What Roof Is Typically Used In Commercial Roofing?

In the world of commercial roofing, there is one type of roof that reigns supreme – the flat roof. Versatile, cost-effective, and durable, flat roofs have become the go-to choice for many business owners. Engineered to withstand the challenges of commercial settings, these roofs offer a level of flexibility that is unmatched. Whether it’s a shopping center, office building, or warehouse, a flat roof provides the perfect solution. So, if you find yourself wondering about the roof typically used in commercial roofing, look no further than the flat roof – a trusted and reliable option that stands tall amidst the skyline of commercial buildings.

What Is Commercial Roofing?


Commercial roofing refers to the process of installing, repairing, or maintaining roofs on commercial buildings. Unlike residential roofing, which is designed for individual homes, commercial roofing focuses on larger structures such as office buildings, warehouses, retail stores, and factories. Commercial roofs are typically more complex, durable, and have different requirements compared to residential roofs.


The purpose of commercial roofing is to protect the building and its contents from the elements, provide insulation, and ensure the structural integrity of the property. A well-maintained commercial roof prevents water leaks, reduces energy consumption, and extends the lifespan of the building. Commercial roofing systems are specifically designed to withstand the challenges posed by larger buildings, such as heavy snow loads, strong winds, and foot traffic.

Different Types of Commercial Roofing

Built-Up Roofing (BUR)

Built-up roofing, also known as BUR, is one of the oldest and most traditional types of commercial roofing systems. It consists of several layers of asphalt and felts, alternated with layers of bitumen. These layers are then topped with a layer of gravel or reflective coating to protect against UV rays. BUR is known for its durability and resistance to fire, making it a popular choice for commercial buildings.

Modified Bitumen Roofing

Modified bitumen roofing is a newer and more advanced version of built-up roofing. It combines asphalt with modifiers such as APP (Atactic Polypropylene) or SBS (Styrene Butadiene Styrene) to improve its performance and flexibility. Modified bitumen roofs can be installed with torches, hot asphalt, or cold adhesives. They offer excellent waterproofing and are resistant to harsh weather conditions.

Single-Ply Membrane Roofing

Single-ply membrane roofing systems are gaining popularity in commercial roofing due to their ease of installation and cost-effectiveness. They consist of one layer of synthetic material, either PVC (polyvinyl chloride), TPO (thermoplastic olefin), or EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer). These membranes are either mechanically fastened, fully adhered, or ballasted. Single-ply membranes provide excellent UV resistance and can be customized to meet specific building requirements.

Metal Roofing

Metal roofing is a durable and long-lasting option for commercial buildings. It is available in various materials, including steel, aluminum, copper, and zinc. Metal roofs can be installed as panels or shingles and offer high resistance to fire, wind, and hail. They are energy efficient and can be coated with reflective finishes to reduce heat absorption. Metal roofs are known for their aesthetic appeal and can enhance the overall appearance of a commercial building.

Green Roofing Systems

Green roofing systems, also known as vegetative or living roofs, are becoming increasingly popular in commercial roofing. These roofs are covered with a layer of vegetation, which provides numerous benefits such as thermal insulation, stormwater management, and improved air quality. Green roofs can also help reduce the urban heat island effect and create a more sustainable environment.

What Roof Is Typically Used In Commercial Roofing?

Factors to Consider in Choosing a Commercial Roof

When choosing a commercial roof, several factors must be considered to ensure the best fit for the building and its specific needs. These factors include:


The climate of the region where the building is located plays a crucial role in selecting the right commercial roof. Different roofing materials have varying levels of resistance to extreme temperatures, heavy rainfall, and strong winds. It is important to choose a roof that can withstand the climate conditions prevalent in the area.

Building Structure

The structure of the building itself, including its load-bearing capacity and slope, will determine the suitability of certain roofing materials. Some materials may be too heavy for certain structures or require additional support. It is essential to assess the building structure before making a final decision.


Budget is a significant factor in any roofing project. Different materials and installation methods vary in cost, so it is important to consider the long-term value and durability of the chosen roofing system. It is recommended to work with a professional roofing contractor to determine the most cost-effective solution.

Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency is becoming increasingly important in commercial roofing. Choosing a roof with high reflectivity and insulation properties can significantly reduce energy costs by minimizing heat transfer. Energy-efficient roofs can also contribute to earning LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certifications.


Consider the maintenance requirements of different roofing materials. Some roofs may require regular inspections, cleaning, or repairs, while others may be more low-maintenance. Assessing the available resources for maintenance and the long-term costs associated with it is crucial.


Durability is a key factor to consider, as commercial roofs are exposed to harsh weather conditions and may require periodic maintenance or repairs. Understanding the lifespan of different roofing materials and their ability to withstand climate challenges can help determine the best option for the building.


The visual appeal of the roof may be important for certain commercial buildings, particularly those in high-visibility areas or with specific architectural requirements. Some roofing materials offer a wide range of colors and styles to enhance the overall appearance of the structure.

Roofing Contractor Expertise

Working with a reputable and experienced roofing contractor is essential to ensure proper installation and maintenance of a commercial roof. The contractor’s expertise in handling specific roofing systems and their understanding of local building codes can make a significant difference in the success and longevity of the roof.

Local Building Codes

Compliance with local building codes is mandatory for any commercial roofing project. It is crucial to understand the regulations and requirements imposed by the local authorities to avoid any potential legal or safety issues during and after the installation.


Checking the warranty offered by the roofing manufacturer and the contractor is crucial to protect the investment. A comprehensive warranty can provide peace of mind and financial security in case of unexpected issues with the roof. It is important to review the warranty terms and understand the coverage provided.

Cost Comparison of Commercial Roofing Types

The cost of commercial roofing varies depending on several factors, including the type of roofing material, the size of the building, and the complexity of the installation. Here is a cost comparison of different commercial roofing types:

Built-Up Roofing (BUR)

The cost of built-up roofing typically ranges between $4 to $7 per square foot. However, the overall cost can vary depending on factors such as the number of layers, thickness, and additional protective coatings.

Modified Bitumen Roofing

Modified bitumen roofing costs between $3 to $8 per square foot, depending on the type of modified bitumen used and the installation method. The cost may increase if additional insulation or protective layers are required.

Single-Ply Membrane Roofing

The cost of single-ply membrane roofing ranges from $3.50 to $12 per square foot, depending on the material chosen (PVC, TPO, or EPDM) and the installation method. The cost may increase if additional insulation or customization is required.

Metal Roofing

Metal roofing costs between $5 to $15 per square foot, depending on the type of metal (steel, aluminum, copper, or zinc) and the complexity of the installation. The cost may increase if additional insulation or protective coatings are desired.

Green Roofing Systems

Green roofing systems are typically more expensive, with costs ranging from $10 to $25 per square foot. The higher cost is due to the additional layers and components required to create a sustainable and functional living roof.

What Roof Is Typically Used In Commercial Roofing?

Benefits and Drawbacks of Different Commercial Roofing Types

Built-Up Roofing (BUR)


  • High durability and resistance to fire and punctures.
  • Can be repaired and maintained easily.
  • Reflective coatings can improve energy efficiency.


  • Heavy and may require additional structural support.
  • Installation can be time-consuming and messy.
  • Not as aesthetically pleasing as other roofing types.

Modified Bitumen Roofing


  • Provides excellent waterproofing and flexibility.
  • Resistant to extreme weather conditions.
  • Easy to repair and maintain.


  • May require professional installation due to torch application.
  • Vulnerable to UV and heat damage over time.
  • Limited color and style options compared to other roofing types.

Single-Ply Membrane Roofing


  • Lightweight and easy to install.
  • Good resistance to UV rays and weathering.
  • Can be customized to meet specific building requirements.


  • Some materials may have lower puncture resistance.
  • Vulnerable to improper installation and subsequent issues.
  • May require additional insulation for optimal energy efficiency.

Metal Roofing


  • Long lifespan and high durability.
  • Excellent resistance to fire, wind, and impact.
  • Reflective finishes can improve energy efficiency.


