What is Commercial Roofing?

What is Commercial Roofing

What is Commercial Roofing? – Commercial roofing refers to installing, maintaining, and repairing roofs on commercial buildings like offices, warehouses, schools, retail stores, and other non-residential structures. 

Commercial roofers specialize in working on large, complex roofing systems that protect these buildings.

Key Takeaways on Commercial Roofing:

  • Commercial roofs are generally more extensive and more complex than residential roofs. They require specialized materials, equipment, expertise, and access.
  • The most common types of commercial roofing systems include built-up roofs (BUR), single-ply membranes, metal panels, modified bitumen, and spray polyurethane foam.
  • Regular maintenance and repairs are crucial for commercial roofs to maximize their lifespan. Commercial roofers provide services like inspections, leak repairs, coatings, and preventative maintenance.
  • When it’s time for replacement, commercial roofers can install new systems with advanced materials that offer durability, energy efficiency, sustainability, and customization.
  • Hiring qualified commercial roofing contractors is highly recommended for installation, maintenance, repairs, and replacements. They have the skills, equipment, warranties, and certifications to service commercial roofs properly.

What is a Commercial Roofer?

A commercial roofer is a professional who specializes in working on the roofs of commercial buildings and structures. 

Their work involves tasks like:

  • Installation – Installing new commercial roofing systems. This requires specialized materials, access equipment, and techniques to work on large commercial roofs.
  • Inspection – Thoroughly inspecting commercial roofs at least twice a year to check for damage, deterioration, leaks, and other problems.
  • Maintenance – Performing preventative maintenance tasks like cleaning debris, checking drains and gutters, sealing seams and fasteners, and applying protective coatings.
  • Repairs – Making spot repairs, fixing leaks, replacing damaged sections, and addressing issues reported during inspections or by building owners.
  • Replacement – Completely remove old roofs and install new commercial roofing systems when needed.
  • Emergency Services – Providing emergency leak repair, winter weather protection, and temporary maintenance until major work can be done.
  • Design – Designing custom commercial roofing systems that meet a client’s performance, aesthetics, sustainability, and budget needs.
  • Management – Overseeing roofing projects from start to finish, coordinating with building owners, and managing crews doing the installation work.
  • Other Services – Offering related services like roof coatings, moisture testing, roof asset management plans, and assisting with insurance claims.

Why Hire a Professional Commercial Roofer?

There are several important reasons why commercial building owners should hire a qualified commercial roofing contractor rather than attempting roofing projects themselves:

Specialized Expertise

Commercial roofers receive extensive training and experience working on large, complex commercial structures. 

They understand the unique requirements, systems, materials, codes, and challenges. Their specialized expertise allows them to properly assess needs, design solutions, and execute commercial roofing projects.

Safety & Access Equipment

Servicing tall or challenging commercial structures requires specialized safety harnesses, lifts, cranes, scaffolding, and ladders. Commercial roofers have the proper access equipment to reach and navigate commercial roof areas safely.

Quality Materials

Commercial roofing materials are built to withstand the rigors of large commercial buildings. Roofers have connections with proven, warranted materials that meet building codes and standards. They know which systems are best suited for each structure.

Warranties & Insurance

Reputable commercial roofing contractors offer warranty programs on new roof installations and maintain adequate business insurance. This protects the building owner if anything goes wrong. DIY projects may void warranties.

Codes & Permits

Commercial roofers are familiar with local building codes and requirements. They obtain any necessary permits for commercial roofing projects on the owner’s behalf.

Efficiency & Cost Savings

Hiring commercial roofing experts allows roofing projects to be completed efficiently. Their experience leads to time and cost savings compared to having untrained staff try to fix roofs themselves.

Peace of Mind

Property managers can have confidence knowing a trustworthy professional handles their commercial roofing needs. This provides peace of mind and allows them to focus on running the rest of the business.

Common Types of Commercial Roofing Systems

There are several major commercial roofing systems on the market. The best type for a given commercial structure depends on factors like climate, building design, budget, and client preferences. Common commercial roofing options include:

Built-Up Roofing (BUR)

BUR systems are made of layers of asphalt/tar alternating with fiberglass reinforcing fleece for waterproofing. The top layer is covered in gravel or a reflective coating. BUR offers durability and has been an industry standard for decades.

EPDM – Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer

EPDM is a single-ply rubber sheet membrane commonly used in low-slope applications. It offers durability, seam strength, and UV/ozone resistance. EPDM is lightweight, affordable, and comes in white or black.

TPO – Thermoplastic Polyolefin

TPO is a heat-weldable single-ply membrane made of polypropylene and ethylene polymers. It has good performance, reflectivity, and resistance to chemicals/UVs. TPO roofing is lightweight, flexible, and affordable.

PVC – Polyvinyl Chloride

PVC membranes are factory-fabricated, heat-welded sheets that create a waterproof commercial roofing surface. PVC has a long lifespan, good fire/wind resistance, and energy efficiency. It handles extreme weather well.

