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Commercial roofing is the barrier between the outside elements and the rest of your property, but it does more than just keep out the rain. A high-quality roof can reduce insurance costs, reduce energy consumption in the building, and help you avoid potentially costly lawsuit payouts in the future should the roof collapse and cause injury. It is vital that your roof is constructed professionally while using the most appropriate materials. We’re going to examine some of the best forms of commercial roofing and help you determine which type is best suited to your needs.
Built-Up Roofing (BUR)
Having been in use in the U.S. for many years, built-up roofing (BUR) is the most popular material used for commercial roofing with a low slope. A weather-resistant membrane is created by alternating layers and reinforcing fabrics, and the “ply” of the roof refers to the number of layers used in its construction. The layers of reinforcing fabrics are commonly reinforced with fiberglass mats or organic mats, depending on the desired functionality. The bitumen component of the roof can be constructed using asphalt, coal tar or cold-applied adhesive. These roofs are also sometimes referred to as “tar and gravel” roofs.
Pros of BUR
- Excellent weather protection and durability which lowers roof maintenance costs
- Ultra-violet protection which improves energy efficiency as the building interior remains better insulated
- Gravels and minerals can be used as surfacing materials
Cons of BUR
- Hazardous fumes and vapors released during installation
- Higher installation costs
Modified Bitumen Systems
Standard BUR roofs have separate layers of bitumen and reinforcing fabrics, while a modified bitumen system (Mod Bit) combines these layers during the manufacturing process rather than during construction on your building. Modifiers – most often styrene-butadiene-styrene (SBS) and atactic polypropylene (APP) – are added to traditional roofing asphalt, giving it greater flexibility and strength. This leads to a single-ply application process.
Pros of Modified Bitumen
- Highly durable and weather resistant
- Easy to repair
- Factory manufactured single-ply rolls are easier to install than multiple layers, and quality control is ensured
- Flexibility allows the roof to expand and contract
Cons of Modified Bitumen
- Works best on roofs that have adequate drainage systems
- Can be damaged by heavy foot-traffic
Thermoplastic Polyolefin TPO
Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO) is a nascent commercial roofing material that is quickly gaining broad industry acceptance due to its many performance and installation advantages. These roofing systems are designed to provide the durability of rubber, but with the added advantage of greater flexibility and quicker installation through hot air weldable seams. The welding of the sheets is as important as the sheet material itself, as a poor welding job could be the weak point in an otherwise weather-resistant roof.
Pros of TPO
- Extremely effective resistance to ultraviolet light which drastically improves energy efficiency
- Resistance to ozone and chemical exposure
- Resistance to wind based events and the associated “uplift” forces
- Resistance to tears, punctures and impacts
Cons of TPO
- Requires careful installation as seams must be properly welded for maximum effectiveness
Installing Your Commercial Roofing
Any roof is going to suffer wear and tear over time. The materials you choose can play a large role in determining how frequently you’ll need to perform maintenance, and how much this maintenance will cost you. It may also be difficult to decide which type of roofing is best suited to your needs. You will find that in the long run, the biggest contributor to your roof’s longevity is the quality of installation that was performed – a high-quality roofing material won’t do its job if the installation it botched. That’s why we always recommend that you consult with professionals when facing a commercial roofing job.
At AABCO Roofing, we’ve been advising on ideal roofing materials and installing roofs professionally for 30 years. You can be sure that when you call us up to perform a job, you’ll be dealing with experts who will save you time and provide an unparalleled quality of service.