  • Higher upfront cost compared to other roofing types.
  • Noise can be an issue during heavy rain or hail.
  • Requires professional installation for optimal performance.

Green Roofing Systems


  • Improves thermal insulation and reduces energy consumption.
  • Manages stormwater runoff and reduces the urban heat island effect.
  • Enhances air quality and provides habitat for wildlife.


  • Requires additional structural support and waterproofing.
  • Higher initial installation cost compared to other roofing types.
  • Requires ongoing maintenance and irrigation.

Roofing Maintenance and Repairs

To ensure the longevity and performance of a commercial roof, regular maintenance and repairs are essential. Here are some important practices to consider:

Regular Inspections

Periodic inspections of the roof should be conducted to identify any potential issues such as leaks, damage, or deterioration. Inspections should be carried out by a professional roofing contractor who can assess the condition of the roof and propose necessary repairs or maintenance tasks.


Roof cleaning is necessary to remove debris, leaves, and other materials that can accumulate on the roof surface and in gutters. Regular cleaning prevents clogging and ensures proper drainage. It is important to use non-abrasive cleaning methods and avoid damaging the roofing materials during the cleaning process.

Sealant Application

Sealant application is crucial to maintain the integrity and waterproofing of the roof. Areas prone to leaks, such as flashing, joints, and seams, should be inspected and sealed if necessary. Regular sealant application helps prevent water infiltration and extends the lifespan of the roofing system.

Repairing Leaks

Leaks should be addressed promptly to prevent further damage to the building and its contents. Identifying the source of the leak is crucial before repairing it. Professional roofing contractors can pinpoint the exact location of the leak and provide effective solutions to fix the problem.

Replacing Damaged Materials

In case of severe damage or deterioration of roofing materials, replacement may be necessary. Damaged shingles, membranes, or flashing should be replaced to maintain the functionality and aesthetics of the roof. Working with a professional roofing contractor ensures proper replacement and installation techniques.

What Roof Is Typically Used In Commercial Roofing?

Choosing the Right Commercial Roofing Contractor

Selecting the right roofing contractor is crucial for the success of any commercial roofing project. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a roofing contractor:

Experience and Expertise

Look for a roofing contractor with extensive experience in commercial roofing. An experienced contractor will have the knowledge and skills to handle different types of roofing systems and effectively address any challenges that may arise during the project.

License and Insurance

Ensure that the roofing contractor is licensed and insured. A valid license demonstrates that the contractor has met the necessary qualifications and adheres to industry standards. Insurance coverage protects both the contractor and the property owner in case of accidents or property damage.

References and Portfolio

Ask for references from previous clients and review the contractor’s portfolio to assess the quality of their work. Reading customer reviews and testimonials can provide valuable insights into the contractor’s reputation and reliability.

Written Estimates

Obtain written estimates from multiple roofing contractors before making a decision. The estimate should include a detailed breakdown of costs, materials, and project timeline. It is important to review the estimates carefully and compare them to ensure a fair and accurate representation of the project scope.


Inquire about the warranty offered by the roofing contractor. A reputable contractor should provide a comprehensive warranty that covers both material defects and workmanship. Understanding the warranty terms and conditions is essential to ensure proper coverage and peace of mind.


Commercial roofing plays a vital role in protecting commercial buildings from the elements and maintaining their structural integrity. Understanding the different types of commercial roofing, the factors to consider in choosing a roof, and the importance of regular maintenance and repairs are essential for property owners and managers.

By considering factors such as climate, building structure, budget, and energy efficiency, the right commercial roofing system can be selected for any building’s specific requirements. The cost, benefits, and drawbacks of different roofing types should be carefully evaluated to make an informed decision.

Working with a reputable roofing contractor with expertise in commercial roofing is crucial to ensure proper installation, maintenance, and repairs. Regular inspections, cleaning, and sealant application help prolong the lifespan of a commercial roof and prevent costly issues. With proper care and maintenance, a commercial roof can provide reliable protection for years to come.

What Roof Is Typically Used In Commercial Roofing?

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