Commercial roofing plays a critical role in protecting businesses, their assets, and the people working within them. As the first line of defense against environmental elements, commercial roofs are designed to withstand a variety of conditions, such as heavy rain, harsh UV rays, and strong winds. Roofing materials, technology, and installation techniques have developed significantly over time, providing building owners with an array of options to fit various project requirements and budgets.

When selecting a commercial roofing system, it is essential for building owners, architects, and contractors to consider factors such as the building’s location, the local climate, and the specific needs of the property. By doing thorough research and consulting with experienced professionals, informed decisions can be made that will ensure the long-term performance and stability of the chosen roofing solution.

Types of Commercial Roofing

There are various types of commercial roofing systems available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. This section will discuss four common types of commercial roofing: Single Ply Roofing, Built-Up Roofing, Metal Roofing, and Modified Bitumen Roofing.

Single Ply Roofing

Single ply roofing is a popular choice for commercial buildings due to its durability and versatility. These roofing systems are made from a single layer of flexible membrane material, such as EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer), TPO (thermoplastic olefin), or PVC (polyvinyl chloride).

Advantages of single ply roofing include:

  • Longevity: With proper maintenance, single ply roofs can last up to 30 years.
  • Proven track record: EPDM roofing has been used in commercial applications for many years.
  • Energy efficiency: Reflective, white TPO and PVC membranes help reduce energy costs by minimizing solar heat gain.

Built-Up Roofing

Built-up roofing (BUR) is a traditional commercial roofing system that involves layering multiple waterproof materials, such as bitumen and roofing felts, to create a durable surface. BUR is particularly suitable for low-slope and flat roofs.

Key features of built-up roofing are:

  • Multiple layers: The multiple layers of bitumen and other material enhance its strength and durability.
  • Flexibility in materials: BUR systems can be built with various components, such as asphalt, coal tar, or cold-applied adhesives.
  • Excellent waterproofing: The numerous layers provide optimal protection against water infiltration.

Metal Roofing

Metal roofing is a versatile choice for commercial buildings, available in a variety of materials, such as aluminum, steel, and copper. This type of roofing is lightweight, resilient, and often more energy-efficient than other options.

Advantages of metal roofing include:

  • Durability: Metal roofs can withstand harsh weather conditions and typically last 40-60 years.
  • Wide range of styles: Metal roofing is available in various styles, colors, and finishes to suit different building aesthetics.
  • Eco-friendly: Metal roofs are often made from recycled materials and can be easily recycled at the end of their lifecycle.

Modified Bitumen Roofing

Modified bitumen roofing is similar to built-up roofing systems, incorporating five layers of materials, such as fiberglass or polyester reinforcements, and modified bitumen (asphalt mixed with plastic or rubber). This type of roofing is ideal for flat and low-slope roofs.

Key features of modified bitumen roofing are:

  • High tensile strength: Reinforced layers provide increased durability and resistance to wear and tear.
  • Resistance to temperature fluctuations: Modified bitumen materials can better withstand significant temperature changes.
  • Ease of installation: Modified bitumen systems can be applied using various methods, such as torch application, cold adhesive, or self-adhering membranes.

Choosing Materials for Commercial Roofing

When selecting materials for commercial roofing, there are several factors to consider. This section will discuss the importance of weather factors, budget constraints, and repair and maintenance in the decision-making process.

Weather Factors

It is essential to choose materials that can withstand the specific weather conditions in the area where the building is located. Some materials perform better in certain climates, so understanding the local weather patterns and selecting appropriate materials is crucial for a long-lasting roof. For example, metal roofs are highly resistant to extreme temperatures and can endure high winds, making them suitable for storm-prone regions. On the other hand, single-ply roofing materials like TPO (Thermoplastic Polyolefin) and PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) are more flexible and can better withstand temperature fluctuations, making them suitable for areas with varying temperatures.

Repair and Maintenance

Taking into account repair and maintenance requirements is essential when choosing materials for a commercial roofing system. Some materials require more frequent maintenance or specialized tools for repairs, which can lead to higher long-term maintenance costs. For example, while metal roofing is durable and long-lasting, any accidental damage might require more advanced repair techniques. On the other hand, single-ply roofing materials like TPO and PVC are more straightforward to repair, as damaged sections can often be easily replaced or patched. It is vital to weigh the potential maintenance costs alongside the upfront material expenses to make an informed decision on the best solution for your project.

