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Understanding Different Commercial Roofing Material Options

When it comes to commercial roofing, there are a handful of materials that are most commonly used. We'll have a look at each of them and consider the benefits and drawbacks of each.  

First, the roofing materials we'll cover here are:

  • Spray Polyurethane Foam
  • Single-Ply Membrane
  • Metal
  • Tar and Gravel
  • Shingle

We'll come back with another article to address PVC roofing (polyvinyl chloride), which is a single-ply roofing solution used on many commercial and industrial roofs that are flat or low sloped. PVC or polyvinyl chloride, is the third-most widely produced synthetic plastic polymer

Spray Polyurethane Foam

Spray Polyurethane Foam, more commonly referred to as SPF, is a material that is sprayed as a liquid so it can expand into a foam, creating a solid layer across an existing roof.

An SPF Roofing system can be used in any climate, and when properly installed and maintained, can last over 50 years.

The energy efficient properties of Spray Polyurethane Foam Roofing contributes to significant energy savings throughout the life of a building. SPF delivers thermal, air, and vapour barriers and delivers the highest R-value per inch of any cool roofing insulating material available. 

Pros

  • Easy installation
  • Energy efficient
  • Easy maintenance
  • Seamless and waterproof
  • Renewable and sustainable

Cons

  • Specialized contractors required
  • Limited installation window
  • Overspray potential
  • Regular maintenance needed

What is Spray Foam Roofing?

Transcript

spray polyurethane foam aka SPF is a material that's made by combining two liquids a resin and an isocyanate as it sprayed onto the existing roof substrate it creates a foam that expands 20 times in size to form a seamless foam roof surface when the foam is expanded this layer can be between 1 & 1 & a half inches in thickness when the installation is complete it will create a durable renewable foam roof covering SPF roofing is not the most well known type of roofing material the technology has been around since the 1960s for industrial commercial and residential facilities

Single-Ply Membrane

Single-Ply Membranes are sheets of rubber and other synthetics that can be ballasted, mechanically fastened or chemically adhered to insulation creating a layer of protection on your commercial facility. While Single-Ply Membrane Roofing is one of the most well-known types of commercial roofing material, there are several types to fit your budget and facility needs.

There are two main types of Single-Ply Membrane Commercial Roofing: Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO) and Ethylene Propylene Diene Terpolymer (EPDM). They differ in their chemical makeup, how they are installed and their energy efficiencies 

Pros

  • Proven track record
  • Options for insulation materials
  • Choice of reflective or retentive properties
  • Easy installation on a flat roof
  • Lightweight and flexible

Cons

  • Membrane is easily punctured
  • Roofing accessories can prolong installation
  • Seams are vulnerable to leaks
  • UV Rays can degrade adhesive

What is Single-Ply Membrane Roofing?

Transcript

single ply membranes are sheets of rubber and other synthetic that come in rolls and are cut and adhere to your facility roof on top of the insulation there are two main types of single ply membrane commercial roofing PPO and EPDM they differ in their chemical makeup how they are installed and their energy efficiencies there are three ways to attach the single ply membrane to the cover board ballasted with rocks or stones which may be more prone to leaks adhesion with a rolled on adhesive or mechanically fastened with equipment

What is TPO Membrane Roofing?

Transcript

thermoplastic polyolefin is not your father's pvc. a single ply roofing membrane that is one of the fastest growing commercial roofing systems on the market TPO roofing systems are made up of a single layer of synthetics and reinforced scrim that can be used to cover flat roofs known as white roofs tpo is generally manufactured white and highly reflective PPO membrane can be attached to the cover board with a bonding adhesive or mechanically fastened when the membrane is rolled out the contractor then returns to use a hot air gun to hot air well the seams together

What is EPDM Membrane Roofing?

Transcript

ethylene propylene diene monomer is a single ply membrane that consists of a synthetic rubber compound that allows it to be flexible EPDM has been used on commercial roofing facilities since the 1960s and is considered a time-tested option with EPDM you have the option of choosing from 45 60 or 90 ml thickness and either black or white for the color while tpo has a natural white color EPDM results in a dark gray or black color for your roof the darker colour is not helpful in reflecting UV rays it does retain heat for those in cooler weather

What is a Silicone Restoration Membrane?

