Understanding Common Commercial Roofing Systems: Materials, Benefits, and Selection Tips

commercial roofing

Your commercial property’s roof is an invaluable asset responsible for protecting your inventory, occupants, and investments. With such a crucial role, it’s essential to understand the various commercial roofing systems available in the market and make well-informed decisions regarding their selection, installation, and maintenance. This comprehensive guide will provide you with an in-depth understanding of the most common commercial roofing systems, their respective materials, benefits, and tips to help you select the best roofing solution for your property.

From flat and low-slope to metal and green roofing systems, the range of options for commercial properties has drastically expanded over the years. Each type of roofing system comes with its own unique set of advantages, materials, and requirements that need to be thoroughly analyzed to ensure the right fit for your commercial property.

In this guide, we’ll explore the most common commercial roofing systems. Additionally, we’ll discuss the factors that can impact your decision, such as your building’s architecture, climate, budget, and energy efficiency goals. With this comprehensive overview, you’ll have the knowledge and insights needed to make informed decisions about the best roofing solution for your commercial property’s unique requirements and long-term objectives.

Built-Up Roofing (BUR) Systems

Built-Up Roofing (BUR), often referred to as “tar and gravel” roofs, is a time-tested commercial roofing system that has been used for over a century. Its popularity stems from its durability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness.

Key features and benefits of BUR systems include:

1. Multiple layers: BUR systems consist of alternating layers of bitumen (asphalt or coal tar) and reinforcing fabric, which create a watertight and resistant barrier.

2. Surfacing options: The top layer of BUR roofing systems usually consists of mineral or gravel surfacing. This provides UV protection, improved durability, and fire resistance.

3. Cost-effectiveness: The materials used for BUR systems are generally cost-effective, making them a popular choice for commercial property owners looking for an affordable roofing solution.

However, BUR systems can be heavy and may require additional structural support in some cases. These roofs also require periodic maintenance to ensure their longevity and optimal performance.

Metal Roofing Systems

Metal roofing systems are increasingly popular in the commercial sector due to their durability, energy efficiency, and low maintenance requirements. They come in a variety of materials, including steel, aluminum, and copper.

Key features and benefits of metal roofing systems include:

1. Durability: Metal roofing materials are highly resistant to extreme weather conditions, including heavy rains, strong winds, and hailstorms. They are also less prone to mold, mildew, and pest infestations.

2. Energy efficiency: Metal roofs can reflect solar radiation and limit heat absorption, reducing a building’s cooling costs during summer months. Additionally, insulation can be added to metal roofing systems for improved thermal performance.

3. Sustainability: Metal roofing materials are often made from recycled content and can be recycled at the end of their service lives, making them an eco-friendly choice.

Despite their benefits, metal roofs can be more expensive upfront than other roofing systems. However, their longevity and low maintenance requirements often justify the initial costs.

Single-Ply Membrane Roofing Systems

Single-ply membranes are lightweight, flexible, and versatile commercial roofing options that have gained popularity in recent years. There are three main types of single-ply membranes: EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer), TPO (thermoplastic olefin) and PVC (polyvinyl chloride).

Key features and benefits of single-ply roofing systems include:

1. Easy installation: Single-ply membranes are simpler to install than BUR or some metal roofing systems, resulting in shorter installation times and reduced labor costs.

2. UV resistance: Many single-ply membranes include UV-resistant properties, which prolong the roof’s lifespan and contribute to energy efficiency.

3. Variety of options: With various materials and thicknesses available, single-ply roofing systems provide property owners with a range of options to suit their unique requirements and budget.

Single-ply membranes must be carefully installed to avoid punctures or other damage that can compromise their performance. Regular inspections and maintenance are also necessary to ensure optimal performance and longevity.

Green Roofing Systems

Green roofing systems, also known as living roofs, incorporate vegetation, drainage systems, and insulation to create a multi-functional, energy-efficient roofing solution. These systems can transform underused rooftop spaces while offering environmental and economic benefits.

Key features and benefits of green roofing systems include:

1. Enhanced insulation: The soil and vegetation in green roofing systems provide excellent insulation, reducing a building’s energy consumption and contributing to temperature regulation.

2. Stormwater management: Green roofs can absorb and retain a significant amount of rainfall, helping manage stormwater runoff in urban areas.

3. Aesthetic appeal: Green roofs offer visual appeal and can contribute to a positive working environment for occupants, as well as increasing the property’s value.

Green roofing systems can be more expensive and require ongoing maintenance, such as irrigation, fertilization, and pruning. However, the energy savings, improved air quality, and stormwater management benefits often make them a viable choice for commercial properties prioritizing sustainability.


There are several commercial roofing systems available, and selecting the best one for your property requires evaluating various factors, such as budget, climate, and building architecture. By understanding the features, benefits, materials, and costs associated with built-up roofing, metal roofing, single-ply membranes, and green roofing systems, you can make an informed choice that suits your building’s needs and long-term objectives.

To ensure the best possible outcome, consult with a professional commercial roofing contractor like Creative Home Solutions Kentucky. We can offer expert guidance in selecting and installing the ideal roofing system for your commercial property. With our extensive knowledge and experience, you can confidently invest in a roofing solution that delivers resilience, energy efficiency, and exceptional value for your commercial property.

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