What is Commercial Roofing?

Commercial roofing seals and protects the top of commercial structures. A quality commercial roof secures a building from the weather, resists high winds, and will not leak in a downpour. Generally, commercial roofing has a flat slope in comparison to the steeply-sloped residential roof. It moderates the temperature within the building, whether it reflects the sun and keeps the building cool in summer or provides insulation and reduces heating costs in winter. 

From the durable, cost-efficient metal roof to the eco-friendly photovoltaic solar panel roof, commercial roofing offers you an exciting variety of materials to choose from that meet your needs. Cost varies for the different types of roofing, giving you the opportunity to find roofing that fits your budget. Select a roofing system that will last for years, benefiting your grandchildren when the business is passed on to them!

Types of Commercial Roofs

Metal Roofing

Metal panels fastened together create a metal roof. Two types of metal roofs are the corrugated metal roof and the standing seam roof.

Corrugated metal roofing features ribbed panels. The metal panels overlap by one or two ridges during the installation. The installers fasten the panels onto the roof deck or frame and caulk the seams to make the roof waterproof. Corrugated metal roofs require routine maintenance because the fasteners are exposed and should be inspected and tightened every ten years or so to prevent leaks. Corrugated metal roofing, invented in the early 1800's, is an old "tried and true" method.

Standing seam roofing became popular in the mid-1900’s. This roofing, built from 12” to 19” wide panels, has ridges that run the length of the roof. These ridges, bent as high as ó to 1 ó inches, are the seams between the panels. Because the seams rise above the surface of the roof, water runs between the ridges and is not as likely to work its way through the seams, making the roof more waterproof. The panels are attached to the roof deck by clips or screws, and these fasteners are concealed by the next panel, forming a smooth continuous ridge from top to bottom. These hidden fasteners do not require maintenance as the exposed ones do. This roof is also made from thicker material, increasing the cost but also the quality of your roof.

What Are the Advantages of a Metal Roofing System?

Commercial Metal roofs are durable and can last up to fifty years or more. If installed correctly, they require very little maintenance. Because metal roofs are lightweight and flexible, they can be curved or bent to fit the shape of a unique building. They can also be installed on simple, cost-effective structures. Metal roofs are empowered with fire resistance that can reduce the insurance cost of your building. Mildew, rot, termites, and other pests cannot eat away at a metal roof. Neither will it crack, warp, or split in the changing weather. Coated with cool colors, they reflect sunlight to keep those inside the building comfortable. With its quick and easy install, a metal roof system is a reliable and economical choice for your commercial roofing need.

Metal Roof Materials 

  • Steel is the most common metal roofing substance found on a commercial construction site. An alloy made of iron and other elements, steel is affordable and readily available in greater amounts than the other metal roofing materials. Among the hardest metals, it can be used in most weather environments including areas that experience hail, high winds, and deep snow. Steel is heavier and sturdier than aluminum. It is an exciting green solution because most of the steel used today comes from recycled material. Although it is the least expensive metal, steel can be painted to mimic the natural beauty of copper, zinc, and other costlier roofing systems. 
  • Galvanized steel, the most common form of steel roofing material, uses a layer of zinc to protect the inner layer of steel from corrosion. Galvalume steel uses a coating made of aluminum and zinc. Aluminum has qualities that provide better surface protection in certain environments but is more vulnerable to scratches or cut edges. 
  • Aluminum is extremely lightweight and will not rust. It is recommended for coastal climates because it has excellent resistance to salt corrosion. Aluminum is not as rigid as steel; therefore, the surface is more prone to dents, but because it is a softer metal than some, neither will it crack under the weight of large hailstones. Not a naturally beautiful color, aluminum is usually painted to enhance its appearance. The price of aluminum typically falls somewhere between the cost of steel and copper. Because of the cost, it is often used in thinner sheets than steel. A pure aluminum roof is more expensive than other metals that use an aluminum coating. 
  • Copper, used for centuries around the world, has a naturally beautiful appearance that will not rust. Copper can last over 200 years in ideal environments. One hundred percent recyclable, copper is another green solution. It is also a soft metal that makes it easy to work with and puts it among the quietest types of metal roofing. Because it is a soft metal, hail may dent it more quickly, but the roof will not puncture as a harder metal might. The worst con of a copper roof is the cost. It is expensive. It also expands and contracts with swings in temperature, but this can be controlled with a proper panel or shingle. 
  • Zinc is an amazing metal that can use its patina to heal its scratches over time. This metal stays strong for over 100 years. Like copper, zinc is a soft metal that can easily be formed and manipulated. Because the melting point is lower than steel or copper, zinc uses less energy when being processed. It is also 100% recyclable, making it a useful green material. Most do not like the chalky residue that forms on the surface of zinc in wet climates, although this can be cleaned and controlled to a certain extent. In price, zinc is comparable to copper – very expensive.

