Choosing the Right Commercial Roof Type

February 10, 2022
Choosing the Right Commercial Roof Type

Choosing the Right Commercial Roof Type

Whether your company’s current roof has reached the end of its life or you’re constructing a new building, the type of roofing you choose can have long-term impacts on your business. That’s why it’s important to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of all of the different commercial roof types before making a decision.  

What Are the Different Commercial Roof Types?

There are two main types of commercial roofing, flat and sloped. One is much more common than the other, with distinct advantages for business owners.  

Commercial Flat Roofing

Flat roofing is by far the most common roofing choice for commercial buildings. There are several different types of flat roofing systems, but they are known for being durable and much easier and cheaper to install and maintain compared to sloped roofs. 

The only disadvantage of flat roofing is its poor drainage. No roof is ever completely flat because that setup makes drainage impossible, but even with a slight slope, flat roofs just can’t drain as well as sloped roofs. 

Sloped Commercial Roofing

Sloped roofing is common on residential buildings but pretty rare for commercial buildings. For homes, sloped roofs are used because they look better, but the only real advantage of sloped roofing is better drainage.

On commercial buildings, low sloped roofs are much more common than steep, pitched roofs. However, both styles make maintenance a little more complicated and don’t offer enough benefits to compensate for the differences from a flat roof.  

Which Types of Commercial Roofing Are Best for Your Business?

In general, flat roofing is the best type of roofing for commercial buildings. Flat roofs are cheaper to maintain, easier to install, and can provide discreet storage for HVAC systems.

Even though flat roofs aren’t as good at draining water, they still provide adequate drainage for your business. Overall, the advantages of commercial flat roofing outweigh the advantages of sloped roofing and prove to be a better choice for almost all businesses. 

Commercial Flat Roof Types

Unfortunately, choosing the right commercial roof type isn’t as simple as choosing sloped or flat. There are several different types of commercial flat roofing, each made from different materials. The different types of roofing systems include:

  • Metal roofing
  • Built-up roofing
  • Modified bitumen roofing
  • Membrane roofing

You can learn more about each of the commercial roofing systems, how they’re made, and their unique pros and cons below. 

Metal Roofing

Metal roofing systems are made from sheets of metal and are usually corrugated to add to their durability. Most metal roofs can be made from a wide variety of metals, including steel, aluminum, and copper. A thick, high-quality metal roof can be expensive to purchase and install, but it will be very durable. 

Pros and Cons of Metal Roofing

When installed by a roofing professional, high-quality metal roofing can last over 40 years. Metal roofs are not susceptible to a lot of the things that cause other roofs to deteriorate, like insect and rodent infestations, mildew, and fungus. They are also energy efficient and can help you save on energy costs.

In addition to being expensive, metal roofing can be very noisy, which is a dealbreaker for many business owners. Unlike other roofing types, metal roofs are susceptible to denting. If there are frequent heavy thunderstorms in your area, falling branches or other debris could cause serious damage. Large hail can also dent metal roofs.  

Built-Up Roofing (BUR)

Built-up roofing systems are constructed from alternating layers of asphalt and fiber. The layers are built up for added protection and then topped with some kind of crushed stone.

BUR systems are one of the most common choices for commercial buildings because they are relatively simple to repair and don’t require much more than an annual inspection to maintain. 

Pros and Cons of BUR

Built-up roofing systems are very versatile and can be tailored to suit your needs and preferences. Your contractor can easily add more layers if your building needs added protection from storm damage, and there is a wide variety of materials the roofing can be topped off with.

These roofs are also very durable and can easily last 20 to 30 years with minimal maintenance.

The main disadvantage of built-up roofing is that it can take a long time to install. Additionally, if it isn’t installed correctly, corrective repairs can be expensive. 

Modified Bitumen Roofing

Modified Bitumen, sometimes called rubber roofing, is similar to built-up roofing since it is constructed in layers. In modified bitumen systems, a thick sheet of material constructed from layers of asphalt, polymerized rubber, and fiberglass is applied to create a durable, waterproof seal on your roof. 

Pros and Cons of Modified Bitumen Roofing

Modified bitumen is known for withstanding extreme temperatures and providing superior traction compared to other roofing systems that get slippery when wet. Although these roofs use materials similar to those found in BUR systems, they take a lot less time to install.

The only downside of modified bitumen roofing is that it has a shorter life expectancy than other roofing options, typically only lasting around 10-20 years.

Membrane Roofing Systems

Membrane roofing systems are constructed from a single layer of material, usually some kind of plastic. They are lightweight, easy to install, usually budget-friendly, and create a protective waterproof seal on your roof.

The most common industrial roof types using membranes are thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and ethylene propylene diene methylene (EPDM). 


TPO membranes are growing in popularity due to the fact that they are the most affordable roofing option and they are eco-friendly. All TPO membranes are also very versatile, making them easy to mold to your building’s specific architecture.

However, since TPO membranes are one of the newest roofing innovations, some people question how long they will really last compared to other membranes.  


PVC membranes are a very popular roofing option for commercial buildings. They have stood the test of time and are known to last over 25 years.

The only downside to PVC membranes is that they are usually the most expensive form of membrane roofing. This price is due, in part, to the fact that they are thicker and offer a higher level of protection against punctures. 


EPDM is a thicker, rubber-like membrane that provides a durable, waterproof seal on your building. Its dark black color makes it poor at reflecting sunlight, so it is best suited for colder climates. Like the other membrane materials, EPDM can be stretched to fit the contours of any building.

Unfortunately, EPDM membranes are susceptible to shrinkage in extreme weather, resulting in tears. In order to make this type of roofing last as long as possible, it’s important to keep up with maintenance and make repairs as soon as they’re necessary. 

How to Choose the Best Commercial Roofing Material 

When choosing which material to use for your commercial roofing system, there are a few things to keep in mind. Of course, material and installation costs are a big factor, but you also have to consider the necessary maintenance, the costs of repairs, and the weather in your area.

If you aren’t sure what material is best for your building, it’s always a good idea to get a professional opinion from a trusted contractor in your area. 

Commercial Roof Installation Near You

Whether your current roof is failing and needs to be replaced, or you’re putting the finishing touches on a new building, you can turn to the pros at Four Seasons Kanga Roof.

No matter what type of roofing you land on for your commercial building, we have the team to get the job done. Give us a call today for an estimate on your next roofing project.



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