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Commercial Roof Installation (What to Expect)

Posted By: Jake Hofer

When it comes to commercial properties, the roof plays a pivotal role in safeguarding assets, employees, and operations. Unlike residential roofs, commercial roofs face unique challenges due to their size, structural complexity, and diverse usage.

Thus, ensuring a robust and reliable roofing system is crucial for the longevity and efficiency of any commercial establishment. In this blog, we delve into the intricate world of commercial roof installation, exploring its:

  • Nuances
  • Materials
  • Costs
  • Essential considerations

What Makes a Commercial Roof Unique?

install a commercial roof

Commercial roofs distinguish themselves from their residential counterparts in several key aspects:

  • Size and Scale: Commercial buildings often have expansive roofs, covering large areas that require specialized techniques and equipment for installation and maintenance.
  • Structural Complexity: Commercial roofs may feature complex designs, including multiple levels, HVAC systems, skylights, and drainage systems. Installing and maintaining such structures demand expertise and precision.
  • Usage Variability: Unlike residential properties, commercial buildings serve diverse purposes—offices, warehouses, retail spaces, etc. Each use case imposes specific requirements on the roof, such as insulation, load-bearing capacity, and accessibility.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Commercial properties must adhere to stringent building codes and regulations, especially regarding fire safety, accessibility, and environmental standards. Compliance with these regulations is integral to the design and installation of commercial roofs.

Why You Need a Roofing Contractor Who Understands Commercial Roofing:

Entrusting your commercial roof installation to a knowledgeable and experienced contractor is paramount. Here’s why:

Expertise in Commercial Roofing Systems:

Commercial roofing requires specialized knowledge of various roofing systems, materials, and techniques tailored to commercial applications. A contractor familiar with these nuances can offer customized solutions that meet your specific needs and budget.

Compliance and Regulations:

A reputable roofing contractor stays abreast of local building codes, safety regulations, and industry standards pertinent to commercial roofing. They ensure that your roof installation complies with all relevant guidelines, mitigating potential legal and financial risks.

Project Management Skills:

Commercial roof installations often involve intricate planning, coordination, and execution. A competent contractor manages these aspects efficiently, minimizing disruptions to your business operations and ensuring timely completion of the project.

Warranty and Maintenance Support:

Choosing a licensed and insured contractor provides you with peace of mind knowing that your investment is protected. Additionally, many reputable contractors offer warranties on their workmanship and provide ongoing maintenance services to extend the lifespan of your commercial roof.

Different Commercial Roofing Materials

Selecting the right roofing material is critical for the performance, durability, and aesthetics of your commercial roof. Here are some commonly used materials:

  • Built-Up Roofing (BUR): BUR systems consist of multiple layers of bitumen and reinforcing fabrics, such as fiberglass or polyester. They offer excellent waterproofing and durability, making them suitable for low-slope or flat roofs commonly found in commercial buildings.
  • Single-Ply Membrane: Single-ply membranes, such as TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin) and PVC (polyvinyl chloride), provide lightweight, flexible, and cost-effective roofing solutions. They offer superior UV resistance, energy efficiency, and ease of installation, making them popular choices for commercial applications.
  • Metal Roofing: Metal roofs, available in materials like steel, aluminum, and copper, offer durability, longevity, and aesthetic appeal. They excel in shedding water and snow, resisting fire, and withstanding harsh weather conditions, making them ideal for commercial properties seeking a contemporary look with long-term performance.
  • Modified Bitumen: Modified bitumen roofing systems combine asphalt with modifiers, such as APP (atactic polypropylene) or SBS (styrene-butadiene-styrene), to enhance flexibility, weather resistance, and durability. They are particularly suited for buildings with high foot traffic or exposure to extreme temperatures.
  • Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF): SPF roofing involves spraying a mixture of polyurethane foam and protective coatings onto the roof substrate, forming a seamless, durable, and energy-efficient membrane. It provides excellent insulation, waterproofing, and resistance to UV radiation, making it an attractive option for commercial properties seeking sustainability and energy savings.

Signs That You Need to Replace Your Commercial Roof

Detecting early signs of roof deterioration is crucial to preventing costly damage and disruptions to your business. Look out for the following indicators that it’s time to replace your commercial roof:

  • Leaks and Water Damage: Persistent leaks, water stains on ceilings or walls, and damp insulation signal underlying roof issues that require immediate attention.
  • Age and Wear: Commercial roofs have a finite lifespan, typically ranging from 15 to 30 years depending on the materials and maintenance. If your roof is nearing the end of its expected lifespan or shows signs of extensive wear and tear, it’s wise to consider replacement.
  • Blisters and Bubbling: Blisters, bubbles, or wrinkles on the roof surface indicate moisture trapped beneath the membrane, compromising its integrity and waterproofing capabilities.
  • Cracks and Tears: Cracked, torn, or punctured roofing materials allow water infiltration and accelerate deterioration. Inspect the roof surface regularly for signs of physical damage.
  • Poor Insulation and Energy Efficiency: An inefficient or inadequate roofing system can result in increased energy costs due to heat loss, poor insulation, or inadequate ventilation. Upgrading to a more energy-efficient roofing material can enhance comfort and reduce utility expenses.

