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Most Common Commercial Roofs & Roofing Materials

Commercial roofs come in many different forms; each having their own advantages and disadvantages. Most often, the integrity of the commercial roof is impacted by the surrounding environment, weather, and critters. This article will provide you with an overview on the various types of commercial roofs so that you can make more informed decisions about choosing one.

Commercial roofs are typically flat or low slope. Due to their slope, there are various materials that can be used for commercial roofs. The most common roof classifications for commercial roofs include:

  • Built-Up Roofing (BUR) Membrane
  • Metal Roofing
  • Modified Bitumen Roofing
  • Thermoset (EPDM) Roof Membrane
  • Shingle Roof Technique
  • Thermoplastic (PVC & TPO) Roof Membrane
  • Garden “Green” Roofing System
  • Silicone Roof Coating

1. Built-Up Roofing Membrane

Built-up roofing (BUR) systems are commonly referred to as “tar and gravel” roofs. Built-up roofs are flexible as the number of layers (or piles) can be varied to help control costs or meet certain durability requirements. Installation occurs by alternating layers of asphalt or tar and supporting fabrics directly onto the roof. The final layer of a built-up roofing system will consist of stone or gravel. This type of roof system has been in use for decades and is the most cost-effective option for commercial roofs.

2. Metal Roofing

For commercial buildings, metal roofing is also a popular choice. There are many different types of material that are available for this type of roofing system, such as:

  • Corrugated galvanized steel
  • Aggregates of zinc, aluminum, and silicon-coated steel
  • Metal tile sheets
  • Copper
  • Aluminum
  • Stainless steel
  • Stone-coated steel
  • Tin
  • Lead

With metal, there is always the chance that rusting can occur. To prevent such, protective surface layers are added to manage prolonged exposure to sunlight and other environmental dangers. Durability, fire-resistance, and overall attractiveness are key benefits that can be attributed to metal roofs.

3. Modified Bitumen Roofing

Modified bitumen roofing is asphalt-based and a modern rendition of built-up roofing. Modified bitumen roofs offer the same levels of protection as a built-up roof would provide. These roofing systems are typically fastened to commercial rooftops as two-ply systems, adhered to the roofing deck for maximum stability and protection. Modified bitumen roofs are easy to maintain and should be cleaned and inspected each year.

4. Thermoset Roof Membrane

Also known as EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) or rubber roofing, thermoset roof membrane is versatile, durable, and relatively low-cost. They are comparatively easy to install and very lightweight as the roof deck does not need to be reinforced. Made of highly durable rubber, thermoset roofs provide protection against the weather and a strong resistance to UV rays. Additionally, they provide great flexibility in colder temperatures as well as a resistance to alcohol, acids, and solvents.

5. Thermoplastic Roof Membrane

Thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) and poly vinyl chloride (PVC) roofing systems have become a very popular option among commercial building owners. When using TPO or PVC, a permanent bond between the seams of each roofing sheet is created as the plastics in the membrane are melted together. This method helps to reduce leaks. Thermoplastic roofs are also reflective, lightweight, and resistant to UV rays, animal fats, and bacterial growth. Such resistances make thermoplastic roofs a great option for restaurants and other businesses that may emit oils and/or fats from their ventilation systems. Additional benefits can include resistance to strong winds and fires and high-temperature tolerance.

6. Shingle Roof Technique

Most commercial along with residential property owners prefer to use shingles on their roofs, especially if they are designed with steep pitches. Various types of shingles exist, which makes it easier for every person to install whatever they prefer. Common options are asphalt, ceramic, slate, architectural, and plastic shingles. The roofing technique’s affordability, versatility, and ease of installation make it a great choice for most people.

Despite the many benefits, shingle roofing does not have a longer lifespan, especially when used on commercial roofs. It also provides an ideal thriving ground for moss and mildew when installed in a shaded location.

7. Commercial Roof and Garden “Green” Roofing

Green roofs are multi-functional as they protect commercial buildings from the elements and also have the ability to manage water, drainage, and improve energy efficiency. Green roofs involve the creation of “contained” green space on top of a human-made structure. Not only will you have an environmentally-friendly property but, one that is stunning to look at.

Now that you know what types of commercial roofing materials are available, you can make an informed decision about what type of replacement is needed for your building. Interested in getting the installation process started? Contact D’Angelo & Sons Roofing & Exteriors today!

8. Silicone Roof Coating

Silicone roof coating, also known as Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF), is a roofing technique that involves spraying the material in a liquid state before it turns into a foam and hardens into a solid. The spray can be applied on top of an existing roof, which makes it a perfect coating. It is friendly to the environment and has been around for a very long time despite its limited popularity.

The silicone roofing provides a water-resistant layer to the roof, which is crucial for properties in Canada. The technique is also suitable for all types of roofs in any location, regardless of the climatic conditions in that region. When installed properly, the coating can last up to 50 years.

On the downside, installing the coating requires optimal weather conditions and should be inspected at least twice every year.


The roofing technique you choose should depend on the type of property – whether commercial or domestic, the roof design, and the purpose of the roof, exposure to weather elements like the sun, high winds, and temperature fluctuations. Because of all the factors involved in roofing technique and material selection, consulting an expert is the best move.
D’Angelo & Sons has been in business for decades and is one of the best companies to consult when you need professional help with selecting and installing any roofing type.