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Even those of us who are terrible artists can draw a stick figure home. It’s as easy as sketching a simple square on the bottom and adding a triangle on top. But did you know that this style of roof is known as a gable roof? Not only is it the easiest way to draw a home, but it’s also one of the most popular roof styles in the United States. You can drive down a residential street and notice the different styles of residential roof styles you see. Some people may even be able to name a few different types. But what about the different commercial roof styles? Unless you’re a roofing contractor, you may be up for a bit of a challenge! Thankfully, that’s why we’re here.

Getting to Know You

If you’re currently in the process of planning the construction of a new office building or if you’re simply replacing an outdated commercial roof, there are six main classifications you’re bound to see when doing your research: thermoplastic roofing, EPDM roofing, green roofs, built-up (BUR) roofing membrane, metal roofing, and modified bitumen roofing. Each of these roof styles has pros and cons, and one size definitely doesn’t fit all. It’s important to consider things such as the climate where you’re building, your budget, surrounding foliage, and the size and design of your building structure before selecting the best commercial roof for your needs.

To help you understand what it takes to create a quality, long-lasting commercial roof, let’s look at the six most common commercial roof styles and materials, what the pros and cons are of each, and how to find the best roof contractor for your project!

Thermoplastic Roofing

If you’ve ever set foot in a restaurant, chances are pretty high that it was topped with thermoplastic roofing. Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO) and Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC) roof styles are not only lightweight, highly reflective, and resistant to UV light, they also offer a high level of protection against most chemicals, including oils, animal fats, and bacterial growth. This protection makes them a popular choice for commercial properties with roofing vents that emit oils or fats.

Another great aspect of thermoplastic roofing is its ability to withstand high temperatures and dangerous weather conditions, including heavy rain, winds, hail, and even pieces of debris often seen in hurricanes. The material can also be treated with a colorant, flame retardants, and other add-ons,  which make it a versatile choice for your business. In addition, TPO also resists mold and mildew growth, tears and punctures, and dirt accumulation. The material is incredibly flexible and can withstand the setting, expansion, and contracting that many structures experience in a more effective manner than other commercial roof materials.

But what about the cost? TPO was first created as a more efficient and budget-friendly alternative to PVC roofing products. TPO offers similar pros to PVC roof styles, including hot-air weld-able seams and improved energy efficiency, but at a lower price point. Believe it or not, thermoplastic roofing is actually affordable, especially when considering the longevity and lack of repairs typically needed. In general, TPO single-ply membranes that receive regular inspections from a roof contractor can last for more than 20 years. The heat-resistant nature of the material can also lessen heating and cooling costs for the business, making it a great option for your commercial roof!

EPDM Roofing

EPDM roofing is one of the most affordable options on the market right now, making it another of the most popular roof styles for people in the market for a commercial roof. Also known as rubber roofing, rolled rubber roofing, or rubber membrane roofing, EPDM is made from recycled tires, sawdust, and slate dust, which is one of the main reasons it’s so affordable. But don’t be skeptical. This isn’t one of those “you get what you pay for” situations. In fact, EPDM is not only affordable in terms of the material itself, but it’s also incredibly lightweight, removing the need for reinforcement of the roof. EPDM roofing is long-lasting, and the lack of numerous seams helps prevent leaks.  Even if a leak does occur, the material is easy to patch and repair.

While EPDM roofing may seem like one of the best styles for any project, there are a few drawbacks that should be discussed with your roof contractor. For example, due to its composition, EPDM doesn’t exactly provide great curb appeal. For those looking for a commercial roof that can be seen from the street, this may be a concern. Another issue to address is the area’s climate. EPDM primarily comes in black, leading to a high rate of heat absorption that transfers to the structure below. While the material does come in lighter colors, you won’t find it at the same price point as the darker version. Customers can expect to pay an additional 30% more per square foot when looking for a lighter color EPDM for a warmer climate.

Another downside to consider is the delicate nature of EPDM. The material can be easily punctured by anything from falling tree branches to improper footwear worn by an inexperienced roof contractor walking on the roof. While it’s true that EPDM is easy to repair, if a leak is not caught quickly, the water damage to the structure itself can be a costly mistake to fix. This can quickly take away from the budget-friendly aspect of EPDM, and business owners should take any potential threats to the structural integrity of their roof into consideration when selecting a commercial roof material.

Built-Up Roofing Membrane

Built-up roofing, more commonly referred to as BUR, is one of the most common and incredibly simple roof styles. It’s created by layering bitumen and reinforcing fabrics, though the number of layers varies depending on durability and cost requirements. This roof style has been in use for more than 100 years and is often referred to as a “tar and gravel” roof.

