As a commercial property owner, you are responsible for ensuring that every aspect of the building is not only reliable but also able to withstand varying conditions. While all components are just as important as one another, the roofing system remains the first line of defence in protecting your premises. This means that should an issue arise in which your existing system requires repairs or a replacement; you must carefully consider the different options available to determine which is best suited to your site. With this in mind, we have put together an overview of the different types of commercial roofing systems to aid your decision.
A Guide To The Types Of Commercial Roofing Systems
Making any amendments to your commercial property takes thorough research and meticulous planning in order to guarantee a return on investment. Failing to do so may open your property up to a whole host of potentially dangerous and costly fees in the future. So, before beginning to shortlist any options, we suggest asking yourself the following questions, in which we are going to delve deeper into below:
Before considering the best material to provide you with guaranteed reliability and durability, you must first determine the type of roof that your commercial property has. While there is an abundance of different variations, the types of commercial roofing will always fall into one of the three following categories:
Flat Roofs – As the most common roofing type, flat roofs are widely used on a host of commercial property types, including offices, warehouses and even schools. Although the name does suggest that the system is flat, it does, in fact, have a slight incline of 10 degrees. Not only are flat roofs long-lasting, but they are also considerably cheaper than their alternatives, which is the main reason behind their popularity. The only issue with flat roofing systems is that they are more prone to flooding as rainfall has only one direction to travel in.
Low Slope Roofs – The second roofing category is low slope roofs, which are usually seen on industrial buildings such as factories and warehouses. Low slope roofs are designed with slightly more of an inclination to improve water drainage, making them more reliable during the colder months. They are known to have a slope of 3:12 pitch, which translates to 14 degrees and due to this, are known for being one of the easiest roof types to install.
Pitched Roofs – Lastly, are pitched roofs which are most known for being the roofing of choice on domestic properties. However, when used on a commercial building, provide improved aesthetics and eliminates any risks associated with drainage. Pitched roofs are designed with a 26.6 inclination, which helps them to last significantly longer than systems in the above two categories.
Once you have concluded whether a flat, low slope or pitched roof is best suited to your commercial property, you can then begin to shortlist system options. On the other hand, if you have an existing system that is no longer serving its purpose, then you could consider updating the material used for a more modernised alternative. Each roofing system comes alongside its own benefits and drawbacks, making them best suited to varying environments and personal requirements.
Having designed and installed roof sheeting systems for several years, we are well-versed in a plethora of high-performance solutions. Therefore, we are going to run through the following options to consider:
- Single-Ply Roofing
- Metal Roofing
- Bitumen Roofing
- Green Roofing
- Built-Up Roofing
- EPDM Roofing
- Photovoltaic Solar Panels
Ideal for use on flat roofs, single-ply membranes are designed using sheets of a super flexible polymer. Due to the nature of the materials used, single-ply roofing can be heated and remoulded as many times as necessary, allowing systems to be customised to the roof in question during the installation process. While in the past, single-ply roofing was mainly used on properties that required high performance such as factories and garages, they are now widely used on a wealth of commercial property types.
Single-ply roofing, as a whole, comes alongside a number of sought-after benefits. Not only are they the only systems to be 100% resistant against UV rays, but they are also able to withstand exposure to chemicals – hence why they were initially used on industrial premises. They are also extremely durable when it comes to the ever-changing British weather conditions and fire-resistant, providing you with peace of mind that your property will remain safe.
When considering installing a single-ply system, there are a handful of different types of that you choose from, including those made from polyvinyl chloride and others from chlorinated polyethylene. For more information on the types of single-ply membranes, take a look at Roof Online.
Widely used for its ability to improve aesthetics, metal roofing is more than capable of lasting anything up to 50 years with little need for maintenance. While galvanized steel is the most popular material, zinc, aluminium, copper and stainless steel are all just as durable. This means that depending on your requirements, you can opt for a solution made from a single metal or opt for a combination of a few. You could even customise the system by incorporating industrial roof lights for a brighter building.
One of the most significant benefits of metal roofing is that, regardless of the material used, the system will always remain lightweight which means that it can be installed on top of your existing roof. Layering roof sheets, otherwise known as overcladding, is a fantastic, cost-effective alternative to a complete roof replacement. As your property will be equipped with a second layer of protection, this also improves insulation, helping towards lowering your carbon footprint. Moreover, once the metal has reached the end of its lifespan, it can be recycled, further improving efficiency.
