Your Guide to the Best Flat Roofing Materials for Commercial Roofing

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According to industry reports, commercial roofing has received immense growth over the last few years. This demand can be attributed to a wave of new building construction happening throughout the country and an increase in the need to use storm-resistant products.

Statistics show that by 2021, the demand for roofing will have reached $19.9 billion, which is an equivalent compound annual growth rate of 4.9%.

Types of Commercial Flat Roofing Materials to Consider

Flat roofing systems are mostly preferred for commercial buildings since they offer extra space for equipment such as HVAC. Also, they’re less expensive, and you can use the extra space as a place to hold meetings.

If you’re replacing your business’ flat roof, you need to ensure you get the best roof. Here are the best flat roof materials used in commercial roofing.

Commercial flat roofing systems are categorized into three;

  • Synthetic roofing membranes/single ply roofing
  • Spray-on/paint on roofs
  • Traditional membranes/ Built-up Roofs

Synthetic Roofing Membranes

Flat roofing materials under this category are all priced competitively with pros and cons as discussed below.

Thermoplastic Olefin (TPO)

TPO combines EPDM and PVC membranes making it a popular choice for flat roofing material for commercial use. Under proper maintenance, a roof made of this material can last for 20-30 years. 

Pros
  • Available in white and grey colors which efficiently reflect UV  light
  • It has airtight seals that prevent the accumulation of moisture internally
  • Heat welded seams -vs- glues and tapes
Cons
  • It comes with various levels of thickness, and you can easily assume thickness level stands for durability
  • TPO is relatively new in the market and, hence, still under improvements
  • It has a lot of seams which result in shrinking and cracking over time making these materials susceptible to leaks

Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM)

EPDM is a product of materials such as sawdust, wheel rubber, and slate dust. The manufacturing process and the materials used make this roofing system affordable yet durable.

With consistent and efficient maintenance, EPDM can offer the same service as TPO and PVC roofing materials and last for 20-30 years.

Pros
  • Easy to install when done by a licensed roofing contractor
  • It’s recyclable
  • Easy to repair
  • Most affordable and long-lasting synthetic roofing material
Cons
  • Available in dark colors which attract UV rays causing shrinkage, hence, making the roof susceptible to hailstorm
  • Dark colors absorb heat, hence, decreasing the roofs’ level of energy efficiency
  • Membranes tear easily as the materials near the end of the lifespan
  • Formation of air bubbles during installation makes it hard to DIY

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

PVC is the most durable commercial flat roofing material under synthetic membranes category, and has a lifespan of 20-30 years. 

Pros
  • Highly resistant to harsh weather elements, fire, and common chemicals
  • Can be installed on top of an existing roof, hence, cutting the cost of old roof uninstallation
  • Available in reflective material making it energy efficient
  • Fire Resistant & It’s recyclable
Cons
  • Can’t be used with asphalt making it unsuitable for some commercial applications

Paint-on Roofs

These are further categorized into;

  • Spray foam insulation
  • Roof coatings

Spray foam insulations are directly sprayed onto the roof deck and then enhanced with a coating of acrylic or urethane and a layer of crushed stones. Roof coatings, on the other hand, are made for existing single ply roofs to help increase their lifespan by 10-15 years. They’re available at an average price of $4.5-$7 per square feet.

Pros
  • They are compatible with different sizes of roofs and shapes including irregular ones
  • You can have them installed on top of an existing roof, hence, cutting the cost of old roof uninstallation
Cons
  • Installation of this commercial roof system is complicated and requires technical knowledge
  • They’re very expensive
  • They emit toxic fumes during installation
  • Slight installation mistakes can result in failure of the roofing system
  • Can only be installed during mild temperatures and humidity levels

Built-Up Roofs

Built-up roofs are made of layers of either liquid tar with gravel or tar saturated paper. These types of commercial roofing systems are installed in multi-layers, and their lifespan and installation cost depends on the number of layers used.

Pros
  • They’re energy efficient due to their ability to protect against UV rays
  • They require low maintenance, hence, cost-effective
  • They are fire resistant since they have an aggregate top layer
Cons
  • This commercial flat roofing system is more susceptible to water and wind damage than other flat roofs
  • It uses hazardous material and produces toxic fumes during installation
  • It’s only suitable for use in warm climate areas

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Flat Commercial Roofing Material

With so many flat roofing materials available in the market, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. To help you make the right choice, compare the following features before deciding which flat roofing material to use.

  • Longevity– flat roofing materials differ in lifespans; it’s up to you to ensure that you choose a roofing material that meets your goals
  • Energy efficiency– choosing a roofing material that reflects the sunlight away from your home decreases the use of your utility system and, hence, reduced utility bills
  • Weight of the material– it’s important to consider the effect the weight of the roofing material will have on the building
  • Overall cost– you need to first determine how much you want to spend to help compare roofing materials in your price range

Make Use of Professional Expertise for Commercial Roof Installation

Now that you know different commercial roofing materials, you can use make sure you choose the one that matches your needs.

Also, make sure that you hire a professional contractor to do the installation on your behalf. We are made of a team of licensed contractors, and we bring on board over three decades of experience. If you require any roofing installation assistance, feel free to request a quote.  

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