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Commercial Roofing Systems: Which One is Right for Your Business?

When constructing or replacing a roof on a commercial building, you need the right commercial roofing system designed to handle the unique demands placed on large facilities. The optimal roofing system depends on factors like your building type, roof slope, climate, and budget. Here’s an in-depth look at popular options for low-slope, flat, and pitched commercial roofs:

Understanding Commercial Roofing Systems

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Commercial roofing systems play a crucial role in protecting your business assets and ensuring the longevity of your building. As a business owner, it is important to understand the key factors to consider when choosing a commercial roofing system.

  1. Traffic Resistance: Commercial roofs should be able to withstand regular foot traffic for maintenance and repairs. Opt for roofing materials that are durable and can handle the weight and impact of people working on the roof.
  2. Wind and Fire Rating: Your roofing components should be tested and rated to withstand high winds, storm damage, and fire hazards. Look for roofing systems that meet or exceed the required wind and fire ratings for your area to ensure the safety and security of your building.
  3. Structural Strength: Commercial roofs need to bear heavy loads such as HVAC units and solar panels. Ensure that the roofing system you choose is strong enough to support the additional weight and stress of these installations without compromising the integrity of the roof.
  4. Slope Accommodation: Consider the slope of your roof when selecting a commercial roofing system. Some membranes, like EPDM and TPO, work well on flat roofs, while others, like standing seam metal and tile, are better suited for pitched roofs. Choose a roofing material that is specifically designed for your roof slope to ensure proper installation and optimal performance.
  5. Sustainability: In today’s environmentally conscious world, sustainability is an important consideration. Look for roofing systems that are durable, recyclable, and energy-efficient. These systems can help reduce your environmental footprint and may even qualify for green building certifications.

By carefully considering these factors, you can select the optimal commercial roofing system for your specific needs. Regular inspections and maintenance are important to extend the lifespan and get the most out of your roofing system. It’s a good idea to talk to a professional commercial roofing contractor. They can give you expert advice and help you with planning and installation. Click here to learn more about finding a reliable roofing contractor.

Low-Slope Roofing for Warehouses, Factories, and Big Box Stores

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Large commercial structures like warehouses, manufacturing plants, distribution centers, and big box retail stores commonly have flat or gently sloping roofs. These low-slope roofs benefit from durable and resilient single-ply membrane systems:

  • EPDM: Best for large flat commercial roofs. Ethylene propylene diene monomer rubber is a cost-effective, versatile, and durable material. It can withstand different weather conditions and is resistant to UV rays and heat. Rubber roofs have an expected lifespan of 15-30 years. Seam durability is a limiting factor, but advances in tape technology are improving.
  • TPO: A great choice for low-slope roofs in hot, sunny climates. Thermoplastic polyolefin membranes provide exceptional resistance to UV, heat, and impact. TPO has an expected service life of 25-35 years. They are incredibly durable, with some formulations rated to withstand hail impacts up to 2 inches in diameter.
  • PVC: Is highly durable and resilient, making it a good choice for various commercial roofing needs. Eco-friendly thermoplastic polymers compose polyvinyl chloride, creating an extremely durable waterproof barrier. PVC roofs are pound-for-pound stronger than concrete. Typical lifespans range from 30-50+ years thanks to PVC’s resilience against weathering, impacts, and chemicals.

Multiple Layers for Office Buildings and Shopping Malls

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Low-rise commercial buildings such as offices, medical centers, schools, shopping malls, and municipal buildings often make use of various types of roofing systems for their flat roofs. These commercial roofing systems offer different benefits and are designed to cater to specific needs:

  • Modified Bitumen: Layers of tough asphalt and reinforcement make this roofing system versatile for many flat roof applications. Modified bitumen roofs are warranted by manufacturers for 15-25 years on average. Multiple system layers provide redundancy against leaks.
  • Built-Up Roofing: Also known as BUR or “tar and gravel,” this multi-ply assembly provides excellent waterproofing, insulation, and longevity. It’s ideal for large office spaces. A well-maintained built-up roof can last 35-50+ years. Coal tar pitch BUR offers the highest fire rating – Class A for combustible and noncombustible decks.

Using different types of roofs in smaller commercial buildings is important to meet the unique needs of each building. These roofs are essential for durability, energy efficiency, and design options, and they help ensure that these structures are functional and protected for a long time.

Pitched Roofs for Restaurants, Hotels, Retail, and More

Pitched roofs are an excellent choice for commercial buildings such as restaurants, hotels, and shops. They not only address practical needs but also enhance the architectural beauty of the structure. By opting for pitched roofs, businesses can create a more appealing and comfortable environment for their customers and employees.

There are a variety of types of pitched roofs:

  • Standing Seam Metal: Interlocking steel or aluminum panels create a strong and durable roofing system that adds an attractive architectural element. With a lifespan of 40-70+ years and minimal maintenance required, standing seam metal roofing remains watertight even with roof movement.
  • Tile: These roofs are commonly found on upscale buildings. Concrete or clay tiles enhance the aesthetic appeal of a building and provide exceptional protection against wind, fire, and rain. Concrete tiles can last 50-100 years, while clay tiles may need replacing sooner but still offer comparable protection.
  • Asphalt Shingles: Asphalt shingles are ideal for smaller commercial buildings. This is the most cost-effective option for pitched roofs, offering easy installation, replacement, and a variety of style choices. Premium laminated asphalt shingles now come with warranties of 50+ years and are reinforced for wind resistance up to 120+ mph.

Consult a professional commercial roofing contractor during planning and installation of any new flat or pitched commercial roofing system. Regular inspections and maintenance will maximize lifespan and return on investment.

The Bottom Line

Choosing the best commercial roofing system can be a difficult decision. There are many factors to consider, such as the type of roof (flat or pitched) and the materials used. For low-slope roofs, durable thermoplastic membranes and multi-ply built-up assemblies work well. Angled designs like standing seam metal and tile roofing have their own advantages. With regular inspection and maintenance, your commercial roof can last for many years and protect your property from the weather. If you need help selecting the right roofing system for your commercial building, it’s best to consult with a licensed roofing professional.

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