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Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About Commercial Roofing

Updated: May 19, 2023

Commercial Roofing

A Complete Guide to Commercial Roofing


Ask someone about roof installation, and they’ll tell you about a friend who knows how to install roof shingles or a residential roofing company. Ask that same person what they know about commercial roofing, and you’ll probably get a blank stare.


Sure, a commercial roofing company has the same relative function as a residential roofer. Still, some critical differences exist in the materials and methods used to install and repair commercial roofs. Some roofing companies can handle both kinds of roofing installation, while others focus entirely on one area.


Either way, if you’re looking for a new commercial roof, emergency roof repair, or commercial roof replacement, you need to do your homework and find an experienced and reputable commercial roofing professional to get the job done right.


What Is Commercial Roofing?

While a roof may seem like a roof, there are some significant differences between residential roofing and commercial roofing. Most people are familiar with residential roofs, especially roofs covered in asphalt shingles, slate, or Spanish tiles. These kinds of roofs are practically everywhere.


Commercial roofs are most commonly used on commercial buildings, facilities that house offices, machinery, equipment, and more. Commercial buildings could be anything from a hotel or apartment complex to a large factory or hospital and everything in between.


Commercial roofs typically have a flatter slope than residential roofs. In many cases, a commercial building will use a completely flat roof to help house HVAC or other equipment for the building. Commercial metal roof installation requires skilled practitioners who know how to install metal roofing around air flow systems, smoke stacks, external piping, and other elements that aren’t part of residential roofs.


Types of Commercial Roofing

In the same way that residential roofs come in various styles and capabilities, commercial roofing provides many options to meet the needs of the building or business. Even newer technologies and products offer higher resistance to temperature extremes and help optimize environmental efficiency.


There are various factors to consider when determining which commercial roofing system is best for your business. For example, the type of business can play a significant role in which roof style will meet your needs. Here are some of the most common types of commercial roofs being used today:


Metal Roofing

Metal roofs are one of the most popular options for commercial buildings, and they are also becoming more appealing in the residential market. Metal roofs come in countless shapes, styles, and colors.


You can often choose from various materials, from corrugated steel to metal tile sheets to copper and more. These roofs are durable, long-lasting, and almost entirely fire resistant. Throw in the attractive appearance, and you can see why metal roofs are some of the most requested commercial buildings.


Built-Up/BUR Membrane

The standard tar and gravel system used on many commercial facilities is known as a “built-up” or “BUR” roof. The roof is made up of multiple layers on a low-slope roof system. The various layer of tar and gravel increases the roof’s overall durability while keeping the costs lower than some alternatives.


Modified Bitumen Roofing

“Mod-Bit” roofing is a commercial roofing system that uses reinforced roof fabrics and bitumen in layers. This two-ply system allows for excellent protection and stability.


A mod-bit roof is a perfect option if you anticipate a lot of activity on your roof, like a roof-top patio. This kind of roof is relatively easy to maintain without sacrificing its strength.



Ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) is a single-ply rubber material known for its longevity and easy maintenance. An EPDM roof is relatively straightforward to install and is highly resistant to ultraviolet light. These roofs can also withstand many solvents, acids, and alcohol while offering powerful reflective properties that help reduce your overall cooling expenses.

TPO & PVC Membrane

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) roofs are favorite options for second-generation use. These materials are incredibly lightweight, resistant to UV rays, hard to puncture, reflective, and resistant to bacterial growth. Any business that releases oil from its ventilation system, like a restaurant or hotel, benefits from using a PVC or TPO roof.


Green Roofing System

As more people become more eco-conscious, sustainable green roofing options have risen in popularity. These roofs are made from sustainable materials and help improve the building’s heating and cooling while managing water and draining concerns. In some cases, the roof actually becomes a green space with growing grass or other vegetation.

Liquid Applied Roofing

A liquid-applied roof is created with resin and a reinforcing polyester. The liquid can get into the hardest-to-reach areas of a roof, which makes this kind of roof exceptionally waterproof.


Installing a liquid-applied roof involves spraying or rolling the material onto the building, often in several coats. Because the liquid used doesn’t emit strong or harmful odors, a liquid roof is a great option when a business needs to remain open during construction.



