Commercial Roofing Options: Types of Flat Roofing and Their Advantages

Last Updated on March 4, 2022 by Kravelv

Choosing a commercial roofing system is one of the more important decisions you will make as a building or business owner. After all, the right one will protect your investment for years while a bad one, well, will contribute to its failure. It is very important then to know all your options as understanding commercial roofing will let you zero in on the best system for you and your business.

Built-Up Roofing

Commonly referred to as “tar and gravel” roofs, built-up roofing, or BUR, is composed of several alternating layers of bitumen surfaces finished on top with an aggregate layer or coating. There are several types of BUR including asphalt built-up (hot or cold) and ballasted asphalt built up, which is the smooth variant. Because it features several layers of material, BUR is tough, making it a reliable roofing option that has gained a long-standing patronage among commercial property owners.

Some of the benefits of BUR include:

  • Withstands range of weather conditions
  • Excellent waterproofing
  • UV protection
  • Longevity
  • Low maintenance requirements
  • Fire- and uplift-resistance

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Single-Ply Roofing

Single-ply membranes are factory-manufactured sheet membranes generally categorized as either thermosets or thermoplastics. Thermoset materials solidify, or basically “set” irreversibly after being heated, while thermoplastic materials can be repeatedly softened when heated, hardening when cooled. Popular single-ply roofing options include EPDM and TPO, which are thermosets and thermoplastics, respectively.

Where BUR is made up of several layers of material, single-ply membranes only have one. This means BUR is more durable than single-ply membranes but the latter has a leg up on the former in that it is easier to handle, making it easier to install. This doesn’t mean that single-ply membranes lag in being tough, however. BURs may be more durable but thermosets and thermoplastics also boast of reliable strength, especially when made with a reinforcement layer made of polyester fabrics or scrims, glass fiber, and felt or fleece backing.

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Modified Bitumen Roofing

Also called polymer-modified bitumen, modified bitumen roofing is considered a “hybrid” system, offering the durability of BUR, because it features multiple layers of material, with the installation ease of a single-ply membrane, as it comes in a single-ply roll. It is similar in appearance to ice-and-water shields, but it is reinforced with a mineral-based layer.

Surfacing for modified bitumen membranes include aggregate surfacing, mineral surfacing, smooth liquid-applied surfacing, and metal foil-laminate surfacing. These enhance the strength and integrity of a modified bitumen roofing system even further.

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Liquid Applied Roofing

Liquid roofing systems are cold applied systems. They cure into flexible waterproof coatings that can adjust to seams, fixings, welds, and joints on the roof and can be applied to various materials including asbestos, concrete, and felt. In fact, it is not exclusive to flat roofs — it may also be applied on pitched and domed roofs.

As they can conform to a roof’s exact design, sealing every groove and seam, liquid roofing systems offer outstanding waterproofing. This also lets the commercial roofing option hide imperfections by creating a smooth and seamless finish.

Other advantages of liquid applied roofing include:

  • Longevity (It can last up to 25 years!)
  • UV resistance
  • Easy and fast application

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All commercial roofing options have something to offer.  Be sure to understand how to find the roofing option that is right for you and your business. To learn more about choices available to you, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your local commercial roofing expert today.


Author Bio:

Bob Baker is the owner of Hinkle Roofing, a roofing company that has been serving the Birmingham, Alabama and surrounding areas for more than 100 years. With the Hinkle Roofing name synonymous to quality and value, the company helps both commercial and residential customers sleep a little easier at night knowing that they have a quality roof over their head. Check out the company blog for updates from Bob!


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

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