What Is the Difference Between Residential and Commercial Roofing?

November 15, 2021

What Is the Difference Between Residential and Commercial Roofing?

Did you know that more than 80% of homes in the United States have asphalt shingle roofs? Yet, if you’ve ever looked out a plane window during landing or takeoff, you may have noticed commercial roofing doesn’t tend to look anything like residential roofing. 

So what is commercial roofing made of? It depends on many factors, and the differences between residential and commercial roofing don’t end with the building materials. Because residential roofing is for homes and commercial roofing is for businesses, their designs, installation, and maintenance differ significantly. 

Do you want to learn more about these different roof types and discover what roofing options are best for your situation? Keep reading to feel like a roofing expert!

Residential vs. Commercial Roofing

So, what is the difference between residential and commercial roofing?

Understanding the difference between residential and commercial roofing may help you in the future, either when buying a home or considering investing in a commercial space for sale or lease. 

Also, some roofing companies strictly deal with either residential or commercial roofing, while other companies, like Four Seasons Kanga Roof, can install and maintain all roof types. For us, it’s not a question of residential vs. commercial roofing — we do it all!

It’s also important to note that there are different types of commercial roofs and residential roofs, even if most residential roofs use asphalt shingles. Let’s look at how residential and commercial roofs’ materials, design, installation, and maintenance vary.


Other than shingles, a roof can use many different materials in its construction. For instance, other common choices for residential roofing materials include wood shakes, metal, ceramic, tile, and slate. 

Asphalt shingles are popular because they are usually the most cost-effective option and hold up well in most weather conditions. They are also easy to install and can last for a decent amount of time when well-maintained. 

On the other hand, commercial roofing materials rarely include asphalt shingles. This difference is because most commercial roofs are flat or only gently sloped, so asphalt shingles don’t offer the same level of protection and ease of installation. Instead, most commercial roofs use at least one of the following materials:

  • Modified bitumen
  • Single-ply coverings like PVC, TPO, or EPDM
  • Sprayed polyurethane foam
  • Tar and gravel

Which material or combination of materials to use for a commercial roof is best decided by professional roofers who have roofing knowledge and experience. 


If you read through the list of commercial roofing materials above and couldn’t picture any of them in your mind as easily as asphalt shingles, you’re not alone. That’s because most people don’t see the tops of commercial buildings — they are flat. 

Unless you intentionally climb up onto the roof of a mall, restaurant, office, factory, or other commercial building, you’re not likely to see how different it is from the roof of your house.

The primarily flat design of commercial roofs occurs for several reasons. Commercial buildings are usually quite large, so their structural design has to accommodate the space. Also, commercial buildings require a lot more equipment, some of which goes up on the roof. 

For example, you can frequently find industrial piping, HVAC blowers, water tanks, smokestacks, and solar panels on commercial rooftops. 

Of course, more residential roofs are taking on solar panels as well, but other than that and the occasional skylight or chimney, a residential roof doesn’t need to accommodate for much. Plus, residential roofs are small compared to commercial ones and usually have some sort of slope to enhance a home’s architectural appeal. 

Installation and Cost

When you consider that commercial roofs are much larger than residential roofs and have more added equipment to consider, it makes sense that a commercial roof’s installation and the overall cost will be higher. 

That’s another reason why commercial roofs tend to use different materials — the more you need of a certain material, the more cost-effective you want it to be. 

A residential roof usually consists of three layers: the roof deck, protective underlayment, shingles, or other chosen material. On the other hand, a commercial roof frequently has many additional layers to install, including: 

  • Insulation
  • Decking
  • A protective coating
  • A reflecting coating

Including these extra layers in a commercial setting makes the average cost of a new roof much higher. In addition to the sheer size of the building’s rooftop, commercial roofing involves more specialized labor, specific equipment, and additional safety measures that wouldn’t be needed for a residential installation.

To top everything off, the installation process from start to finish for commercial roofing could take up to a month, whereas we can complete most residential roofing projects in a couple of days or less. Add it all up, and the installation process for a commercial roof is drastically different from a residential installation.


Once a new roof gets installed, the hope is that it won’t need much maintenance for a while, regardless of if it’s on a commercial or residential structure. Unfortunately, a time will come when repairs are necessary. 

A leaking roof can happen to any structure, but this issue will probably be much more involved on a commercial roof than a residential one. 

Since more residential roofs are made from shingles, leaks are frequently small and easy to patch up. If a leak occurs on a commercial roof, it means the water has penetrated multiple layers and is likely more widespread. 

Maintenance needs are also easier to notice on residential roofs because of their slope and proximity to the rest of the house. A commercial roof could be having an issue for months or even years without being noticed because no one has been up on the roof to see it, or the ceiling is so high indoors that the problem wasn’t visible. 

No matter which roof type you’re working with, the best way to avoid costly repairs or replacements is by getting annual or even bi-annual roof inspections. 

A qualified roofing company can come and inspect your roof and prevent the need for repairs, or at least ensure any minor issues don’t become major money pits. You should check commercial roofs more regularly and more thoroughly due to their size and complexity. 

Count on Four Seasons Kanga Roof for Your Residential and Commercial Roofing Needs

Is your home’s roof overdue for a replacement? Or perhaps you own a commercial building, and your tenants recently notified you of a leak? Maybe you’re looking into investing in residential or commercial property and want the roof professionally inspected before you proceed with the contract.

No matter what your roofing needs may be, Four Seasons Kanga Roof is here to help. We offer residential and commercial roofing services in Sterling Heights and Macomb, Oakland, St. Clair, and Wayne Counties. 

With over 15 years in the business and even more experience than that under our belts, we can provide your home or business with reliable roofing installation, maintenance, and repairs. We take pride in our work because we take pride in our community. Our roofers are well-trained and certified so that their safety and your satisfaction are always at the forefront. We’ll always answer the phone, show up on time, guarantee our work, and offer you the most affordable prices around for your residential or commercial roofing. 

So don’t waste any time searching for “best roofing company near me,” or “best roofers near me,” because you’ve already found us — Four Seasons Kanga Roof — we hop to it the right way, the first time, every time!



Call our team today to learn more about current specials for your roof.