Metal Roof Restoration

Would you like a way to fix your roof without the cost of a replacement? The Conklin MR System is a complete waterproofing membrane that prevents rust, stops leaks, and provides an attractive finish coat. When we install this system, we strengthen the seams with fabric reinforcement embedded into our acrylic elastomeric coating and use premium caulking to seal the fasteners and protect them from the elements. Save money by preserving your metal roof now and sparing yourself the cost of replacing it in a few years! Find out more by going to our Metal Roof Restoration page.

Membrane Roofing

Membrane roofing is applied in big sheets and fused together at the joints to form a continuous surface. Because the sheets are bonded together, there are no seams to cause leaking problems. One of the most successful types of membrane roofing is made from sheets of rubber, or Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC). Membrane roofing is lightweight and durable. Usually, it has a light-colored finish that reflects sunlight and reduces cooling costs inside the building. Not only is membrane roofing an excellent way to waterproof your roof, but it is also one of the most affordable. Fast becoming a popular type of roofing, you may want to consider membrane roofing for your new warehouse. 

Types of Membrane Roofing. Three common types of material used in membrane roofing are a synthetic rubber, thermoplastic, and modified bitumen.

  • Synthetic Rubber (Thermoset).  Thermoset is a single-ply rubber roofing membrane.  This membrane is made from large flat pieces of synthetic rubber that are chemically bonded together at the seams to form one continuous layer.  The sheets are often joined with contact adhesive or tape.  The finished roof is usually between 0.75 to 1.5 millimeters thick.  Thermosets are famous for their ability to withstand a broad range of exposures including chemicals found on roofs, ozone, the damaging effects of the sun’s rays, and extreme weather conditions.  This synthetic rubber roof is extremely durable and superb for second generation application.  It is widely used on low-slope buildings in the United States as well as worldwide and works well on big box stores with large open areas.  • Synthetic Rubber (Thermoset).  Thermoset is a single-ply rubber roofing membrane.  This membrane is made from large flat pieces of synthetic rubber that are chemically bonded together at the seams to form one continuous layer.  The sheets are often joined with contact adhesive or tape.  The finished roof is usually between 0.75 to 1.5 millimeters thick.  Thermosets are famous for their ability to withstand a broad range of exposures including chemicals found on roofs, ozone, the damaging effects of the sun’s rays, and extreme weather conditions.    This synthetic rubber roof is extremely durable and superb for second generation application.  It is widely used on low-slope buildings in the United States as well as worldwide and works well on big box stores with large open areas.  
  • EPDM (ethylene propylene diene terpolymer) Roofing is the most commonly used thermoset membrane and resembles an inner tube.  The two primary ingredients of this roof covering are derived from oil and natural gas.
    Long-lasting and easy to install, maintain, and repair, thermoset roofing is a viable option to consider!
  • Thermoplastic.  The thermoplastic membrane is similar to synthetic rubber, but the method of bonding the sheets together is different.  Thermoplastic membranes are welded together using solvents, or heat, creating a seam that is as strong as the material itself!  The material can be softened and hardened as needed.  Most thermoplastics can be re-welded if necessary.  Because they have a low-temperature flexibility and a high-temperature tolerance, they are exceptionally durable.  They are resistant to ultraviolet rays, ozone, and chemicals.  These membranes also include a reinforcement layer that provides extra strength.  Their outstanding toughness makes them highly resistant to fire, tears, punctures, and bad weather.  
  • PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin) are the most common thermoplastic membranes.  These highly reflective roof coverings are also well suited for second generation application.
  • Modified Bitumen.  Modified bitumen roofing is a blend of traditional and modern technologies.  An asphalt-based roofing system reinforced with fiberglass and polyester mats; this roofing has a high resistance to foot traffic, tears, and punctures.
    Polymers such as APP (Atactic Polypropylene Polymer) and SBS (Styrene Butadiene Styrene) added to the asphalt modify elasticity and temperature flexibility of the membrane.  APP systems give resistance to foot traffic and enhance tensile strength.  SBS systems increase resistance to fatigue and brittleness at cold temperatures.  
    The pieces of material can be connected and sealed by melting with heat, hot mopping, cold applied adhesives, or self-adhesive membranes.  No matter how the seams are sealed, all the methods ensure a waterproofed roof for years to come.  All applications are safe and easy to install regardless of outside temperature.  Modified bitumen roofing comes with either a smooth or a granular surface and is available in a variety of colors to fit the environment of your building.        

