Gravel Flat Roof

When constructing your business, you want it to match your image. More than that, you want to build a business that will last you a lifetime. So, when envisioning the type of company you want to create, you also need to think about the building itself.

Believe it or not, the roofing system you choose says a lot about your business. (You’ll need to decide whether it’s sustainable for your wallet and your location.) 

Below we’ll review some of the more common types of commercial roofing.

1. Built-Up Roofing

Built-up roofing (BUR) is a flat roof made of bitumen (asphalt) and heavy-weight roofing felt. BUR is one of the most popular types of commercial roofing.

BUR roofing systems tend to last between 15-20 years. This lifespan can be prolonged if an aluminum coating is applied every several years. If properly installed and maintained BUR roofing can last as long as 40 years. 


  • BUR’s layers help prevent water damage as the felt makes the layers more resilient and pliant. This also helps it become more fire-resistant. 
  • It better protects against UV radiation as it embeds gravel into the bitumen. 
  • BURs tend to be lower maintenance, if properly installed. This leads to cheaper maintenance fees.  


  • BUR takes a while to install which can lead to high installation costs. 
  • The roof coating that helps prevent damage and UV radiation may make it harder to detect or repair leaks.
  • During installation, the roof gives off an unpleasant odor that may not be welcome. 
  • BURs tend to pool water, leading to higher chances of leaks if there is no way to drain the water. 

2. Metal Roofing

Metal roofing is mainly made out of steel but can be made from tin, copper and aluminum, as well. 

Metal roofing has a life expectancy between 20-50 years, but environmental factors can shorten its lifespan (e.g. high winds and snow). 


  • It’s easy and fast to install, reducing installation costs. 
  • Metal roofs are resistant to fire, mildew and rot. 
  • The metal roofing only ways 50-150 pounds per square. Other types of roofing can weigh up to 750 pounds. 
  • Metal roofs can easily shed rain and snow. On top of that, if you buy darker metals, it’ll warm the snow quicker (making it melt). 
  • They reflect light, keeping your building cooler.


  • The initial cost can be pricier than other options ($150-$600 per 100 sq. ft.) 
  • When it rains, you’re going to know it. Metal roofs can generate a lot of noise. You’ll need to apply noise-canceling insulation and plywood sheathing.
  • Depending on the type of metal, your roof will be more susceptible to denting. (this can be from hail, or if someone needs to get on the roof for some reason). 
  • You need proper fasteners for your roof because it will expand and contract in the heat and cold. Moreover, if you don’t have the proper fasteners, you could end up having a leaky roof.

3. Modified Bitumen Roofing

Modified bitumen roofing is a mixture of asphalt with fiberglass or polyester. This type of roofing works best for flat roofs and tends to last between 10-20 years.


  • Modified bitumen roofing is water-resistant due to its strong bitumen layers. These layers also help to make the roof more durable and flexible.
  • Modified bitumen uses similar materials to BURs, and is UV resistant. 
  • The bitumen reduces degradation due to heat and cold.
  • Unlike metal roofing, this style of roofing is much quieter when it’s hit by wind and rain. 


  • Modified bitumen roofing can have seam defects due to thermal expansion and contraction. This tends to be due to improper installation. 
  • This type of roofing is not impervious to dents (from walking on it and things falling on it). 
  • If water seeps into the roofing, it can cause blisters to form. If this happens the moisture will need to be removed and the layers will need to be replaced.

4. Single-Ply Membrane Roofing

There are a wide variety of single-ply membrane roofing options – for example, thermoset (mainly EPDM) and thermoplastic (TPO and PVC).

Thermosets are typically used for larger roofs as they reduce and prevent seam formation. They normally contain either carbon black or titanium dioxide which provides UV protection.

Thermoplastics contain polyester or fiberglass to make the roofing more durable.


  • Thermoset and thermoplastic roofing (EPDM< TPO and PVC) protect against UV radiation and are highly flexible. 
  • Both types of roofing are easy to install.
  • They’re great when dealing with inclement weather (e.g. acid rain).
  • They’re a lightweight material with reflective properties. 


  • They’re not compatible with other forms of roofing.
  • They have a shorter lifespan compared to other types of roofs. 
  • There may be issues with water retention as seams can become an issue with this type of roofing. 

5. Green Roofing

Green roofing is a flat or slightly sloping roof with some form of vegetation planted over it.

They can be either intensive, semi-intensive or extensive roofs. This distinction is made by how deep the growing medium is. It’s comprised of:

  • A drainage layer
  • Vegetation
  • Filter medium
  • Waterproof/root repellent
  • Roofing membrane support
  • Thermal insulation
  • Vapor control
  • Structural roof support
  • Mineral aggregates

The growing medium helps promote water drainage and aeration. At the same time, it can hold any necessary water. 


  • Green roofing is resistant to decomposition and compression.
  • Extensive roofing is lightweight.
  • Extensive roofing is low maintenance and doesn’t need much technical expertise. 
  • Extensive roofing is relatively cheap.
  • For extensive roofing, you won’t need some form of drainage and irrigation system.
  • The more intensive roof options offer better insulation. 
  • Intensive roofs offer more uses for your roof (e.g. grow food, recreation).
  • Intensive roofs allow you to plant more diverse vegetation. 


  • Intensive roofing will need irrigation and drainage systems. 
  • Extensive roofing doesn’t allow for other uses. 
  • Wet and dry spell issues.
  • For intensive roofing, expertise is required and is more expensive.

So Many Types of Commercial Roofing

There are many types of commercial roofing out there, but the key is finding the roof that matches your needs. The location of your business, and how much the roof will cost will play a large role in the type of roof you buy. 

Reach out to us today with your questions!