Pros and Cons of Different Commercial Roofing Systems

There’s a wide variety of commercial roofing systems on the market today, and each offers advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a brief overview.

Built-Up Roofing (BUR)

  • Pros: Long track record of installations on commercial facilities. Low maintenance over roof lifespan. Durable. Good protection against hail and other impacts.
  • Cons: Labor-intensive to install. Installation requires products that emit noxious fumes. BURs are heavy and it’s not uncommon for them to cause sagging in the building structure over time.

Modified Bitumen (Mod-Bit)

  • Pros: Evolved from BUR technology, using proven fiberglass and asphalt materials; good track record. Easy to repair with common asphalt-based roof maintenance products.
  • Cons: Commonly applied with dangerous torch-down methods or noxious chemicals. Not especially energy-efficient. Doesn’t stand up to ponding water well.

EPDM (ethylene propylene diene terpolymer)

  • Pros: Single-ply (essentially, rubber) roofing system is lightweight and flexible. Product cost is relatively low. Good lifespan on the roof, especially when covered with a layer of ballast.
  • Cons: Usually installed as a black membrane, which absorbs heat (not energy efficient). Not hot-air weldable and must be installed using adhesives to bind membrane sheets together; membrane seaming is not as reliable, long-term, as on heat-welded thermoplastic systems.

TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin)

  • Pros: Inexpensive thermoplastic roofing material. Installed with safe and reliable hot-air welding tools. Reflective and energy-efficient. Flexible and lightweight. Can be mechanically attached, adhered, or ballasted to the roof deck.
  • Cons: Relatively narrow temperature window for rooftop seaming. Multiple manufacturers mean multiple formulations that are not necessarily compatible with each other (implications if repairs are needed down the road). Studies have shown that some TPO membranes don’t hold up well in prolonged intense sunlight.

PVC (polyvinyl chloride)

  • Pros: Flexible, lightweight thermoplastic membrane can be installed in virtually any weather condition. Installed with hot-air welding. White PVC membrane is highly reflective and saves summertime energy costs. The membrane is “non-curing,” meaning that any repairs are easily taken care of by welding a patch to the old membrane.
  • Cons: More expensive than other roofing systems. Early PVC membranes had a reputation for shattering in extreme cold (since corrected).

If you’re in the market for a new roof, the experts at Tusing Builders and Roofing Services would welcome the opportunity to discuss all the options available to you. We invite you to get in touch today, call 866-584-2712.