Making sure your commercial building is safe on the outside means you can focus on what’s happening on the inside.
Commercial roofing applies to many different industries. Businesses, restaurants, schools, hospitals, and government buildings all require unique planning, specialized installation, and specific application.
Commercial buildings in Louisville, KY have a myriad of options to choose from depending on the size of the building, the climate, company preference, budget, and needs.
What is a Commercial Roof?
Commercial roofs are those that you see on business buildings. Most people think residential and commercial roofing systems are the same. But, comparing commercial roofing to residential roofing is like comparing a convertible to a semi-truck.
Commercial roofing materials require different applications, maintenance and management that are specific to the building and the business.
One of the biggest differences between commercial roofing and residential roofing is the materials available and the method of installation.
Types of Commercial Roofs
If you’re constructing a new commercial building, the roofline can make a big difference in how your building functions. There are three main types of commercial roofing systems: commercial flat roofing, low-sloped, and pitched roofs.
- Flat Roofs –This is one of the most common types of roofs in the commercial roofing industry. They are installed quickly and use fewer materials than some other shapes. Because they are one of the most budget-friendly roofs, they are commonly used for big, box stores, warehouses, and shopping centers.
- Low-Sloped –A low-slope roof is somewhere in between flat roofs and a steep pitch roof. They are likely to be found on apartments and industrial buildings that appear flat, but they have a soft slope to them. Their slope makes them unique and sometimes requires strict building codes which must be adhered to.
- Pitched –A pitched roof is similar to a residential roof but creates beautiful commercial roofing systems. A pitched roof provides a more elegant look than flat roofs or low-slopes. Pitched roofs are less common in commercial buildings simply because they are more expensive, but they are still used in many areas.
Common Types of Commercial Roof Materials
Once you know what type of roof your building has you can choose the roofing material that best suits your business, needs, and budget.
1. Spray Polyurethane Foam –This is a material that is sprayed onto the roof as a liquid and then expands to create a solid layer across the roof. Because there are no joints or seams, this method of commercial roofing is extremely durable and can last for over 50 years in any climate.
2. Single-Ply Membrane –Single-ply roofing is a sheet of rubber or other synthetic material that is either fastened or chemically adhered to the roof of the commercial building. This is one of the most commonly used materials in commercial roofing systems because of its stellar track record.
3. Shingles – Shingle can also be used in commercial roofing. Typically, shingle roofing is used only for pitched roofs, as it is not designed for flat-roof applications. Shingle roofing will typically last 20-30 years but can be prone to damage due to age or strong storms.
4. Built-Up Roofing (BUR) –These roofs are commonly referred to as “tar-and-gravel roofs.” Built-up roofing (BUR) uses a combination of bitumen and reinforced fabric to create layers of membrane.
BUR is a flexible option because you can decide how many layers you’d like to apply based on budget and desired strength. It’s one of the oldest commercial roofing systems still in use today because it’s both cost-effective and durable.
5. Metal – Metal roofing systems are surging in popularity for both residential and commercial roofing. Within the family of metal roofing, there are many varieties of materials and styles. including stainless steel, metal tiles, copper, aluminum, tin, etc.
When a metal roof is used, a protective sealant layer is added to prevent rusting and sunlight damage. Metal roofing is beautiful to look at, but it also packs significant strong fire-resistant ratings and sustainability design, which makes it a strong and safe option for commercial buildings in Louisville, KY.
To learn more, check out our blog post on metal roofing.
6. Green – A green roof in commercial roofing is partially or completely covered with vegetation. They are also known as “living roofs.”
Green roofs are the most versatile and by far the most sustainable. The initial costs of green roofs are expensive, but the long-term maintenance can be drastically lower than other commercial options.
7. Thermoset Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM) Membrane – Constructed from a single-ply rubber material, EPDM is known for its performance and longevity. It is a popular option because of its design versatility, strong resistance to ultraviolet light and ozone, and simple installation.
