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Commercial Roofing Projects: Here’s What You Need To Know

Even though nowadays there are lots of roofing options at your disposal, it always comes down to one and the same thing: you have to install a roof that will keep the interior of the building dry.

Among various alternatives, flat roofs stand out as proven and universal. They are very economical and efficient making them a great choice for both commercial and residential projects. However, before you make a choice regarding a new roof, we implore you to consider various products, their features, maintenance options, warranties as well as attachment options.

If you’re a homeowner looking to buy a new roof, there are lots of online review talking about features of different materials, their use, and so on. If you’re a contractor, we suggest that you visit NRCA (National Roofing Contractors Association) website that provides more than enough resources for all future. Another great features of NCRA site is that it has subsection called Everybody Needs a Roof where you can learn more about materials, ask questions that were bothering you and get connected to contractors.

Above is a NCRA market survey performed in 2015-2016. It breaks down the most popular roof systems in the USA.

Analyzing various roofing systems

  • Roofing systems sprayed with foam and with applied liquid

Liquid membranes on roofs have both hot and cold polymer-modified asphalt. They also consist of coal tar-extended urethane as well as two-component urethane elastomer. The liquid membrane can be tricky as it requires lots of preparation.

  • Metal roofing

Metal is one of the most popular materials for roofs. It has been used for several millennia and has been produced by using various types of metals. Nowadays, these roofs are primarily made from corrugated galvanized steel but there are also other materials being used as well. There are lots of reasons why you should choose this type of a roof. They are very durable, can last for a while and are good against fires.

Metal roofs with low slope usually are sold together with a painted mill finish or a clear acrylic finish. In some cases, machine seaming will be necessary for installation. With this, the roof will be properly sealed. Great thing about low slope metal roofs is that they are a great solution for rain and snow. After installation, they will be able to drain liquids downwards avoiding any retention of water above your head. Because of that, they often have a longer life span than their counterparts.

  • Vegetative roof systems

Today, there is more and more talk about environmentally-friendly solutions. Roofing industry is also following the trend in its own way. Vegetative roof systems are roofs with high sustainability and focused on preservation. Nevertheless, they are quite efficient. Every vegetative roof uses plants on top. Because they are water absorbent, these plants are a great solution for heavy rain. Still, they also rely on a roofing membrane that helps with integrity and water tightness.

  • Asphalt roofs

When it comes to commercial flat roofs, asphalt roofs remain the most popular option on the North American market. They are extremely popular due to their price. However, they are also rather reliable based on the cost. You can choose between three main categories including modified bitumen, built up roofing and hybrid systems.

  • Built up roofing

Built up roofing is the oldest of three categories. It has been in use for more than 100 years and is regarded as one of the most popular options in general. Combination of roofing felts and asphalt is used for their production. They come in several layers which is prevents leaking: if one layer goes down, there are other ones to cover it. Built up roofs have several advantages due to their weight. In other words, they don’t exert as much pressure on the structure as some other materials do. They also are providing solid puncture and thermal shock resistance.

Besides the two before mentioned materials, these roofs can also have fiberglass, organic felts and SBS. Like with many other roofs, companies are experimenting a lot with them and trying to incorporate new substances in order to improve their properties while downplaying flaws. Built up roofs use the standard application procedure and provide various options to buyers such as choosing base sheets, felts and bulk asphalt.

  • Modified bitumen

The term “modified” refers to the fact that these roofs have factory-made layers of asphalt that are changed in one way or another. Plastic or rubber are usually used as substances that have high flexibility. Then, the product will be further reinforced with things such as polyester mats, scrims or fiberglass.

Modified bitumen is usually used for atactic polypropylene and styrene butadiene styrene, either of which are later on added to asphalt.

In most of the cases, the roof’s membranes are installed as a multiply system. Sometimes, depending on which types of a modifier was used, it will affect the installation process. Unlike some other types of roofs, modified bitumen is rather easy to install. On top of that, it is rather easy to maintain and doesn’t cost too much.

  • Hybrid systems

Lastly, we need to mention hybrid systems.

These low slope commercials roofs are combination of two previously mentioned roof types. Like most modified roofs, they are made as a way of countering certain flaws. Still, their use is limited. Hybrid systems consist of two or three hot-mopped glass fiber felts followed by a modified bitumen cap sheet.

Single ply systems

  • Single ply membrane systems

When it comes to reliable roofing products, single ply systems are definitely at the top of the list. Most of these roofs have a long life expectancy without too much maintenance. In that regard, they are quite economic.

But single ply isn’t a new thing; the market for these items has expended in the last 30 years or so and for a several reasons. First and foremost, petroleum prices have steadily increased since 1980s which forced companies and contractors to seek other solutions. We also need to consider the fact that single ply systems require much less labor than your traditional roofs.

These products are made from synthetic compounds under strict supervision. They are very strong and flexible with lots of durability. But perhaps the best thing about them is the fact you always know what you’re getting. Unlike asphalt items, single ply roofs are much more standardized due to easier production process leaving little guessing. In this article we will mention the two categories of single ply products, thermoplastic membranes and thermoset membranes.

  • Thermoplastic membranes

Created from various polymers, these items have the ability to either be softened or hardened when exposed to extreme temperatures. Standard installation is used for the roofs. There is also an option of welding the membranes together which creates a strong bond (even stronger than the base material itself).

  • Thermoset membranes

These products are made from rubber polymers. Usually, ethylene propylene diene monomer is used as the main substance. You can choose the material in either black or white and it is rather durable. Among numerous reasons why you should choose thermoset membranes is their resilience to sunlight and chemicals found on roof.

  • Insulation materials

When choosing the right roof for commercial buildings, there are lots of things that need to be considered. Most people wrongfully focus on things such as durability and price (not that they don’t matter) completely neglecting other factors such as insulation.

Always keep in mind that good roof insulation can save you a lot of money. Roofing systems with good insulation are able to lower your cooling or heating costs by a significant margin. As a buyer, you have lots of options at your disposal such as extruded or expanded polystyrene panels, fiberboard, semi-rigid or rigid boards, polyisocyanurate, fiberglass and so on.

Unfortunately, even with all its advantages, insulation can cause some issues. Foremost, it can cause water to be trapped within the roof which leads to condensation. Luckily for you, it is possible to eliminate this issue before it happens by adding a vapor retarder. The products are able to accumulate passing water and channel it.

  • Other things to have in mind

Although knowing your roofs is the most important thing, you also need to consider other elements of the purchase. Here are some of the main considerations when buying a commercial roof.

Should you buy a new roof or repair old one?

Let’s be honest: buying a new roof is never cheap especially if you have to cover a big industrial building. However, you also shouldn’t skim on it. Your best option is to call a reputable roofing company that will make the assessment and suggest what you should do next.

Future maintenance costs

Price doesn’t tell the whole story when it comes to roofing systems. You also need to consider roofs durability and how much maintenance you will need to perform over time. Good roofers can always help push next maintenance a bit forward but they cannot assist you if you bought a product that isn’t so durable.

Warranties do matter

When it comes to roofs, everything matters especially when they’re bought for commercial use. That being said, you also need to ask around for better warranties. Although roofs tend to last for a long time, there are still chances something might go wrong. If that happens, you would much rather want to be covered for 10 years instead of 5.

Sellers reputation

No matter what, you should always buy your roofing material at a company that has a solid reputation. Even though you might be covered in every sense possible, it is much better to give your trust to an organization that will make sure everything goes as planned. Buying a roof is a big investment and you would like to avoid stress whenever possible.

With these awesome tips and tricks, you will know exactly what kind of a commercial roof you need!

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