A Quick Look at Your Commercial Roofing Options

Last Updated on April 1, 2022 by Kravelv

If you’re building a new commercial establishment or renovating the roof of an existing building, you’ll want to be familiar with your roofing options. Fortunately, when it comes to commercial roofing, you have plenty of options. In fact, many residential roofing options can also be applied in a commercial setting depending on the size and area of the establishment.

If you’re strictly looking for standard commercial roofing applications, however, below are some of the most commonly available on the market.

  1. Built-Up Roofing

One of the earliest forms of commercial roofing in the United States is BUR, or built-up roofing. This type of commercial roofing has been around for more than 100 years.

BUR is also widely known as a tar-and-gravel roof mainly because these are its main components. BUR roofs are laid out by alternating bitumen and reinforced membranes on top of each other. The final layer is usually made out of gravel, hence its name.

BUR roofs are highly popular because of low maintenance costs. These types of roofing are tear-resistant, which is why damage is rare and the need for repairs, infrequent. BUR roofs are also water-resistant, flexible and energy-efficient.

  1. Single-Ply Roofing Membranes

Another popular choice for commercial establishments is single-ply roofing membrane. These roofs are made of either thermoplastic or thermoset polymers. Thermoplastic polymers are roofing materials that can be softened and formed repeatedly to achieve a certain layout. On the other hand, thermoset polymers are already pre-formed.

Thermoplastic polymers produce an aesthetically superior finish, but thermoset polymers are more durable in the sense that they are more resistant to high temperatures and are unlikely to lose their shape or form.

Two of the most popular single-ply roofing membranes are TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin) and EPDM (ethylene propylene diene terpolymer) roofing membranes. Though each type has different advantages, they share common properties, such as being:

  • Lightweight
  • Weather-resistant
  • Cost-efficient
  • Easy to install

Additionally, these types of roofs also add to the energy efficiency of the entire building due to their highly reflective properties. The materials have the ability to reflect heat from the surface, limiting the amount of heat passing through. As a result, air conditioning equipment does not need to work as hard and consumes less energy.

  1. Modified Bitumen Roofing

Modified bitumen roofing is similar to the BUR roofing described above, but actually has the benefits of both BUR and single-ply roofing systems. Modified bitumen roofs are also tear-resistant, energy-efficient, flexible, low-maintenance and waterproof.

However, unlike BUR roofing that has been around for over a century, modified bitumen roofing was only developed in the mid-1900s, which makes it one of the newer forms of roofing systems available on the market.

  1. Metal Roofing

Metal roofing has been around almost as long as BUR roofing systems. However, in the early years of metal roofing, the material was a bit costly because it used copper as a base. Today though, metal roofing is highly competitive in terms of cost as it can have different metals as a base, including aluminum.

One of the benefits of metal roofing is that it is available in a wide variety of shapes and forms. In fact, metal roofs are also manufactured to mimic other roofing materials, such as shingles and shakes. They also come in different colors, making metal roofs one of the most versatile roofing options on the market today.

In terms of benefits, metal roofs are:

  • Energy-efficient
  • Fire-resistant
  • Wind- and rain-resistant
  • Easy to maintain

Another advantage of metal roofing for commercial establishments is that it can be easily installed on just about any kind of building. This is one of the reasons why many gymnasiums, airport terminals and warehouses utilize metal roofs. This material is also commonly used in commercial establishments that need to be constructed in a hurry or those which are only meant to be used temporarily.

  1. Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles have also been around for a long time. Although this type of roofing material is more common in residential applications, it is also widely used in commercial settings, especially for smaller establishments and those with a sloped-roof design.

Asphalt shingles have become a popular choice because they are highly durable, have a long lifespan, are cost efficient and are available in a wide variety of colors and styles.

Asphalt shingles are commonly used on commercial establishments with a more residential approach, such as those commonly found in Europe. These types of establishments are similar in design to residences and have sloped-roofs, making asphalt shingles the perfect choice.

Still unsure which commercial roofing material to choose for your property? Get in touch with a trusted commercial roofer in your area to learn more and get professional recommendations.


Author Bio:

Brendon Lipton is the co-owner of Edge 2 Edge Roofing, a commercial/residential roofing contractor that specializes in re-roofs, repairs, cleaning, commercial coating, and Solar. For residential properties, they also paint (interior and exterior), siding, gutter, and window replacement. Edge 2 Edge Roofing has over 35 years of Industry experience ranging from Owner, Manufacturer Rep, Consultant, and Installation Trainer for North Americas largest Roofing Manufacturer.


Kravelv is a full time digital marketer and part time furniture and cabinet maker. During his free time he would like to create something out of recycled woods, this varies from toys, furnitures plant boxes etc. Follow him on Twitter | Pinterest | Facebook