The material is tough, durable, waterproof, maintenance-free, and has reflective properties to help lower cooling costs in the summer months. It’s one of the best commercial roofing materials.
8. Thermoplastic Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) & Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO) Membrane – This is a lightweight, reflective material that is great for weather resistance. These roofs are one of the fastest-growing commercial roofing materials because of their performance and installation advantages.
They are popular for restaurants and other industrial buildings that may emit oils and/or fats because they are resistant to UV chemicals, bacteria growth, punctures, tears, and UV light.
Common Signs Your Commercial Roof Needs to Be Repaired
As a building owner – a tiny problem in one seam of your roof hardly seems like a priority. Tiny issues that seem insignificant often go unnoticed.
However, we often see seemingly small problems that cause major issues in commercial roofing systems. When you notice any of these signs, your commercial roofing needs an inspection as soon as possible.
- Moisture Problems – If your building feels more muggy than usual, that’s not a good sign. Moisture can infiltrate the building and cause water stains on ceilings and walls. This is a problem that should be remedied before it gets worse.
- Climbing Energy Bills – Your commercial roofing provides insulation for your building to help maintain comfortable temperatures inside. If your energy bills are increasing, it could be because there’s a problem with your roofing that is causing your HVAC to work overtime.
- Bubbles – Bubbles in the roof typically mean that there is moisture underneath the commercial roofing material. When these bubbles burst, you’re left with an air pocket that can allow water to seep back in.
- Sagging – Low spots or sagging in the roof often indicate a structural problem below the surface. This should be inspected by a roofing contractor immediately.
- Open Seams – Seams are the most vulnerable part of your commercial roofing systems. Anywhere you have a seam, it’s a spot for water to leak in.
- Clogged Drains – Clogged rooftop drains allow water to begin ponding and are both major signs that you need a commercial roof repair.
- Flimsy Flashing – The flashing around the chimney or at roof piercings are vulnerable areas that can be dislodged or lifted during storms. If you see gaps in the flashing, it’s time to repair your commercial roofing.
- Punctures – Punctures can be caused by falling debris, strong storms, or aging. Anytime you have a hole in the material, even a small one, it should be inspected before it gets worse.
- Ponding – Stagnant ponds of water on the roof can cause problems with both structure deterioration and roof damage. Your roof should drain properly and eliminate standing water. If this is not happening, you need commercial roofing services.
- Broken Fasteners – Fasteners are a major cause of roof leaks. When your fastener is broken or loose, you have an open hole in the roof decking. Luckily, these are usually a quick fix, and you can continue to use your existing commercial roof.
7 Signs Your Commercial Roof Needs to be Replaced
Most of the damage on the roof can be repaired but if you notice a consistent repair on your commercial roofing system, you might want to calculate the cost.
Ask yourself, is it worth repairing the damage or replacing the roof altogether? Sometimes commercial roofing replacement is a better option than repair.
Consider these factors when weighing your options for a commercial roof repair or roof replacement:
1. Damaged Membrane – After about 15 to 30 years, the roof membrane will get damaged due to age, winds, or storms. When this happens, you need to replace it instead of repairing it. Left unattended, water will eventually seep into the roof and the attic itself.
2. Old Decking – Continuous moisture is usually the reason the roof deck gets damaged. The problem is not always easy to spot in the beginning and often goes unnoticed. However, when you begin to see wear and tear on your roof deck, it’s time for a replacement of both the roof deck and the membrane.
3. Poorly Insulated – The quality of your insulation is typically evidenced in your heating and cooling bills. If they stay steady, your building insulation is doing its job. When they begin to rise significantly, your property isn’t being insulated. The first place to check is the roof, where warm or cool air can quickly escape if it is aging or damaged.
5. Aging – The lifespan of commercial roofing is generally about 25 years – 50 years, depending on the type of material used. If you are past your warranty date, and the roof is nearing the end of its life, it’s time to consider a roof replacement.
