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Commercial Roofing 101: A Quick Introduction

Commercial Roofing 101: A Quick Introduction

Not all roofs are created equal. Just because roofs may look the same does not mean that commercial and residential roofing are on the same page. The two call for different requirements because they address different needs. Knowing the difference between them is the first step in understanding commercial roofing.

So how is commercial roofing different from residential roofing?

The best way to differentiate commercial roofing from residential roofing is to get a good grasp of its functions. For instance, commercial roofing is likely to function more than just a roof so it commonly follows a flat-roof design that offers flexibility. At the same time, processes carried out by businesses may call for more vents, chimneys, exhaust pipes so it is not unusual for commercial roofing to feature a lot of protrusions. As such, commercial roofing commonly utilizes roofing materials best for flat roofs–roofing materials that are also easier to work with when protrusions are involved. Sloped designs are more common in residential roofing but they can also be used in commercial roofing without problem, if that is what you want.

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Best Roofing Materials for Commercial Applications

Your best choices for commercial roofing materials include:

  • Metal is a great roofing material because you can use it for both low- and steep-slope roofs, depending on whatever design your roof has. Common metal roofing options are standing seam, flat seam and corrugated galvanized steel. Durable, most metal roofs come with 30- to 50-year warranty periods. Looking to do your bit for the environment? A metal roof contains about 56% recycled content from production to installation and reuse.
  • Built-Up Roofing. As a flat roofing option,BURs have been in use in the U.S. for over 100 years. Because they are made up of alternating layers of tar and gravel, they are also referred to commonly as “tar and gravel” roofs. This roofing material requires surfacing, like aggregate (mineral granules, slag or gravel), mineral-surfaced cap sheets, elastomeric coatings, or hot asphalt.
  • Single-ply Roofing. Also a choice for flat roofing, single-ply roofing comes in two types: thermoset and thermoplastic. Thermoset roofing “set” or solidify permanently after heating while thermoplastics can be repeatedly softened and hardened via heating and cooling. Common single-ply roofing options include EPDM, TPO, and PVC roofs.
  • Modified Bitumen. BURs are tough because they are made up of several layers of material while single-ply roofing is easy to install as one-ply materials are easier to handle. Modified bitumen roofing combines the benefits of BURs and single-ply roofing, offering a roofing material that is both highly durable and easy to install.
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Getting a Commercial Roof

Commercial roofing is a major investment so it’s important to ensure that you have all your bases covered before embarking on any kind of project. Like in residential roofing, it is crucial to identify roofing specifics, like common concerns and building codes, in your area because being prepared will help ensure that you make the most out of getting commercial roofing. For that reason, make sure that you only work with a reputable roofing contractor servicing your area.


Author Bio:

Chris Spacek is the son of Bud “Papa” Spacek, the owner of West Side Roofing that started in the 1950s. After more than five decades in the industry, Chris’ father made a major step-back and gave the full management to Chris and Chris’ brother, Jamie. Together, the two brothers assist in the growth of the family business. Chris focuses on the residential side of the business while Jamie concentrates on the commercial side.



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