New Life for an Old Roof

Is your TPO or other membrane becoming weathered, beginning to crack and leak, or picking up dirt that diminishes its effectiveness? Conklin’s Elastomeric Coatings provide a new cost-effective solution for repairing and preserving a single-ply membrane. We power wash and clean the existing roof, prime the surface, reinforce the seams, and seal the entire roof. This process stops leaks, increases energy efficiency, and extends the life of your roof. See our Membrane Coating System page for more information!

The Fabric Reinforced Roofing System is Conklin's rugged, hail-rated roof, guaranteed to give your building trouble-free protection. A tough, flexible fabric embedded into a seamless acrylic coating, this roofing system can be applied to many different roof substrates. Click on the link above to learn more about this amazing roof system!

Conklin’s Single-Ply Membrane Roofing System, made with premium thermoplastic membranes, is available with up to a 20-year warranty! We remove all loose dirt and debris, install board stock, apply the membrane, weld seams by hand or with a robotic welder, and seal the free edges of the membrane. Our Single-Ply Membrane page gives you a list of advantages that this roofing system brings you!

Conklin’s Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF) provides high-grade roof insulation, controls air infiltration, and reduces cooling and heating costs. The entire roof is insulated with SPF at a minimum thickness of one inch and sealed with a reflective coat. The Spray Poly Foam page tells you more! 

Built Up Roofing (BUR)

Built-up roofs are made of various layers of continuous, waterproofed material. They are composed of several layers of bitumen surfaces and topped with an aggregate layer or coating. The term ply sheet refers to a single layer of roofing. While the surfacing and materials used in built-up roofing vary, one example of built-up roofing is a base sheet attached to the roofing substrate, a ply of roofing felt, top that with a layer of bitumen, and lay another sheet of felt. Cap that layer with gravel or cap sheets. Hold these layers down with a final layer of asphalt.

Usually, the bitumen used in a BUR system is asphalt, coal tar, or cold-applied adhesives. Although the roof membrane can be left bare, it is normally covered with waterproofing material and gravel to protect the roof from ultra-violet degradation and stabilize temperature changes. The gravel also weighs down the roof and protects it from wind damage. The multi-layer protection in a built-up roof creates a strong, durable roof membrane. More recently, built-up roofs include an insulation layer for better temperature control. The ply sheets are often reinforced with fiberglass or organic mats, adding to the stability of the roof.

Built-up roofs, commonly referred to as tar and gravel roofs, can be applied by a variety of methods. For hot applications, the asphalt or coal is heated in a kettle or tanker and then applied by mop or a mechanical spreader. Cold built-up roofing can be sprayed on or applied with a squeegee. Because it does not need to be heated, cold applications do not create toxic fumes and are better for the environment.

Built-up roofing has many pros. These roofs are low maintenance and endure severe weather. They have excellent waterproofing qualities and provide ultra-violet protection. 
There are a few cons to consider. Installation is slower and costs more than some other types of commercial roofing. Care needs to be taken with the hazardous fumes and vapors when installing it. The roof can be susceptible to wind damage if not installed correctly. 

Built-up roofing has been used in the United States for over 100 years and is a favorite material used on low-slope buildings. 

One of the best ways to repair a BUR roof is with Conklin's Spray Poly Foam system. It add a layer of foam on top of the roof and creates a seamless cover over the whole roof. The a highly reflective Conklin coating is sprayed on top to finish the roof off. Because it is all sprayed on, it makes it very easy to go over a rough surface and still bond extremely well. Checkout our Spray Poly Foam page for more info. 

Photovoltaic (PV) Solar Panel Roofing

Are you looking for a way to combat the rising energy costs? Photovoltaic solar panels are a green solution that converts the sun's energy into electricity that you can use to power your building. They conserve energy and help control the skyrocketing costs of other energy sources.

The photovoltaic system employs solar panels each made of several solar cells. An inverter, a battery pack for storage, and interconnection wiring complete the photovoltaic system. Another option is a solar tracking mechanism that tilts the solar panels to follow the sun across the sky. This device maximizes the amount of the sun's energy that can be absorbed. These systems may be mounted on a rooftop, on the ground, or on a wall.

