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A Guide to Commercial Flat Roofing Options

Whether you’re a recent or a seasoned commercial building owner, understanding the different types of commercial flat roofing options available is helpful. Of course, you don’t need an expert to tell you that without proper repair and maintenance, all flat roofing options leak or become vulnerable to the ravages of time.

This guide will serve as a starting point in allowing you to understand the different types of flat roofing. Along with basic information, we will discuss their projected lifespans, what impacts their longevity, and most importantly, how to have the roof repaired on a budget.

The Different Types Of Commercial Flat Roofing Systems

The following are the most commonly available roofing systems in the U.S.:

*EPDM Or Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer

EPDM at its core is an industrial-strength rubber made of synthetic materials. This style of roofing is sold as a roll with a single-ply layer available in popular colors such as tan, black, white, and gray.

Thanks to its ability to contract and expand based on outdoor temperature fluctuations, this roofing system is considered a resilient and hardy choice. When properly maintained and installed by professionals, this roofing system may provide up to 30 years of service!

Heavy foot traffic and inclement weather can significantly shorten the lifespan of EPDM systems. The membrane usually begins to separate around the parapet walls and seams, providing a weak point for leaks to develop. Additionally, older EPDM roofs tend to accumulate dirt and debris that makes them less aesthetically pleasing over time.

*Modified Bitumen

A modernized version of the built-up roofing system, modified bitumen is a combination of materials such as fiberglass, asphalt, and either plastic or polymerized rubber. Though this roofing system offers a protective and waterproof barrier against the elements, it has a fairly short lifespan of only 10 to 20 years.

The reason that modified bitumen isn’t going to last as long as other options is because it tend to hold onto water from snow or rainfall much sooner. This pooling and standing water will become its downfall resulting in multiple worn areas and leaks especially near the seams.


Considered the oldest type of commercial roofing available, metal is a time-tested option. It works well in virtually any climate and requires the least amount of maintenance. Most importantly, these roofing systems are infamous for longevity and having the ability to provide ample protection for 30 years or longer!

The downside to metal roofing is the corrosion, and the different fasteners will wear away at different speeds. Another downside to metal roofs is that they can become punctured or dented fairly easily on commercial buildings.

*TPO Or Thermoplastic Polyolefin

This material comes in sheet form that’s heat-welded and houses a combination of ethylene propylene rubber and polypropylene. Its known flexibility makes it an ideal choice for colder climates and through proper maintenance as well as installation, they can last up to 30 years.

Unfortunately, TPO roofing systems are notorious for failing well before their projected lifespans. This is especially the case in areas where they’re subjected to much UV light and excessive heat.

*PVC Or Polyvinyl Chloride

Considered hardy by many, PVC is an excellent flat commercial roofing option. It can withstand exposure to harsh chemicals while also retaining its ability to repel water. Available in a wide range of colors and varying thicknesses, this roofing system can last up to 30 years with care and maintenance.

The downside to PVC as a roofing material is that it shrinks in time and the seams begin to slip apart. They also aren’t considered a sustainable option and are prone to punctures and shattering in cold climates

What Factors Can Impact The Lifespan Of Commercial Roofing Materials?

Commercial Flat Roofing ContractortsAs you’ve just read, you can see that the projected amount of time that a roofing system lasts can change drastically. What are the direct factors that determine how long your roofing lasts?

*Faulty Installation And Poor Craftsmanship

No two roofing contractors are alike, and the materials used (good or bad) as well as the craftsmanship of the installation have a direct impact on a commercial roofing system’s lifespan. The real problem is that many commercial building owners don’t realize they’ve dealt with an unscrupulous contractor until years after installation and their warranty has expired.

*Inclement Weather

Your commercial roofing is greatly impacted by inclement weather such as excessive windstorms, rain, snow, and hail. However, the sun also causes significant UV damage to roofing materials resulting in the deterioration of the materials.

*Absence Of Or Poorly Designed Drainage Systems

Usually, roofing systems can be divided into two categories: ones that are leaking and ones that are close to leaking. However, by having a properly sloping roofing system installed along with a solid drainage system, you can prolong the inevitable.

*Ignored Maintenance

Has the current roofing system been adequately maintained? This isn’t something you may have the answer to if you’ve only just acquired the property. Inconsistent maintenance can impact its lifespan, but even with proper maintenance, a good roof doesn’t last forever.

The Roof Is Leaking: Now What?

Regardless of the age of your roofing system, the moment you notice a leak, it’s crucial to act quickly. Not only is a leaking roof a serious health hazard, but it can cause damage to the very foundation of the building.

A roofing contractor can help you periodically repair and maintain any potential leaks that occur. Unfortunately, in due time, this becomes a repetitive and expensive task. Replacing your roofing system is another option, but do make sure to get several pricing quotes because this is an expensive endeavor.

Armadillo Roofing & Exteriors (512) 333-7663, provides commercial flat roof repair, commercial flat roof replacement and commercial flat roof installation services to Austin, Texas and the surrounding communities. We have been providing commercial roofing services to the area for over 19 years. When you need help with commercial metal roofing systems, check out our sister site at

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