3 Commercial Roof Types Explained

commercial low-slope roof

Commercial buildings are built differently than the typical residential home, which creates the need for various commercial roof types. Unlike residential houses, commercial roofs are built with differentiating architectural methods. Some feature flat roofs, while others have pitched roofs. The design of the roof will dictate the type of material used.

For this blog, we are strictly limiting the commercial roof types to flat and low-sloped roofs. The materials listed below are usually only used for these roof designs as many pitched roofs use metal, asphalt shingles, or tile. Learn more about the three major commercial roof types below.

Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO)

First used in 1986, thermoplastic polyolefin is a prevalent commercial roof type because of its affordability. TPO has emerged as one of the most common types of roofing material in the commercial sector. The cost-effectiveness of TPO makes it a strong contender for your next commercial roofing project.

Thermoplastic polyolefin is known as a single-ply membrane. Single-ply membranes are sheets of synthetic materials such as rubber capable of being installed in various ways. These membranes may be fastened to the building using chemical adhesion or even hardware. 

TPO is known to save building owners money by reflecting large amounts of ultraviolet light. Since the materials are typically white, it repels more sunlight than dark roofs do. This reduces your building’s energy costs, and you save money in the long run.

The approximate lifespan of a thermoplastic polyolefin roof is 15 to 20 years. However, this life can shorter if it is not maintained. Rips and tears can easily appear in the membrane, which requires immediate repair to prevent severe leaking.

flat commercial roof types

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

Even though it is not as cost-effective as TPO roofing, polyvinyl chloride roofing is significantly effective at resisting flames. PVC is also a single-ply membrane but offers more benefits than the typical TPO roof. Yes, you are spending more on a PVC roof, but it will resist the elements’ wear and tear and fight off potential fires.

The biggest benefit of polyvinyl chloride is fire resistance. This membrane will assist in stopping the fire before it gets out of hand. Other roofing materials such as TPO will continue to burn while PVC fights the flames at the very beginning. If there is ever a fire, the cost of repairs for your membrane will be significantly lower than other commercial roof types.

In addition to fire-resistance, PVC membranes are heat-resistant. It repels ultraviolet light alongside its TPO counterpart while also keeping the air in. PVC sheets are thicker, which allows them to perform some insulation duties as well. You can expect a PVC roof to last about 20 years as long as you maintain it like the TPO roof.

Ethylene Propylene Diene Methylene (EPDM)

EPDM Commercial Roof Types

EPDM is a rubber material that is thicker and darker than the previous two commercial roof types. It has been available to building owners for more than 60 years, which makes it a popular option for many. Since the material is constructed from rubber, it can stretch to almost any type of roof.

Known as a dark roof, EPDM also comes in a white coating. White coatings are recommended for buildings in hotter climates, while the dark coating suits the cooler temperatures. More importantly, EPDM does not have insulation properties, so you choose what type of insulation you want to use for the building.

As for drawbacks, EPDM is capable of shrinking under extreme heat. UV light can easily cause the rubber material to shrink. Subsequently, the seams and adhesives of the roof allow water to enter, and leaks occur.

Compared to the commercial roof types, EPDM has the longest life expectancy, with it being between 20 to 35 years. This is an upgrade from the other types of materials. Plus, EPDM is a cost-effective option for building owners.

Commercial Roof Types For Your Building

Golden City Remodeling works with various building owners and businesses to provide commercial roofing solutions. We only use the best manufacturers for our roofing materials like CertainTeed. GCR can assist you in selecting one of the previously mentioned commercial roof types. From there, we can provide a free estimate and answer questions you may have. Contact us at (310) 361-3271.

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