A bill showing the itemized entries that make up a new commercial roof cost.

When you’re installing a new roof on your commercial building, it can be hard to anticipate the total cost

Price ranges can vary wildly for roofing projects – sometimes by thousands of dollars. That means knowing which quote is accurate can be a challenge, especially when you aren’t familiar with the industry. 

The same is true for your commercial property’s roof maintenance budget. You obviously want to avoid any hidden additional costs, but at the same time, the lowest (most cost-effective) option might be too good to be true – it usually is.

Many things go into determining a fair price for a new commercial roof. But, understanding the basics of what affects the cost of a commercial roof can help you judge if the cost you’ve been quoted is too high or too low. 

Factors for Commercial Roof Replacement Costs 

The Type of Roof 

Flat roofs/low-slope roofs are the most common on commercial buildings. Steep slope or pitched roofing systems are also used, but are more often found on residential homes. This is especially true for buildings that have a larger footprint. 

When it comes to commercial roof installation, flat roofs are less expensive than pitched. A flat roof’s structure is simpler and requires fewer materials per square footage. On average a flat roof installation costs between $4 to $13 per square foot plus labor. A steep slope roof can cost anywhere between $5 to $25. 

The Type of Commercial Roofing Material 

Different roofing materials have varying upfront costs, but they also provide different benefits. Some have longer lifespans while others provide better energy efficiency

The price of materials can vary on both your location and the manufacturer your roofing company uses. Additionally, if you work with a roofing company that participates in cooperative purchasing, it can lower the cost of your roofing materials

Below are the most common commercial roofing options, along with their average price ranges.  

Built Up Roofing (BUR)

$4 – $10 per square foot 

In the coming years, the price of this roofing material may get more expensive as asphalt prices rise

Aside from that, BUR is a long-lasting roofing system that provides good waterproofing, fire protection, and energy efficiency. It’s relatively low-maintenance, so it may also save you money down the line.

Modified Bitumen 

$4 – $8 per square foot

Modified bitumen costs can creep up because, like BUR, it’s dependent upon the price of asphalt. 

That said, it is one of the easier commercial roofing systems to install, which can keep your project’s labor costs down. Be sure to vet your commercial roofing companies before making an investment, though, because improper installation not only shortens your roof’s lifespan but can also be a fire hazard. 

BUR is great at keeping a building insulated during the winter, but can hold in heat during the summer. You’ll probably want to avoid it if your building’s in a hotter climate. It’s also more vulnerable to pooling water, so it may not be the best option in areas with heavy rainfall. 

Modified bitumen’s lifespan is said to be on the shorter side. However, properly installed, torched-down modified bitumen can last over three decades with the right maintenance. 


$4 – $13 per square foot

This single-ply roofing system is one of the most cost-effective options in its category. It’s good at withstanding heavy rain and can last over 30 years with the right care.

Keep in mind, though, that single-ply options can puncture from surrounding tree branches, debris, or foot traffic. It also expands and contracts quite a bit. During the winter, roof repair and installation for this type of roof is harder, and ideally, work should be done in temperatures of 45 degrees or higher. 


$3  – $14 per square foot 

TPO is another single-ply membrane that is similar in cost to EPDM. It stands up better to punctures and is easier to repair and install in snowy conditions. 

TPO’s expected lifespan is harder to nail down when compared to other roofing systems because it’s relatively new and has undergone several changes since its introduction in the 1990s. Testing is still being done to determine its actual lifespan. You should be able to get at least 25 years from it, though its performance can vary widely. 

An experienced roofing contractor can help you determine if it meets your roof needs


$4 – $13 per square foot 

PVC comes in a variety of colors and is considered one of the better-looking flat roof materials. It’s also known for its durable seams and can usually last 20 years or more.  

White PVC is great at reflecting UV rays, which can help with your energy efficiency. However, it may cause the roof to chalk and fade over time. 

PVC costs more than some of the other roofing materials and can be trickier to install, so labor costs might be on the higher side for this installation. 

Metal Roofs 

$4 – $30 per square foot

Standing seam metal roofs are expensive, there’s no way around it – BUT, they are extremely durable. They can last well over 50 years with the right care, and stand up to severe weather conditions like hail, high winds, and extreme temperatures. 

Metal roofs with exposed fasteners are also an option. Just keep in mind that this type of metal panel is usually thinner than standing seam which can mean more potential damage and water penetrations. 

Labor Costs

Typically, labor ranges between $400 – $800 per square foot

Labor costs can vary widely based on the skill of your roofing contractors, your location, and the roofing materials that are involved.

One of the major reasons for a roofing system failing before its expected lifespan is due to improper installation. Make sure that you contract with reputable roofers. Cheap labor costs can save you money in the short term, but might mean more expensive repairs (or replacement) later.

Roof Structure and Obstructions 

The more complicated the installation, the higher the cost.

Roof size obviously changes the price since more square footage requires more material and labor. The shape and height of your roof also factors in. (The higher and more complex your roof is, the more difficult the project. This means a higher price when it comes to installation.) 

If you have multiple HVAC units or skylights, the price can also increase since these obstructions have to be navigated and sealed with flashing. 

Tear-Off or Overlay 

An overlay involves laying new roofing material over your existing roof. This is an option for single-ply roofing systems as long as the existing materials are in good enough shape to be left standing. However, an overlay can affect the performance of the new roof over time. 

Many times a complete tear-off is necessary for commercial buildings. This can mean removing the upper membrane and leaving the decking. It can also mean tearing out the decking and replacing it all. Depending on what needs to be done, the cost of the project will change. 

Certain materials are more difficult to tear off than others. And, the more difficult your old roof is to remove, the more it will cost more. Usually, you won’t see this as its own itemized entry on the bill, but instead in increased labor costs.

How to Know the Price Is Right?

Estimating an exact price for a roofing project is difficult.

Labor values differ across the nation, the manufacturer your roofing company uses can change the cost, and even the kind of fasteners you decide to use can change the project’s price tag. 

The best way to find the fairest price is to contact a few reputable roofing companies and discuss your project. If you notice one company is significantly lower than the others, that is likely a red flag. A roofing system is only as good as the team that installs it, so you want to partner with the best. An experienced roofing company typically provides you with a free quote and walks you through your new commercial roof cost. They also cover your roof with a warranty so you can avoid surprises later down the line. Comparing costs from several different companies and seeing which is willing to explain the process and price while meeting your roof needs is the best way to ensure you get the most out of your new commercial roof.