What New Commercial Roof Types Are Available?

Inside your factory, warehouse facility, or shopping complex you have a lot of valuable equipment and inventory that needs protecting. When roof restoration is not an option, it’s worth taking the time to decide what new commercial roof material is best for your building.

Roofing on most commercial buildings is designed to last roughly twenty years, but this will vary according to the materials used, and the weather conditions in your area. Inevitably, there comes a time when the rest of the building is fine, but the roof needs replacing.

We’re going to examine the options available on the market so that you can make an informed decision that works for you.

Quality Versus Price

In each category, you will different quality materials at different prices. We recommend that you speak to the experts to find good quality material that suits your budget and structural needs.

Types of Commercial Roofing

The most common types of roofing systems for flat or low-slope roofs include:

  • Modified bitumen roofing
  • TPO roofing
  • PVC roofing
  • EPDM roofing

Let’s look at the pros and cons of each of these types of flat room systems. You should be able to see at a glance which one is likely to serve you best. If in doubt, give us a shout and we’ll help you with the finer points.

You might hear of these roofing systems being referred to as BUR systems, or built-up roofing systems. They are called that because the roof is built on-site and the roof consists of one or several layers of base sheets sometimes interlayered with sheeting of another material. This is covered with a cap sheet or surfaced with either a gravel or liquid coating.

Oftentimes, when people think of BUR systems, they think of modified bitumen roofing.

Modified Bitumen Roofing

Layers of bitumen and various fabrics are joined together to create a membrane. The finishing is either coating applied in liquid form or an aggregate such as gravel.

The modified bitumen roofing membrane consists of asphalt and plastic or rubber polymers and is considered the more modern version of the old-fashioned asphalt roof.

The choice of polymer is between atactic polypropylene (APP) and styrene-butadiene-styrene (SBS). SBS is the more flexible of the two membrane materials with better expansion and contraction properties. APP is often favored though because it is more long-lasting.

Watertight, and tear-resistant, modified bitumen roofing provides up to 40 years of protection from harsh weather conditions. It is also relatively inexpensive. Heat resistance is one property that results in a reduction is in heating and cooling costs.

TPO Roofing

TPO is short for Thermoplastic Polyolefin. TPO is a single-ply membrane composed of polymer and filler blends reinforced with a fabric scrim. 

The thermoplastics may include polypropylene (PP), polyethylene (PE), or copolymer polypropylene (BCPP). TPO is manufactured in sheet form, with widths of 10, 12, and 20 feet, and is used on low-slope and flat roofs. This is why it is often referred to as “PVC” roofing, which is not entirely correct.

The usual thicknesses for TPO are 45 mils and 60 mils. In this case, it is not true that thicker is better.

Other factors, such as insulation beneath the TPO layer, and the amount of thermoplastics above the scrim, are more likely to add to the quality of your roofing membrane than the greater thickness on its own.

PVC Roofing

PVC is a type of plastic (polyvinyl chloride) that is affordable and durable. PVC is often used in modular roofing systems and performs well in harsh conditions and climates.

PVC roofing is made from two layers of PVC roof material with polyester added in between the layers as reinforcement. The PVC includes additives that render the material flexible and UV-stable. An acrylic coating is added to the PVC roof to give it extra protection.

PVC roofs are reflective and repel dust and dirt. The installation uses a heat welding process to form a solid layer spanning your entire roof. It has a lifespan of 20 years and performs well on flat surfaces, making it a popular and cost-effective option. roofing.

EPDM Roofing 

EPDM is the abbreviation for Ethylene Propylene Diene Terpolymer. It is a synthetic rubber roofing material used chiefly on low-slope commercial roofs here in the USA and all over the world.

Ethylene and propylene, oil, and natural gas derivatives are the main ingredients. EPDM is a single-ply sheeting available in either black or white. The width of the sheet can be anything from 7.5 feet to 50 feet. It comes in two thicknesses: 45 mils (0.0045 inches) and 60 mils (0.006 inches).

Which New Commercial Roof Should I Choose?

Those in favor of TPO roofing highlight the fact that it is white, meaning that it reflects ultraviolet waves (UV), leading to energy savings and lower industrial air conditioning costs.

EPDM now comes in white too and does the same thing, if you’re willing to pay more for it than the standard black. So the argument that the previous heat-absorbing black EPDM is less desirable than white TPO falls away.

EPDM has been used in commercial and industrial roofing for 60 years, while TPO is a relative newcomer with only 20 years under its belt.

The installation methods of EPDM and TPO differ. Chemical adhesives are used when fitting TPO to the roofing surface, and seams between the sheets are fused with a hot-air gun.

Installation of EPDM involves the use of either adhesive or mechanical fasteners, and sheets are joined together with seam tape.

Both TPO or EPDM membranes are fine if you want to mount solar panels on your roof. The same is true of modified bitumen roofing.  Modified bitumen roofing withstand a lot of foot traffic too.

When it first came on to the market, TPO had greater tensile strength than EPDM. However, curing methods have resulted in EPDM significantly improving its tensile strength, making it equally suitable for most industrial applications.

TPO and EPDM cost much the same. TPO typically lasts 15–20 years before it needs to be replaced, while EPDM has a lifespan of 25–30 years.

Incorrectly installed TPO membranes can suffer seam stress under intense heat and need patching, but TPO does retain its flexibility even under extreme cold.

TPO resists punctures from foreign objects, unlike EPDM, which tears more easily. TPO is also resistant to fungi and mold, and the accumulation of dirt. It is also better at withstanding chemicals, acids, and oils than EPDM.

Contact us to discuss your new commercial roof needs and ask us for a quotation. Don’t forget, we offer free on-site inspection!