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Ultimate Guide to Commercial Roofing

Commercial roofing systems make it possible for you to keep your building better maintained. After all, you can't have a structure or shelter if you don't have a roof. Therefore, commercial roofing is one of the major installations you need for your business to improve its looks, reduce the costs of repair, and keep it secure.

Why You Need a Quality Commercial Roofing Products

Here are a few key reasons why business structures need commercial roofing installations:

  1. Durability - Commercial roofing system installations need to be extremely durable to withstand heavy foot traffic, wind, rain, snow loads, and other elements. They are designed to last for decades with proper maintenance. Materials like thermoplastic, synthetic rubber and built-up coverings hold up well over time.

  2. Flat Surface - Many commercial structures have large flat roof spaces rather than angled roofs. Flat roofs allow for the installation of HVAC systems, skylights, solar panels, etc. This commercial roof installation design focuses more on practical functioning than aesthetics.

  3. Prevent Leaks - A good quality commercial roof protects against water leakage. As several mechanical infrastructures are above and below the roof deck, this covering is both supportive and protective. Leaks can damage inventory, electrical systems, insulation and lead to problems with mold and mildew.

  4. Energy Efficiency - Commercial roofing services in San Jose, Huntington Beach, and other LA locations allow for industrial roofing upgrades that keep conditioned air from escaping outdoors. Well-insulated roofs and roof coating products for various roof systems reduce energy costs for heating/cooling. In addition, membrane roofs minimize solar heat gain compared to darker roofs, according to contractors.

  5. Custom Features - Commercial roofs often include heavy-duty ventilation, smoke hatches, rooftop access doors, grease trap equipment and custom connections not found on typical residential roofs. Therefore, these additions require experienced commercial roofers to oversee the installation.

Types of Commercial Roof Systems Endorsed by the Commercial Roofing Industry

There are different types of roofing systems to choose from - each commercial roofing material offering its own set of pros and cons.

Single Ply Roofing

Single ply roofing materials like TPO or PVC are commonly chosen for roofs. They provide water resistance with heat welded seams that require less maintenance. However, it's important to note that they may be vulnerable to damage from chemicals or high temperatures and weather extremes.

Built-Up Roofing

Built-up roofing (also known as "BUR") involves layering with roofing felt and asphalt or coal tar pitch. This method offers durability. However, this roof installation is challenging when installed or repaired - due to the use of hot asphalt.

BUR roofs in comparison to other types of roofing do not effectively reflect sunlight resulting in lower energy efficiency. They are often installed in places where there are climate extremes.

Metal Roofing

Metal roofs, such as steel or aluminum coverings, are lightweight, have a long lifespan, and can be recycled. They have good sunlight reflection properties. These types of canopies are capable of shedding snow as well. However, during a rain or hailstorm, they may develop dents over time. Although metal roofs require a larger investment, they are capable of lasting 50 years or more.

Spray Polyurethane Foam

Spray polyurethane foam (SPF) is applied as a liquid that expands significantly upon application to seal and insulate roofing. It offers energy efficiency due to its R value. However, SPF requires equipment and trained commercial roofing contractor applicators for installation. That's because the foam may shrink over time - an activity that could lead to separation from the roofing substrate.

Coated Foam Roofing

Coated foam roofing consists of a base coat of SPF that is sprayed on and then covered with a coating. This type of roofing combines the insulation benefits provided by SPF with the durability offered by roof coatings. However, it's usually more expensive than other roof coatings and still requires specialized equipment for the SPF application.

To maintain the warranty, commercial roofing contractors recommend that you reapply the coat every ten to 15 years.

Tile Roofs in California

While tile roofs are popular roofs in California, they are not generally installed on commercial buildings. However, they are used occasionally on professional buildings that feature a Spanish architectural design. Below are some key details of this roofing replacement:

● Durability - Clay and concrete tile roofs can last 50-100 years or more with proper installation and maintenance. The tiles themselves are extremely durable against weathering. Commercial grade tiles may be thicker and heavier than residential ones.

