Different commercial roofing types.

Whether you’re a new building owner or own multiple buildings, you might have asked yourself, “How long does a commercial roof last?” Unfortunately, there is no single answer to the question of your roof’s lifespan. The type of roof typically dictates the number of years you can expect your roof to last. Different roofing materials have varying expected average lifespans. However, regardless of the type of roof, there are steps you can take to get the most years out of your commercial building’s roof.

Roof Types and Their Life Expectancy:

    • EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer), 20-30 years

EPDM roofs are low slope or flat roofs that have an applied rubber coating. This coating adds an extra layer of protection from the elements. It also absorbs heat quickly, adding insulation to the inside of the building. 

    • Modified Bitumen, 10-20 years

Modified bitumen roofs have an extra level of protection thanks to their layered structure. This protects your roofing structure from UV rays, excess moisture, and punctures. These roofs also absorb heat easily, leaving less potential for damage during the warmer months.

    • Built-Up, 15-20 years

Tar and gravel make up built-up roofs. Due to the variety of materials, this type of roof also adds a layer of protection. These have greater durability and can hold heavier weight, but the building’s structure must be strong enough to withstand it.

    • PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride), 15-30 years

PVC roofs have a single-ply layer, so their lighter weights are easier on roofing membranes. PVC still provides a strong roofing structure but is easier on repairs, thanks to its single-layer design. PVC is one of the most popular materials for commercial flat roofs.

    • Asphalt, 20 years

An asphalt roof system is made up of shingles. Asphalt shingles, while durable, have a higher potential to be damaged as it is not one singular piece. Shingle roofs can be pulled up from strong winds or damaged by debris. However, roof repair is simple as asphalt shingles can be easily repaired and replaced.

    • TPO (Thermoplastic Polyolefin), 20-30 years

TPO roof systems are cost-effective and durable. They protect from damage, as they are more resistant to punctures and wind damage. They also lower costs by providing better energy efficiency for your commercial building. Because of this, TPO roofs are a popular choice for office complexes.

    • Slate, 50+ years

Slate roofs have been known to last anywhere up to (and sometimes beyond) 50 years. This is the longest lifespan of a commercial roof you will find. While the roofing material is durable, it will add a lot of extra weight to your building. Additionally, slate roofs have to be installed one shingle at a time, leading to an extended installation process.

    • Metal, 40-60 years

Metal roof systems are one of the longest-lasting commercial roofing materials. The strength of the material helps it withstand damage. However, proper maintenance is crucial to achieving this longevity. 

Outside Factors

Regardless of the type of roof you have, outside elements affect its longevity. While impossible to avoid all of these factors, proper maintenance will help combat their damage.


Rooftop HVAC units are growing in popularity because of their long list of benefits. However, once your HVAC unit sits on your roof, there are potential issues that may arise. The unit will add extra weight to your roof, which could cause it to sag or dip. HVAC units may also have excess condensation, causing ponding water on your roof. Plus, any kind of HVAC maintenance will bring more people on your roof who may not know how to travel safely to prevent added damage. A roofing company with both roofing and HVAC experience, like TEMA Roofing Services, will help you get the most of your rooftop unit without compromising your roof’s integrity.


Weather conditions are the most common cause of damage to your commercial roof. Every season brings a different weather threat to your roofing structure. In the wintertime, roofs collect snow and ice. The weight of this buildup will weaken your roofing structure, not to mention the potential water damage as it melts. Similarly, when temperatures start to warm up in the springtime, this melted snow and ice may leave ponding water on your roof. In both the spring and summer months, heavy storms may be prominent. Strong winds can damage your roof with its power alone or by carrying debris. 

Additionally, high temperatures and summer heat affect roofing materials as it causes the shingles to expand and quickens chemical processes. Fall can also bring damage to your roof. If leaves build up in your gutters or on a flat roof, the added weight can cause your roof to sag or dip. If your gutters collect leaves and other debris, the added weight can pull on your roof and damage the roofing membrane. Not to mention, leaves often trap moisture. Constant water on your roof will begin to degrade it and cause water damage, including leaks and mold growth. 


The biggest (and most unavoidable) factor that determines your need for a new roof is time. Even the best kept commercial roofs will need to be replaced eventually. As your roof endures rain, snow buildup, and harmful UV rays, it wears down the integrity of your roof. While regular maintenance will help combat these factors, roof replacement is often the better option compared to major repairs. Not sure if your roof needs replaced? Call a trusted roofing contractor to inspect and survey your commercial roof.

How Your Roof Can Last the Longest

No matter the type of roof, roofing materials, or outside factors, there are ways to ensure the most years possible out of your roof. 

Regular roof inspections are your first step in prolonging the longevity of your commercial roof. When a professional roofer inspects your roof, they will be able to notice and address issues before they grow into bigger problems. Roofing professionals also know the most common trouble areas and can pay special attention while inspecting. Regular inspections and commercial roof maintenance will help you fix problems quickly. 

Roof leaks that start small can quickly expand, leading to more water inside your commercial building (and harmful mold and mildew growth from the moisture). Professional roofing companies like TEMA Roofing Services can inspect and repair your roof as needed, preventing early roof replacement. When you ask yourself, “How long does a commercial roof last?” know that TEMA will work to make that as long as possible. Contact us today!