Though the term bitumen may sound overly-technical, it usually consists of asphalt, coal tar, or cold-applied adhesive. While the National Roofing Contractors Association, also known as NRCA, doesn’t recommend a specific product or manufacturer to use when selecting your BUR membrane, it does suggest that the materials used meet the standards established by ASTM, a global standards development non-profit.

If you’re looking at roof styles based on cost but without a compromise on durability, BUR is a great option to discuss with your roof contractor. A licensed professional can help you determine the number of layers your structure will need, as well as any external forces that may need to be addressed in regard to durability.

Metal Roofing

If you’re looking for an attractive, sustainable look but aren’t sure about committing to a green roof, metal roofing may be a good style to investigate with your roof contractor. Metal is a popular option for a commercial roof due to its versatility in appearance and material choices. Metal types include copper, tin, metal tile sheets, zinc, aluminum, silicon-coated steel aggregates, corrugated galvanized steel, stainless steel, stone-coated steel, and lead.

Though metal is susceptible to rust, there are several additives that can protect these roof styles from damage. Metal has many benefits aside from being attractive, including increased fire resistance ratings and durability. However, if you’re concerned about budget and durability, the appearance of your roof may be less important than other factors.

Modified Bitumen Roofing

With a structure similar to BUR, modified bitumen roof styles were designed to provide roof contractors with an even greater variety of options than available with previously-used built-up roofs. While modified bitumen roofs can be installed via hot mop or cold process, they can also be installed by utilizing an innovative self-adhering sheet. This commercial roof material is manufactured with a paper backing that is rolled back as the sheet is applied. When the paper covering the adhesive material is removed, the sheet attaches to the roof surface. Utilizing this method eliminates the dangers associated with applying BUR, including torches, hot asphalt, and fumes created by volatile organic chemicals (VOC) during the application process.

Modified Bitumen Roofing has several pros and cons that should be discussed and evaluated with your roof contractor prior to installation. The pros include a durable, reliable surface with a history of success in withstanding foot traffic and weathering.  The main cons include the price for labor and materials, dangers to workers when utilizing certain installation methods, and the reinforcement necessary to withstand the weight of the material. In addition, the equipment required to install modified bitumen roofing is still fairly uncommon among many roof contractors, making it more difficult to find a licensed professional willing to undertake the project.

Green Roof

If you’re looking to make a lasting impact on the environment while saving money and adding curb appeal, we have a great commercial roof option for you! Green roofs, also known as living roofs, are becoming an increasingly popular option as more people look to create spaces that are not only environmentally friendly but attractive as well.

A green roof is a great choice for a commercial roof because it can protect the structure from the elements in a manner that is beautiful, effective in terms of water runoff and drainage, and more energy-efficient than traditional options. Green roof systems are an extension of the existing roof structure and include a high-quality waterproof layer, root repellent system, drainage, filter cloth, a thin layer of growing medium, and greenery.

There are two main types of green roof styles: extensive and intensive. Extensive green roofs are typically thin and lightweight, with planting material such as soil measuring between two and six inches deep. Intensive roofs are heavier and thicker, with soil depth ranging from six to 18 inches or more. While extensive green roof styles are often lighter than many other styles such as BUR or metal roofs, intensive roofs can be far, far heavier and require additional structural support.

There are numerous benefits to installing a green roof, including the creation of a more beautiful space, improved landfill diversion, improved air quality, a reduction in the urban heat island effect, and even noise reduction for the structure itself. As our culture continues to increase its conversations surrounding the future of the environment, green roof styles will also become more marketable. Research has shown that green roofs have been identified in facilitating building sales, increased property values due to increased efficiency, easier employee recruiting, and lower employee and tenant turnover. Green roof styles can also help facilitate educational opportunities surrounding biology, green roof technology, and biodiversity.

However, there are also important aspects to discuss with your roof contractor if you are thinking about adding a green element to your commercial roof. These include the intended slope and existing roofing materials, any drainage system, electrical, and water supply already in place. You will need to know who will have access to the roof, what type of sun and wind exposure the structure receives, and who will be responsible for performing any maintenance.

Narrowing Down Your Options

As with any major construction decision, it’s important to consult the pros to ensure you’re making the best choice for your business. Model City Roofing was founded on a tradition of excellence and ranks amongst the top one percent of roof contractors across the nation. Not only do we offer residential roofing services completed by certified, licensed, and insured roof contractors, we are also trained in commercial roof installation. Whether you need a roof on a brand-new structure or you are replacing an outdated or damaged roof, we offer 100% financing with no interest and no payments for 18 months. We guarantee the highest quality installation of a wide variety of roof styles at competitive prices, all backed by the best warranties available. If you’re located in Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, Panama City, or the surrounding areas of Florida, or in the Tri-cities area of Tennessee, contact us today by email or via our website for a free quote.

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