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What You Need To Know About Types of Commercial Roofing Materials

Updated: Aug 21, 2023

types of commercial roofing

Commercial roofing systems are different from residential ones due to large buildings' specialized needs. In Northern Arizona, where extreme weather can pose significant threats, choosing the appropriate types of commercial roofing is paramount in protecting your property long-term.

Let's examine the different kinds of commercial roofing materials currently available and their respective benefits.

6 Types of Commercial Roofing Systems and Their Benefits

These are the six most common types of roofing materials available for commercial buildings:

1. Single Ply Roofing System

When it comes to commercial roofing, single-ply commercial roofing system has emerged as a top choice for flexibility, durability, and energy efficiency. They consist of flexible and robust materials like EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer), PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride), and TPO (Thermoplastic Polyolefin).

These materials are installed in a single layer, making the installation process quicker and more straightforward.

Single Ply Roofing System

Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO)

TPO roofing is one of North America's most popular commercial roofing types. It is a single-ply membrane composed of ethylene-propylene or polypropylene rubber, polymerized for added durability. TPO can be ballasted, adhered to, or mechanically attached depending on its intended use.

Advantages of TPO Membranes:
  • Cost-Effective: TPO is often chosen for its cost-cutting advantages over alternative materials.

  • Energy Efficiency: TPO’s light color reduces cooling costs by reflecting heat and creating a more energy-efficient building.

  • Durability and Flexibility: TPO's resilience suits diverse roof designs and movements during installation.

  • Environmentally Friendly: TPO is 100% recyclable, making it eco-friendly.

Cost: $4 to $10 per square foot installed, according to HomeGuide

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) is another popular commercial roofing material. It is composed of a polyester scrim sandwiched between two layers of PVC, with additives added to make it UV-resistant.

Advantages of PVC Roofing:
  • Fire Resistance: PVC roofs are self-extinguishing, making them a safer option in case of fires.

  • Moisture and Chemical Resistance: PVC is highly resistant to moisture, wind, and chemicals, making it durable enough to withstand even extreme weather conditions.

  • Energy Efficiency: The light-colored membrane and thicker insulation in PVC roofing contribute to energy efficiency and reduced heating and cooling costs.

  • Longevity: PVC roofing can last decades with proper care and maintenance.

Cost: $5 to $12 per square foot installed

Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM) Roofing Material

EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) roofs are known for their duraility, weather resistance, and cost-effectiveness. It is made of synthetic rubber that comes from natural oil and gas.

Advantages of EPDM Roofing Membrane:
  • Durability: With proper installation and care, EPDM roofing can last for over 20 years, providing a tremendous return on investment.

  • Cool Climate Suitability: EPDM's darker color is useful in cooler locations since it absorbs sunlight, contributing to energy efficiency during colder months.

  • Cost-Effective: EPDM is a relatively inexpensive material. It is the most affordable option for commercial flat roofs and low-pitched roofs.

  • Customizable Insulation: EPDM does not include insulation, so building owners have a variety of insulation alternatives to fulfill their energy efficiency requirements.

Cost: $3.50 to $10 per square foot

2. Modified Bitumen Roof Systems

Modified bitumen roofs combine asphalt and chemical polymers for temperature resistance and flexibility, making them suitable for commercial roofs that must withstand harsh weather conditions.

Advantages of Modified Bitumen Roofing:

  • Resilience: Modified bitumen roofs are resilient against hailstorms, fire, and wind, thanks to their multiple layers and secure bond.

  • Versatility: They can be installed in a variety of ways.

Cost: $2.50 to $4.00 per square foot, according to CostOwl

Modified Bitumen Roof

3. Built-Up Roofing System (BUR)

Built-up roofing is one of the oldest commercial roof systems. It involves layering asphalt or tar with supporting fabrics, creating a waterproof, long-term, and durable roofing surface.

Advantages of Built-Up Roofing Membrane:

  • Longevity: With proper installation and maintenance, BUR has been shown to last as long as 40 years!

  • Seamless and waterproof: The seamless solid surface eliminates vulnerable areas for leaks.

Cost: $4 to $5.5 per square foot average cost total

4. Metal Roofing

Metal Roof

Metal roofing is highly valued for its durability, longevity, and aesthetic qualities. It is popular on low and steep commercial roofs alike.

Advantages of Metal Roofing Systems:

  • Durability: Metal roofs are durable and can last up to 70 years with minimal maintenance.

  • Weather Resistance: They are highly resistant to wind, fire, and water.

  • Energy Efficiency: Metal roofs are energy efficient, as they reflect heat and reduce cooling costs in warm climates.

Cost: $150-$600 or more per 100 square feet

5. Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF) Roofing

SPF Roof

SPF roofing offers an environmentally-friendly solution for commercial buildings. It is sprayed on as a liquid, which expands and forms a solid roof layer.

Advantages of SPF Roofing:

  • Energy Efficiency: SPF is an energy-efficient barrier that provides thermal, air, and moisture barriers.

  • Durability: The foam material expands and contracts with the building, reducing the chance of cracks and splitting.

  • Renewable: They can be recoated or renewed once their warranty has expired, which reduces waste.

Cost: $6 and $12 per square foot (depends on several factors, such as manufacturer material costs, R-value desired, the amount of wet insulation that needs to be removed, warranty, and installation complexities)

6. Shingle Roofing

Shingle Roof

Advantages of Shingle Roofing:

  • Design Variety: Shingles are available in many colors and styles.

  • Durability: Certain types of shingles can withstand hail and other impacts.

  • Easy Repair: Damaged roof shingles can be easily identified and repaired.

Cost: asphalt shingles come in around $2 to $6 per square foot

Talk to Your Local Commercial Roofing Contractor

Choose the appropriate commercial roofing material to protect and ensure the longevity of your property and maximize its protection. Take into account factors like climate, budget, and durability when making this important decision.

Consult a roofing expert in Northern Arizona to help determine which option will provide optimal solutions for your commercial building. Contact our expert team at Northline Roofing now to discuss your commercial roofing project!

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