Bitumen is a material that has been used in the engineering industry for thousands of years, making it ideal for use in roofing systems. Its ability to achieve a watertight structure means that it remains reliable for years to come with little need for maintenance. It is also increasingly more versatile than its alternatives, which means that bitumen can be applied hot, cold or through self-adhesive sheets. Once installed, the seams are melted together, which allows the system to be seamless, preventing future leaks and cracking.
The only downside to bitumen systems, which many commercial property owners often notice is that, because the material is black in colour, it does mean that the roof attracts the sun. This means that unless you equip your building with quality insulation, you will find that the heat is absorbed inside, making it trickier to maintain a comfortable temperature.
If you’re looking for a quirkier alternative to adding a contemporary twist to your commercial property, then a green roof should most definitely be taken into consideration. A green roof is designed with a layer of vegetation that completes the appearance of the system. While the foundation of the roofing will be just as waterproof and durable as always, it is finished with a layer of greenery to breathe life into your premises. This option has become particularly popular amongst urban environments which are filled with high building and little nature, with many creating a rooftop area for employees to relax during their breaks. Well-known buildings such as the City Hall in Chicago, the Vancouver Convention Centre in Canada and the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore have all taken the green roofing approach. For more great examples of green roofs from around the world, take a look at Interesting Engineering.
If you’re hoping to stick to the conventional tar and gravel roof, then in technical terms, this would translate to the term ‘built-up roofing’, commonly referred to as BUR. The installation process of a built-up system is relatively straightforward and involves several alternating layers of tar or asphalt and then gravel or stones – depending on the combination that you prefer. You are free to choose the number of layers that are applied, which is otherwise known as the number of plies. Due to the nature of BUR systems, they are best-suited to only low slope roofs and not their alternatives.
Build-up roofing systems have been available on the market for several decades, mainly due to their ability to withstand the test of time, which does still remain valid. It is more than likely that you will be able to find BUR systems installed more than 40 years ago, which are still in full working order. The nature of their layered installation process means that they create a barrier against all manner of weather conditions, including heavy winds, and are resistant to fire. There is no need for there to be any seams in systems, making this a robust, cost-effective solution.
As one of the longest-lasting solutions available, EPDM roofing is not only reliable but also considerably easier to install than its alternatives. EPDM systems, which stands for Ethylene Propylene Diene Terpolymer, is made from two key ingredients, ethylene and propylene, which together form a synthetic rubber membrane. Much like bitumen, EPDM can also be installed using several different techniques from being glued to the roof to being attached mechanically, before being sealed around the seams with either a liquid adhesive or specially-designed tape.
EPDM systems remain an incredibly popular solution due to their wealth of benefits and very few drawbacks. They are resistant to almost everything, whether this may be thermal shock, UV radiation, hail damage or fires. In addition, they are also available in both white and black depending on your requirements; each of which is more than capable of lasting up to 30 years problem-free. The only slight downside in opting for EPDM roofing is that installation can only take place in dry conditions, which means that the weather needs to be on your side in order for the seams to fully seal into place.
For those hoping to boost the efficiency of their commercial property while reducing the carbon footprint of their workforce, opting for photovoltaic solar panel roofing would be perfect. Solar panels are becoming widely installed as businesses strive to take a ‘greener’ approach and reduce their reliance on the grid. This not only helps the environment but also saves energy bills and eliminates the issue of rising electricity rates. While solar panels will require an initial, rather large installation fee, they will most definitely provide a long-term return on investment.
There are several different ways that solar panels can be fitted based on the aesthetics that you want to achieve. You can either install the PV panels over your existing system or replace your roofing with mounted tiles. For more information on this topic, the BRE National Solar Centre has put together a helpful booklet with everything you need to know about solar panels as a commercial property owner.
Find The Best-Suited System For Your Commercial Property
Finding the ideal roofing system to provide your commercial property with guaranteed reliability, longevity and durability needn’t be a tricky task. Through thoroughly researching into the solutions available, along with taking into consideration your building requirements and need for replacement, you will be able to begin shortlisting options. If you are unsure on any of the roofing systems mentioned above or require professional advice on the best route to take, then please do not hesitate to contact GOCO Services. As specialists in industrial roof coatings and bespoke systems, our operatives are always more than happy to schedule a site survey to discuss your needs.