What is the Lifespan of a Commercial Roof?

When winter arrives here in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, it often leaves behind layers of ice and loads of snow on rooftops. And when you own or manage a commercial structure, it can be a concern on many levels, starting with keeping the interior warm and comfortable. The next concern is what type of damage is happening under all that ice and snow and whether you will need a commercial roof replacement

How do ice and snow damage a commercial roof?

The clear ice and white snow can add to the holiday beauty and cheer, but for a commercial structure owner, that fluffy pretty stuff is adding significant weight to the roof. One cubic foot of new snow can weigh 1 pound, and when it’s compacted and wet, even more.  Some immediate issues that can lead to needing commercial roof replacement include: 

  • The Buildup: Because a flat commercial roof can’t shed snow like a sloped roof, they are vulnerable to accumulation. The accumulation sits and seeps in any place it finds weak areas, and before long, you have roof leaks and extensive water damage.
  • Cracks and Leaking: As we just discussed, when the ice and snow accumulate on the roof, even the smallest cracks can start leaking as the ice and snow seep into the cracks. 
  • Sagging Roof: Even if the roofing materials are healthy, that accumulation of ice and snow can put a lot of weight on the roof and cause it to start sagging, making it weak. 

What is the lifespan of a commercial roof?

Depending on what type of commercial roofing material is in place will determine the lifespan. The basics of the more commercial roof replacement materials include:

  • TPO (Thermoplastic Olefin)

TPO roof replacement is known as an exceptionally durable and energy-efficient choice.  The average lifespan is between ten and thirty years, making it a reliable and cost-effective choice for commercial properties. This single-ply roofing membrane is bacteria-resistant, dirt-resistant, and puncture-resistant. It offers a high UV resistance and minimal maintenance, both contributing to lower energy costs.

  • EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer)

EPDM roof replacement has a lifespan between 22 years and 35 years. A superior durable material that is weather resistant, this synthetic rubber offers expansion and flexibility for all types of weather conditions, including the extreme conditions and temperatures that accompany hail, ice, and snow. 

  • Metal Commercial Roof Replacement

Metal roofing is renowned for its longevity between 30 years and 45 years when properly installed and maintained. This is a top choice for many commercial structure owners because of its durability, energy efficiency, and fire resistance and it is 100% recyclable. 

  • PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)

A PVC roof replacement will provide a commercial structure with a lifespan between 20 years and 30 years. Known as a durable material that is energy efficient, and can withstand chemical exposure, weathering, and fire. 

  • BUR (Built-Up Roofing)

A BUR commercial roof replacement is installed in layers of bitumen and reinforcing fabrics, providing durability and protection for up to 40 years. This roofing material can withstand extreme weather and heavy foot traffic, as well as superior waterproofing. 

Other choices in commercial roof replacement include Modified Bitumen which has as life expectancy of up to 30 years. Green roofing is a system that has been used in Europe for centuries and is not becoming a popular choice in America. This type of commercial roofing can last up to 50 years when maintained properly.

How can the lifespan of a commercial roof be extended?

Start by choosing an experienced roofing contractor for a commercial roof installation. Follow up with monthly inspections by the maintenance team and annual inspections by the roofing contractor.  Have any issues, no matter how insignificant or small they may seem, addressed as soon as possible. Delaying small repairs over time will lead to needing a new commercial roof replacement sooner than desired or affordable. 

What is the best roof for a commercial building?

Some factors that have to be considered in the choosing of a new commercial roof replacement is the owner’s budget.  Then local building codes should be reviewed with the roofing contractor. Often, the first choice for many is metal roofing. A metal commercial roof replacement offers durability, a long lifespan (50 years or longer), and minimal maintenance and upkeep. 

However, metal roofing has a high upfront cost. That makes BUR roofing the next popular choice. Because it is ‘built-up roofing’, the number of layers can be as little as two layers to fit the budget. A properly installed and maintained BUR commercial roof replacement can last up to 40 years, however, the fewer layers, can affect the lifespan.

At the End of The Day 

It is important to go with the best commercial roofing replacement material possible to protect the structure, its contents, and the people inside.  Spending a little bit more upfront can save money going forward.

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