6. Broken Shingles – If you have a shingle roof, any sign of splitting, cracked, broken, or buckling shingles are clear indications that a roof replacement is needed.
7. Blistering – Water trapped in the insulation will create blisters that slowly eat up the inside of your roof. Any sign of blistering is cause to call for a commercial roofing inspection.
Should You Repair or Replace Your Commercial Roof?
If you have significant repairs, it’s always worth it to compare the costs of a full installation rather than making costly repairs to an old roof.
The best way to do that is to ask a professional roofing contractor for a full inspection. This service allows you to truly understand any immediate, or secondary issues with your current roof and plan for repairs or replacement.
Typically, if you have repairs that cost more than 50% of the price of a new roof, it’s worth it to plan for new commercial roofing rather than repair the one you have.
Benefits of Installing a New Commercial Roof
Installing a new commercial roof can be daunting. However, it’s an investment that will always pay off in the long run.
Let’s look at how new installations add value to your commercial property:
- Safety – An unsafe roof is a lawsuit waiting to happen. When you invest in commercial roofing you protect yourself from any liabilities while taking advantage of new materials and innovative construction techniques to keep your people and your building safe.
- Storm Resistance – New materials and installation techniques in the market today make commercial roofing more storm-resistant than ever. When you invest in a new commercial roof, it will likely last longer than the roof you had before.
- New Depreciation Rules – Depreciation for commercial roofing may now be immediately expensed on tax forms up to $1,000,000 making your new roof a significant tax deduction.
- Energy Efficiency – New materials will provide significantly increased energy efficiency. This means you’ll see a drop in your HVAC utility bills and more comfortable temperatures inside the building.
Roof Inspection Checklist for Commercial Buildings
Anytime you think there is a problem with your commercial roofing, it’s always a good idea to call for an inspection.
Any inspection should include the following areas:
- Inspect for Ponding Water – Evidence of ponding may include slow draining lines, color changes, stains, or areas that are blocked.
- Look at the Flashing – Check the stacks, walls, and curbs for cracks or crevices that may allow water to seep in.
- Check for Any Cracks or Tears – Signs of cuts or tears on commercial roofing systems should be inspected before they cause further damage.
- Inspect Terminations in Parapet Walls – Terminations should be properly sealed and checked for any sign of failure or cracking.
- Check the Edge Detail – The edges often get the most wear, so they should be secured tightly and sealed properly.
- Inspect Surfaces – The surface of commercial roofing should be inspected for shifting, expanding, or lifting due to wind or storm damage.
- Check the Gutters – Gutters should be clear of debris or buildup and allow water to flow freely.
- Look at Your Downspouts – On the ground, downspouts should be working properly and not damaged or crushed.
How Much Does It Cost To Replace a Commercial Roof?
The roof is typically one of the most expensive elements of a commercial building.
The cost is 40% materials and 60% labor. The labor market is usually determined by your geographic location. The cost of materials varies between different material types.
Here is the average cost for a commercial roofing replacement per square foot:
- Spray Polyurethane Foam – $1.65 – $2.25
- Single-Ply Membrane – $3.50 and $7.50
- BUR – $2.50 to $4.00
- Metal – $5 to $14.00
- Green – $10 to $25
- EPDM Membrane – $3.25 and $14.75
- PVC Membrane – $6.50 to $8.00
- TPO Membrane – $3.50 to $14.00
6 Factors That Determine the Cost of Commercial Roofs
There are several factors that contribute to the cost of your commercial roofing repair or replacement. This is why web estimates or calculators are unreliable.
Here are six main factors that all contribute to your estimate:
1. Location – Geographic location may be the largest determining factor in your estimate. Different areas of the country have different costs for both labor and materials. Additionally, if your building is particularly difficult to access, it can add to the costs of your estimate.
2. Building Use – A restaurant has different needs than a warehouse. The building’s use determines the materials, equipment, and structural needs of commercial roofing. Buildings that are temperature controlled or intended to serve the public are typically more expensive than warehouse facilities.
