Your Complete Guide To The Most Popular Types Of Commercial Roofing

Making sure your commercial office or workplace is safe on the outside means you can focus on what’s happening inside. Making sure the roof of your business establishment is installed, maintained, and repaired properly allows you to keep your business, employees, and customers safe. In order to do so, the first step is to familiarize yourself with the different types of commercial roofing.

Roofing for businesses, restaurants, commercial facilities, hi-rise buildings, schools, hospitals, and government buildings all require unique planning and prep. For commercial roofing jobs, there is specialized installation, maintenance, and applications that are specific to your building and your business.

Commercial vs. Residential Roofing

One of the biggest differences between commercial and residential roofing is the major difference between the materials available.  Commercial buildings in Louisville have a myriad of options to choose from depending on the size of the building, the climate, company preference, budget, and needs. 

Commercial roofing installation and repairs can be a significant investment, so it’s worth it to do your research before deciding on the type of commercial roofing for your building. In addition, doing your research will also help you choose the right commercial roofing company to properly care for your facility.

Commercial Roofing Systems

There are three main types of commercial roofing systems, or shapes: flat, low or pitched. Abrams Roofing & Sheet Metal installs and repairs all three types with extensive expertise in the Louisville roofing industry. If you’re building a new commercial building, the roofline can make a big difference in how your building functions. 

Flat Roofs

Flat Roofs are one of the most common types of commercial roofing for large commercial buildings like big box stores, warehouses, and shopping centers, because they are budget friendly. They are installed quickly and use fewer materials than some other shapes.

Flat roofs are just one of the many types of commercial roofing systems.

Materials Used: For flat roofs, business owners can choose from a variety of materials including rubber rolled roofing, RPDM, PVC, TPO, bitumen, modified bitumen, metal roofing, or create a green roof. 

Features: Flat roofs are great for conserving energy because their reflective properties keep cooling costs lower, especially in hot climates. A flat roof can also provide additional space for air conditioners, solar panels, and satellite dishes.

Maintenance: Flat roofs are pretty easy to maintain since they have easy access and workmen can walk and work safely in all types of weather. Some owners may be concerned about standing water on a flat roof, but this can be addressed and taken care of with a roofing professional to place strategic drains and avoid puddling.

Low Slope Roofs

A low-slope roof is one of the other types of commercial roofing systems, and is likely to be found on warehouses, apartment buildings, and industrial buildings. From a distance, they appear flat, but they have a soft slope to them, which makes them unique. They are somewhere in between a flat roof and a steep pitched roof. Many areas have strict building codes for low-slope roofs which must be strictly adhered to.

Materials Used: The same materials used for flat roofs can also be used in low-slope roofs including rubber rolled roofing, RPDM, PVC, TPO, bitumen, modified bitumen, and built-up roofing.

Features: Low-slope roofs are a great in-between option. The roof area is smaller than high-pitched roofs, making installation costs less expensive.  However, the slight slope allows for runoff, which prevents standing water or puddles on the roof. Installation for a low-slope roof is simple and easy to perform. It can still serve as storage for some items, like air conditioners and solar panels, depending on the shape and size of the roof.

Maintenance: Low-slope roofs are very easy to maintain since their slight pitch makes runoff easy. The only concern is winter months where snow can build-up and add weight. The roof is designed with valleys, saddles, and drains to make it maintenance free. If necessary, it is easy for roofers to get to the roof and make improvements or repairs.

Pitched Roofs

A pitched roof creates a beautiful commercial building that looks more like a state building than a stale warehouse. Pitched roofs are less common in commercial buildings because they are more expensive, but they are still used in some industries.

Materials Used: Commercial pitched roofs can use a wide variety of materials including metal roofing, shingles, slate, tile, or rubber materials.

Features: Increased slopes make both snow and rain runoff easy, which can be especially helpful for those in the Louisville area. This reduces repairs and maintenance because it’s easy for liquid or debris to roll off.

Maintenance: Steep roofs can be tricky to work on, but with increased safety procedures in place and the help of a professional commercial roofing company, you can still maneuver around the roof as necessary to walk and work.

