Roofing systems provide protection for a commercial building, and they must adhere to local building codes. This comprehensive guide focuses on the different types of commercial roofing systems, their pros and cons, and instructions for proper installation and maintenance. Whether you’re a business owner looking to upgrade or repair your current system, or a commercial contractor who needs to understand the different options, you’ll find helpful tips and resources to get the job done right.

Types of Roofing Systems

Built-Up Roofing

Built-up roofing is a combination of several layers of waterproofing material, such as bitumen and felts, topped with an agglomerated cap sheet. This system is generally inexpensive and runs around $2.50 to $3.50 per square foot. The main benefit of built-up roofing is its proven track record over time – it is one of the oldest types of commercial roofs still in use.

Modified Bitumen

This type of roofing is similar to built-up roofing in that it has several layers of material, but it uses modified bitumen instead of layers of felts. This makes the roof more flexible and resistant to punctures, but it also makes it more expensive, running around $2.50 to $4.50 per square foot. It is also widely versatile and can be applied in a variety of ways.

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EPDM roofing stands for expandable polyethylene ethylene-propylene-diene-terpolymer. It is a single-ply membrane that is composed of a flexible, synthetic rubber material and is available in several different colors. It is also one of the most affordable roofing options available, running around $2.00 to $3.00 per square foot.


TPO roofing stands for Thermoplastic polyolefin and it is generally similar to EPDM in composition, except that its material is white, which helps to reduce heat buildup. It’s also extremely easy to install, but it can be one of the more expensive roofing systems, running around $3.00-$4.50 per square foot.


PVC roofing stands for Polyvinyl chloride and it is considered to be one of the most durable roofing systems in the market, as it can remain intact in even the harshest weather. It is also extremely resistant to chemicals, fire, and ultraviolet rays. The downside is that it is one of the more expensive options, running around $3.50-5.00 per square foot.

Installation & Maintenance

Roofing Material

When it comes to installing a commercial roofing system, the approach you take will depend on the material you choose. If you decide on a built-up roofing system, you’ll need to hire a crew of experienced professionals to lay the layers down correctly. With a modified bitumen or EPDM system, you may be able to take on the project yourself. A TPO or PVC system will require a professional installation as well.

Flashing & Insulation

No matter what type of roofing you choose, you’ll also need to make sure that the flashing and insulation are properly installed. Flashing is installed around vents and other openings to ensure that water doesn’t collect in these spots. Insulation should be laid down atop the layers of the roof and it will help to regulate the interior temperature of your building.

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Cleaning & Repair

Commercial roofing systems will need to be cleaned once a year to keep debris from accumulating and to ensure that it looks its best. Repairing any damages should be done as soon as possible to prevent further damage from occurring and to keep all parts of your roof in working order.

People Also Ask

What is the most common type of commercial roofing?

The most common type of commercial roofing system is Built-Up Roofing, which consists of several layers of waterproofing materials, such as bitumen and felts, topped with an agglomerated cap sheet.

Is PVC roofing better than TPO?

PVC roofing is more durable and resistant to chemicals, fire and UV rays than TPO roofing, but it is also more expensive. The choice between PVC and TPO depends on each business’s budget and needs.

How long do commercial roofing systems last?

The lifespan of a commercial roofing system depends on its material, the climate and the installation and maintenance of the roof. Generally, roofs made with TPO, EPDM and PVC can last up to 20 years, while Built-Up and modified bitumen roofs can last up to 30 years.

What is the best material for a commercial roof?

The best material for a commercial roof will depend on the budget and needs of the business. TPO, EPDM and PVC are generally considered to be the most durable types of roofing, while Built-Up and modified bitumen are also great and more affordable options.

Is it easy to install a commercial roofing system?

Installing a commercial roofing system is not an easy task and should only be done by professional contractors with experience in working with the material of your choice. TPO and EPDM systems may be able to be installed by the business owner, but all other systems must be installed by a professional.

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Final Words

When it comes to commercial roofing systems, there are many different options to choose from. Each type has its own pros and cons and it’s important to choose the right one based on your budget and needs. Whether you decide to go with a Built-Up roof or a TPO system, make sure you hire a reliable contractor and take the necessary steps to install and maintain the roof properly.