Navigating Business Roofing

In today’s commercial real estate market, the significance of selecting an appropriate roofing system cannot be overstated. Given the array of options available, coupled with the critical factors of durability, energy efficiency, and cost, the decision-making process is more complex and crucial than ever.

Below we aim to provide business owners and property managers with the nuances of commercial roofing, focusing on the interplay between roof types and their suitability for various commercial applications, from professional offices to industrial settings.

Built-Up Roofing (BUR) Membrane: Classic and Cost-Effective

The BUR system, also known as a “hot-mopped roof”, is known for its alternating layers of hot tar and gravel. The number of layers affects durability and (ultimately) cost. This approach offers property owners a nice blend of affordability and flexibility. Its capacity to withstand foot traffic and its UV-resistant properties make it suitable for buildings with heavy rooftop equipment.

Despite its advantages, BUR roofing’s lifespan is one of the shortest around and it can be difficult to identify the source of a leak as the roof ages. That means if you live in a rainy or snowy area, you may want to keep reading, as those challenges can warrant consideration for the long-term viability of the building.

Thermoset EPDM Membrane: Resilient and Low Maintenance

Ethylene Propylene Diene Terpolymer (EPDM) is a roll-based, durable synthetic rubber roofing membrane. Also known as Thermoset roofing because of how its adhesion is activated by heat, an EPDM roof system can come in white or black rolls of single-ply rubber. This makes EPDM systems durable in the face of many common solvents like alcohol, or acids, so for manufacturing settings or sensitive sites, this can be an appealing distinction.

However, its EPDM has significant aesthetic limitations and it has a particularly concerning vulnerability to punctures. If you’re in an area that has a lot of falling debris from tree limbs or branches, that should be weighed against any of its functional benefits.

Thermoplastic PVC & TPO Roof Membrane: High Performance in Adverse Conditions

Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO) and PolyVinyl Chloride (PVC) roofing systems are resistant to adverse conditions. UV light, chemicals including fats and oils, or bacterial growth are all slow to damage these types of roof membranes. They are lightweight, heat-reflective, and puncture-resistant, a welcomed improvement on the EPDM option mentioned above. Other impressive benefits include strong air-welded seams, fire resistance, and tolerance to both high temperatures and high winds.

Unfortunately, you need to beware of cheap, poorly made products. Since TPO has become so popular, many small manufacturers have tried to create their own product lines, allowing quality to slip through the cracks. Be sure to purchase this type of product from a reputable manufacturer or product rep.

Spray-On Roofing: Innovative and Eco-Friendly

Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF) is a material that begins as a liquid spray that instantly expands into a foam, which hardens into a solid layer. This particular eco-friendly roofing is applied on top of an existing roof, and although not well-known, has been around since the early 1960’s.

An SPF roofing system waterproofs and adds an insulating factor. It can be used in any climate and will last up to 50 years with correct installation and maintenance. However, the installation window for this particular roofing type is limited to favorable weather conditions (no snow, no ice, no water), and once installed, SPF roofing should be inspected once or twice a year.

Metal Roofing: The Durable and Versatile Choice

Metal roofing stands out for its exceptional lifespan of 40 to 60 years, making it a prime choice for commercial properties seeking long-term solutions. Its versatility is evident in the variety of materials available, such as corrugated galvanized steel, aluminum, and copper, catering to different aesthetic and functional requirements.

Modern metal roofs incorporate protective coatings to mitigate corrosion, enhancing their sustainability and durability. That’s good because they’re commonly used in areas that get several feet of snow each winter, so they’re constantly being tested. Some systems even come with integrated solar panels or snow removal systems so you can avoid needing commercial ice dam removal services each blizzard.

However, their susceptibility to aesthetic corrosion necessitates careful material selection and regular maintenance, especially in harsh environmental conditions. Pick the material that will respond best to your environment.

Green Roofing: Eco-Friendly and Aesthetic

Green roofs not only enhance a building’s aesthetic appeal but also contribute to environmental sustainability. They offer excellent insulation, reduce urban heat islands, and improve air quality. The initial investment and ongoing maintenance of green roofs are balanced by potential utility savings and government incentives.

However, let’s also be real, their complexity and the need for regular upkeep might be a deterrent for some commercial projects that prefer a much less involved roof. If these gardens are not cared for at regular intervals by a proper caretaker, they can go off the rails rather quickly and become eyesores.

Shingle Roofing: Traditional and Cost-Effective

While more commonly associated with residential properties, shingle roofing can also be applied to commercial buildings with steep rooflines. Its ease of installation and affordability make it an appealing option for smaller commercial properties or those with specific architectural styles. The primary considerations for shingle roofing include its susceptibility to environmental growth and a generally shorter lifespan compared to other commercial roofing types.

Making the Right Choice for Your Commercial Property

When selecting a roofing system for your commercial building, consider not only the initial installation cost but also the long-term maintenance, energy efficiency, and durability. Factors such as visibility, foot traffic, exposure to chemicals, and climate conditions will guide you toward a roofing solution that not only protects your investment but also enhances the value and performance of your commercial property.

Different climates and different types of building usage SHOULD affect your choices.

Each roofing type offers unique benefits and challenges, making it essential to align your choice with the specific needs of your property, including climate exposure, building usage, and aesthetic preferences.

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