Commercial Roofing Considerations

You have many things to consider with so many different commercial roofing options.


How Long Does a Commercial Roof Last?

While commercial roofs tend to last longer than most residential options, there is still some variability from roof to roof. The location of the business, sun exposure, and weather conditions play a massive role in how long a roof lasts.


For example, a restaurant that discharges oil through the ventilation system or a factory in the middle of harsh weather may have to make repairs more often than other kinds of roofs.


Metal roofs tend to last between 30-45 years, while single-ply membrane roofs (PVC, TPO, and EPDM) have a typical lifespan between 15-30 years. To put that in perspective, a standard residential roof with asphalt shingles is suitable for 10-25 years, on average.


Most commercial roping systems come with at least a ten-year warranty, although the specifics depend on the manufacturer. The manufacturer’s warranty covers any defects in the creation of the roof material. You should get a certificate from the roofing installer.


The contractor who installs your commercial roof should also offer a warranty covering the installation’s quality. There is no industry standard for an installation warranty, but getting one or two years of coverage is common.


How Do I Know If I Need a New Roof?

It’s not always easy to tell when a commercial roof is on its last leg. There are a few things you can look for that will help provide clues about the status of your roof:


Roof leaks: Too much water pressure in a spot with less protection can lead to leaks. Check around any protrusion into the roof, like around vents or pipes, for signs of leaking. If leaks occur when it rains, there might be issues with the flashing around these protrusions.


Ponding water: When there is too much rain, snow melting, or some kind of plumbing leak, there could be more water on your roof than your gutter system can handle. The standing water caused by this roof overflow has nowhere to go and can lead to problems with the roof.


Billowing/sagging: Rain, wind, and roof use can lead to billowing, sometimes called “tenting” or sagging. You’ll notice that parts of the roof are raised (or tented) or are sagging. These roof sections can expose the building to harsh elements without the appropriate action.


Missing pieces: It should go without saying, but if a portion of your roof blows off during a windstorm, it’s safe to assume it needs some attention. Anytime the wood, metal, and underlying materials are exposed, your building is at risk.


Even more obvious signs that a roof needs attention aren’t always easy to see with an untrained eye. It’s worth having a qualified roof inspector check things out after significant storms, towards the manufacturer’s recommended life, or if there is any suspicion that something is wrong. These professionals know exactly what to look for and what it would take to keep your roof intact.


Do I Need To Replace, or Can I Have It Repaired?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple formula to determine if a commercial roof can simply be repaired or if it needs to be replaced entirely. Some issues might seem like they just need a patch when, in fact, the problem goes much deeper. You also have to consider building codes, local regulations, energy requirements, climate concerns, and the building’s use to determine if a roof can be repaired or replaced.


A seasoned roofing professional can inspect the roof for damage and wear to determine if a repair will suffice.


Can I Re-roof, or Does the Old Roof Need To Be Removed First?

It’s sometimes possible to save time and money by simply installing a new commercial roof on top of an existing roof. While this isn’t always possible, it is something worth considering for your roofing project.


If the current roof is unstable, excessively damaged, or waterlogged, it will most likely need to be removed before a new roof can be installed. According to most local laws, a commercial building may not have more than two roofing layers, and adding more weight with an additional layer could place unwanted stress on the building’s structure.


Your preferred roofing professional can help you determine the best course of action.


How Much Will a New Commercial Roof Cost?

Unlike residential buildings with similar needs, commercial buildings come in all shapes and sizes. The price of a new commercial roof depends on several factors:

● Size of the roof

● Condition of the existing roof

● Insulation and membrane types

● Roof access

● Installation methods

● Material and style

● And more


Find Your Personalized Solution With Hibbard Roofing and Construction. Commercial roofing isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation. Choosing the wrong roof could lead to nothing but expensive problems down the road. The best way to get the right roof that fits your budget is to discuss options with a professional roofer.


At Hibbard Roofing and Construction, we have a team of pros who can help you explore your options for commercial roof repair or replacement. We even offer a free inspection and complimentary quote to ensure you have all the information needed to make a great decision.


Don’t put your business or building at risk. Give us a call at (337)366-0814 or leave your info here to get your free consultation today.


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