How To Pick The Best Commercial Roofing Material

In selecting the best roofing material for your commercial property, ignore the hype. Choose what is right for your situation, your building, your budget, and your needs.  

Commercial Not Residential

To begin, make certain you work with a commercial roofer who knows the difference between commercial roofing and residential roofing. The processes of commercial roof applications are vastly different than residential installation. 

Here are five areas to watch for:

  1. Low-slope roof versus steep-slope — most residential homes are steep-slope roofs (having a pitch greater than 3:12, or three inches rise for every 12 running inches); these roofs are perfectly suited for fiberglass-asphalt shingles, tiles, and metal roofs but are not right for low-slope materials
  2. Materials — Commercial-grade roofing materials generally wear longer, cost more, and are heavier than residential-grade materials
  3. Maintenance — Residential roofs are designed for minimal maintenance because manufacturers know homeowners “set it and forget it;” commercial roofs require semiannual maintenance, inspection, and repair to preserve capital investment
  4. Contractor skills — Though one contractor may install residential and commercial roofs, the application skills are not the same; commercial crews are highly trained in all types of installations, from BUR to PVC and more
  5. Insurance and licensing — Workers compensation, liability and umbrella insurance become significant with the high expense of a commercial roof; commercial licensing is a must

When interviewing prospective commercial roofers, ensure the roofer has adequate training, equipment, and experience in commercial roof installation and re-roofing. You do not have to know all the right answers, but be sure to ask all the right questions. 

Best Roofing Material

The best roofing material for your commercial building may not be the best choice for your neighbor and his warehouse. Avoid thinking one roof fits all. Work with your local, trustworthy commercial roofer to determine which of these is best for your needs: 

  1. Modified Bitumen (Mod Bit) and Built-Up Roofing (BUR) — These traditional, multi-ply systems with granulated finishes can be put down cold or hot; these are the oldest, most time-tested and economical commercial roof materials available
  2. TPO — Thermoplastic Polyolefin, a single-ply roofing membrane, is one of the fastest-growing commercial roofing systems currently available; TPO roofing uses a single layer of synthetics and a reinforcing scrim that is either mechanically attached or fully adhered using chemical adhesives
  3. PVC — Polyvinyl Chloride membrane is a single-ply, mechanically attached or fully adhered scrim system similar to TPO but generally with longer-lasting results and minimal upkeep requirements
  4. Liquid-applied membrane and coatings — Acrylic, urethane, silicone; with reinforced, non-reinforced or reflective components
  5. Shingles — Fiberglass-asphalt shingles in commercial-grade configurations like architectural, high-definition, or designer shingles; these are especially useful in commercial applications requiring a homey look, or for entry porches and porticos
  6. Metal Roofs — Flat seam and standing seam metal roofing for both low-slope and steep-slope commercial applications can withstand Florida’s strongest winds, blistering heat, and torrential rains; life span can easily be double that of TPO or PVC roofs
  7. Tiles — No other roofing material has the longevity of ceramic or concrete tile; with proper maintenance, a steep-slope tile roof on a commercial building can last 100 years 

The ideal roof depends on what your business needs. Work with your trusted, reliable commercial roofer to design a re-roofing plan suitable to your budget, occupancy forecast, maintenance abilities, and public image:

  • If you know you will vacate your warehouse in five years, no roofer will recommend a PVC replacement when a less expensive BUR or Mod Bit roof will do the job
  • If part of your business model is a public image that tugs at nostalgic heartstrings, shingles and tile may be the right fit for you
  • If you need high-quality, long-lasting and low-maintenance roofing, PVC is hard to beat
  • If you need waterproofing, consider which brush-applied or spray coatings best complement the material

Our point is, your circumstances and your commercial roofer help determine the best commercial roofing material for your business. 

Best Contractor

Material selection is really a small part of the strategy for re-roofing successfully. Getting the best contractor is a far more important decision.

Begin your search for the right roofer by inviting competitive bids. You may need to meet with three or four representatives, each of whom should walk the roof and readily answer your questions:

  • What is the best commercial roofing material for this building?
  • How would you go about waterproofing this flat roof?
  • What installation time frame are you looking at?
  • What safety, site access, or customer care issues do you foresee?

Compare bids, contact references, and then choose not only the best material but the best commercial contractor for your building. Make sure one of those bids comes from PSI Roofing, acknowledged leaders in commercial roofing and re-roofing in South Florida. Contact us today and get the right answers to all of your questions.