Choosing the Best Commercial Roofing Material for Your Business

Commercial roofing refers to the materials and techniques used to cover and protect the roofs of businesses, warehouses, and other commercial buildings. These types of roofs are typically larger in size and more complex than residential roofs, as they must be able to withstand heavier foot traffic, harsher weather conditions, and higher levels of wear and tear. Commercial roofing materials come in a wide variety of types, each offering its own benefits and drawbacks. Business owners and building managers must choose the right type of roof based on factors like energy efficiency, initial costs, life expectancy, and building codes, among others. In this article, we’ll cover some of the most common types of commercial roofing materials and help business owners make an informed decision about which one to choose for their property.

Need a roofing contractor you can trust?

Call us (509)201-4190 or send the form

Disclaimer: This article is intended to provide general information and guidance on choosing the best commercial roofing material for your business. It should not be considered as professional advice, and readers are advised to seek expert assistance from Advance Roofing LLC when making their decisions. All information provided in this article is based on current standards and trends in the industry and is subject to change without prior notice.

The Benefits of Investing in a Quality Commercial Roofing System 

Investing in a quality commercial roofing system is a smart decision that can bring numerous benefits to your business. 

  • A reliable roofing system protects your business from external factors such as weather changes, water leaks, and natural disasters. 
  • The right roofing system can also help you save energy costs by providing insulation, reducing heat transfer, and enhancing air ventilation systems. 
  • Choosing the right roofing material based on environmental conditions, budget, and building codes is crucial. 

Factors such as the roof type, durability, energy-efficiency, ease of installation, and foot traffic should be considered when selecting the right roofing material. There is a variety of commercial roofing types available, including metal roofing, built-up roofing, asphalt shingles, single-ply membranes, modified bitumen roofs, and green roofing. Each type of roofing material comes with unique advantages that can benefit your business in different ways. 

A professional commercial roofing contractor can help you identify the best roofing system that matches your specific needs. In summary, investing in a quality commercial roofing system is a vital step in ensuring the safety and longevity of your business infrastructure. 

Types of Commercial Roofs

Types of Commercial Roofs

Commercial roofs come in a variety of materials, each with its unique advantages and disadvantages. Choosing the right roofing material can go a long way in protecting your business and enhancing its energy efficiency. In this section, we will explore the common types of commercial roofs and help you make an informed decision when choosing the best commercial roofing material for your building. So, whether you are looking to replace your existing roof or build a new commercial property, we’ve got you covered. Read on to learn more about the different types of commercial roofs. 

Types of Commercial Roofs: 

  1. Metal Roofs 
  2. Flat Roofs 
  3. Built-Up Roofing 
  4. Single-Ply Membranes 
  5. Modified Bitumen Roofs 
  6. Green Roofs 
  7. Asphalt Shingles 
  8. Synthetic Rubber Materials 
  9. Stainless Steel Roofs 

Flat Roofs

Flat Roofs

Flat roofs have become increasingly popular in commercial buildings due to their cost effectiveness and easier installation process. Apart from being aesthetically pleasing, they also offer a wide range of benefits that make them an ideal option for many building owners. Flat roofs are generally more accessible than steep slope roofs, making maintenance and care easier. They are also energy-efficient, as they reflect sunlight, reducing energy costs for the building owner. 

Building owners have access to a variety of flat roofing materials: rubber rolled roofing, EPDM, PVC, and TPO. Each option has unique advantages that can be suited to different building types, costs, and purposes. Building owners need to consider factors such as foot traffic, the type of material, protective surface layers, and cost-effectiveness when selecting the ideal flat roofing material. 

The top five flat roofing options available are rubber rolled roofing, EPDM, PVC, TPO, and built-up roofing. Rubber rolled roofing is a popular choice for smaller commercial buildings due to its low cost and high durability. EPDM is a synthetic rubber material commonly used in larger commercial buildings due to its water-resistant properties. PVC is a highly reflective roofing material that’s easy to install, while TPO is known for its energy-efficient qualities. Built-up roofing, or BUR, is the most traditional flat roofing option that provides effective insulation. 

Metal Roofs

Metal roofs are a popular choice for commercial roofing due to their longevity and durability. They are designed to withstand weather damage such as hail, heavy rainfall, strong winds, and even fire. Metal roofs require little maintenance as they are resistant to rust, corrosion, and UV rays. These roofs are energy efficient and can reflect solar heat, which in turn reduces energy costs. 

Metal roofing can be made from different materials such as steel, aluminum, copper, and stainless steel. Steel roofs are commonly used in commercial buildings due to their high strength and low cost. Aluminum is known for its lightweight and durability, while copper is popular for its aesthetic appeal and longevity. Stainless steel is a versatile metal that’s resistant to corrosion and staining. 