3. Building Codes – Energy, environmental, and handicap accessibility building codes can add to the cost of commercial roofing. Because building codes and local ordinances are constantly changing, a new one may sometimes mean additional renovation to meet current applicable codes.
4. Historic District Compliance – If your building is sited in a historic district, you may have additional requirements and regulatory approvals.
5. Large Team Required – If your commercial roofing project requires additional professionals (i.e., a structural engineer or construction professionals), the cost will likely be higher.
6. Current Market Factors – The cost of labor and materials are constantly changing, sometimes even on a weekly or daily basis. The cost of your project can change drastically depending on the timeline.
How to Control the Cost of a Roof Replacement
While some of the costs for commercial roof replacement are out of your control, there are other factors you can adjust.
- Plan Ahead – If you know your commercial roofing is getting near the end of its life, start to plan for a replacement before it becomes an emergency. Waiting too long can cause additional costs, stress, and panic.
- Prevent Surprises – Always keep up on inspections so your commercial roofing contractor can give you a heads up on possible future issues. Before your installation, perform a hazardous material survey, property assessment, and plan for 5%-15% wiggle room in the budget for contingencies.
- Gather Accurate Requirements – When consulting with an architect or engineer on a new project, discuss all aspects of the project including who uses the space, how they use technology, how the occupants interact, anticipated growth, and current challenges to ensure your new roof will meet all necessary requirements.
- Utilize As-Built Drawings – Blueprints show how the building was planned, as-built drawings provide a clear view of how the building was actually constructed, and therefore, can be more helpful in planning and estimating for your new commercial roofing.
- Choose the Right Materials Based on Use – If you’re not sure what materials to use on your new commercial roof, enlist the advice of a trusted contractor. Choosing the right materials may save on upfront costs and increase the lifespan of the building.
- Account for the Life Cycle of Building Systems – When you replace a commercial roof, consider other building systems like HVAC, plumbing, and electricity. Understanding the status of these systems can help you know which ones may need to be replaced at the same time.
- Hire the Right Renovation Partners – You need a partner on your side to walk you through all aspects of your project. Choose a team with significant experience and real-time knowledge of the current construction costs in your area. A construction partner you trust can minimize surprises, reduce downtime and provide an accurate estimate of costs.
Benefits of Hiring a Professional Contractor
When choosing a company to work on your commercial roof repair or replacement, you should feel confident in the contractor he or she represents.
Professionalism, experience, and quality workmanship are just a few of the benefits you receive by working with the best contractors in the business.
- Expertise – You need access to the right experts for the job. A knowledgeable team means you have all of the disciplines required to get the job done correctly.
- Professionalism – A professional team is prepared to adapt to new situations, implement safety procedures, and answer any questions you may have.
- Materials Advice – You know your business, and we know ours! Get advice on the best materials, the latest technology, and how you can utilize a new commercial roof to save your company money and protect your business.
- The Warranty – Working with a professional contractor gives you access to both premiere materials and the best manufacturer’s warranties.
- Licensed Contractors – Hiring an unlicensed contractor is a recipe for disaster. A contractor should hold all necessary licensing, insurance, and training to complete the job you’re hiring them for.
- Keeps You Up to Date – Paying for commercial roofing services and then being left in the dark is a headache and can be a huge scam. Your contractor should ensure a constant line of communication throughout the project timeline.
- Free, Written Estimate – Know what you’re getting before you sign any contract. Professional commercial roofing services will provide a thorough inspection and a full estimate in writing before you commit.
- Quality Service – The level of service a contractor offers is usually a reflection of their roofing industry knowledge. Keep this in mind when you choose commercial roofing services, select one who can walk you through each step, answer questions easily, and provide multiple solutions to any given problem.
- Experience – Look for commercial roofing services that have been in the business long enough to handle anything thrown at them. The longer a company has been in business, means expert knowledge, better workmanship, and a better roof.
FAQs About Commercial Roofs