A commercial roof is kind of like a water heater – it never really enters your mind unless there’s something wrong with it. And just like a water heater, a commercial roof can last a very long time without issue.
In fact, that’s what commercial roofs are made to do. This isn’t Lake Tahoe, where even the Safeway has a beautiful roof. Most business roofs are meant to be functional and durable above all else. People don’t seem to make purchasing decisions based on the building’s roof, right? So who cares how pretty it is?
Exactly how long will your commercial roof last? Well, that depends on the roofing material.
- The Most common commercial roof is BUR
BUR, or built-up roofing, is a little complicated. But essentially, it’s layers of fibers laid on top of one another, and then sealed with asphalt or tar and covered in gravel. And it’s also the most common commercial roofing material available. That’s because this material is perfect for low slope (“flat”) roofs, which happens to describe most commercial business roofs.
With proper maintenance, your BUR should last 20-30 years.
- Metal roofs are pretty popular
Metal roofs have risen in popularity over the years, and they’ve come a long way. We can make metal look like all kinds of roofing materials now. But for commercial roofs, metal typically comes in large sheets. This metal is excellent for reflecting heat and durability, but it can be difficult to install and repair.
In general, a commercial metal roof can last up to 50 years. However, warranties typically come in 20-year lengths.
- Single ply roofing membranes are picking up steam
As roofing technology has advanced, manufacturers are developing stronger and better materials. One of the most interesting new alternatives is the TPO (Thermoplastic polyolefin) singly-ply roofing membrane.
Basically a seamless sheet of plastic that covers the whole roof, TPO membrane roofs should be professionally installed – they are rather new and pretty tricky. These membranes offer greater heat reflection and are very durable.
So how long will a TPO roof last? Depends on the thickness you select for your membrane. The thinner varieties average about 11 years, while thicker membranes can last more than 30.