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A Comprehensive Guide to Different Types of Commercial Roofs

By : Guillermo Molina Matus

When it comes to commercial buildings, the roof plays a crucial role in protecting the structure, assets, and people within. Selecting the right roofing material is essential for ensuring longevity, energy efficiency, and cost-effectiveness.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into different types of commercial roofs, highlighting their pros and cons. Additionally, we will explore how to identify signs of commercial roof damage and offer essential tips on maintaining your commercial roof.

Types of Commercial Roofs:

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1.Single-Ply Membrane Roofing:

Single-ply membrane roofing is a popular choice for commercial buildings due to its durability and cost-effectiveness. There are two primary types: TPO (Thermoplastic Olefin) and EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer).


  • Lightweight, reducing structural stress.
  • UV-resistant and energy-efficient.
  • Easy to install and repair.
  • Resistant to chemicals and pollutants.


  • Susceptible to punctures and tears.
  • Limited design options.
  • Lifespan varies depending on thickness.
  • May require regular maintenance.
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2. Built-Up Roofing (BUR):

Built-Up Roofing, also known as tar and gravel roofing, consists of multiple layers of bitumen and reinforcing materials, such as fiberglass or felt.


  • Excellent waterproofing properties.
  • Resistant to UV rays.
  • Suitable for heavy foot traffic.
  • Can be cost-effective in the long term.


  • Heavy and may require additional structural support.
  • Installation can be labor-intensive.
  • Maintenance can be challenging.
  • Vulnerable to ponding water.

3. Metal Roofing:

Metal roofing is known for its durability and longevity, making it a popular choice for commercial buildings. Common materials include steel, aluminum, and copper.


  • Exceptional lifespan (50+ years).
  • Highly resistant to weather and fire.
  • Low maintenance requirements.
  • Energy-efficient, reflecting heat.


  • Initial installation cost can be high.
  • Prone to denting in severe hailstorms.
  • Expansion and contraction can cause noise.
  • Limited color options.
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4. Modified Bitumen Roofing:

Modified Bitumen Roofing is a hybrid roofing system that combines the qualities of BUR and single-ply membranes. It is often installed as a multi-layer system.


  • Superior waterproofing abilities.
  • Resistant to temperature extremes.
  • Can handle foot traffic well.
  • Offers flexibility in design.


  • Installation requires skilled labor.
  • Limited lifespan compared to some alternatives.
  • May require maintenance to address seams.
  • Susceptible to punctures.

Signs of Commercial Roof Damage:

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It’s essential to monitor your commercial roof for signs of damage to prevent more extensive issues. Here are some common signs of roof damage to be aware of:

  • Leaks: Water stains on interior ceilings or walls are telltale signs of roof leaks. If left unattended, leaks can cause extensive damage to the building’s structure and contents.
  • Blisters and Bubbles: Blisters and bubbles on the roof’s surface indicate trapped moisture, which can lead to membrane damage and reduced insulation effectiveness.
  • Cracks and Tears: Cracks and tears in roofing materials can allow water to penetrate, leading to leaks and further deterioration.
  • Ponding Water: Ponding water on the roof, especially for extended periods, can cause structural damage and weaken the roofing material’s integrity.
  • Loose or Missing Roofing Materials: Loose or missing shingles, tiles, or panels can expose the underlying roofing structure to the elements, increasing the risk of water infiltration.
  • Roofing Membrane Damage: Visible damage to the roofing membrane, such as punctures, holes, or tears, can compromise the roof’s ability to keep out moisture.

Maintenance Tips for Commercial Roofs:

Regular maintenance is key to extending the lifespan of your commercial roof and preventing costly repairs. Here are some essential tips for maintaining your commercial roof:


Schedule regular roof inspections by qualified professionals to identify and address issues early on.

Clear Debris:

Remove leaves, branches, and debris from the roof regularly to prevent water pooling and damage.

Clean Gutters and Drains:

Ensure that gutters and drainage systems are clear of debris to facilitate proper water runoff.

Repair Sealant and Caulk:

Inspect and repair sealant and caulk around roof penetrations and seams to prevent water infiltration.

Address Ponding Water:

If ponding water is an issue, consider installing tapered insulation or adding drains to improve water flow.

Trim Overhanging Trees:

Trim branches that hang over the roof to prevent damage from falling debris and reduce the risk of algae and moss growth.

HVAC Maintenance:

Regularly inspect and maintain HVAC equipment on the roof to prevent leaks caused by damaged or improperly sealed penetrations.

Snow and Ice Removal:

In regions with heavy snowfall, consider removing excess snow to prevent overloading and ice dams.

Talk With A Professional Roofing Contractor

Selecting the right roofing material for your commercial building is a critical decision that can impact long-term maintenance costs and the overall performance of your roof. Each roofing material has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, making it important to consider factors such as climate, budget, and design preferences when making a choice.

When it comes time to replace your commercial roof, G and Bros Roofing can help! Contact us today to get a quote for your roofing project. 

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