Storm Damage To A Commercial Roof: A Comprehensive Guide

Every commercial establishment relies on the integrity of its roofing structure to protect assets and ensure business continuity. Storms, however, can pose a significant threat to the longevity and functionality of any roofing system. Understanding the intricacies of storm damage is crucial to maintaining a commercial roof’s health and preventing future issues.

The Common Culprits: Types of Storms Impacting Commercial Roofs

Different types of storms can cause varied levels of damage:

  • Heavy Rainfall: Can exploit even the smallest vulnerabilities, leading to leaks and water damage.

  • Hail: Often results in dents, and cracks, and can severely compromise the roof’s structural integrity.

  • High Winds: Can rip off roofing materials, especially if not securely fastened.

  • Snow & Ice: Accumulation can lead to weight issues, and melting snow can exacerbate vulnerabilities.

Recognizing the Signs: What to Look For Post-Storm

Early detection of storm damage is key to preventing long-term complications:

Visible Damage includes missing shingles, tiles, or any visible cracks and holes.

  • Water Stains: On ceilings or walls can indicate a leak in the roof.

  • Unexplained Mold Growth: Especially in attics or top floors, can hint at moisture intrusion.

  • Damaged Flashing: Often a result of high winds or debris impact.

  • Granule Loss: A significant loss of granules can indicate wear from hail or heavy rain for roofs with shingles.

Immediate Steps After Spotting Damage

Time is of the essence when addressing storm damage:

  • Document the Damage: Take clear photographs of all visible damage for insurance purposes.

  • Temporary Fixes: Use tarps or waterproof sheets to cover open or vulnerable areas.

  • Contact Insurance: Report the damage and inquire about the claims process.

  • Consult a Roofing Professional: For comprehensive inspection and repair recommendations.

The Role of Professional Inspections

Post-storm, a professional inspection can:

  • Identify Hidden Damages: Not all storm damage is immediately visible.

  • Provide Repair Estimates: A detailed breakdown of required repairs and costs.

  • Advice on Long-Term Solutions: To enhance the roof’s resistance against future storms.

Addressing Storm Damage: Repair Vs. Replacement

While minor damages can often be repaired:

  • Extensive Damage: This might necessitate a roof replacement, especially if the roof is older.

  • Recurrent Repairs: A more robust roofing solution might be needed if a roof constantly requires fixes after storms.

Preventive Measures: Fortifying Your Commercial Roof

The best defense is a strong offense:

  • Regular Maintenance: Identifying and addressing vulnerabilities before a storm hits.

  • High-Quality Materials: Invest in durable roofing materials that can withstand adverse weather.

  • Proper Installation: Ensuring roofing materials are securely fastened and seams are sealed.

  • Drainage Systems: Ensuring water runoff is efficient and doesn’t accumulate.

The Economic Implications of Unaddressed Damage

Ignoring storm damage can lead to:

  • Higher Repair Costs: As small issues escalate into significant problems.

  • Business Disruptions: Leaks and structural issues can impact business operations.

  • Decreased Roof Lifespan: Resulting in the need for premature replacements.

The Importance of Storm-Ready Roofing Materials

Storms can be unpredictable, but the materials you choose for your commercial roof shouldn’t be. The market today offers several roofing materials specifically designed to withstand severe weather conditions:

Metal Roofing

Not only is metal roofing durable and long-lasting, but it also effectively resists strong winds, hail, and fire. It’s a popular choice for commercial establishments, given its low maintenance needs.

TPO & EPDM Roofing

These are single-ply membrane roofing systems. They are lightweight, flexible, and can handle temperature fluctuations, making them resistant to cracks from storm-related temperature shifts.

Built-Up Roofs (BUR) 

Consisting of alternating layers of reinforcing fabric and bitumen, BURs are known for their resilience against water infiltration and UV radiation.

The Role of Proper Roofing Installation

Even the most storm-resistant materials can falter if not properly installed:

  • Sealing Seams: This ensures that water and wind can’t penetrate, reducing the risk of leaks or material detachment.

  • Anchor Points: Especially in areas prone to high winds, ensuring that your roofing materials are securely anchored can prevent them from being ripped off during storms.

  • Attention to Flashing: This is often a vulnerable point, so professional installation is crucial to ensure that areas around vents, chimneys, and other roof protrusions are watertight.

Understanding Insurance and Storm Damage

Navigating insurance claims post-storm can be daunting, but understanding the basics can be invaluable:

  • Know Your Policy: Some insurance policies might not cover “acts of God” like hurricanes or tornadoes unless specified.

  • Documentation: Consistently documenting your roof’s condition and any maintenance can help streamline the claim process.

  • Get Professional Assessments: Having a roofing professional assess the damage can give you a detailed report to present to your insurance.

The Future: Innovations in Storm-Resistant Roofing

As climate change continues to affect weather patterns, the roofing industry is innovating:

  • Solar Shingles: Beyond energy efficiency, some solar shingles are designed to be highly durable against stormy conditions.

  • Green or Living Roofs: These support biodiversity and absorb excess rainwater, reducing the risk of leaks.

  • Advanced Roofing Coatings: Modern coatings can reflect UV rays, resist hail impact, and offer waterproofing.


The aftermath of a storm can be challenging, but with the right knowledge, proactive measures, and professional guidance, you can ensure that your commercial establishment remains protected. Emphasizing the importance of storm-ready roofing materials, proper installation, and regular inspections can make all the difference. Remember, compromise isn’t an option when it comes to safeguarding your business against the forces of nature. Ensure your commercial roof is prepared, come rain or shine.