Aerial shot of school complex roofing system.

School buildings, like most other commercial roofing systems, need to be roofed reliably at low cost and with energy efficiency in mind. School buildings are also unique in the fact that funding sources are different and most repairs and roofing projects need to be done without disruption day to day activities. Taking those factors into consideration, let’s take a look at the popular choices for roof systems for school buildings.

School House Roofing History

Historically, roofing for schools have had a variety of different materials and roofing systems that they have used that are similar to other commercial buildings. Metal roofing being the most popular, because it’s energy efficient, has a high fire resistance and lasts a long time. Flat roofs have also been used, with multiple layers like EPDM and modified bitumen roofing with layers of tar and topped with gravel. But in a lot of cases in flat roofing scenarios, schools have strayed away from modified bitumen and gravel built up on the rooftop opting for more energy efficient roofs like PVC. Other single-ply options—like TPO where they can utilize the benefits of a cool roof, which is reflective and colored lighter to deflect the sun’s rays off of the building, thereby limiting the load on the HVAC system and keeping the people inside in ultra-temperate comfort.

Metal Roofing

School roofing systems need to last because funding for school system projects is not always readily available to complete such a job like a total roof replacement. This means fire resistance, mildew resistance, waterproofing and the ability to stand up to storms and high winds, penetrations and foot traffic during roof maintenance. Standing seam metal roofing can check all of these boxes and more. If it’s painted light colors, the metal roofing can even reflect the sun’s harmful UV rays and make the property more energy efficient. And there’s nothing like the aesthetic look of a metal roof with the color of the school it covers!

Metal roofs do require quite a bit of up front investment which is more than most others on the list, but they end up paying for themselves over the lifespan of the roof. Which brings us to the next point, in that it’s not easy to find enough funding to repair or begin a re-roofing project for a school system. Therefore, minding the costs of such projects are very important for most school boards and school system customers. In fact, school systems often use cooperative purchasing agreements to complete the jobs they need. But roof projects must be clearly factored into the budget every year, including any warranties.

Modified Bitumen

One of the oldest commercial roofing options in the business, modified bitumen is used on the flat roofs of large school complexes throughout the country. It’s a popular choice because of the layers and layers of built up protection. It’s the close cousin to BUR or built up roof, but BUR does not utilize the gravel topper that modified bitumen does on its roofing membrane. Dependability and durability are huge considerations of roofing a school, so existing roofs need to be maintained and that money needs to fit the budget every year.

Single-Ply Membranes

Instead of applying asphalt shingles to the roof decks of school buildings, single-ply roofing membranes have been an affordable and effective option for school systems across the country and here in the Mahoning Valley. Solvent based roofing systems, adhered through fasteners, heat or polyurethane based adhesives make great options for schools keeping the cost low, durability high and energy efficient to the inside of the building envelope.


PVC, TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin) or EPDM roofing continues to be a popular choice for school systems across the country and when paired with a reliable roof asset management program for the school district, property managers have very little to worry about with preventative maintenance. Another benefit of single-ply roofing systems is that a silicone or polyurethane-based roof coating can be applied almost always to fortify and seal in the entirety of the roof area.

Considerations For School Roofing

When roofing a school building, taking on this kind of project means that you keep three things in mind for the school system customer. Those are: durability, cost savings and energy efficiency. Whether it’s a high pitched roof or a low slope roof that the project requires, these three things are paramount with the roof surface and the roofing products chosen for a school building customer.

TEMA Roofing’s Experience

TEMA Roofing contractors have had experience on large jobs and smaller jobs which has them uniquely situated for school systems and the large projects that they bring forth. For example, the P. Ross Berry School within the Youngstown City School District needed a solution for a roof system failure happening on their property. This flat roofing system was only 14 years old but the district did not do any preventative maintenance, so the roof was experiencing regular leaks throughout the building.

The two roofs on the complex that were in question had modified bitumen roofing, the close cousin to BUR or “built up roof,” a flat roof and also, the Duro-Last polymer PVC (polyvinyl chloride) single-ply membrane. TEMA used an infrared moisture scan on every square foot of the roof and determined that a complete roof tear off wasn’t necessary for this roofing material. They used the roof overlay method and incorporated the roof asset management system for preventative maintenance. Not to mention, TEMA helped the district in cooperative purchasing with the TIPS program, reviewing and approving their application for an acceptable and warrantable system.

TEMA Roofing For Schools

TEMA Roofing is your local roofing company partner with the experience to handle a job as large and as important as roofing a school system. After the repair work at P. Ross Berry,  TEMA has gone on to handle solutions for the YCSD bus garage and The Choffin Career and Technical Center. TEMA knows the community and has the roofing solutions that fit any project. Additionally, TEMA is proud to partner with schools and advise them along the process of enrolling in cooperative purchasing agreements. Call us today for more information and see what we can do for you!