Types Of Commercial Roofs: Making The Right Choice

Commercial roofing is not one-size-fits-all. The perfect roofing system for a commercial building will vary based on the building’s size, function, location, and specific needs. Let’s delve deeper into the different types of commercial roofs to understand their features and ideal applications.

Built-Up Roofing (BUR) Systems

One of the oldest commercial roofing types, BUR systems are composed of alternating layers of reinforcing fabric and bitumen (asphalt).

Key Features:

  • Multi-layer protection
  • Typically finished with a layer of aggregates like stone or gravel

  • Known for their durability and longevity
  • Ideal For: Flat or nearly flat roofs, including many historic commercial buildings.

Single-Ply Membrane Roofing

These roofing systems consist of sheets of rubber and other synthetics that can be ballasted, mechanically fastened, or chemically adhered to insulation, creating a layer of protection on your commercial building.

Key Varieties:

  • EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer): Highly durable synthetic rubber roofing membrane.
  • TPO (Thermoplastic Olefin): Reflective white roof that can help reduce energy costs.
  • PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride): Known for its strength and longevity.

  • Ideal For: Commercial properties looking for a balance of affordability and longevity.

Metal Roofing

Beyond the typical barn roofs, metal roofing offers a stylish and long-lasting solution for many commercial buildings.

Key Features:

  • The diverse selection of metals includes tin, aluminum, copper, zinc, steel, and stainless steel.
  • Fire-resistant properties
  • Reflects sun’s rays to keep buildings cooler
  • Ideal For: Buildings aiming for durability or areas prone to wildfires.

Modified Bitumen Roofing

Modified bitumen is an evolution of asphalt roofing. It can be installed with multiple layers, which offer excellent insulation.

Key Features:

  • Enhanced strength and flexibility compared to BUR.
  • Typically applied with heat, it melds seams together and forms a waterproof bond.
  • Ideal For: Commercial properties in colder climates, as it adapts well to freeze and thaw cycles.

Green Roofing Systems

A modern take on commercial roofing, green roofs incorporate living vegetation atop a waterproof membrane.

Key Features:

  • Energy efficiency through natural insulation.
  • Reduction of urban heat island effect.

  • Positive environmental impact.

  • Ideal For: Urban commercial properties, especially in cities advocating for sustainability.

Thermoset Roof Membrane (EPDM)

A synthetic rubber compound, EPDM is durable and versatile.

Key Features:

Strong resistance to UV light and ozone.

Long-lasting seals and fewer seams.

High flexibility in colder temperatures.

Ideal For: Commercial properties in varying climates.

Thermoplastic Roof Membrane (PVC & TPO)

These are lightweight roofing systems known for their reflectivity.

Key Features:

  • Resistant to UV radiation, chemicals, and punctures.

  • Effective in improving energy efficiency.
  • Ideal For: Commercial buildings in warmer climates.

Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF) Roofing

SPF involves a liquid sprayed over an existing roof, which expands into foam, creating a solid layer.

Key Features:

  • Enhanced insulation and waterproofing.

  • Extends the life of the existing roofing system.

  • Ideal For: Commercial properties looking for roof restoration or improved energy efficiency.

Slate and Tile Roofing

A premium choice, these roofs are known for aesthetics and durability.

Key Features:

Long lifespan.
Fireproof and virtually maintenance-free.
Ideal For: Upscale commercial properties or historic buildings.

Shingle Roofing

Typically seen in residential properties, some commercial buildings, especially those with steep roofs, can benefit.

Key Varieties:

  • Asphalt: Cost-effective and easy to install.

  • Wood: Offers a natural look and insulation.

  • Tile: Durable and energy-efficient.

  • Ideal For: Small commercial properties or businesses wanting a residential aesthetic.


Selecting the correct type of commercial roof goes beyond aesthetic appeal. Factors like energy efficiency, durability, weather conditions, and budget play significant roles in this decision. By understanding the key features of different “Types of Commercial Roofs,” businesses can ensure that their buildings remain well-protected, efficient, and aesthetically pleasing for years. Whether prioritizing longevity, sustainability, or upfront costs, a commercial roofing system meets every need.

Cool Roofing

As sustainability and energy efficiency continue to gain importance, cool roofing emerges as a key player in the commercial roofing sector.

Key Features:

  • Reflective surfaces, typically in lighter shades, bounce back the sun’s rays.

  • It can reduce the roof surface temperature, leading to decreased indoor temperatures.

  • Contributes to reducing energy bills and the heat island effect in urban areas.

  • Ideal For: Commercial properties in hotter climates aiming for energy efficiency and sustainability.

Liquid-Applied Roofing

These roofs are applied in liquid form and then hardened to form a solid membrane.

Key Features:

  • Seamless application, which leads to fewer leak points.
  • It can be applied over existing roofs, making it an ideal solution for retrofitting.

  • It provides UV resistance and is energy efficient.

  • Ideal For: Older commercial buildings needing a roof upgrade without complete teardown.

Solar Panel Roofing

Incorporating solar panels into commercial roofs has become a prevalent trend, especially for businesses keen on sustainability.

Key Features:

  • Dual functionality: protection from the elements and generating electricity.

  • Potential to significantly reduce energy costs.

  • Possible tax incentives and credits.

  • Ideal For: Commercial buildings with significant energy consumption and ample roof space.

Pitched Roofing

While flat roofs are common in commercial properties, pitched roofs are only partially out of the picture.

Key Features:

  • Aesthetically appealing.

  • Offers enhanced water runoff.

  • Typically involves shingles, tiles, or metal roofing.
  • Ideal For: Commercial establishments, like boutique hotels or resorts, aiming for a distinctive appearance.

FleeceBACK Roof Systems

An increasingly popular commercial roofing system, FleeceBACK utilizes a polyester fleece to the back of a single-ply roofing membrane.

Key Features:

Enhanced puncture and tear resistance.

Superior wind uplift resistance.

Provides an added layer of insulation.

Ideal For Commercial properties in areas prone to severe weather conditions or requiring enhanced insulation.

Garden Roofing Systems

A subset of green roofs, these roofs are designed for cultivating gardens or even small farms.

Key Features:

  • Promotes biodiversity.

  • It can be used for urban farming, and promoting local produce.

  • It provides insulation and reduces the urban heat island effect.

  • Ideal For: Urban commercial properties with sustainability goals and a focus on local food production.


Commercial roofing is vast, with varied solutions for different needs and preferences. Commercial roofing options evolve as technology advances and the push for sustainability grows stronger, providing businesses with various choices. Whether it’s the aesthetic charm of slate and tile roofs, the eco-friendly benefits of green and garden roofs, or the energy efficiency of cool and solar panel roofing, there’s no shortage of possibilities.

For businesses, understanding “Types of Commercial Roofs” is not just about choosing for today. It’s about planning for the future, ensuring durability, and making a conscious choice toward sustainability. With this comprehensive guide, decision-makers can feel confident about making an informed choice that benefits their business and the environment.