5 Flat Roofing Options for Commercial & Industrial Buildings

By Applied Roofing Services

Oct 26, 2021

Commercial Roofing

Commercial flat roofing|Commercial Buildings

There are several different types of commercial flat roofing systems. The type of roof you decide to use on your business is ultimately up to you, but certain types of roofing do have more advantages on specific types of buildings.

Commercial Flat Roofs: What You Must Know about Them

Commercial flat roofing systems are a cost-effective option, as they require fewer materials than steep-sloped or pitched roofs. They can be constructed with a wide range of materials, from PVC to built-up roofing and TPO. These roofs provide the following benefits:

  • Reduce energy waste
  • Offer storage space for HVAC units and other systems
  • Ease maintenance and drain cleaning processes

Types of Commercial Flat Roofing Materials

EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Methylene)

This comes with a durable layer of rubber and can be installed using adhesive, attached mechanically, or ballasted. Pros 

  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to install
  • Lightweight
  • Durable (lasts up to 20 years)
  • Does not scratch or scuff easily


  • Not as aesthetically pleasing as other materials
  • Absorbs heat, consequently increasing the temperature within your building
  • Prone to puncture and water damage

TPO (Thermoplastic Polyolefin)

This is a widely used commercial flat roofing material that reflects heat while offering the highest level of protection. Pros

  • Cost-effective
  • Lightweight
  • Corrosion and breakdown resistant
  • Insusceptible to mildew or algae growth
  • Does not require pressure washing


  • Susceptible to fire
  • The laminated top layer can shrink, craze, crack and deteriorate
  • TPO usually comes in small rolls, meaning there will be several seams, which may weaken the roof and cause potential problems

PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)

This is a high-performing roofing system that comes with fire retardant properties and offers optimal durability. Pros

  • Resistant to wind, chemicals, and moisture
  • Lightweight
  • Eco-friendly
  • Flexible
  • Heat-welded seams do not allow water underneath the membrane


  • Expensive
  • Shrinks over time, which pulls the seams and causes leaks
  • An older PVC in cold weather is susceptible to puncturing and shattering
  • Difficult to repair

SPF (Spray Polyurethane Foam)

This is made of plastic that transforms from liquid to solid within seconds while expanding about 30 times after drying. Pros

  • Energy-efficient
  • Lightweight
  • Multi-layered SPF roofs have a good tensile strength
  • Lasts up to 40 years or more with regular roof coatings and proper maintenance
  • The material (after expansion) seals crannies and gaps, making the roof airtight and watertight
  • Provides insulation to save AC and heat


  • Requires professional installation
  • Expensive and difficult to remove

Asphalt Rolled Roofing

Asphalt rolled roofing is a great choice for commercial buildings with low-sloped roofs. Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to install


  • Short life expectancy (lasts only 10 years) compared to other roofing materials
  • Requires frequent maintenance and repair
  • Not energy-efficient

Acrylic Roof Coatings

These can be applied to various roof types and are the preferred alternative to roof replacement. Pros

  • Seamless, fully adhered membrane
  • Hail resistant
  • Highly durable
  • UV resistant and reflective
  • Easy to work with and repair


  • Prone to losing mil thickness
  • Does not perform well in ponding water
  • Coatings need to be applied at 50 degrees or above

Here are 5 flat roofing options you should consider for commercial or industrial buildings:

  1. Spray Applied Roof Coating Spray application roof coating is rubbery and will conform to the cracks and crevices of the roof. It creates a seamless surface which helps prevent leaks and, with most systems, offers a reflective coating that helps to deflect heat.

  2. PVC Roofing Systems PVC roofing systems are highly reflective and are extremely strong. This results in seams being created as the material is put into place. PVC stands for poly vinyl chloride and is resistant to water. When applied correctly, PVC roofing will help reduce ponding and leaking.

  3. Asphalt BUR One of the most inexpensive commercial flat roofing options is the Asphalt BUR system. BUR stands for “built up roof”. This means that the roof is “built up” using layers of asphalt that are laid down using a mop like device. Most roofing professionals recommend at least four layers for superior coverage.

  4. Modified Membrane A modified membrane commercial flat roofing system starts with the Asphalt BUR. Polymer modifiers are then added to the asphalt prior to it being applied to the roof. This gives the roof a more rubbery texture and increases its overall flexibility.

  5. EPDM Roofs EPDM systems are very popular because of their rubberized texture and their ability to resist chemicals. Owners, who are interested in installing a commercial flat roofing system, will often look to this type because of its durability and strength.

Why Choose Flat Roofs?

Here are some reasons why a flat roof can be an excellent choice for a commercial building:

  • Durability

Flat roofs are designed to work in all climates. Its slight slope (about 2%) allows snow and water to run off into the roof’s drainage system, preventing water infiltration and ponding, increasing the roof’s life span.

  • Access and Maintenance

Accessing a flat roof is very easy, as it requires only a ladder. This makes it easier to perform regular maintenance on the roof, sidings, and rain gutters, saving you from costly repairs.

  • Versatility

Flat roofs are versatile in design, covering the entire surface while optimally utilizing the space. You can choose from various materials and installation techniques to match your environment and building’s requirements.

  • Energy-efficiency

Depending on your climate, flat roofs can be constructed with reflective or other heat-absorbing materials, thus helping you save money on energy bills.

  • Low Cost

Flat roofs require a low upfront cost, as there is less surface area to be covered. Also, they are easy to install and safe to walk across.

  • More Space

A flat roof offers a vast storage space, which can be used to store HVAC units, solar panels, and other units that would otherwise take up more space inside. With its numerous advantages and several roofing materials to choose from, flat roofs remain a highly preferable option for commercial buildings.

Looking for Commercial Flat Roofing Contractors near You?

Serving the communities of central and southern California, at Applied Roofing Services, we are committed to providing high-quality, energy-efficient, and durable roofing solutions for your commercial buildings. Our expert roofing contractors are proficient in commercial roof installation, maintenance, and repair and can help you choose the right roofing solution within your budget. If you are looking for the best commercial flat roofing contractors in Orange County and Los Angeles, contact us today at 714-632-8418 or get a quote online. Related Post: 5 Expert Tips to Make Your Commercial Roofing Sustainable

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