Commercial buildings benefit from metal roofing in several ways. They are eco-friendly as they can be made from recycled materials. Metal roofs also come in a variety of designs and colors, allowing building owners to choose a suitable option that complements the building’s architectural style. Overall, metal roofs provide practical, long-lasting solutions for commercial roofing needs. 

Built-up Roofs (BUR) 

Built-Up Roofs (BUR) are a popular choice for commercial roofing materials due to their exceptional waterproofing and fire resistance capabilities. They consist of multiple layers of bitumen and reinforcing fabrics that are alternately applied on a roof deck. These layers are then covered by a protective surface layer, such as gravel or mineral granules, to provide additional UV protection and durability. 

The material composition of BUR roofs may vary, but the most common components include bitumen (either asphalt or coal-tar pitch), fiberglass or organic mats, and surface coatings such as mineral granules or gravel. The layers of bitumen and fabric are applied using different techniques, such as hot mop, torch application, or cold adhesive. 

One of the main advantages of BUR roofs is their long lifespan, which can range from 15 to 30 years or more depending on the quality of the materials and installation. They also provide superior waterproofing due to the multiple layers of bitumen and fabrics, making them ideal for areas with heavy rainfall or snow. Additionally, BUR roofs have excellent fire resistance properties and can withstand high temperatures without igniting. 

However, some disadvantages of BUR roofs include their high initial cost compared to other roofing materials and their susceptibility to damage from foot traffic or sharp objects. They also require regular maintenance and inspections to prevent leaks or damage to the protective surface layer. 

Overall, Built-Up Roofs (BUR) are an excellent choice for commercial properties that require durable and fire-resistant roofing materials. 

Asphalt Shingles 

Asphalt shingles are a popular option for commercial roofing due to their affordability, ease of installation, and versatility in style and color. They also offer moderate protection against environmental factors such as wind, rain, and UV rays. However, their lifespan is generally shorter than other roofing materials, ranging from 15 to 25 years depending on the quality of the shingles and the climate in the area.

Maintenance for asphalt shingles includes regular inspections for damage or wear, as well as cleaning to prevent debris buildup or algae growth. Shingles can also be easily replaced or repaired when individual sections become damaged. 

Environmental factors, such as extreme temperatures or high winds, can cause damage to asphalt shingles over time. They are prone to cracking, blistering, or curling, which can lead to leaks or water damage in the building. Additionally, asphalt shingles are not the most energy-efficient option for commercial roofing, as they absorb heat and contribute to higher energy costs in the summer. 

Upgraded shingles, also known as architectural or designer shingles, offer a higher quality option than builder-grade asphalt shingles. They often have a thicker, more textured appearance with deeper colors and a longer lifespan of up to 30 years. They also offer improved resistance to environmental factors and can be a more energy-efficient option for commercial properties. However, upgraded shingles come with a higher cost than builder-grade shingles. 

Modified Bitumen (MB) roofs 

Modified Bitumen (MB) roofs are a popular commercial roofing option due to their five layer structure, competitive pricing, and effective handling of heavy foot traffic. The first layer is the base sheet, followed by a layer of modified bitumen, then another layer of reinforcing fabric, a second layer of modified bitumen, and finally a surfacing layer. This structure provides excellent waterproofing protection and effectively prevents leaks. 

One of the pros of MB roofing is that it is highly resistant to damage from extreme weather conditions, as well as foot traffic. It also has a competitive price point compared to other commercial roofing options. However, like any roofing system, it has its cons. MB roofing has a shorter lifespan compared to other materials such as metal roofing and requires regular maintenance to ensure its effectiveness. 

Maintenance for MB roofing includes regular inspections for damage or wear, especially in high traffic areas, as well as cleaning to prevent debris buildup or algae growth. Replacement or repair of damaged sections should be done promptly to avoid further damage. 

Overall, Modified Bitumen (MB) roofing is a versatile commercial roofing material with effective waterproofing protection and the ability to handle heavy foot traffic. However, its shorter lifespan and regular maintenance requirements should be taken into consideration when choosing a commercial roofing option. 

Single-ply Membranes 

Single-ply membranes have become a popular roofing option for commercial buildings due to their cost-effectiveness and excellent waterproofing and UV protection capabilities. Among the single-ply membranes, EPDM rubber roofs stand out for their good track record as a commercial roofing material. 

EPDM, which stands for ethylene propylene diene terpolymer, is a synthetic rubber material that offers exceptional protection from the weather. It can easily form-fit to any type of roof, making it a versatile option for most commercial properties.

One of the main advantages of EPDM rubber roofs is their ability to resist damage caused by extreme weather conditions such as hailstorms, high winds, and heavy rainfall. This makes them a reliable option for property owners looking for a long-lasting and low maintenance roofing system. 

