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When it comes to choosing a roofing system for commercial buildings, there are several options available. The right roofing system for your commercial property depends on various factors, including the building's design, location, and budget.

Here, we will explore the different types of commercial roofing systems, their features, advantages, and applications. Without further ado, here's a breakdown of the different types of commercial roofing systems you should know. Let's dive in!

Built-Up Roofing (BUR)

Built-up roofing (BUR) is one of the construction industry's oldest and most commonly used roofing systems for commercial buildings. It features multiple layers of bitumen (asphalt or coal tar) alternated with reinforcing fabrics, such as fiberglass or polyester. These layers are then topped with a layer of gravel or a reflective coating to provide strength and protection against weather elements.


  • Known for high durability and longevity.
  • Resistant to damage from foot traffic and punctures.
  • Provides excellent waterproofing capabilities.
  • It can be applied over most existing roofs.
  • Relatively low maintenance requirements.


  • It is ideal for buildings with heavy foot traffic, such as shopping centers and warehouses.
  • Suitable for low-slope or flat roofs.
  • Works well in areas with extreme weather conditions.

Single-Ply Membrane Roofing

Single-ply membrane roofing systems are becoming increasingly popular for commercial buildings due to their flexibility and ease of installation. These systems are made from sheets of synthetic materials, such as PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) or TPO (Thermoplastic Olefin), and are sealed at the seams to provide a watertight barrier.


  • They are lightweight and flexible, making them suitable for various roof designs.
  • Quick and easy installation.
  • Highly resistant to UV rays and chemical damage.
  • Excellent energy efficiency as a result of their reflective properties.
  • Low maintenance requirements.


  • Ideal for restaurants, hospitals, and schools.
  • Suitable for both low-slope and steep-slope roofs.
  • Works well in areas prone to high temperatures or chemical exposures.

Metal Roofing

Metal roofing systems have gained popularity recently due to their durability and energy efficiency. There are numerous types of metal roofing materials available, including steel, aluminum, and copper. These roofs are typically constructed with metal panels or shingles installed over a solid substrate.


  • Extremely long-lasting and resistant to fire, rot, and mildew.
  • Offers excellent energy efficiency, helping to reduce heating and cooling costs.
  • Lightweight and easy to install.
  • It can be installed over existing roofs in some cases.
  • Minimal maintenance requirements.


  • Suitable for a broad range of commercial buildings, including offices, retail stores, and industrial facilities.
  • Works well in areas with high winds or snow loads.
  • Adds an aesthetic appeal to contemporary or modern architectural designs.

Modified Bitumen Roofing

Modified bitumen roofing is a roofing system that combines the durability of built-up roofing with the ease of installation of a single-ply membrane. It consists of a reinforced asphalt-based material typically layered with a coarse surface or a reflective coating.


  • Provides excellent waterproofing capabilities.
  • High resistance to UV rays and weathering.
  • It can withstand fluctuating temperatures and climate conditions.
  • Easy and quick installation process.
  • Cost-effective compared to other roofing systems.


  • Suitable for buildings with low-slope or flat roofs.
  • Ideal for schools, government buildings, and multi-family homes.
  • Works well in areas prone to temperature extremes.

Factors When Picking a Commercial Roofing System

Choosing the right roof material for the roofing system of your commercial building is crucial. A well-designed and properly installed roofing system not only protects your building from external elements but also plays a fundamental role in energy efficiency and overall maintenance costs.

With the broad range of options available in the market, it can be difficult to make an informed decision. However, with the tips below, you can easily pick the best commercial roofing system for your property.

Here are the key factors to consider when choosing a commercial roofing system:

Roofing materials

One of the most crucial factors to consider when selecting a commercial roofing system is the type of materials used. Popular options include metal, asphalt, PVC, TPO, EPDM, and built-up roofing (BUR). Each material has pros and cons, and the choice depends on climate, building usage, budget, and aesthetic preferences.

For example, metal roofing systems are durable and long-lasting, making them ideal for buildings in harsh climates. On the other hand, PVC and TPO are lightweight and offer excellent UV resistance.

Durability and lifespan

The durability and lifespan of a commercial roofing system are essential considerations for long-term cost-effectiveness. Factors like weather conditions, foot traffic, and maintenance practices can affect the lifespan of a roof.

It is crucial to choose a roofing system that can withstand the elements specific to your location. For example, if you are in an area prone to strong winds or extreme heat, a durable system like metal or PVC may be a better choice than asphalt shingles.

Energy efficiency

Energy efficiency is fast becoming an increasingly important factor in commercial roofing system selection. A roof with good insulation properties can significantly lower heating and cooling costs, leading to significant long-term savings.

Seek roofing systems with high R-values, which indicate their ability to resist heat flow. Light-colored or reflective roofing materials can also help to lower energy consumption by reflecting sunlight and reducing the cooling load on the building.

Maintenance and repairs

Periodic maintenance is critical to extend the lifespan of any roofing system. However, the level of maintenance required can vary depending on the specific type of roofing system. Some materials, such as metal or PVC, require less maintenance than others.

It is crucial to consider the long-term maintenance requirements and associated costs when selecting a commercial roofing system. Additionally, make sure that the roofing contractor offers reliable repair services and has a good track record of dealing with maintenance issues promptly.

Fire resistance and code compliance

Roofing systems that meet fire-resistant standards are highly recommended for commercial buildings to minimize the risk of property damage and ensure compliance with local building codes.

Some roofing materials, like metal, have high fire resistance, while others may require additional fireproofing treatments. Ensure that the chosen roofing system meets the fire resistance regulations in your area, and consult with local authorities or roofing professionals for specific code requirements.

Warranty and after-sales support

A comprehensive warranty from the manufacturer and the roofing contractor is essential when choosing a commercial roofing system. The length and total coverage of the warranty can vary depending on the material and the specific manufacturer.

Carefully review the warranty terms to determine what is covered and for how long. Additionally, verify the experience and reputation of the roofing contractor and inquire about their after-sales support services.

Selecting the right commercial roofing system requires careful consideration of multiple factors, including roofing materials, durability, energy efficiency, maintenance requirements, fire resistance, and warranty terms.

It is advisable to consult with professional roofing contractors and manufacturers to evaluate these factors thoroughly and choose a roofing system that best suits the specific needs of your commercial building. When done right, a well-chosen roofing system can provide long-lasting protection and contribute to the overall value and efficiency of your commercial property.

Choosing Your Commercial Roofing System

Picking the right roofing system for your commercial building is crucial for its longevity and overall performance. Each type of commercial roof system has its own set of features, advantages, and applications. By considering factors like budget, location, and design needs, you can make a well-thought-out decision that meets your requirements.

Whether built-up roofing, single-ply membrane, metal roofing, or modified bitumen, consulting with a professional roofing contractor will help you identify the best option for your commercial property. Also, professional contractors have extensive knowledge and experience in the roofing industry.

They are familiar with different types of roofing systems, their strengths, weaknesses, and suitability for different commercial buildings. Professional contractors are typically affiliated with multiple manufacturers and suppliers of roofing materials.

This allows them to offer you a wide range of options for your commercial roofing system, including different materials, designs, and colors. They can help you choose the most suitable roofing type that aligns with your aesthetic preferences, budget, and durability requirements.

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