Types of Flat Roofing for Commercial Buildings

Types of Flat Roofing for Commercial Buildings

Get the facts about whether or not a flat roof is a good idea for your commercial and take a look at the different types of flat roofing materials.

When it comes to the roof of your commercial building, one of the most important decisions you may face is whether or not to install a flat roof.

Flat roofs often get a bad rap because they are associated with poor drainage. But the facts are that not only are there ways to properly install drainage for your flat roof, there are many other advantages that come with this architectural style.

Benefits of A Flat Roof

The benefits of choosing a flat roof for commercial / industrial use are:

  • They are structurally more attractive for larger, commercial building
  • They are often easier and less expensive.
  • They require less building materials than pitched roofs.
  • They increase design flexibility and functionality, often making it easier to install heating and cooling equipment to the attic or roof area.

When deciding whether you would like a flat roof for your commercial property, you might consider which types of roofing materials are used in flat roof construction before committing to this design style. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular materials used.

Asphalt Built Up Roof

The built up roof (BUR) system is one of the oldest and least expensive flat roofing options. During the application, hot asphalt is mopped onto the surface of the roof. Four layers of asphalt are optimal, but many people choose to apply only three layers for cost efficiency. The layers of asphalt are separated by fiberglass felt, and BUR systems are typically protected from UV radiation with a cap sheet or a layer of gravel.

The chief drawback that comes with using asphalt for your flat roofing material is that it is an extremely brittle material. If the asphalt is not applied at the perfect temperature it can negatively impact the lifespan of the roofing system.

Modified Membranes

A modified membrane roofing system addresses the problem of brittleness found in the BUR system. Polymer modifiers are added to the asphalt when the roofing system materials are manufactured. This adds flexibility to the system. There are different types of modified membrane roofing systems. Call or email us to find out more about your options for this here locally in southern Louisiana and Mississippi.

PVC Roofing Systems

PVC stands for poly vinyl chloride. This is simply a technical way of referring to plastic roofing systems. Plasticizers are infused within the roofing material to create a flexible material. While these products have advanced to become quite stable, there is a chance that the roofing system will lose its plasticizers gradually over a great deal of time. When this happens, the roof will become brittle, as it would when using a BUR system.

TPO Roofing Systems

TPO refers to a thermoplastic roof. PVC is also a form of thermoplastic roof. The difference between the two is that TPO systems do not contain plasticizers. While a TPO is more flexible than a BUR system, because it lacks plasticizers from the beginning, it is slightly less flexible initially than the PVC materials. If you opt for a TPO roofing system, be sure your contractor uses materials that have been formulated to include UV and fire resistance additives.

EPDM Rubber Roofing

EPDM roofing systems have become increasingly popular among commercial property owners. These are rubber roofs that are resistant to chemicals. EPDM roofs are susceptible to minor shrinkage, but as long as they are adhered properly, this is not typically a problem.

Now that you understand the primary roofing materials used for flat roof construction, perhaps you can better decide if you would like to use these materials to protect your commercial building. If you are still unsure, call or email us today to discuss the specifics of your project for more specific advice.


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