Roofing materials for commercial properties are almost as varied as the buildings they protect. While many commercial structures have flat or low-slope roofs, others have gable or hip roofs similar to those used for area homes. No matter what style of roof is present, the area's professional roofers will design a roofing system to match the building. There is no one-size-fits-all roofing solution for commercial buildings.
One of the older, but still commonly used, forms of commercial roofing is commonly called built-up roofing. This system is commonly used in flat or low-slope roofing situations. With this system, felt roofing material is layered with asphalt to provide a waterproof barrier. The layers of felt and asphalt are then coated with aggregate, which serves to protect the underlying materials from sun and weather damage. Typically, this type of roofing lasts for several years, but maintenance is required to keep the aggregate coating serviceable. Seals around openings for vents, chimneys and skylights also need to be inspected and resealed as needed on a regular basis. Scheduling regular inspections and maintenance should be planned to keep the roof weather-tight.
Newer roofing materials include synthetic forms of rubber that are welded together to create a solid sheet designed to repel water efficiently. A similar system uses thermoplastic sheets, which are heat welded at the seams. These systems are quite popular and work well when properly installed. The most common problem is poor sealing, but well trained professionals generally do not have problems with installations. These systems are routinely used on big box stores around the country because the installation is fast, but the materials tend to be more expensive than those used for built-up roofing systems.
On some buildings, asphalt roll roofing is still in place. This type of roofing material was once commonly used on buildings where there is a fairly steep pitch, as wind damage and leaking routinely occur if it is applied to low-slope roofs. This material is inexpensive, but does not last as long as better roofing materials. Flashing is also an issue, and regular inspections are a must to keep seals intact.
Metal roofing is also used extensively for commercial and industrial buildings. Various types of metal are in use, depending on the construction of the building. Metal roofing is very durable, often lasting longer than the economic life of the actual building. While maintenance is required, it is minimal. Commercial roof installers work with building owners or architects to determine which materials are best suited for the structure.
Many commercial buildings use gable or hip roof construction, and those buildings will commonly use shingles or steel roofing materials. Given the numerous options available, designers look for roofing that will optimize the overall look of the building. Steel roofing, for example, is now available in styles that mimic shakes or slate, offering designers the ability to create truly stunning designs.
Roofing contractors work with commercial and industrial clients to design roofing systems that work for any type of building. Having one type of roofing is in place does not mean it is the best roofing system for the building. Contractors are quickly learning that some contemporary materials, while more expensive than older materials, are actually less expensive to install, as labor costs are often significantly less. By working closely with a roofing professional, the best options quickly become obvious.