How to select the best commercial roofing for your business

What do commercial roofing contractors recommend?

Commercial roofing is extremely complex, and takes into consideration a lot more factors than residential roofing. When you’re building a new commercial property, or even need to re-roof an existing one, it’s important to deal with experienced, qualified commercial roofing contractors. This is mainly because everything is amplified, such as ventilation requirements, rainwater management and even the appearance. Not to mention the sheer size of the project.

There are plenty of options out there, and it’s always best to consult with professionals before making a choice. Some types of roof simply aren’t practical for certain buildings, and that’s why there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Experienced commercial roofing contractors will make recommendations based on your building plans and other requirements.

Key considerations for commercial roofing

Pitch: The roof pitch is essentially how much a roof slopes. Even so-called flat roofs have a slight pitch for rainwater run-off, however some types of commercial roofing are legitimately flat. These roofs require expert rainwater management solutions.

Penetrations: Penetrations refer to anything that’s making a hole in your roof. This includes things like roof ventilation and chimneys.

Brand: You may have specific brands you like the reputation of. It’s definitely worth researching roofing brands or asking your contractor for advice.

Climate: The climate you’re building in plays a part in selecting your roofing materials, because you always want something tough and durable in difficult climates.

Intended length of ownership: While nobody sets out to build a bad roof, your investment may vary if you’re intending to sell the property quickly.

Foot traffic: Built-up roofs on commercial buildings often have people walking on them, whether for maintenance or other reasons. Obviously, the more foot traffic you expect, the stronger your roof will need to be.

Drainage: Drainage and rainwater management is always crucial. As we mentioned, built-up roofs are completely flat, so drainage becomes more complex than using standard gutters and downpipes.

Upkeep and maintenance: How much do you want to spend maintaining your roof? Certain types of roofing require more upkeep, so keep this in mind when building.

Aesthetics: Naturally, you want your building to look good, so you’ll need to consider how the roof looks. If you’ve got a great looking building, you don’t want the roof becoming an eyesore.

Installation costs: Cost is always a consideration, particularly when building property. You may be set on one type of roof, but if the installation cost is too much you may need to find other solutions.

Sustainability: Most builders and developers are now looking for sustainable solutions. Whether it’s products made from recycled materials, or manufacturing practices with a low carbon footprint, this may come into your thinking.

Warranty: As with any major purchase, consider the warranty when buying. You want to know that you’re protected if something goes wrong and it’s not your fault.

Different types of commercial roofing

Every building is different, so they all require different roofing solutions. However, there are three common types of commercial roofing that you may like to consider when building or re-roofing.

Built-up roofing

Built-up roofs are popular on larger commercial buildings. These are the types of sprawling rooftops, completely flat, that you can walk around on. Not only does it give you a large area that can be used, but it’s also great for buildings with extensive heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems.

They usually consist of layers of tar, asphalt and other materials. Some modern buildings even use prefabricated concrete.

What’s good?

  • Installation cost is relatively low compared to other roofing systems
  • Low maintenance roofing solution, however leaks can be difficult to pinpoint.
  • Great for waterproofing, thanks to the multiple layers of material used. With no pieces joined together, there are no seams for water to potentially leak through.
  • Long-lasting solution, as you should get more than 30 years life from a built-up roof.

What’s bad?

  • Multiple layers of material create extra weight on the structure.
  • Built-up roofs are functional, but not great to look at.
  • Care needs to be taken during installation due to toxic odours from tar and asphalt.

Metal roofing

Metal roofing is an extremely popular style of roof, especially in Australia. Part of the reason is its durability, because it can hold up to tough Aussie weather conditions. There’s also plenty of different styles to choose from, depending on each building’s requirements.

What’s good?

  • Different colour options, and easy to match to your building’s aesthetic.
  • Sleek design, which is great for modern buildings.
  • Durability is excellent. Metal roofing performs well in heat, and is resistant to mould, rain and is also non-combustible.
  • Cost effective.

What’s bad?

  • More maintenance required, depending on the type of seam chosen and the fasteners used.
  • Punching holes in the roof for various penetrations creates more opportunities for leaks.
  • Installation cost is a bit higher, simply because it takes longer to install the roof properly.
  • Can be damaged more easily if technicians need to walk on the roof to work on HVAC systems.

Single ply roofs

Single ply roofing is a cost-effective solution, however it comes with a few warnings. They aren’t the most popular in Australia, purely because they don’t perform as well in our climate. Most single-ply roofs are made from rubber or plastic compounds, and they come in a range of thickness and sizes.

What’s good?

  • Cheap roofing alternative. Because it’s relatively easy to install, you can save money on labour costs.
  • Single ply roofs are lightweight and easy to work with. This also places less stress on the building’s structure.
  • You can save money on energy by choosing the colour carefully, depending on whether you want to reflect or retain heat.

What’s bad?

  • Single ply roofs aren’t built to last. In fact, many start showing noticeable wear and tear within 5-7 years.
  • Prone to leaks, which can be extremely costly if the leaks cause other damage.
  • Much like metal roofing, leaks can occur around penetrations more easily.

It should be noted that newer technology, such as cross-linked polymers is starting to make single-ply roofing more durable.

Make the right long-term choice for your business

Ultimately, every building is different, and the best advice you can get is from experienced commercial roofing contractors. They’ll have a good idea of what roof will be the best for your individual circumstances, so always trust the experts.

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