Commercial Flat Roofing

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

Austin Commercial Flat Roof Repair

Four Commonly Used Commercial Flat Roofing Systems

An Explanation of Four Commonly Used Commercial Flat Roofing Systems

Flat roofing systems commonly installed in commercial buildings can be of four types. Our specialization is the highly durable 2-ply Modified Bitumen Torch Down system. Our services are available in Fairfield CT, Stamford, White Plains, Harrisburg, and Pittsburgh.

What are these four commonly used systems? They are:

* BUR or Built Up Roof also called “Hot Tar and Gravel” roofs
* Roofing systems using Metal panels
* Modified Bitumen Membranes
* Single Ply Membrane. PVC, TPO, and EPDM

Commercial Flat Roofing Answers To Count On

Built-Up Roof Systems (BUR)

This is a system that has been used in the United States for more than a century. It is also called the “Tar and Gravel” roof. These roofs are made up of asphalt paper layers that are each mopped down with hot liquid tar. This is the reason why it is called a “built-up roof”. The layers of paper are laid down in a criss-cross pattern, and depending on the contractor, the installation can consist of as many as 12 layers of both paper and tar.

Thus asphalt layer can be saturated and form a felt or a ply sheet. Fiberglass matting is used to reinforce these roofing felts.

Solid cold blocks of coal tar are used to make the tar. This asphalt gets heated by propane gas in a kettle, and is then pumped up to where the work is being done on the roof. The heated tar is spread over the surface that is being worked on and then felt paper is rolled over it.

Crude oil is refined into the petroleum product, asphalt. Distillation of coal forms the basis for coal tar. Both coal tar or asphalt act as the adhesive between the layers of felt paper to form the roof membrane.

Once the required number of layers have been built up into the roof membrane, a further layer of asphalt is spread over the entire roof membrane and 1/2 ” aggregate or gravel is spread over all parts of the membrane. This stone acts to protect the roof form the ill effects of ultra violet light.

BUR roofs can last for many decades, but ultimately will show some signs of degradation. Drying of the petroleum based products causes them to become brittle, leads to cracking from evaporation, and this further results in leaks in the roof.

A BUR roofing system becomes expensive because it involves a lot of labor. Roofs with many layers can last for over 50 years. Roofs have been noticed by us that have 15 layers, but there are also contractors who will reduce the number of layers to just 3 or 5.

Metal Panel Roof Systems

Where roofs have low slopes, many of them use a structural metal panel roof system. You will see them quite widely used in warehouses and factories.

Metal panels are laid over rafters that can have a spacing of as much as four feet, and be able to support the weight of a person.

Metal panels will have seams and overlapping joints and these need to be sealed with special sealants. Bolts are used with neoprene washers to fasten the metal panels to the rafters.

Properly maintained metal roofs can last from forty to fifty years, and make for excellent barriers against water leakage if they are properly installed.

Commercial Roofing Contractors With the Experience You Need

Modified Bitumen Membranes

Commercial Flat Roof Repair ContractorsThis system, the Modified Bitumen Torch Down Membrane is a development pioneered by the Italians in the 60s, and then made its appearance in the United States. It consists of a 2 ply membrane that is made up of asphalt with modifiers that cover reinforced fabrics. It is these modifiers that give the asphalt elastic properties on both the sides. This modified asphalt gives the material a feeling of rubber, and is manufactured in rolls that are 36″ wide. This has led to the membranes being called as rubber roofs, because of the rubberized technology used.

MB or rubber membranes come in two types:

APP – Polymer – Modified Bitumen Membrane. The seams of this membrane are welded together with a torch, leading to their being named as torch down membranes.

SBS – This Modified Bitumen membrane is installed cold or hot with asphalt or tar adhesives. SBS membranes can be self adhesive, and these have a sticky backing that will allow it to adhere to any surface that it is rolled on to.

In the MB roof system, the installation is meant to be a two-ply system, but some contractors will use just a single ply. Our specialization is the two-ply system as this prevents premature failure, as thinner membranes are vulnerable to both ultra violet rays and precipitation.

These MB membranes can have three different types of surfaces. They are those with a smooth surface, those that have a mineral surface, or those that have a foil laminate surface. A ceramic type of material is used in mineral surfaces that gives it protection against ultra violet rays.

In the business of roofing installation, we specialize in using the best materials in the systems we use and only use 2 ply membranes with ceramic surfaces, with the equipment used for the torch down being one that will give the best result for your commercial roofs. This system can last for thirty years more than any single ply system. This system, the Modified 2 Ply Bitumen Torch Down Roof System needs practically no maintenance.

