A built-up roofing system on a commercial roof.

If your current commercial flat roof is coming up on the end of its life expectancy, you may be wondering what type of material to select for your new roof.

The durability of your roofing materials, as well as the cost, are important things to consider when you are getting ready for a roof replacement. How long does a built-up roof last – and is it worth the cost? Or should you go with something pricier like a metal roof? Let’s find out.

How Long Does a Roof Last?

The answer to this question varies based on the type of roof you have( the roof material) and other factors.

When it comes to flat roofs, they have a slightly shorter lifespan than pitched roofs. However there are a lot of benefits to having a flat roof that make them a popular choice for commercial buildings.

There are also several factors beyond your particular roofing system that affect the lifespan of a roof.

What Affects Your Roof’s Life Expectancy?

Weather conditions, such as hurricanes and other extreme storms, affect the lifespan of your roof in a big way. But, everyday exposure to UV rays and heat can damage your roofing materials, too.

Humid environments where mildew and mold are an issue could take a toll on your roof. If you don’t have sufficient underlayment to add waterproofing and prevent moisture buildup, it can lead to mold. (Foregoing underlayment lessens the lifespan of your roof, and is a poor decision).

The quality of the workmanship when your roof was installed also affects its lifespan. It’s important to hire a reputable roofing company. Incorrect installation can greatly reduce your roof’s life expectancy.

While it can be difficult, look for quality over the price of the roofing project – cutting corners on costs during installation will negatively impact your bottom line down the line. Most reputable roofing companies offer a warranty covering any defects or failures in your roofing system.

Average Lifespan of Built-Up Roofs

A built-up roof (BUR) is a roofing system made by layering asphalt, tar, or gravel between ply sheets. The layering helps increase durability and provides waterproofing and insulation. When it comes to flat roofing options, a built-up roof is one of the most cost effective. The typical cost of a BUR system is $4-$10 per square foot.

Built-up roofs are pretty durable. They’re fire-resistant and energy efficient. When it comes to their lifespan, they typically last 20 years, but can last up to 30 with proper maintenance and regular roof inspections.

Life Expectancy of Other Types of Roofing Materials

Both single-ply thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) roofs and PVC roofs have a similar lifespan to BUR, and last about 20 years. TPO costs about $5 to $9 per square foot and PVC will cost about $7 to $12.

Modified bitumen roofing, also made of asphalt, lasts upwards of 20 years with regular maintenance. It costs anywhere from $4 to $7 per square foot when installing it.

EPDM rubber roofing typically can last anywhere from 20 to 30 years, and typically costs around $3 to $7 per square foot.

Standing seam metal roofs have a much longer lifespan with the ability to protect your building for over 50 years. While it is on the pricier side –  costing anywhere from $8 to $16 dollars per square foot – metal roofing can be a great option.

Getting the Most Out of the Lifespan of a Roof

No matter what roofing material you use, you have to protect it. Cleaning gutters and regularly checking any intrusion points is important to keeping your roof healthy and extending its lifespan. For example, clogged drains increase the chances of ice dams along your roofline.

It’s also important to take care of roof leaks immediately. If you don’t address leaks quickly, you put yourself at risk for greater water damage and more expensive roof repairs.

Regular Roof Maintenance

A roof is a long-term investment. To get the most out of it, you should regularly have professional roofers inspect it for any issues and provide any needed maintenance. Be sure to schedule a professional inspection at least twice a year – once in the fall (before winter), and once in the spring (when warmer temperatures set in).

Hire Roofing Contractors That Care

How long does a built-up roof last? A large part of that depends on the quality of the roofing company you hire.

For your roofing system, set yourself up for success by hiring dependable roofing contractors – like our experts at TEMA. When you hire TEMA Roofing, you’re hiring partners that are invested in extending the lifespan of your roof. We not only offer warranties but also 24-hour emergency repairs and roof asset management services. If you want a new roof that lasts or a fast repair to get your business back to operating, make TEMA a part of your team. Contact us today for a free consultation.