● Weight - Tile is quite heavy, weighing in at 800-1,500 pounds per square foot (100 square feet) when installed. Therefore, the framework of a building must weigh over half that amount to support the roof. Reinforced trusses and extra piles are installed to the roof sheathing

● Installation - Tile roofing is installed by experienced roofers using a batten and wire tie installation system for commercial projects. The tile is wired onto battens which are screwed into the roof deck. This distributes the weight properly across the roof structure rather than placing all the weight directly on the roof sheathing.

● Maintenance - Tile itself needs very little maintenance if installed correctly on a commercial building. The potential issue is damage from people walking on the roof for maintenance of the roof equipment. Broken tiles will need to be replaced if this type of damage occurs.

● Cost - Due to specialized installation, tile roofing costs are significantly more than typical commercial roof types like TPO, synthetic rubber and modified bitumen, which can limit use. However, the exceptional longevity of the tile means lower lifetime costs.

Overall tile roofing brings durability and aesthetic beauty to commercial projects, but requires careful consideration of cost and structural requirements during design and construction. Proper maintenance access is also incorporated to preserve longevity.

Making a Roof Buying Decision

Consider your needs and budget when choosing from various types of commercial roofing materials, each type of roof has its own advantages.

Metal Roofing

Roofs made of metal materials are known for their durability and energy efficiency with a lifespan ranging from 50 to 100 years. Affordable options include aluminum and steel while copper is a higher end project choice.

Over time, metal roofs may acquire dents, scratches or corrosion; however, applying a coating can help prevent these issues. It's worth noting that metal roofs can create some noise during rainy periods or hailstorms, so insulation might be necessary to tone down the sound.

Asphalt or Shingle Roofs

Asphalt or shingle roofs are the most cost-effective option available. Lasting from 20 to 50 years, these roofs consist of fiberglass mats saturated in asphalt. Coated with mineral granules, the roofing is prone to curling, cracking and leaking over time— especially in variable climates. Therefore, regular maintenance and repairs are often required.

San Jose and commercial roofing Huntington Beach businesses find asphalt roofing to be an affordable and reliable choice.

Rubber Roofs

For those seeking durability along with UV resistance and waterproofing capabilities, rubber roofing is frequently chosen. These roofs typically last between 20 and 50 years.

Roofers secure sheets of rubber to the roofing using glue or tape. The roofs, while dependable, require maintenance and repairing them may be challenging at times as well. That's because they tend to shrink, crack or blister over the year. Additionally, colored roofing made of rubber tends to absorb heat during the day, which can lead to higher costs in energy.

Insulation and a reflective coating are essential in preventing problems with heat gain.

Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO) Roofs

Thermoplastic polyolefin roofs bring together the advantages of rubber and asphalt. TPO roofs have a lifespan of 20 to 30 years. They can be heat welded and offer energy efficiency. However, repairing TPO can be challenging as it may shrink, tear or puncture. Proper installation is therefore critical to maximize longevity.

The roofing materials and professional installation of a commercial roof can offer decades of protection. Nevertheless, it is important to plan for repairs or replacements to avoid damages. By consulting a reputable roofing contractor, you can determine the best solution - based on your specific needs, priorities and budget.

Factors to Consider When Selecting Types of Roof Systems For Your Building

There are several factors to consider when choosing a roof for your building;

Building Type

The type of building you have will greatly influence the roofing options. For instance, flat roofs work best for factories, warehouses and office buildings. Shingled or tiled roofs may be more suitable for stores or restaurants.

Metal roofs are ideal for commercial structures as long the sound of pattering rain does not interfere with work activities. Assess your building's architecture and review how the roof integrates with the structure.

Local Climate

The climate in your region plays a role in deciding which roof is most suitable as well.

In regions, with rainfall or snowfall, it might be necessary to opt for a robust roofing material such as synthetic rubber or TPO. If you live in a hot climate, choosing the right roof can help reduce cooling expenses over time.

