So, you have a flat roof on your commercial property. It’s okay, you’re not alone. After all, flat roofs are a popular choice due to their cost-effectiveness and use of utility space. However, having a flat roof can cause major headaches when not properly installed and maintained. So today, we will provide you with everything you need to know about flat roofs, and hopefully, it will allow you to make the best choice for your commercial property, avoid potential problems, and know what to do if and when issues do occur.

Before we jump in, let’s talk about the types of flat roofs:

1. Built-Up Roofing (BUR)

Built-up Roofing, or “BUR” as we call it, consists of multiple layers of bitumen (asphalt) alternated with ply sheets or fabrics, and the top layer is usually finished with gravel or a reflective coating.

  • Advantages: BUR roofs are extremely durable, providing excellent waterproofing. The gravel layer protects against UV rays and also offers fire resistance.
  • Considerations: BUR roofs are also heavier than other options, which may require structural reinforcement. If you’re considering a BUR roof, keep this in mind, as installation can be more labor-intensive.

2. Modified Bitumen

Modified Bitumen is similar to BUR but uses asphalt modified with polymers to increase its flexibility and strength. It is typically installed in one or two-ply systems and can be applied using hot-mop, torch, or self-adhesive methods.

  • Advantages: Modified Bitumen roofs are flexible, easy to maintain, and offer good weather resistance, making them ideal for buildings with moderate foot traffic.
  • Considerations: Torch-applied systems should be installed by seasoned professionals to avoid fire hazards during installation.

3. EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer)

EPDM is a single-ply rubber roofing membrane known for its durability and weather resistance. It’s also available in both black and white to fit different aesthetics.

  • Advantages: EDPM is highly resistant to UV rays, ozone, and temperature fluctuations. It’s also easy to install and repair and offers a long lifespan.
  • Considerations: Black EPDM can absorb heat, potentially increasing cooling costs. In warmer climates, white EPDM can be better for energy efficiency.

4. TPO (Thermoplastic Olefin)

TPO is a single-ply roofing membrane that combines the benefits of EPDM and PVC. It often comes in white or light colors to reflect sunlight.

  • Advantages: TPO roofs are energy-efficient and resistant to UV rays, chemicals, and punctures. It also has heat-welded seams, providing strong waterproofing.
  • Considerations: Installation of TPO roofs requires experienced roofing professionals to ensure proper welding of seams.

5. PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)

PVC roofs are made from durable plastic and are often reinforced with polyester or fiberglass.

  • Advantages: These roofs are resistant to chemicals, fire, and punctures. They also have heat-welded seams for waterproofing and are energy-efficient due to their reflective surface.
  • Considerations: PVC roofs can be more expensive than other single-ply options and less flexible in colder temperatures.

Choosing the Right Flat Roof

When selecting a flat roof for your commercial property, it’s important to consider the following factors:

  • Climate: Different roofing materials perform better in various weather conditions. Reflective materials like TPO and PVC are ideal for hot climates, while BUR and Modified Bitumen are excellent for areas with severe weather conditions.
  • Building Use: Consider the foot traffic and usage of your roof. If your roof will have significant foot traffic, opt for more durable materials like EPDM or Modified Bitumen.
  • Budget: Weigh the initial cost against the lifespan and maintenance requirements. While some materials might be more expensive upfront, they could save you money in the long run due to lower maintenance and longer durability.
  • Environmental Impact: Energy-efficient roofing materials can reduce your building’s energy consumption and carbon footprint, while reflective roofs like TPO and PVC can help lower cooling costs.

The Importance of Routine Maintenance

Regular maintenance is vital for extending the lifespan of your flat roof and preventing expensive repairs. Common flat roof issues to watch out for include:

  •  puddling water
  • blistering
  • and roofing membrane damage

Indicators of these problems can range from visible water pooling on the roof surface to leaks and cracks in the roofing material. As soon as you suspect any of these issues, it is important to address them quickly before they develop into something bigger (and more expensive). Quick intervention can help prevent minor problems from developing into major structural damage, ensuring your roof stays in optimal condition.

The Bottom Line

Selecting the right flat roof for your commercial property is crucial for ensuring durability, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness. As members of both the IIBEC and NRCA, our commercial roofing experts are here to help you with all of your commercial roofing needs, including, expert installation, maintenance, and repair services for all types of flat roofs. Our experienced team can help you choose the best roofing solution to meet your needs, ensuring longevity and performance.

To learn more about Grizzly, our process,  or to schedule a consultation with one of our roofing experts, visit grizzlyroofing.com or call us at 337-243-6700. 


​​At Grizzly Commercial Roofing, our goal is to provide an exceptional blend of reliable craftsmanship, honest communication, effective solutions, professional accountability, and reassuring peace of mind – ensuring your roofing experience is as resilient and trustworthy as the roofs we build. To learn more, visit grizzlyroofing.com.