Single-Ply Membranes – TPO, PVC, ad EPDM

These are generally referred to as TPO and PVC and are factory made wide sheets of vinyl or synthetic rubber. They are very thin and rolls can be anywhere between eight to twenty feet wide.

These membranes have no protective surfacing. Their top layers have a composition that allows them to withstand ultra violet rays for a limited period of time.

The use is made of an adhesive to allow the membrane to adhere to the substrate that has to be properly cleaned. If this substrate is not prepared as per the instructions of the manufacturer by removal of all dust and particles, its adherence can get compromised and lead to a reduced life of the roof.

Seams in TPO ad PVC membranes are sealed with the use of hot air, using solvents as a primer.

EPDM is material that is made from two compounds that come from natural gas and oil. This is the same material that you will see being used in the inner tubes of tires. Seams in EPDM are sealed with liquid adhesives or special self adhering tapes.

EPDM, during its short time after introduction has been plagued with problems. The adhesives used do not have the ability to withstand the extreme heat that roofs are often subjected to. This single ply membrane degrades with ultra violet light and is prone to punctures.

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 15 years. When ypu have concerns or questions about any commercial flat roofing system, we can help.

You can also visit our sister site,, if you have questions or need need help with commercial metal roof restoration or repair.

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Commercial Roof Repair, Commercial Roof Replacement and Commercial Metal Roof Restoration for the Austin Area

Commercial Roof Repair

Need commercial roof repair? At Armadillo Roofing we offer customers affordable commercial roof repair options.

Commercial Roof Installation

Modified Bitumen, White Membrane, Metal or Green Roofing Systems, we can install the highest quality roof on your commercial building.

Commercial Metal Roof Repair

We'll keep your property's Metal Roofing System in top-notch condition with our extensive experience and expertise with Commercial Metal Roofing Systems.

Commercial Metal Roof Restoration

Let us show you how you can save a lot of money, as much as 30-40%, by restoring your commercial metal roof instead of replacing it.

About Us

I’m Mark Franz, the owner of Armadillo Roofing & Exteriors.

I’m proud to say no one can beat our quality and experience in commercial roof repair, commercial roof installation, commercial roof replacement, commercial metal roof repair and commercial metal roof restoration in Austin, Texas.

Some of Our Latest Projects

Check out these recently completed commercial roofing projects.

Whether you’re looking for commercial roof installation, commercial roof repair, commercial roof maintenance, commercial metal roof repair or commercial metal roof restoration, we here at Armadillo Roofing have you covered.

With Commercial Roofing we are experienced in Modified Bitumen, White Membrane, Metal, Tile, Shingle, Green and all Flat Roofing systems.

You can save a lot of money, as much as 30-40% over a replacement, by taking advantage of our commercial metal roof restoration services.

Some of Our Latest Projects

Here at Armadillo Roofing, nothing is more important than taking care of the most important asset we have – our satisfied customers.

We take pride in the number of 5 star reviews you will find online that our customers have posted.

We will always deliver on our promise to ensure the finest quality materials and craftsmanship, stressing integrity and rewarding excellence. We are craftsmen who take pride in the roofing services we provide to our customers, both commercial and residential.

Our commitment is to deliver “Quality Craftsmanship at an Affordable Price,” and we have been doing just that for well over a decade now in Austin and the surrounding areas.

“Thanks for taking care of us in a professional manner. It was a pleasure to deal with someone who actually did what he said he would do. Look forward to seeing you soon. Thanks again.”

Mike McCoy – Mission Mortgage

“Thanks for a job well done. I look forward to working with you in the future. Let me know if you need any references on your future jobs. I’d be glad to be of help. Take Care.”

Mike Wilson – Central Texas Development Assessments, Inc.,

“Thank you again for your hard work. You did an amazing job on our building’s roof system and I would certainly recommend Armadillo to anyone needing your services.”

A.W. Armstrong – Kestrel Management Services, LLC

“Armadillo Roofing replaced our old roof with a beautiful new one. David managed the entire process to the detail. He was there during the work and walked the roof with me after it was finished. Quality, friendly and trustworthy best describes our experience with Mark and David at Armadillo.”

Lisa Y. – Austin

“We had an amazing experience with Armadillo Roofing and can’t say enough positive things about them. They replaced our entire roof in time to put our house on the market.”

Court C. – Cedar Park

“A hail storm left us with roof damage. Armadillo was referred to us and we couldn’t be happier. David was onsite at the start and finish of each phase to ensure everything was done properly. Mark is engaged and responsive anytime we had questions. They do great work! I would recommend Armadillo to anyone.”

Danny W. – Austin