These systems are dependent on direct sunlight; therefore dust, clouds, and other things in the atmosphere affect the amount of energy output. If a tracking system is not used to follow the direct sunlight, about 10-25% of the energy is lost. Also, we may need more energy at times than the sun can produce, so we will need a second power source for those times.

Photovoltaic systems generate no pollution and no greenhouse gas emissions after installation. The price of solar panels continues to fall, and since the sun does not charge us for its energy, this is an investment that is worth your money!

Green Roofing

A green roof is partially or completely covered with vegetation and soil. The vegetation is planted over top a waterproofing membrane. This roof may also include layers such as a root barrier, drainage, and irrigation system. These roofs perhaps have experienced the greatest surge in popularity in the last few years.

Are you considering a green roof? A green roof has many advantages. It improves a roof’s insulation value, lengthening its life and saving on heating and cooling costs. The plants act as a sound barrier. The soil helps to block low frequencies, and the plants block high frequencies. Most roofs soak up the sun's radiation and re-emit it as heat. In cities where there are many buildings close together, the temperature can be as much as 4 degrees Celsius (7 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than surrounding areas. A green roof combats this heat island effect. 

Many of the advantages have a positive impact on the environment. Green roofs provide a natural habitat for insects and animals. They can be an oasis in the middle of a huge city where migratory birds and other wildlife stop and rest awhile. Plants improve health and lower diseases such as asthma by filtering pollutants and carbon dioxide out of the air. Green roofs manage storm water runoff. They can retain up to 75% of the water, gradually releasing it back into the atmosphere through the natural process of condensation and transpiration while keeping the pollutants in the soil.

There are two types of green roofs, intensive and extensive. Intensive roofs have a minimum depth of 12.8 cm (5 inches). Because they are thick, they can support a larger variety of plant life but also require more maintenance. Extensive roofs range in depth from 2 cm (0.79 inches) to 12.7 cm (5 inches). Although they are not thick enough to support as much vegetation, they require minimal maintenance.

Shingle Roofing

Shingles are overlapping sections of material laid in rows. Several materials from which shingles can be made are wood, slate, clay, and asphalt. Slate shingles, made from thin layers of rock, are available in various thicknesses and sizes. It is an expensive investment but creates a quality roof. Slate may last over 100 years and resists fire, water,

Slate shingles, made from thin layers of rock, are available in various thicknesses and sizes. It is an expensive investment but creates a quality roof. Slate may last over 100 years and resists fire, water, the wind, and hail. Frequent maintenance is not necessary because moss and algae do not grow well on the slate. Discarded slate can be recycled and then reused for roofing.

Asphalt shingles, covered with a bituminous coating, are the most common type of shingles. They are one of the cheapest shingle options but require routine maintenance and do not last as long as some of the other materials. In moist climates, moss and mildew will cover them and needs to be removed so that the roof lasts longer. However, these roofs are easy to install and give you a wide variety of shapes and colors from which to choose! Clay or ceramic tiles serve well in warm climates. These materials repel sunlight and help to keep the building cool. Although they are expensive, they last for many years and give your building a distinctive style. Wood shingles, known for their beauty, are often made from cedar or pine. They are expensive and do not withstand mold or insect damage.

Clay or ceramic tiles serve well in warm climates. These materials repel sunlight and help to keep the building cool. Although they are expensive, they last for many years and give your building a distinctive style. Wood shingles, known for their beauty, are often made from cedar or pine. They are expensive and do not withstand mold or insect damage.

Wood shingles, known for their beauty, are often made from cedar or pine. They are expensive and do not withstand mold or insect damage.

What are Options for Roof Coatings and Roof Repair

Conklin has an excellent line of products for roof coatings and repair. The Roof Coating Options page describes the features and benefits of each one.

