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There are different types of industrial roofs that are widely used on different properties today, and they mainly differ in their styles and the roof materials they are made of. Determining the best option to go for requires that you know the different types and features to look out for.

There are varying factors to consider, and they include ventilation systems, weather conditions, and the building. This article will take you through all you need to know about the different types of industrial roofing or commercial roofing systems. You'll also find the benefits and disadvantages of each commercial roof system.

The most common types of industrial roofs are flat roofs, pitched roofs, and low-sloped roofs. Also, the most common roofing materials used for industrial roofs are EPDM, TPO, PVC, and Metal Retrofit.

Overview Of Commercial Roof Types And Materials

Before we uncover the pros and cons of different commercial roof types and materials, here's an overview of these roof types.

Flat roofs

Flat roofs are more straightforward and quicker to install and are a more cost-effective option. The materials used for flat roofs include modified bitumen, bitumen, TPO, PVC, EPDM, and rubber rolls. With flat roofs, you'll need to always be on the lookout for material degradation and standing water.

Low sloped roofs

Low-sloped roofs offer better runoff because of their slight slope, and this reduces the need for regular roof maintenance calls. Also, low-sloped roofs are generally cheaper and safer than the pitched alternatives. With this option, you'll need to pay attention to heavy snow because it can cause damage.

Pitched roofs

This is the best choice when it comes to snow and water runoff. However, in terms of installation, maintenance, and repair, it is not the best option. This is because of the roof's structure, which makes it more expensive to maintain.

Metal retrofit roofs

These are cost-effective and simple re-roofing options for replacing metal roofing with a membrane system. With this, you can still use your current roof insulation and structure while redesigning it to be more structurally sound and environmentally friendly. This is a fantastic way to increase the lifespan of your roof.

PVC membrane roofs

PVC membrane is a time-tested roofing material and the most popular membrane roofing material that people use today. They are durable, puncture resistant, and fire resistant, unlike other types of membrane available.

TPO membrane roofs

This roofing membrane is primarily light in color, making it great for reflecting heat from buildings. They come in varying colors: gray, tan, and white. Also, a hot-air gun is mainly used for sealing the seams of this type of roofing membrane.

The main benefits of TPO membrane roofs include puncture resistance, wind resistance, fire resistance, high durability, and resistance to chemical exposure. Also, it is worth noting that they are designed to last long and can be used for up to 20 years.

EPDM membrane roofs

This type of membrane roof is a lot darker, which makes it the best option for cooler climates. They offer excellent protection in cold weather conditions and are highly durable. This material has a higher tendency to shrink, especially under harsh temperature conditions.

The main benefits of EPDM membrane roofs are that they offer resistance to fire, cold, UV light, acid, alcohol, and other solvents. This is in addition to their easy maintenance, repair, and installation.

Built-up roofing

This type of roofing is named according to its application and not the material they are made of. For many years now, built-up roofing can be recognized easily from its gravelly appearance. Its application is mainly in multiple layers, and the base of the layer is asphalt or tar, with a layer of gravel.

This is an excellent option for roofs that don't have a slope, and its benefits include low cost, high durability, low maintenance, UV resistance, and waterproof seal.

Modified bitumen

People usually refer to these as BUR roofs because they share similar methods of application. Also, modified bitumen is best when installed on buildings without slopes. However, the layer of the modified bitumen is primarily solid and made from bitumen. They can also be made from solid petroleum mixed with fiberglass.

Modified bitumen is a durable option and ideal for buildings that hold many people on the roof. The key benefits of modified bitumen include the following:

  • Low maintenance
  • High durability
  • Resilience against heavy foot traffic
  • Resistance to extreme weather conditions
  • Resistance to freezing temperatures

Metal roofs

When it comes to industrial roofing, the first thing most people think of is metal roofing. It's a durable option for places with elements that require a good defense. Also, metal roofs are mostly installed on high-pitched roofs.

One of the biggest concerns of these roofing types is that they are prone to dents and rust. However, thanks to technological advancements, metal roofing is now resistant to rust and denting. These roofs are also designed to last many years without rusting.

This type of roof can be installed with a hidden-fastener system or an exposed-fastener system. The most common option is the hidden-fastener system, and this is because it is durable.

In general, metal roofs come in different options. The standard options are stainless steel, tin, copper, aluminum, stone-coated steel, and corrugated galvanized steel. It's worth noting that the level of resistance of each of these metal roofs is different.

The key benefits of metal roofs include wind resistance, versatility, high resistance to fire, high durability, and the ability to hold snow.

