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commercial roofing
9 minutes Read 4.11.24

Roofs are the unsung heroes of any structure, protecting it from the elements day in and day out. However, when it comes to commercial buildings, the stakes are higher, and the requirements are different compared to residential properties.

Commercial roof replacement is a significant undertaking, demanding careful consideration of various factors to ensure the safety and longevity of the building. Today, we’ll delve into the intricacies of commercial roof replacement, including:

  • Signs indicating the need for replacement
  • Different materials
  • Costs
  • Duration
  • Longevity

Understanding the Difference: Commercial vs. Residential Roofs

Commercial roofs differ significantly from their residential counterparts in terms of design, materials, and functionality. While residential roofs typically have steep slopes and are often made of asphalt shingles or tiles, commercial roofs are characterized by their low slope or flat design. This difference arises from the diverse needs of commercial buildings, which often house large equipment like HVAC systems or accommodate rooftop gardens and solar panels.

Furthermore, commercial roofs must withstand heavier foot traffic due to maintenance activities or installations, necessitating durable materials and robust construction. Additionally, commercial roofs may incorporate features such as drainage systems, skylights, or HVAC units, adding complexity to the replacement process.

Signs That You Need to Replace Your Commercial Roof

Recognizing the signs indicating the need for commercial roof replacement is crucial for preventing costly damage to the building’s interior and structure. Some common indicators include:

  • Age: Most commercial roofs have a lifespan of 20-30 years, depending on the materials used and maintenance practices. If your roof is nearing the end of its expected lifespan, replacement may be imminent.
  • Persistent Leaks: Leaks are a clear sign of roof deterioration and can lead to water damage, mold growth, and structural issues if left unaddressed.
  • Damaged Membrane: The membrane is a crucial component of commercial roofs, providing waterproofing and protection against the elements. Signs of membrane damage, such as cracks, tears, or blistering, indicate the need for replacement.
  • Ponding Water: Flat or low-slope commercial roofs are prone to ponding water, which can accelerate deterioration and compromise the roof’s integrity.
  • Visible Wear and Tear: Inspect the roof for signs of wear and tear, including missing or damaged shingles, rusted flashing, or deteriorating sealant around penetrations.
  • Energy Inefficiency: An inefficient roof can lead to increased energy costs due to poor insulation or inadequate ventilation. If you notice rising utility bills or uneven heating and cooling, it may be time to replace the roof.

5 Different Commercial Roofing Materials

Commercial roofs can be constructed using a variety of materials, each offering unique advantages in terms of durability, cost, and maintenance requirements. Some popular options include:

1) Built-Up Roofing (BUR):

BUR systems consist of multiple layers of asphalt-impregnated fabric or felt alternating with layers of bitumen (asphalt or coal tar) and topped with a layer of gravel or mineral granules. BUR roofs are known for their durability and longevity, making them suitable for high-traffic commercial buildings.

2) Single-Ply Membrane:

Single-ply membranes, such as EPDM (ethylene propylene diene terpolymer), TPO (thermoplastic olefin), and PVC (polyvinyl chloride), offer lightweight and flexible roofing solutions. These membranes are easy to install and maintain, providing excellent waterproofing and resistance to UV rays.

3) Metal Roofing:

Metal roofs are valued for their longevity, energy efficiency, and aesthetic appeal. Common metals used in commercial roofing include steel, aluminum, and copper, each offering varying degrees of durability and corrosion resistance.

4) Modified Bitumen:

Modified bitumen roofs consist of asphalt-based membranes reinforced with polyester or fiberglass mats and modified with polymers for enhanced flexibility and durability. These roofs are known for their ease of installation and resistance to extreme weather conditions.

5) Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF):

SPF roofing systems involve spraying a mixture of polyurethane foam and protective coatings onto the roof substrate, creating a seamless and energy-efficient barrier. SPF roofs offer excellent insulation properties and can be applied to various roof shapes and substrates.

10 Steps Involved in Commercial Roof Replacement

Replacing a commercial roof is a complex process that requires meticulous planning, skilled labor, and careful coordination to ensure a successful outcome. While the specific steps may vary depending on the type of roofing system, size of the building, and other factors, the following is a general overview of the typical stages involved in commercial roof replacement:

1) Initial Assessment and Planning:

The process begins with a thorough inspection of the existing roof to assess its condition, identify any structural issues or damage, and determine the scope of work required.

Building owners should work closely with roofing contractors to discuss project goals, budget constraints, material options, and scheduling considerations.

2) Obtaining Permits and Approvals:

Before commencing work, it’s essential to obtain any necessary permits and approvals from local building authorities. This may involve submitting detailed plans, specifications, and engineering reports to ensure compliance with building codes and regulations.

3) Preparation and Site Setup:

The next step involves preparing the site for construction, which may include erecting scaffolding, installing safety barriers, and clearing debris from the roof surface.