Overall, EPDM rubber roofs have proven to be a dependable and affordable roofing option for commercial buildings. Their excellent protection from the elements and ability to easily mold to any roof make them a popular choice among building owners and commercial roofing contractors. 

Green or Vegetation Covers

Green or Vegetation Covers

When considering commercial roofing systems, business owners should take a closer look at the many benefits of green or vegetation covers. As the name suggests, this type of roofing system involves covering the roof with plants and vegetation, which can protect the building from the elements while improving energy efficiency and aiding in water management. 

Green roofs absorb rainwater and help filter out pollutants, which can help prevent flooding and reduce water pollution. Additionally, they can reduce the urban “heat island” effect and decrease overall energy costs by providing additional insulation and reducing the need for HVAC. Finally, green roofs could qualify for certain incentives and certifications, making them an attractive option for environmentally conscious building owners. 

However, green roofs also require more ongoing maintenance than traditional commercial roofing materials, which can be costly and time-consuming. They may require more durable roofing materials and increased structural support since the weight of soil, plants, and water can add up. Yet, despite the potential drawbacks, green roofs are becoming more popular for commercial properties and offer a wide variety of benefits for building owners to consider. 

Synthetic Rubber Materials 

Synthetic rubber materials have become increasingly popular for use in commercial roofing due to their durability and versatility. EPDM, or ethylene propylene diene monomer, is one such material that is commonly used on flat and low-sloped roofs. 

EPDM is a synthetic rubber membrane that is typically black in color and comes in large rolls that make for easy installation. It is highly resistant to weathering, hail, and even fire. Additionally, it has excellent UV resistance, which means it can withstand exposure to direct sunlight without degrading. 

One of the primary advantages of EPDM is its cost-effectiveness. It is relatively inexpensive compared to other roofing materials, making it a popular choice for commercial buildings. Additionally, it is easy to install and maintain, and can have a lifespan of up to 30 years. 

On the downside, its black color can absorb heat, increasing energy costs for buildings. Additionally, it is not puncture-resistant, which can result in leaks if not properly maintained. Lastly, its seams can be vulnerable to damage, which can also lead to leaks over time.

Overall, EPDM is a durable and cost-effective option for commercial roofing, particularly for flat and low-sloped roofs. Its properties make it ideal for buildings that require a long lasting and low-maintenance roofing solution. 

Energy Efficiency and Building Codes for Commercial Properties

Energy Efficiency and Building Codes for Commercial Properties

When choosing a new commercial roofing material, business owners need to consider various building codes and energy efficiency guidelines that can impact the durability, energy efficiency, and overall cost of the roofing system. 

Commercial building codes vary based on location and can dictate everything from the slope and type of roof to the materials that can be used. Energy efficiency guidelines, such as those set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program, aim to reduce energy consumption by promoting the use of materials that reflect sunlight and reduce heat absorption. 

Following these codes and guidelines can ultimately impact the durability and lifespan of the roofing system. For example, materials that reflect sunlight and reduce heat absorption can help reduce the need for air conditioning, leading to lower energy costs over time. Additionally, using materials that are resistant to weathering and other environmental factors can increase the overall durability and lifespan of the roofing system, reducing the need for costly repairs and replacements. 

While following these codes and guidelines may initially add to the cost of a roofing system, in the long run they can result in significant cost savings for commercial property owners. 


In conclusion, selecting the best commercial roofing material for your business depends on a variety of factors, including building codes, energy efficiency guidelines, and the type of roof. Synthetic rubber materials such as EPDM can be an ideal choice for flat and low sloped roofs due to their durability and cost-effectiveness. Green roofs may also provide benefits but require more maintenance. By considering these factors when choosing a commercial roofing material, business owners can ensure they select a solution that will meet their needs while providing long-term savings. 

FAQs on Choosing the Best Commercial Roofing Material for Your Business

What are the benefits of using flexible roof types for commercial roofing projects?

Flexible roof types provide excellent durability and weather resistance and can easily be tailored to fit a variety of roof shapes. They also tend to be more cost-effective than other materials, as they require less maintenance and repair over their lifespan.

What type of material is best suited for flat roof types?

Thermoplastic Roof Membranes are a popular choice for flat roofs, as they provide excellent waterproofing capabilities and are extremely durable in cold weather climates. Additionally, reflective properties can help reduce energy costs by reflecting sunlight away from the building, while silicone-coated steel can withstand extreme heat and protect against UV rays.

Are there any special instructions I should follow when selecting a material for an apartment building?

Yes, it is important to consider the local building codes when selecting a material for an apartment building or any other commercial property. Additionally, energy efficiency guidelines such as those set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star program should be followed to ensure that the chosen material meets all required standards for energy efficiency and durability.