(5-min read)

Whether you’re looking to build a new commercial building or you’ve just purchased one that realtors would say is “ready for new imaginations” — either way, you have some major decisions to make. In our last article, we gave a brief overview of the most popular commercial roofing styles. In this article, we’re going to take a quick look at some popular roofing materials for commercial buildings, including what some like about them as well as what they don’t.

To Repair or Replace; That is the Question

Some commercial roofs will need to be completely removed and a new roof installed. Others, however, may be able to get by for years to come with a professional repair. If your roof needs a few areas fixed or if a completely new roofing job is best, knowing which is best can save you time and money.


PVC Membrane Roofing Material

A popular roofing material for commercial buildings is a membrane made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC). This material is rolled out in large sheets and then fit into place by a roofing professional.

Why People Like It:

Builders and commercial building owners alike like PVC roofing membranes partially due to their track record. PVC has proven itself as a roofing material that protects roofs against moisture damage. On the other end of the spectrum, PVC is fire resistant. The material can also hold its own against tears and holes due to wear.

Why People Don’t Like It:

PVC is undoubtedly tough, but it’s not all that cheap. Initial installations of PVC roofing materials for large commercial buildings can be quite expensive. Though this is the case, it usually ends up paying for itself in reduced maintenance costs as well as fire protection. Who can put a price on a roof that can prevent fires?


TPO Membrane Roofing Material

If PVC is the trusted standby, TPO is the new kid on the block. Thermoplastic polyolein (TPO) is a relatively new alternative to PVC. Installed in a similar fashion, this more affordable option has received rave reviews from commercial roofing professionals since it hit the market in 1986.

Why People Like It:

TPO shares a lot of the characteristics that commercial building owners like about PVC, though it tends to be more affordable to install initially. The outer membrane of the material is reasonably slick, allowing water and snow to slide towards drains and gutters easily. TPO is also completely recyclable, making it favored by the environmentally conscious.

Why People Don’t Like It:

It’s not that people don’t like TPO as much as they may not trust it. Because of its relatively short time on the market, the material hasn’t had the chance to become “time tested” to the degree that its alternatives have.


EPDM Membrane Roofing Material

For those with flat roofs, water collection is a real issue. In response to this concern is ethylene propylene diene methylene (EPDM). That mouthful is a synthetic rubber coating material for flat and low-sloped roofs.

Why People Like It:

Though it sounds fancy, EPDM has been used on flatter commercial building roofs for over 60 years — making it a trusted favorite for many building owners and commercial construction professionals. It’s naturally black, a favored color for roofs in colder climates.

Why People Don’t Like It:

Because of the rubber composition of EPDM, hotter weather may cause it to shrink and tear as it ages. This material also requires more maintenance than some of its alternatives due to the fragility of the seam tape and adhesives used to keep it in place.


Retrofitted Metal Roofing Material

When it comes to commercial roofing materials that are familiar, you can’t get much more familiar than metal. Even if a commercial metal building didn’t initially have a metal roof, retrofit metal roofing is possible along with a robust protective membrane.

Why People Like It:

Metal retrofitting for commercial roofs is a reasonably affordable way to safeguard your commercial building — especially ones that are along in years. Another perk is business as usual during installation — while many other types of roof installation usually require a period of shutdown, metal retrofitting is installed on top of existing roofs. This pre-existing roof allows shops and businesses to stay open during an install. Metal retrofit roofs are also completely recyclable, making them an environmentally-friendly choice.

Why People Don’t Like It:

A metal retrofit roof is essentially a patch job that lays over your existing roof. Though this is the case, it’s a patch job that covers your entire roof and can extend the life of it for 20 or more years.


Having trouble deciding? Let us help.

We understand that we just threw a lot at you. If you need help with your commercial construction project or remodel, your friends at Cowen Construction can help.

Learn more about Cowen Construction today.