commercial building flat roof

5 Common Roofing Materials For A Commercial Flat Roof

Most commercial buildings take advantage of all that flat roofing has to offer. The main reason that large commercial properties opt for flat roofing is simply that the lack of an incline allows the building to properly house HVAC installations and ventilation units away from the needed square footage. Though most commercial buildings sport flat roofs, no two materials are alike and they all offer different advantages as well as potential setbacks.

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Common Flat Roofing Material Options

Commercial buildings are especially exposed to inclement weather and harsh environments, which is why they require a virtually impenetrable barrier against the elements. A properly installed roof isn’t just for aesthetics, but rather, it helps protect against interior damage. When it comes to selecting materials for a commercial building’s flat roof, several options are available.

Commercial buildings will often employ the use of one of the six roofing options below:

1. Built-Up Roofing (BUR)

Aesthetically pleasing and long-lasting, BUR roofing is the most commonly chosen material for commercial buildings. It consists of a gravel layer that displays well from afar while also offering durability against foot traffic as well as wear and tear. Inexpensive and fairly long-lasting, the only setback is that many require reinforcement for a solid foundation. However, with proper care and maintenance, these roofs can last anywhere from 15 to 20 years while providing an inexpensive solution.

2. Modified Bitumen

A durable solution that is multi-layered, offering a great deal of elemental protection through many layers applied by a durable adhesive. The top layer is composed of aesthetically pleasing granules that reflect well in daylight and provide ample curb appeal. Most importantly, this option is able to eliminate UV damage and offers anywhere from 10 to 20 years of faithful service.

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3. Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

As a single-layer roofing material, PVC is an expensive upgrade that offers the best protection against sunlight and rainfall. The material actually is supplied on a roll and carefully laid out by professionals while seams are sealed to provide a forceful elemental barrier. Though costly, this option can last up to 30 years, requiring minimal maintenance.

4. Silicone

Not only is silicone easy to install, but it offers a seamless and highly durable surface. It is sprayed on top of roofing that already exists and once cured, it is virtually impenetrable. Lasting up to 20 years, silicone is highly durable, easy to maintain, and completely energy efficient.

5. Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO)

Seen as a “green” roofing option, TPO is a mix of materials containing rubber, ethylene, propylene, and miscellaneous fillers. It has been widely used since “the ‘90s” and offers 20 years of protection.

Selecting the right roofing material for a commercial building all comes down to cost, aesthetics, durability, lifespan, and energy efficiency. All of the described choices of materials offer advantages and setbacks, but when installed properly, they provide elemental protection for many years to come.

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