Everything to Know About Commercial Roofing Solutions and Maintenance

Juliet D'cruz

Updated on:

If you own your commercial building and need a reroofing, or you’re designing it, you are probably confused over the many different options you have.

Some commercial roof construction types are enduring solutions, used for more than a hundred years. Others are high-tech materials. Which should you use?

When finding out the different types of roofing, you should get in touch with an experienced commercial roofing specialist. They are increasingly using new and emerging technologies specific to your use case.

Need to know more about which solutions may work for you? Keep reading to find out now.

Also, prefer experienced commercial roofing contractors for your commercial roofing maintenance.

Common Commercial Roofing Solutions

As you learn more about commercial roofing solutions that work for you, you’ll likely see many different roofing systems. If you’re reroofing, some buildings really only have one practical solution due to their design, while with others, you have some options.

Some of the most common solutions now are:

  • Metal roofing
  • Modified bitumen roofing
  • Garden or “green” roofing systems
  • Thermoplastic roof membranes (PVC and TPO)
  • Thermoset roof membranes (EPDM)
  • Built-up roofing membrane (BUR)

BUR or Built-up Roofing

Built-up roofing is an old process that goes back more than a hundred years. The name is often shortened to BUR and consists of gravel and tar on several different layers or membranes. It’s an easy style of roof to use to control your costs and reach well-known durability ratings.

You’ll need to check for open joints, blisters, waves, and cracks. Yearly inspections will be mandatory, too. If you keep that schedule and a weather-eye, the roof should last about 100 years.

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Metal Roofing

Metal roofs are quite popular, with the first corrugated iron roof installed on a commercial building going back to 1857 on the U.S. Mint in New Orleans. Since then, the technology has exploded with different designs and materials.

Metal roofing is very popular and has several different styles as subgroups within it. Different metals and different construction styles may work better for your roof. A few of these are corrugated galvanized steel, silicon-coated steel, metal tile sheets, copper, aluminum, stainless steel, stone-coated steel, tin, or lead.

Two of the biggest issues with metal roofing are galvanic effects and corrosion. It also folds and dents, but much less often than in the past. If you’re in an area with a lot of hail and high winds, you can rest easy knowing it’s going to be fine for years.

Thermoset and Thermoplastics

Thermoset roofs (EPDM) work with thermoset plastics. Thermoset plastics are a type of plastic that, once set with heat, can’t get melted down or soften again. If they get too hot, they will only be burned away and can’t get remolded.

The benefit is that they’re very, very durable and have simple installation and maintenance. They last a long time when compared with other commercial roofing types.

On the other hand, thermoplastic roof membranes are lightweight, reflective, and give a lot of resistance to UV light. It’s also self-healing to an extent as the sun heats it. Thermoplastic roofs use thermoplastics like PVC and TPO, which, when they heat up, soften and reflow a little.

That ability to soften and be remolded gives it that limited self-healing quality. That ability, along with occasional detergent and water cleanings and low-pressure power washing, should be all you need.

Garden Roofs

Green roofs are also called garden roofs. They’ve become quite popular lately, but they don’t work for every solution. They help to manage water drainage and insulate well for improved energy efficiency.

On that point, they’re not the best if you want to try using solar PV energy systems, too. BUR, thermoset, and metal roofing may work better for PV systems.

Although it’s almost maintenance-free, you will have to remove weeds and apply fertilizer. It’ll also need regular watering.

Modified Bitumen Roofs

One more system is modified bitumen. Roof fabrics get applied to the roof to carry or hold the bitumen. It’s installed in layers similar to BUR roofs and adhered to the roofing deck.

Maintenance is simple with annual inspections and periodic cleaning. It’s not the cleanest or greenest solution, but it gets the job done. If you’re expecting to use solar PV systems, though, it’s not a good fit.

On the other hand, it’s also a self-healing system, so it works well with foot traffic.

Solar PV System Integration

The best solar PV solutions will be flat roof systems with brackets and frames or frames on a sloped roof.

These are usually ballasted racking or attached racking. You can learn more from energy.gov papers on commercial roofs, along with an FAQ.

You’ll want access to your roof for maintenance and cleaning. Solar PV panels will also shield your roof from UV, hail, debris, and other common sources of damage. With a solar system, you could be increasing the lifespan of your roof, as well as generating your own electricity.

However, you’ll most likely be making penetrations into the roof. You’ll want to keep an eye on each perforation into your roof as the years go on.

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Your Commercial Roofing Solution

Roofs are just as important as your foundations. Without proper design, construction, and maintenance, it’s only a matter of time before it fails.

We’re confident that after considering these common commercial roofing solutions, you’ll be able to talk with your commercial roofing specialist with confidence. With the right choice of roofing material, your commercial building may last for generations.

To keep being confident with business decisions like this and emerging technologies, keep browsing our articles for the latest news and advice! 

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