Modified Bitumen

Modified bitumen membranes consist of asphalt, plasticizers, and polymers. The sheets are torch-applied to the roof substrate. Modified bitumen offers durability and reliability at a lower cost than other systems.

Metal Roofing Panels

Metal steel, aluminum, or copper panels interlock over the roof decking. Benefits include durability, fire resistance, and reflective properties. Standing seam metal roofs shed debris quickly.

Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF)

SPF is seamlessly spray-applied to roof decks, creating a monolithic protective layer. SPF has excellent adhesion, insulation value, and water resistance. It seals well around penetrations.

The Benefits of Professional Maintenance & Repairs

Regular commercial roof maintenance and minor repairs are highly beneficial and cost-effective compared to letting problems turn into major roof failures down the road. Professional services to extend roof lifespan include:

Bi-annual Inspections

Thorough rooftop inspections by a commercial roofer at least twice per year allow them to spot issues early before they worsen. Problems can then be addressed promptly.

Preventative Maintenance

Simple tasks like cleaning debris, checking drains/gutters, sealing fasteners, and applying coatings minimize wear and deterioration to keep commercial roofs lasting longer.

Leak Repairs

Fixing minor leaks quickly prevents water from spreading and causing structural decking damage. Commercial roofers have advanced diagnostic tools to detect leak sources.


Applying specialized roof coatings and treatments protects against corrosion, UV damage, cracks, and leaks. They renew weathered surfaces and extend the roof’s service life.

Proactive Repairs

Replacing worn components, repairing flashings, sealing seams/cracks, and fixing small damaged sections maintain the whole roof’s integrity.

Avoiding Major Failure

Being proactive with maintenance and minor repairs keeps roofs in service longer before major overhauls are needed. This approach is less disruptive and costly than emergency replacements.

When It’s Time for Roof Replacement

Despite best maintenance efforts, there eventually comes a time when an old commercial roof is beyond repair and needs to be completely replaced. Common signs a new roof is needed include:

  • The roof has reached or exceeded its expected service life span (usually 15-30 years, depending on the system)
  • Leaks have become excessive, and repairs aren’t fixing the underlying issues
  • Significant blistering, cracking, spalling, or delamination is present
  • Major components are failing, like flashings, drainage, vents, or skylights
  • There are sagging areas that indicate structural decking deterioration underneath
  • Large sections are worn, damaged, or completely missing
  • Energy bills are rising due to poor insulation in an old roof assembly
  • A roof evaluation determines repair costs exceed replacement costs
What is a commercial Roofer

Benefits of Professional Roof Replacement

When it’s time for a new commercial roof, hiring professional installers has many advantages:

Latest Materials &Codes

To install high-performing, compliant roof systems, contractors stay current on the newest roofing materials, technologies, codes, and standards.

Expert Installation

Experienced crews properly install each component for effective waterproofing, slope, and structural integrity. Professional installation also qualifies roofs for warranty programs.

Specialized Equipment

Contractors have the lifting equipment, boom lifts, and debris removal tools needed to demolish old roofs and install new materials on large commercial buildings.

Minimal Disruption

Well-planned roof replacements by coordinated crews minimize business disruptions. Much of the work can be executed without interrupting daily building operations.

Warranties & Guarantees

Materials and workmanship guarantees assure building owners that their new roof will be free from defects and covered if problems arise.

Budget Planning

Commercial roofing contractors provide detailed estimates in advance for accurate budgeting. They also help building owners plan for eventual roof replacement costs.

Choosing the Right Commercial Roofer

Not all commercial roofing contractors have the same knowledge, specialties, experience levels, or qualifications. Building owners should look for contractors that meet the following criteria:

Relevant Experience

Look for companies with extensive demonstrable experience in commercial roofing specific to your type of structure and roofing needs.

Industry Certifications

Contractors should carry certifications showing mastery of commercial roofing standards, systems, and techniques. This demonstrates up-to-date expertise.

Good Standing

Select roofers in good standing with no history of legal disputes. Check that they are properly licensed for commercial roofing with adequate insurance coverage.

Strong Reputation

Choose companies with proven track records and plenty of positive referrals. Read online reviews as well.

Specialized Crews and Equipment

The contractor should have trained crews using proper commercial-grade roofing equipment and materials.

Strong Warranties

Opt for contractors that back their workmanship with multi-year warranties on labor and materials. Longer warranties show greater confidence.

Detailed Proposals

Trustworthy roofers provide comprehensive written proposals outlining the full project scope, specifications, materials, timeline, warranties, and cost.


Good communication and promptly returned calls indicate dependability. Look for dedication to customer service.

Final Thoughts About What is Commercial Roofing

Final words on what is Commercial Roofing: Installing and properly maintaining commercial roofing systems requires specialized expertise, materials, equipment, and access. 

Hiring professional commercial roofers maximizes roof lifespan, avoids premature failures, and provides quality new roofs when replacement is needed. 

Building owners can have peace of mind knowing their sizable roofing investment is protected by working with competent commercial roofing contractors.

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