The best commercial roof types provide strength, versatility, and long-term reliability. Since so many are on the market, exploring your options can become overwhelming. Here’s some critical information to help you make the right choice for your facility.
What Are the Best Commercial Roofing Systems?
Your building needs the highest-quality roofing system to uphold your standards of safety and professionalism. If you’re in the market for a new and improved commercial roof, the fact that there are many options to choose from can be both good and bad. It’s good to have variety, but with so many choices, making the right selection can seem like a daunting task.
When it comes to commercial roofing types, comparison is key. Weighing the advantages and drawbacks to different roof systems will lead you to the most suitable roof for your facility. The two main kinds of commercial roofing are flat (also known as low slope) and steep slope. Each one is made of both synthetic and natural materials and offers supreme protection from the elements.
Flat Commercial Roofing Materials
Flat commercial roofs are most commonly used for big box retail stores, supermarkets, and hospitals. Building owners can choose from robust plastic membranes, like PVC (polyvinyl chloride), or rubber membranes with extreme flexibility, like EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) or TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin). Before finalizing your decision, learn more about the pros and cons of flat roofing structures.
PVC, TPO, and EPDM are single-ply, low-slope roofing materials. These monolithic sheets cover the entire roof surface, offering outstanding insulation and water resistance. Since they’re not easily damaged by inclement weather conditions, they’re also known for their longevity. Most flat roofs that are adequately maintained last up to 30 years. Several other advantages of flat roofs include:
- Convenience – Flat roofs provide plenty of space for HVAC equipment. Since building owners can put boilers and AC units on their roofs, they don’t have to make room for bulky equipment inside their facility. Plus, installation is straightforward, and these roofs offer easy accessibility during routine inspections and maintenance.
- Cost Effectiveness – Flat roofs are incredibly affordable. Labor costs are minimal thanks to easy installation, and since these roofs are so durable, you save money on repairs.
- Sustainability – In addition to low maintenance and money savings, flat roofing materials have Energy Star Ratings due to their reflectivity. TPO, EPDM, and PVC are all certified cool roofs, meaning they’re proven to reflect more sunlight than they absorb. As a result, they reduce utility costs since their surface doesn’t overheat in the sun, which naturally keeps the building cooler.
Although the good outweighs the bad, it’s still vital to consider the potential challenges regarding flat roofs, including:
- Poor Drainage – Since flat roofs have no slope, it’s harder for water to drain off of them. There are also no gutters or downspouts, which makes matters worse. Flat roofs are susceptible to water pooling on the surface, which can eventually cause leaks.
- Debris Buildup – Sticks, dirt, and leaves accumulate on flat roofs. Property owners must clear the roof off on a regular basis to ensure debris doesn’t rot and ruin the materials.
Steep-Slope Commercial Roofing Materials
Roof pitch refers to the slant or slope of your roof. Therefore, steep slope roofs are high pitched. When choosing commercial roofing materials, consider options such as metal, slate (natural stone derived from the earth), architectural shingles, or tiles made of either synthetics or clay.
Not as many business owners choose steep-slope roofs for their building, but these roofs are still effective. Some of the main advantages of steep-slope commercial roofs are:
- Curb Appeal – There are many materials, colors, and designs for steep-slope roofs. Whether you choose standing seam metal, slate, or clay tiles, your building will look sophisticated and timeless, which also boosts its resale value.
- Versatility – Tiles and architectural shingles are completely customizable, so steep-slope commercial roofs give your building a unique appearance, helping it stand out from the rest.
- Durability – Steep-slope commercial roofs are made from a variety of sturdier materials like slate and metal, offering superior protection.
Steep slopes are some of the best commercial roofing systems, even though they’re most commonly used for residential or multifamily properties. However, they do have a few disadvantages that must be acknowledged, such as:
- High Costs – Since the materials for steep-slope roofs are heavier and more durable, they’re also more expensive. Additionally, steep-slope installation is more intricate than what’s required for flat roofs, so building owners not only pay more for materials, but labor as well.
- Clogged Gutters – Gutters and downspouts help drain water and debris off the building. However, gutter systems may get backed up, disrupting water flow. When the gutters are stuffed with water and debris, the roof becomes vulnerable to water damage that causes leaks and, in severe cases, foundational issues.
How To Decide Which System Is Best for Your Building
Certain factors can help you determine which roofing system is ideal for your building. Not every building has the same requirements, so it’s best to be mindful of a couple things before choosing a roofing system, like:
Weather plays an important role in the health of your roof. If you live in the Midwest, which has a mixture of climates and conditions that fluctuate frequently, a steep-slope roof may be an excellent option for you. The waterproof properties of slate and metal roofs can sustain the ice and snow of the winter as well as the high winds and tornadoes more common in the spring.
The location of your building is critical to your decision as well. A flat roof’s reflectivity and insulation are helpful if your building is exposed to the sun and there aren’t many trees or surrounding buildings to block UV rays.
Kirberg Is Your Go-To Commercial Roofing Contractor
No matter which roofing system you choose, Kirberg specializes in all structures. Whether you’re interested in a single-ply membrane like rubber roofing or another flat option like built-up roofing (BUR), we’ve got exactly what you’re looking for. Our industry knowledge is extensive, and our professionalism is unmatched. We’re looking forward to transforming your building for the better.