Transcript

what if I told you there was another option to paying for a full roof replacement a silicone restoration membrane or SRM can save you time and money when facing a commercial roof project a silicone restoration membrane is a fluid applied silicone coating sprayed directly on to an existing roof system an SRM system is a great option for buildings that have age groups that are still in good condition the roof needs to be in better condition than most roofs at the end of their life the SRM can be applied to restore the waterproof barrier on your roof

Built-Up Roofs (Tar and Gravel)

Built Up Roofing (BUR) Systems have been in use in the U.S. for over 100 years. These rooftop systems are commonly referred to as “tar and gravel” roofs and is often used for flat roofing jobs.

The first layer can adhere directly to the roof substrate. If needed, a base sheet can be fastened to the roof to create a flat and safe work space. A Built-Up Roof System is installed by alternating layers of modified bitumen and reinforced fabric.

Bituminous waterproofing systems are designed to protect residential and commercial buildings. Bitumen (asphalt or coal-tar pitch) is a mixed substance made up of organic liquids that are highly sticky, viscous, and waterproof. These systems are sometimes used to construct roofs in the form of roofing felts or roll roofing products.

Property owners and managers can choose three, four or five ply roofs to meet their needs and budgets.

The last layer is rock or stone; this layer protects the underlying layers from UV rays, extreme heat or cold, and wind damage. 

Pros

  • Seamless and waterproof
  • Reflects UV rays
  • Low- maintenance

Cons

  • Hazardous fumes and vapors when installing
  • Adds extra weight to the building structure
  • Slower installation time frame

Metal

Metal Roofing is one of the oldest commercial roofing systems on the market.

Most Metal Roofing Systems use corrugated galvanized steel, although other materials such as aluminum or tin can also be used. After a metal roofing system is installed, an acrylic or silicone coating can be added for waterproofing, rust protection, and UV protection.

Since material on metal roofs is rather light in weight, it can be installed right on top of the existing rooftops. A contractor will install a frame, or substrate, with trusses and purlins for the metal roof to be fastened to. 

Pros

  • Variety of material choices
  • Ability to hold up to high winds and snow
  • Sheet metal can be made from recycled steel
  • The metal panels will not burn in the event of a fire

Cons

  • If water ponds on the roof it can cause severe damage
  • Roof frame is difficult to work with
  • Metal panels create seams that are prone to water leaks
  • Weather such as rain, hail or wind can create a lot of noise

Shingles

Shingles are not only for residential roofs. Many facilities with a high-slope roof will choose to install shingles rather than the other roofing types.

Asphalt Shingles are used for commercial roofing, they are made of a base material (felt or glass-fiber mat), asphalt (or some other kind of filler), and a top layer of granules.

The most important layer of the Shingle Commercial Roof is the underlay or insulation. This layer is what provides insulation while the shingles, sealants, flashings and edge metal provide the weatherability. 

Pros

  • Cost-effective
  • Variety of colors and designs
  • Lasts 20-50 years

Cons

  • Regular maintenance required
  • Can’t install in cold weather
  • Impact can crack the shingles

Commercial Roofing Basics - Take-aways

  • Spray Polyurethane Foam is a material that is sprayed as a liquid so it can expand into a foam.
  • Single-Ply Membranes are sheets of rubber and other synthetics that can be ballasted, mechanically fastened or chemically adhered to insulation. 
  • Built-up Systems are installed by alternating layers of asphalt or tar and supporting fabrics directly onto the roof. 
  • Metal Roof Systems use corrugated galvanized steel, aluminum or tin. An acrylic or silicone coating is added for waterproofing and protection.
  • Shingles are not only for residential roofs. Asphalt Shingles are commonly used for commercial roofing.

In Arizona it's important to find a top quality roofing service that knows the solutions that work best in the desert heat. Having a team that has the experience to work any job, large or small, from giving a fair quote, to performing quality repairs to having a solid company warranty, striving for the best customer satisfaction in the industry is the most important job.

Whether it's for residential or commercial roofing clients, new construction or repairs, experience matters. Professional service, worker safety, affordable costs for customers, projects remaining on schedule today and for year to come, a company that ticks all these boxes is worth searching for. DC Roofing of Arizona, while a recently established new business, is that professional roofing contractor company with the skill, crew and quality products that you can count on.