Commercial Flat Roof Systems
When it comes to commercial roofing, more and more commercial buildings are utilizing flat roof systems. Flat roof systems (as opposed to low-slope or steep-slope) come in several varieties, each variety having different qualities. Depending on they type of building, size of roof, budget, and even owner goals, one system may prove to be a better option over the others. The information below can be used as a starting point when discussing which flat roof system will best suit your needs.
“Built Up” or “Tar and Gravel Roofing”
Built up roofing (BUR) is one of the oldest commercial roofing types. Despite it’s age, it still proves to be a durable solution on some modern applications. BUR is constructed using a continuous and semi-flexible membrane made of fabric or felt layers. These layers of fabric or felt are called “piles.” Piles are alternated with asphalt-based materials such as tar/bitumen and aggregate, which is where we get the name “tar and gravel” roofing. This results in an extremely durable and relatively easy to repair roofing system. The major downsides of this system are it is not as energy-efficient as the more modern materials and does not offer any level of reflectivity.
PVC and TPO Roofing
PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin) roofing systems are types of single-ply membrane roofing. These materials come in rolls which are unfurled and adhered with heat to the roof deck. The seams are then welded to make them waterproof. These roof systems offer the benefit of reflectivity and are light in color. They also offer a high level of chemical resistance, which makes them ideal for food production operations where oils or fats may be exhausting onto your rooftop. While the system sounds relatively simple, the downside is that the installation process is quite labor-intensive and requires the expertise of an experienced roofer to ensure proper installation.
EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) roofing is a single-ply membrane, rubber-like material that is excellent in both fatigue and impact resistance. It is a very durable material, holds up well to weather, and is less likely to be damaged by things like hail or debris. To install, large sheets of this “rubber roofing” material are measured out over the roof and adhered with a roll-on adhesive. With proper installation and upkeep, an EPDM roof can last for 40+ years. While not typically a reflective material, steps can be taken to increase its efficiency.
Modified Bitumen Roofing
Modified Bitumen Roofing, also called Mod Bit Roofing, is another system that may be referred to as “rubber roofing.” Similar to BUR, this system is build up in layers, however instead of alternating asphalt-based layers, a petroleum-based substance is used. This gives the resulting roof the properties and appearance of rubber. One significant benefit of Mod Bit Roofing is its ability to handle foot traffic due to its thickness. Most Mod Bit Roofing is made up of self-adhering “cold process” sheet material, meaning it does not require any heat during installation. Like EPDM, this roofing system is not reflective and therefore, not the most energy efficient flat roofing solution. However, when properly installed, this system is incredibly durable and can last many years.
Each of the above roofing systems offers unique solutions to commercial buildings around the country. Whether your goal is to create a long-lasting, durable roof, or to install something energy-efficient, there is a flat roof system to meet your needs. Our flat roof installation crews and project managers have been trained to properly install each of these systems and will ensure that your roof will last for decades. To stretch the life of your roof even farther, we recommend our commercial maintenance program. Our technicians will perform annual inspections and repairs to help keep your roof in peak conditions, giving you peace of mind and confidence in the longevity of your roof.