Pros And Cons Of Industrial Roofs

Industrial flat roofs

One of the most prevalent roof types that you'll find on industrial and commercial buildings is the flat roof. They have been utilized since the 1920s and have evolved to become a symbol of industrial and commercial commerce. There are many benefits that flat roofing systems offer. Let's look at a few below:

Pros of flat roofs

In terms of cost-effectiveness, commercial flat roofs are more cost-effective because they don't require too many materials. This is because they don't cover so many square feet. Another critical thing to note is that flat roofs are quicker and easier to install, implying more savings for building owners. This also allows for easy roof repair.

There are different roofing materials options, including built-up roofing, modified bitumen, bitumen, TPO, PVC, EPDM, and rubber-rolled roofing. You also have different color choices to make for the roofing membrane, even though most property owners prefer the white option. This is mainly for its ability to reduce energy waste, thanks to its reflective properties.

Another benefit of flat roofs is that they can hold air conditioners. You can easily install satellite dishes and attach solar panels with flat roofs, unlike with pitched roofs. What's more is that drain cleaning and maintenance is also easier on flat roofs, irrespective of weather conditions.

Cons of flat roofs

Poor drainage is the main disadvantage of flat roofs. They are more likely to hold standing water, which causes the roofs to degrade quickly. This is where pitched roofs are better than flat roofs. Another issue is with material breakdown, which only causes the water to leak and damage items in the building.

When installing a flat roof on your industrial property, it's best to have an experienced and professional roofing contractor handle the installation. This also applies to roof repairs as they are trained to ensure that you don't have issues with your roof.

Industrial low-sloped roofs

This type of roof is mostly on apartment buildings, warehouses, factories, and other industrial properties. At first glance, you'll think they are flat, but when you look closely, you'll see that they have a slight pitch.

Pros of low-sloped roofs

Low-sloped roofs allow water to run off easily, which means that you won't need to worry about standing water on your roof. The roof design allows for easy water channeling, primarily through drains, saddles, and valleys. Also, the roof doesn't require many roofing materials because its pitch isn't so high.

The conditions for roofers working on low-sloped roofs are much safer than on high-pitched roofs. Also, it's easier to perform replacement and repair on this type of roofing system. Water problems are not likely to occur with this type of roofing since water flows off easily. Solar panels, satellite dishes, and air conditioners are also easier to install, unlike on high-pitched roofs.

The materials used for low-sloped roofs include modified bitumen, bitumen, TPO, EPDM, and rubber-rolled roofing. It's worth noting that the warranty for modified bitumen is usually longer. This is because of its superior sealing capabilities and thickness.

Cons of low-sloped roofs

Heavy snow adds weight to the roof, and it usually doesn't melt fast. You must adhere to building codes within your region when installing a low-sloped roof on your property.

Industrial pitched roofs

Pitched roofs are mostly seen on residential properties, but it's not a rare sight on industrial properties. Today, you'll find them being used together with low-sloped and flat rooftops on different properties.

Pros of pitched roofs

The main benefit of pitched roofs is that they offer a greater runoff ability for snow and water. Also, it's easier for debris and liquid to run off, thanks to their steep structure. With this, you won't be bothered about water buildup on your roof. In addition, you won't have to worry about regular repair and maintenance with this type of roof.

Cons of pitched roofs

Even though the need for maintenance or repair is reduced, pitched roofs are harder to repair because of their structure. Complex maneuvering and safety procedures all increase the cost of repair, maintenance, and installation of pitched roofs.

Industrial metal retrofit roofing

This cost-effective and simple re-roofing method is used in replacing older metal roofing with durable membranes.

Pros of metal retrofit roofs

The main benefit of retrofit roofing is that it is a cost-effective option for retrofitting your metallic roof. This will help you increase the lifespan of your roof, and it's not as expensive as a roof replacement.

When installing this option, the metal roof helps in providing protection until the work is completed. This protection is vital for inventory and employees and also to ensure that production is not interrupted.

Another fantastic thing is that it's an eco-friendly option because it does not involve capping the materials or damaging the roof. Therefore, it's a great option to help reduce landfill waste. Also, with metal retrofit roofs, you can easily stay environmentally conscious.

Retrofitting your metal roof is also a great way to maximize the current insulation of your roof. This is in addition to the added insulation that the membrane offers. With this, you can save energy costs and keep the temperature regulated on your property.

Cons of metal retrofit roofs

Even though this is a great way to extend the lifespan of your existing roof, there is a high-cost implication of this option.