In some areas, it's important to select a roof that can withstand exposure to saltwater and strong winds. Make sure to choose a roof that is rated for the wind speeds in your area and consider options with weather membranes or sealants.


The cost of roofing can vary significantly depending on the size and complexity of your roof as well as the materials used. While considering the upfront cost is important, it's also critical to evaluate lifetime costs and durability.

Cheaper options like asphalt shingles may require repairs or replacement over time. On the other hand, pricier choices such as metal or TPO roofs generally have a longer lifespan. Therefore, it is advisable to obtain estimates from professionals in order to determine what best suits your budget.

Maintenance Requirements

Different roofs have varying maintenance requirements. Asphalt shingles regularly need inspections and sealing to keep them in good condition. Single ply roofs may necessitate repairs for punctures or damage along the seams. Metal roofs are known for being maintenance-friendly.

Consider how much time and money you are willing to invest in to maintain your roof. Opting for a low maintenance option could potentially save you money and hassle over the long term.

It's always beneficial to discuss your roofing options with a roofer who can provide valuable insights.They have the expertise to assess your building and provide specific suggestions to determine the most cost-effective commercial roof for your needs. With careful planning, you can find a roof that will protect your investment for years to come.

Step-by-Step Guide - Installing a New Commercial Roof

Once you have chosen a roofing system, it is time to proceed with the installation. The installation process typically takes around three to five days for a roof install depending on its size and the weather conditions. Below are the steps that roofers usually follow.

1. Removal of the Existing Roof

The first step involves removing all the roofing material down to the deck. This includes taking off flashings, vents and any other attachments on the roof.

2. Inspecting or Adding the Roof Sheathing or the Roof Deck

The deck is then thoroughly inspected for any repairs before proceeding with the installation.

Roof sheathing or the roof deck is the layer of structural boards installed above roof rafters or trusses and beneath the outer roof covering (shingles, tiles, metal panels, etc.)

Some key things to know about roof sheathing:

● Materials: Plywood and oriented strand board (OSB) are the most common sheathing materials. They provide structural stiffness and integrity to the roof.

● Thickness: Standard thickness is 1/2" or 5/8" for rafter spacing up to 24" on center. Greater rafter spacing requires thicker sheathing to span the distance.

● Function: Roof sheathing ties the rafters/trusses together structurally and provides an even, flat surface to install roofing over the top. It must withstand wind, rain, snow and foot traffic loads.

● Edges: Pieces of sheathing are installed with 1/8" gaps between sheets to allow expansion and prevent buckling. The gaps are sealed with caulk, foam or tape once installed.

● Exposure Time: Building codes limit how long unprotected sheathing can be exposed to weather before shingles/roofing go on top to prevent moisture damage.

So in short, roof sheathing plays a vital structural role while also preparing the roof for waterproof finishing materials on top. Properly installed sheathing ensures roof integrity over the roofing life.

2. Installation of Flashing and Vents

Flashing and vents play a role in diverting water from vulnerable areas such as pipes, curbs and edges. As part of this step, new flashing and vents are installed as required for your chosen roof system.

3. Application of the New Roof Membrane

The new roof membrane is rolled out over the deck according to the manufacturer's instructions. Types of membrane options including synthetic rubber, TPO, PVC and modified bitumen. The membrane is securely fastened in place using adhesives or by heat welding techniques.

4. Installing the Layers

If necessary, you might add layers to your roof system such as insulation, cover boards or coatings. Make sure to install these layers based on the requirements of your roof system.

5. Add the Edging and Coping

Add the metal or stone edging and coping along the edges of the roof to provide an attractive appearance and effectively redirect water away from the roof ‘sedge. Again, ensure that you install the required edging and coping according to your roof’s design.

6. Include the Accessories

Proceed with installing any remaining roof accessories, including expansion joints, roof drains, scuppers, pitch pocket, etc.