The Cost of Commercial Roof Installation

commercial roof installation

The cost of installing a commercial roof varies depending on various factors, including:

  • Roof Size and Complexity: Larger roofs with intricate designs or multiple levels require more materials, labor, and time to install, consequently increasing the overall cost.
  • Roofing Material: Different roofing materials have varying costs per square foot, with factors such as durability, longevity, and energy efficiency influencing the pricing.
  • Accessibility and Safety Requirements: Roofing projects involving challenging access or safety considerations, such as high-rise buildings or hazardous work environments, may incur additional expenses for specialized equipment and safety measures.
  • Roofing Contractor: The expertise, reputation, and location of the roofing contractor influence the labor costs associated with the installation. It’s advisable to obtain multiple quotes from reputable contractors to compare prices and services.
  • Additional Features and Upgrades: Optional features such as skylights, roof vents, insulation upgrades, or green roofing systems contribute to the overall cost but may offer long-term benefits in terms of functionality and sustainability.

On average, the cost of installing a commercial roof can range from $5 to $12 per square foot, with total project costs varying from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars for larger properties.

7 Steps in a Commercial Roof Installation

A successful commercial roof installation follows a systematic process to ensure quality, safety, and adherence to project timelines. While the specific steps may vary depending on the project requirements and roofing system selected, the following outline provides a general overview:

1) Initial Assessment and Planning:

  • Site Inspection: A professional roofing contractor assesses the existing roof condition, identifies structural issues, and evaluates the feasibility of installation.
  • Design and Specification: Based on the assessment, the contractor collaborates with the client to determine the most suitable roofing materials, system design, and installation method.
  • Permitting and Compliance: Obtaining necessary permits and ensuring compliance with local building codes, zoning regulations, and safety standards are essential prerequisites for commencing the installation.

2) Preparation and Safety Measures:

  • Clearing the Work Area: Removing debris, equipment, and obstacles from the roof surface facilitates safe and efficient installation.
  • Safety Protocols: Implementing safety measures such as fall protection systems, barricades, and personal protective equipment (PPE) safeguards workers and minimizes the risk of accidents or injuries.

3) Roof Substrate Preparation:

  • Roof Deck Inspection: Inspecting the structural integrity of the roof deck and repairing any damaged or deteriorated areas ensures a stable foundation for the new roofing system.
  • Surface Cleaning and Priming: Removing dirt, debris, and contaminants from the roof surface and applying primer enhances adhesion and promotes proper bonding of roofing materials.

4) Installation of Roofing Materials:

  • Layer Application: Depending on the chosen roofing system (e.g., built-up roofing, single-ply membrane, metal), installers apply successive layers of roofing materials according to manufacturer specifications.
  • Seaming and Fastening: Ensuring proper seaming, welding, or fastening of roofing components creates a watertight seal and prevents moisture infiltration.

5) Flashing and Detailing:

  • Flashing Installation: Installing flashing around roof penetrations, edges, and transitions reinforces vulnerable areas and prevents water intrusion.
  • Detail Work: Addressing intricate details such as roof vents, drains, curbs, and HVAC units requires precision and attention to ensure a seamless integration with the roofing system.

6) Quality Assurance and Inspection:

  • Quality Control Checks: Conducting thorough commercial roof inspections throughout the installation process ensures compliance with design specifications, industry standards, and manufacturer warranties.
  • Leak Testing: Performing water tests or infrared scans verifies the integrity of the roofing system and identifies potential leaks or deficiencies for prompt remediation.

7) Final Cleanup and Documentation:

  • Debris Removal: Clearing the work area of debris, surplus materials, and equipment maintains a clean and safe environment upon completion.
  • Documentation and Handover: Providing clients with documentation, warranties, and maintenance guidelines facilitates post-installation care and ensures accountability for the work performed.

Let Us Help Your With Your Commercial Roofing System

Commercial roof installation is a multifaceted endeavor that demands expertise, precision, and adherence to industry best practices. By understanding the unique challenges, materials, costs, and processes involved, property owners can make informed decisions to safeguard their investments and ensure the longevity and performance of their commercial roofing systems.

Whether embarking on a new construction project or renovating an existing property, partnering with a reputable roofing contractor who specializes in commercial roofing is paramount to achieving optimal results and peace of mind. With proper planning, meticulous execution, and ongoing maintenance, a well-installed commercial roof serves as a reliable shield against the elements, fostering a safe, productive, and sustainable environment for businesses to thrive.

Contact Built Right Roofing today to learn about different commercial roofing systems for your business!

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