Roofing contractors will also take measures to protect the surrounding property, such as covering windows, landscaping, and sensitive equipment to prevent damage during the replacement process.

4) Removal of Existing Roofing Materials:

Once the site is prepared, the existing roofing materials are removed carefully to expose the roof substrate beneath. This may involve stripping away layers of built-up roofing, single-ply membranes, metal panels, or other materials using specialized equipment and techniques.

5) Structural Repairs and Reinforcement:

With the old roofing removed, any structural repairs or reinforcement work can be addressed as needed. This may involve replacing damaged decking, reinforcing support beams, or correcting issues with roof slope and drainage.

6) Installation of Roofing System Components:

The next phase involves installing the components of the new roofing system, including insulation, vapor barriers, and membrane materials.

Depending on the chosen roofing system, this may involve laying down layers of insulation board, adhering or mechanically fastening membrane sheets, and sealing seams and penetrations to ensure waterproofing and weather resistance.

7) Flashing and Edge Detailing:

Flashing and edge detailing are critical aspects of commercial roof replacement, as they help prevent water intrusion at vulnerable points such as roof edges, penetrations, and transitions.

Roofing contractors will install metal flashing, drip edges, counterflashing, and other components to ensure a watertight seal and protect against wind uplift and debris.

8) Final Inspection and Quality Assurance:

Once the new roofing system is installed, a final inspection is conducted to ensure that all work meets industry standards and manufacturer specifications.

This may involve testing for leaks, verifying proper drainage, and checking for any defects or deficiencies that need to be addressed before the project is considered complete.

9) Cleanup and Site Restoration:

With the roof replacement completed, the site is cleaned up thoroughly to remove debris, equipment, and materials.

Any temporary structures or safety measures are dismantled, and the surrounding area is restored to its original condition as much as possible.

10) Post-Installation Maintenance and Warranty Coverage:

After the roof replacement is finished, building owners should establish a routine maintenance program to preserve the integrity and longevity of the new roofing system.

Many roofing manufacturers offer warranties covering materials and workmanship, providing added peace of mind and protection against unforeseen issues.

Cost of Commercial Roof Replacement

The cost of commercial roof replacement can vary widely depending on factors such as the size and complexity of the roof, the chosen materials, local labor rates, and any additional features or upgrades. On average, the cost per square foot for commercial roof replacement ranges from $5 to $12, with high-end materials or intricate designs commanding higher prices.

For example, a basic single-ply membrane roof replacement for a 10,000 square foot commercial building might cost between $50,000 and $120,000, while a more complex metal roof replacement with insulation and custom flashing could exceed $200,000.

It’s essential to obtain multiple quotes from reputable roofing contractors and carefully evaluate the scope of work and materials proposed to ensure an accurate estimate and avoid unexpected costs during the project.

How Long It Takes to Replace a Commercial Roof

The duration of a commercial roof replacement project depends on various factors, including the size and complexity of the roof, weather conditions, access restrictions, and the chosen roofing system. On average, a commercial roof replacement can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks to complete.

For smaller buildings with simple roof designs, such as retail stores or offices, the replacement process may be relatively quick, typically lasting one to two weeks. However, larger or more complex structures, such as warehouses or manufacturing facilities, may require several weeks or even months to complete, especially if extensive repairs or modifications are needed.

Weather can also impact the timeline, as roofing contractors may need to postpone work during periods of heavy rain, high winds, or extreme temperatures to ensure the safety of workers and protect the integrity of the new roof.

It’s essential for building owners to communicate closely with their roofing contractor and establish realistic timelines based on the scope of work and prevailing conditions to minimize disruptions to business operations and ensure a successful project outcome.

How Long a Commercial Roof Lasts

The lifespan of a commercial roof depends on various factors, including the type of roofing material used, the quality of installation, and the level of maintenance performed. On average, commercial roofs can last anywhere from 10 to 50 years or more, with proper care and maintenance.

Built-Up Roofing (BUR) systems are among the most durable commercial roofing options, with lifespans of 20 to 30 years or more with regular maintenance. Single-ply membranes like EPDM, TPO, and PVC typically last 20 to 30 years, while metal roofs can endure for 40 to 50 years or longer with proper upkeep.

Regular inspections, prompt repairs, and proactive maintenance are essential for extending the lifespan of a commercial roof and minimizing the risk of premature failure. Building owners should establish a routine maintenance schedule and work with experienced roofing professionals to identify and address any issues promptly.

Learn More About Commercial Roof Installation

Commercial roof replacement is a significant investment that requires careful planning, thorough assessment, and skilled execution to ensure the long-term integrity and performance of the building.

By understanding the unique characteristics of commercial roofs, recognizing signs of deterioration, selecting appropriate materials, and partnering with reputable roofing contractors, building owners can navigate the replacement process with confidence and safeguard their investment for years to come.

Contact Veterans Contracting to learn more about a commercial roofing system that works for your needs.

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