Benchmark – Conklin’s Premier Acrylic Roof Coating

  • Provides the ultimate combination of flexibility and strength
  • Recognized by most major code organizations
  • Features an ENERGY STAR rating and an 85% solar reflective value

Equinox – Low-Temperature Roof Coating

  • An advanced-technology coating formulated for application in cool weather
  • A completely seamless membrane
  • Provides excellent protection from the elements
  • Flexibility to withstand building movement and long-term durability
  • Provides an 85% reflective top coat

Rapid Roof III – Hard-Working, Weatherproof Coating

  • Has proven itself with 35 years of trouble-free service
  • Lightweight, flexible, seamless, and weatherproof system
  • Carries a UL Class A fire classification
  • Standard white provides 85% reflective, tack-free, dirt-resistant finish
  • Offers optional colors that also meet the ENERGY STAR requirements

Rapid Roof HV – Seamless, Waterproof, and Cost-Effective Coating

  • High-value system that is also waterproof, seamless, flexible, and durable
  • Lower price because it doesn't have the costly code approvals and fire ratings
  • Features an 85% solar reflective value
  • Flexion – Single-Ply Membrane

ENERGY STAR-rated, thermoplastic membrane

  • Provides fantastic protection from the elements
  • Unique PVC formulation modified with DuPont for superior strength, durability, and flexibility
  • Naturally fire-resistant and has been recognized by most major code approval agencies
  • Excellent option for both new and re-roofing applications

What are Flat Commercial Roofs?

Flat roofs, also called low-slope roofs, are commonly found on commercial buildings. Although called flat roofs, they do not live up to their name; they are angled slightly to promote good water runoff. A roof's pitch is measured by its fall over 12 inches. If a roof falls one inch over 12 inches, it has a pitch of 1 and 12. If the roof has a pitch of 3 and 12 or less, it qualifies for a low-slope roof. Sloped roofs have a pitch of 4 and 12 or greater.

Flat roofs have a reputation for being an imminent leak threat. Whether your roof is at risk for leaks depends a lot on the quality of installation. It is critical to have the roof pitched sufficiently so that swimming pools do not form on top of your roof. Water weighs more than eight pounds per gallon and will wreak havoc if left sitting on your rooftop. Also, older roofing membranes often had a 10-year life without much maintenance and another 5-15 years with ongoing repairs. Newer roofing membranes appear to be superior, and some come with 50-year warranties. Seams are the trouble spots; select a roof covering that is seamless.

What are the advantages of a flat roof? A flat roof with large overhangs protects the siding, windows, and doors of your building from the brunt of the weather. This protection lowers the maintenance costs for these parts of your house. Because the roof slope is low, the overhang is angled out and does not block the windows, permitting sunlight to enter the room and providing pleasant interior light.

Flat roofs are more convenient, giving a handy place to install HVAC units or solar panels. Some people are exploring the options of creating a green roof by growing vegetation on their rooftop. If you are adding onto a building, a flat roof gives a uniform appearance and looks much nicer than a building with unblended roof pitches.

Commercial Roofing Maintenance 

Routine maintenance can save your business a lot of headaches and money. Those who spend to regularly maintain their roof pay on average 14 cents per square foot annually. Those who wait till problems occur to fix them pay an average of 25 cents per square foot annually for maintenance. Also, those who are proactive in maintaining their roof extend the roof's life up to 8 years. Plus, proper maintenance will discover damages and leaks before they cause problems to the building structure and the interior of your building!

How often should routine maintenance be done on my commercial building? The need for maintenance depends on how old the roof is and what kind of weather is common in your area. If your area experiences many storms, you may need to inspect your roof more frequently. Also, check the roof after any construction work has been done on it. Perform routine inspections twice a year. A good time to do these inspections is with the changing of seasons, just before winter and then again before summer. Remember that routine maintenance can spare you huge bills, maybe even the need for a roof replacement!

What are warning signs that my roof may be in trouble?

  • If ponds begin to form on your roof, they will eventually lead to deterioration, rotting, rusting, and leaking.
  • Bubbles in the roof are not a problem by themselves; but if they fill with water, it is time to do something because these bubbles will cause the roof cover to age prematurely and spring leaks.
  • Keep your eye on those seams! Any tear in the roof coating will eventually lead to leaks.
  • Check for gaps in the strips of metal installed on the edge of the roof, base of a vent pipe, skylights, etc. It is important that these are firmly in place to prevent water from seeping underneath the roof cover and so that high winds do not have a chance to rip them off.
  • Clear all drains and gutters of leaves and debris that may cause blockages. Also, inspect the drain seals and gutter caps.
  • Trim any trees that may be a hazard to your roof.

Why are routine commercial roof inspections important? Any commercial building is a large investment. Add to that the expensive equipment inside your building, and the safety of employees. The roof is the part of your building that ensures safety, making it a vital part of your business! Some roof warranties require professional inspections and proof of maintenance to keep the warranty valid. And who wants the nightmare of an emergency roof repair because of not maintaining the roof? No one! So, put a maintenance plan in action today!