
- Smaller rolls make installation in small spaces easier
- Installation requires high-heat equipment
- Absorbs heat during the summer
5. Liquid Coating
Most commercial roofing applications feature solid panels and rolls. Liquid coatings, on the other hand, apply as a thick liquid before hardening into a roof coating. Most liquid roof coatings are a type of liquid butyl rubber that can be applied with paint rollers and sprayed on. Since it starts as a fluid, liquid roof coatings are very useful for getting into all the nooks and crannies of your roof.
The best features of liquid coatings are their ease of installation and cost. However, liquid coatings are usually less durable than other kinds of roof coatings, so they are susceptible to damage from the weather and elements.
- Easy to apply
- Good for roofs with complicated layouts
- Dries quickly
- Not as durable as other materials
- Lifespan is relatively short
6. Asphalt Shingles
Asphalt is probably the most common choice for residential roofs, but asphalt shingles also work for commercial roofs. Asphalt shingle systems have several weatherproofing and reinforcement layers and work well with both low-slope and steep-slope roofs. You can also integrate asphalt with many other roofing materials, such as fiberglass, aluminum, gravel, and more. Asphalt shingles are flame-resistant and are easy to clean and maintain.
However, asphalt does not typically mesh well with flat roofs. Asphalt may also be less durable than some kinds of commercial roofing materials.
- Versatile and works well with other materials
- High tensile strength
- Good insulation
- Generally not suitable for flat roofs
- Installation can be expensive
7. Metal Roofing
Metal roofing is a classic choice for commercial roofs, thanks to its incredible durability and longevity. Metal roofing can easily last over 50 years if you remember regular cleaning and maintenance, and it is compatible with low-slope and steep-slope roofs. You can also find metal paneling in several colors and finishes, including gloss and matte. Even though metal roofs are expensive, their long lifespan makes them a cost-effective investment.
However, metal roofing panels are very heavy, so you may need to install extra roof support to handle the weight. Metal roofs can also produce a lot of noise and are susceptible to denting and scratching from impacts.
- Extremely durable
- Long lifespan
- Attractive appearance
- Installation may be difficult
8. Green Roofs
Green roofs are a relatively new kind of commercial roofing technique that incorporates live vegetation and foliage directly into the roof’s structure. These kinds of roofs consist of a water-proof underlying membrane with soil and vegetation on the top. Green roofs also integrate root, drainage, and irrigation systems. Green roofs are not only aesthetically pleasing but are environmentally friendly and improve air quality.
However, green roofs require a lot of maintenance and care to keep up appearances. They may also be vulnerable to harsh weather and shifting seasonal climates.
- Environmentally friendly
- Aesthetically pleasing
- Green structures can increase employee productivity
- Compatible with other roofing materials
- Requires significant maintenance and care
- May have durability issues
- Complex installation process
9. Solar Panels
Solar panels are another environmentally-conscious commercial roofing option that is compatible with other roofing materials. Solar roofing panels turn natural sunlight into usable electrical energy, reducing your energy bills. With the proper solar setup and number of panels, it is possible to virtually eliminate reliance on energy companies. In fact, most states will allow commercial buildings to sell their excess solar-generated power back to the energy grid, further saving money. The main downsides of solar panels are the installation costs and variable energy output.
- Reduce environmental footprint
- Energy independence
- Can sell extra power
- Some states offer tax incentives for going solar
- High upfront panel and installation cost
- Output can drop in cloudy weather
How to Choose the Right Commercial Roofing System
Finding the right commercial roof system is incredibly important for business owners. If you are looking for a new commercial roof, make sure to consider the following factors.
Existing Roof Condition
You should first think about your existing roof’s type and condition. Pertinent questions to ask yourself include:
- How large is the roof?
- What material is currently installed?
- What kind of structures are on the roof (e.g., vents, skylights, chimneys, etc.)?
- What is the local weather like?
- How old is your current roof?
- What kind of roof access do you have?
- What are relevant building codes?
Knowing the answers to these questions will help you pick materials that fit your needs. For example, if you need regular roof access, you should consider a flat or low-slope roof to minimize risk. If your business is in an area that rains a lot, you’ll need a roofing material that is water-resistant.
In addition to materials, roof slope (or pitch) is the second major element of your overall roof design. Unlike residential properties, commercial properties typically have a flat, low-slope roof. A “flat” roof is any roof with a slope lower than three vertical inches for every horizontal foot (3:12). No roof should be 100% flat, or else it may have difficulties draining.
Different materials work best with different slope levels. Single ply membranes, for example, usually have very low slopes in the range of 1/4-1/2:12, while asphalt shingles and tiles need a slope of at least 2:12 to drain properly. Make sure you consult with an experienced contractor to determine the ideal pitch for your materials.
Depending on the type of business you have, different materials may be better suited for your roof. For example, warehouses that don’t require temperature control can choose a material like modified bitumen. Retail stores that have customers can choose something like PVC or EPDM to insulate and control interior temperatures. Businesses like restaurants or manufacturing facilities will need exhaust systems in the roof for ventilation.
Location is also a consideration, as it affects weather, temperatures, and local wildlife/pests. If your business is in a place that is prone to tornadoes and storms, you’ll want a material that can withstand high winds and water. Seasonal temperature variations can affect the longevity of your roofing materials, so business owners in places that get cold winters should avoid materials like PVC that can become brittle and crack.
Budget is always a concern for businesses, and roofs are no exception. However, you shouldn’t think of your roof as just another line item expense. A good commercial roof is an investment and can affect finances by reducing energy bills and increasing property values. Roofs are incredibly important for commercial spaces, so you shouldn’t skimp on material and installation quality. Working with an experienced roofing contractor like Ohm Restoration ensures you get the most bang for your buck.
Reducing your environmental footprint with your roofing materials is good for society but can also be good for your business. Many states provide tax benefits to businesses that try to conserve energy by utilizing efficient appliances and choosing eco-friendly roofing systems. Many “green” commercial roofs consist entirely of recyclable materials, and solar panels are another addition that can lower your energy consumption. Being environmentally conscious can provide more of a return than you’d expect.
Future Building Plans
A new commercial roof can easily last for over 20 years, so you’ll need to consider long-term building plans. For instance, you might want to expand construction in the future, so you’ll want a material that can synergize with your design plans. If you plan to sell your building in the near future, you probably shouldn’t drop a significant amount of money on the more expensive types of commercial roofs.
Roofing Repair and Installation Services
Ohm Restoration is your go-to provider for roof repair, replacement, and restoration services, specializing in both commercial and residential roofing services. We believe that homeowners deserve the best, and we won’t rest until you are completely satisfied with our work. No matter your roofing needs, the professionals on our team can assist.
Contact us online or call today at 888-319-7058 to schedule an appointment!