Commercial Roofing Materials

Once you know the shape of your roof, you can choose the roofing material that best suits your business needs and budget. Roofing materials play an integral part in the overall health and longevity of your building. There are six most common roof materials used in Louisville. 

Because a steep-pitch roof uses materials similar to residential roofing, these commercial materials are most commonly associated with flat or low-pitch roofs.

Built-Up Roofing (BUR) Membrane: These roofs are commonly referred to as “tar-and-gravel roofs”. BUR uses a combination of bitumen and reinforced fabric to create layers of membrane. These system layers are referred to as plies. A four-ply roof has four layers of membrane. It’s a flexible option because you can decide how many layers you’d like applied. This means you can have fewer layers to help the budget, or more layers to increase strength. It’s one of the oldest systems still in use today because it’s both cost-effective and durable.

Modified Bitumen Roofing: Modified bitumen uses the same materials as BUR roofing but in a slightly modified process. Rather than being “hot-mopped” on like traditional BUR, modified bitumen is a self-adhering sheet. This gives the same durability, without the torches, hot asphalt, and chemical fumes. 

Metal Roofing: Within the family of metal roofing, there are over ten varieties including stainless steel, metal tiles, copper, aluminum, tin, stainless steel, etc. When a metal roof is used, a protective surface 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.

Thermoset (EPDM) Roof Membrane: Constructed from a single-ply rubber material, EPDM is known for 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, and maintenance-free when compared to other types of commercial roofing. It’s flexible for buildings in colder temperatures and has reflective properties to help lower cooling costs in the summer months. 

Thermoplastic (PVC & TPO) Roof Membrane: These are lightweight, reflective materials that are great for weather resistance in Louisville. 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. They also have a high-temperature tolerance and can withstand both fire and high winds. 

Garden “Green” Roofing System: A relative newcomer onto the Louisville roofing market is green roofing. A green roof is partially or completely covered with vegetation planted over a waterproofing membrane layer. They are also known as “living roofs”. Green roofs are perhaps the most versatile and by far the most sustainable. Green roofing materials protect the building from the elements while managing water, drainage, and improving the environment around it. The initial costs of green roofs are more expensive, but long-term maintenance can be drastically lower than other commercial options.

Commercial Roof Installation and Maintenance

While a residential roof can usually be completed in a day or two, commercial roof installation can take about a month to install from start to finish. This is partly due to the size of the building, and the complexity of the system takes time to adhere, layer, and secure accurately. Some materials take multiple days to cure or settle before the installation crew can move on to the next step.

Speak to a professional in Louisville about the types of commercial roofing.

Maintenance on a commercial roof is completely different than patching up a residential roof. Commercial roofs tend to have different problems than residential roofs and even if they share a similar problem, the solution is often very different. Some commercial materials can use a patch, but others require a new coating across the surface or simply need new flashings. 

The best way to maintain your commercial roof and keep it in top condition is to use a professional roofing contractor in Louisville. Abrams Roofing & Sheet Metal is here to perform regular commercial roofing inspections and fix small problems before they become big issues.

Commercial Roofing Contractors Near You

Finding a reliable commercial roofing contractor with the expertise to guide you through the selection, installation, or maintenance of your commercial roof can be difficult. Because there are so many different types of commercial roofing options, you need an expert on your side. With Abrams Roofing & Sheet Metal, you get the best combination of skilled craftsmanship, quality commercial roofing experience, and legendary service.

We can help with commercial roofing applications across Louisville. From new construction installation to storm damage repairs, we give upfront pricing, outstanding customer service, and expertise you won’t find anywhere else. Call us today for a commercial roofing inspection and estimates!

By Kim Abrams|2019-07-10T13:58:55-04:00July 10th, 2019|Roofing|

Kim Abrams

Kim Abrams
Abrams Roofing & Sheet Metal has been serving the Louisville area since 1959. We strive for top quality customer service, using only the best materials to complete your roofing project. Our experienced craftsmen and our work ethic set us apart. We complete projects on time, every time, for both the residential and commercial communities of Louisville, KY.

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