7. Inspect the Work

Conduct an inspection to verify that all components of the roof system have been correctly installed in accordance with the specifications provided. Complete any cleanup. Remove any remaining debris.

Once the installation is finished, the roofing team will guide you through the details of your roof's construction and its care. With the proper maintenance, a commercial roof should provide lasting protection for your building for many years.

Maintenance and Roof Repair

Over time, it is important to maintain and repair your roof to preserve its functionality and extend its lifespan. Neglecting any maintenance can result in leaks, structural damage or complete failure of a commercial roofing system.

Scheduling a roof inspection

Make sure to have your roof checked by a commercial roofer at least twice a year, ideally in the spring and fall. Look out for any signs of wear and tear like cracks, punctures, blisters or areas that appear to be sagging. Also make sure that all vents, skylights and other fixtures are securely installed and properly sealed. Take note of any debris that could potentially block drains or cause scratches, on the canopy's surface.

Cleaning commercial roofing systems

It's important to remove any debris such as leaves, branches or litter from your roof each season. Clear out the drains, gutters and downspouts to allow for an easy water flow. The accumulation of debris can lead to water pooling, which can speed up the deterioration process.

If you have synthetic rubber or PVC roofing, consider pressure washing the covering once a year to get rid of built-up grime and enhance its appearance. Be cautious about causing any damage to the roof's surface.

Sealing and patching

Regularly inspect the sealants, roof coating systems and patches on your roof and around fixtures. Seal or patch as needed in order to prevent leaks and exposure to moisture. For punctures or cracks, apply cement or a sealant for repair purposes. If you encounter holes or seam separations, it is advisable to seek assistance for ensuring a proper repair.

Get a tune-up

To ensure performance of your roofing system, professionals recommend that you have a professional commercial roofer perform a thorough tune-up every three to five years.

Performing maintenance tasks such as securing seams and flashings, applying coatings and conducting spot repairs are essential for keeping your roof in good condition. These maintenance efforts can help prolong the lifespan of a roof and reduce the frequency of replacements and repairs.

The Importance of a Gutter Installation

An installed gutter system holds significant importance for any commercial roof. Let's explore a few reasons why.

Prevention of Water Damage

Gutters play a pivotal role in collecting rainwater and snowmelt from your roof, channeling the water away from the building through drainage systems. Without gutters, water would accumulate on the roof surface, seeping into both exterior walls and causing damage to the foundation. This prolonged exposure can lead to issues like mold growth, wood rotting and major structural damage over time.

Protection of Landscaping

In the absence of gutters, rainwater would simply cascade off the roof surface onto the ground next to the building. This can erode soil, harm plants, and create flooding on walkways. By managing water flow through downspouts connected to gutters, you can control where the flow goes while keeping it away from the base of your building.

Extended Roof Lifespan

When water accumulates on a roof, it speeds up the decline of roofing materials. Again, gutters come to the rescue by ensuring that water flows off the roof smoothly. This helps roofing systems such as synthetic rubber, TPO and metal roofs surpass expected lifespans of ten to 30 years.

Enhanced Safety

During winter, accumulated ice and snow on a roof can pose a hazard when it slides off without warning. Gutters play a role in preventing ice buildup and making snow removal easier. They also prevent water and slush from pouring onto entryways and walkways reducing the risk of slips and falls.

Improved Aesthetics

Well maintained gutters have a look that improves the appearance of a commercial property. Clogged or leaking gutters indicate neglect, which might deter people from doing business with your company. Therefore, regular cleaning and maintenance of your gutters are definitely worth your time and effort.

While gutters may not be the most eye-catching aspect of a roof, they do serve an important purpose in safeguarding a building's structure and the surrounding property. Ensuring your roof's gutter system's upkeep is one of the smartest decisions any business owner can make.


Are you ready to make a roof upgrade? If so, the above information can give you the basics you'll need to know to experience a more successful renovation.

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