Industrial PVC membrane

One of the time-tested and most popular roofing membranes you'll find today is polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

Pros of PVC membranes

The most apparent advantage of PVC roofing membranes is their longevity and durability. Also, this material offers fire-resistant properties. PVC membranes and other similar membranes are flame tested and designed to self-extinguish, unlike EPDM and TPO membranes.

The fire-resistant property is a vital feature that every rooftop requires. With PVC membranes, you won't have to bother about fire hazards because the material self-extinguishes. It's worth noting that PVC also offers resistance to moisture, chemicals, wind, and puncture resistance.

PVC membranes are also energy efficient, thanks to their thicker insulation and membrane sheets. This will help you reduce cooling and heating bills, especially if you live in areas with extreme weather conditions.

Cons of PVC membranes

While PVC membranes offer so many benefits, they have a main downside, and this is the high up-front cost. However, you can overlook this, considering the energy efficiency, longevity, warranty, fire resistance, and durability that it offers.

Industrial TPO membrane

Thermoplastic polyolefin, also known as TPO roofing, is a relatively new commercial roofing option. It was initially introduced as a roofing material in 1986 and has gained popularity because it is a more cost-effective and affordable option compared to PVC.

Pros of TPO membranes

TPO is now one of the most widely used single-ply roofing membranes. Most commercial property owners choose this option because of its cheaper up-front cost, unlike other materials available.

TPO shares similar properties with EPDM and PVC roofing, including durability and flexibility. The flexibility of TPO membranes allows them to stretch easily and adapt to any building's setting and movement. TPO membranes are eco-friendly and recyclable, which is why industries widely use them. This type of membrane is an excellent option because it's lightweight. In the same vein, it doesn't put as much stress on buildings as metal roofing does. The color also makes it easy for the membrane to reflect heat. It's worth mentioning that TPO membranes come in blue, red, green, gray, tan, and white colors. Also, their seams are sealed with a hot-air gun.

Cons of TPO membranes

The main disadvantage of TPO membranes is that they don't last as long as the other options available.

Industrial EPDM membrane

EPDM, also known as ethylene propylene diene methylene, is a darker and more durable synthetic rubber that is used chiefly on low-sloped and flat roofs.

Pros of EPDM membranes

Even though most of the EPDM membranes you'll find are black, they are designed with a white coating. This allows them to easily reflect the sun's heat from the rooftop. They are easy to stretch, and they can perfectly fit on any type of roof, thanks to their rubber properties.

EPDM membranes have been around for more than 60 years, and they are excellent when used as industrial roofing materials. Their dark colors make them a great option for cooler climates. Another interesting thing is that they are durable, and they provide excellent protection from cold weather conditions.

Cons of EPDM membranes

If the EPDM membrane is subjected to hot weather, it can shrink, and this can cause it to tear. You don't want this to occur because it will cause water to go under the membrane.

The seam tape and adhesives used on the membranes are also likely to degrade from UV sunlight. If this happens, it can also cause water to flow under the membrane. For the EPDM membranes to last longer, proper installation and regular maintenance are required. This type of membrane doesn't have its own insulation. Therefore, you'll need to choose your own insulation for your property.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are many questions that people ask about industrial roofing, so here are answers to some of these questions:

What are the top materials for commercial roofing?

The most common and best roofing materials for industrial and commercial roofing are EPDM, TPO, metal retrofit, and PVC roofing.

What are the most popular commercial property roofing styles?

Low-sloped, flat roofs, and pitched roofs are the most popular roof types that are used on commercial properties.

What is commercial roofing?

Commercial roofing involves repairing, installing, and maintaining roofing projects for large properties. Industrial and commercial roofing is entirely different from residential roofing. Also, they don't use the same type of roofing systems. There's more at stake when it comes to commercial buildings compared to residential buildings.

Contractors For Commercial Roofing Projects

Unless you are trained to handle a commercial roofing project, you won't be able to work on this type of project yourself. Whether it's a roof installation, repair, or maintenance that you need, the best thing is to leave it for a professional roofing contractor to handle. This is irrespective of the type of commercial roofing project that you have.

Now, even if you have experience with residential roofing, it is not the same as industrial roofing. A lot more materials, labor, and expertise goes into commercial roofing. In most instances, you won't even be allowed to conduct an industrial roofing project without the requisite skills and licenses.

To find the best contractors for commercial roofing, don't hesitate to check different options near you and scan reviews to select the best contractor for your roofing project.

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