Commercial roofing systems– Know your options before deciding

July 19, 2018

The roof is the single most investment in the construction for any building, commercial or residential.  Moreover, the roof is mostly responsible for determining the longevity of construction. To ensure that the quality of construction is safe and sound, architects, builders, contractors, and property owners have to be very careful in deciding on the type of roof. Commercial buildings are much larger and involve massive investment for which taking decision about the kind of roof that would be most suitable becomes very critical.  To get the best value for money, you have to know which type of commercial roofing would be best for any particular project whether it involves laying a new roof or replacing it.

The weather of the place and the climatic conditions are the first and foremost consideration to decide whether you need a flat or sloped roof.  The other factors to consider are the lifespan, the aspects of maintenance and aesthetics. Various options of commercial roofing systems are available but to make things easy, we will discuss a few common types of roofing for commercial buildings that serves almost all the requirements from cost to maintenance and longevity. Besides, another factor that is gaining importance in roof selection is its eco-friendliness. Roofs not only protect buildings but it can play a significant role in improving the environmental conditions while making buildings more energy efficient. For more information on commercial roofing systems, you can discuss with any roofing contractor Boston who can guide you well.

Thermoplastic roofing system

Although thermoplastic roofing system finds broad application in commercial roofing, it is also suitable for small homes. It consists of membrane roofing and is commonly called TPO in industry jargon. After construction of the roof, a single ply membrane covers the roof surface and protects it from environmental exposure and helps to increase its lifespan. In the beginning, this type of roofing was done with EPDM (ethylene propylene diene terpolymer)a synthetic roofing material, but now thermoplastic polyolefin is the material of choice that is fast replacing EPDM.  Although the use of thermoplastic is pretty new, it is only ten years old; it holds great promise for becoming the prime material for roof membrane.  The material is available in the form of sheets usually 12 feet wide and comes in rolls of 100 feet length. White is the most popular color that offers better UV protection and black and gray are also available.

Installing thermoplastic sheets

There are three ways of installing thermoplastic sheets on roofs.

  • One way is to glue the sheets to the roofing surface by applying adhesives to the roof and then stretching the roll on it.
  • Ballasting is another way of installing the thermoplastic membrane sheet. In this method, the membrane sheet is held in place by using bricks, pavers, and rocks, etc. that are placed on the top with the membrane sheet under it.
  • Fastening the membrane sheet to the roof with screws or similar fasteners is the most popular choice.

EPDM or Thermoplastic – a comparison

Seam strength – Since multiple sheets are used for covering the entire roof with the membrane, there will be several seams across the ceiling. The seam is an essential part of the roof, and it has to be strong enough to prevent any erosion. The seam strength of thermoplastic is 50 lbs as compared to 10-20 kg offered by EPDM. Moreover, it is possible to hot weld thermoplastic seam which makes it even stronger.

Puncture resistance – The puncture resistance property of thermoplastic polyolefin is also higher than EPDM, and its process of installation is more straightforward than EPDM that entails a 12 step process and therefore chances of committing error is high.

Energy efficiency – Thermoplastic membranes are much more energy efficient, and even a black thermoplastic membrane on the roof can bring down the temperature to 110oFahrenheit.

Metal roofing

This type of roofing is popular for industrial buildings and structures like sheds and warehouses, and a variety of metal roofs are available. While steel is the most common roofing metal, you would also come across aluminum and copper roofs.  When choosing the metal, durability, strength, and longevity are the primary considerations. Also, there is the cost factor too.

While steel roofs are most durable and very strong, it is prone to rusting for it needs the protection of the surface with an epoxy layer that prevents rusting. The cost of extra protection would add to the value of the roof which does not arise in case of aluminum roofs. When buying metal roofs, insist on buying brands that have proper labels of quality and safety. It would ensure that the roofing metal complies with the requirements of OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and the material has undergone fire testing, wind lifting testing, accelerated weathering testing and corrosion resistance testing for the ferrous metal parts.

Green roofing systems

For those looking at the future with an urge for creating a healthy environment by reducing the load of pollution, green roofing system is an ideal choice. More and more commercial buildings have started deploying green roofing systems.  The system consists of growing trees and plants on the roof to cover it entirely that helps to create a greener environment and at the same time reduce the temperature inside buildings during summer. It helps to reduce the energy bills and saves cost.  The International Green Roofing Association (IGRA) recommends different kinds of roofing systems.

Extensive roofing systems consist of laying a thin membrane on the roof and spread a small growth mixture of soil and plants. Usually, drought tolerant plants are an excellent choice for this type of roofing such as herbs, mosses, succulents, and grass.

Intensive green roofs are akin to creating a full-fledged garden on the roof with bushes, trees, flowering plants, and grass just as you would find in the backyard of any home.

The nature of the building and its purpose of use would determine the type of roofing system that would suit it well.

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