Installation Techniques

In the field of commercial roofing, there are various installation techniques to consider when selecting the ideal roofing system. These techniques work better for specific types of materials and roof designs. This section will briefly discuss three common installation techniques: Mechanically Installed Systems, Fully Adhered Systems, and Ballasted Systems.

Mechanically Installed Systems

Mechanically installed systems refer to the process of attaching membranes or sheets to the building structure using mechanical fasteners. Commonly used for single-ply membrane roofing, this method offers several advantages:

  • Durability: Fasteners provide a tight and secure connection, making the roof stable even under extreme weather conditions.
  • Ease of installation: Mechanically installed systems can be quicker to install compared to other methods.
  • Cost-effective: The use of fasteners generally requires less labor and materials, making it a more affordable option.

It is essential to choose the right type of fasteners for the specific roofing material and building structure to ensure the best results.

Fully Adhered Systems

Fully adhered systems involve bonding the entire roofing membrane to the underlying insulation or deck using adhesives. This method is common for various roofing materials, including EPDM, TPO, and PVC. Some benefits of fully adhered systems include:

  • Wind resistance: By bonding the entire surface, this installation technique offers better resistance against wind uplift.
  • Aesthetics: Fully adhered systems provide a smooth, uniform appearance, which can be visually appealing.
  • Leak detection: Since the membrane is fully adhered, locating leaks can be more manageable compared to other methods.

However, one should be aware of the additional time and labor involved in the application of adhesives.

Ballasted Systems

Ballasted systems rely on heavy materials, such as gravel, pavers, or insulation boards, to hold the roofing membrane in place. This technique is generally employed for EPDM and thermoplastic roofing. The benefits of ballasted systems include:

  • Energy efficiency: The ballast materials provide additional insulation, improving the building’s energy efficiency.
  • Speed of installation: There is no need for fasteners or adhesives, allowing for quicker installation.
  • Fire resistance: The ballasting materials can act as a fire barrier, adding an extra layer of protection.

However, the increased weight of the ballast may require additional structural support, adding to the overall installation cost. Additionally, repairs and maintenance can be more challenging due to the materials covering the membrane.

Each installation technique has its unique advantages and considerations. It is crucial to consult with the best commercial roofing company in Cincinnati to determine the best method for a specific commercial roofing project.

Maintenance of Commercial Roofing

Regular Inspections

Regular inspections are essential for maintaining the longevity and performance of commercial roofs. It’s recommended to have at least two inspections per year, typically in the spring and fall. These inspections should check for signs of damage, such as leaks, ponding water, or corrosion of metal parts. Additionally, it’s crucial to assess and remove any debris or vegetation that may have accumulated on the roof. This will help prevent standing water and additional stress on the roofing materials.

Timely Repairs

Addressing issues promptly is vital to avoid further damage, which could lead to costly and extensive repairs. When damage is identified during inspections, it’s essential to respond quickly by hiring a professional roofing contractor for maintenance or repair work. Timely repairs ensure that small problems do not escalate into significant issues requiring a complete replacement of the roof.

Corrective Measures

Implementing corrective measures is crucial in extending the life of a commercial roof. These can include:

  • Ensuring proper drainage by cleaning gutters and downspouts regularly
  • Installing water-resistant and UV-resistant materials to combat the effects of weather and sunlight
  • Repairing or replacing damaged flashing to prevent water infiltration
  • Applying periodic surface coatings, such as elastomeric or silicone coatings, for added protection
  • Ensuring proper ventilation to maintain balanced air circulation and temperature, reducing the risk of condensation or heat build-up

By taking these maintenance steps, property managers can effectively prolong the life of their commercial roofing systems and reduce overall costs.


In summary, commercial roofing is an essential aspect of any business property, as it provides protection from the elements and ensures the safety of the occupants and contents inside. There are several types of commercial roofing systems available, such as Spray Polyurethane Foam Roofing and various membrane materials. Each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, depending on factors like climate, building structure, and budget.

It is crucial for business owners and facility managers to be well-informed about the different commercial roofing options to make the best choice for their specific needs. This includes considering factors such as performance, lifespan, maintenance requirements, and overall costs. Engaging professional roofing contractors with knowledge and experience in commercial roofing can be invaluable to ensure proper installation and ongoing care.

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