white commercial roof

Commercial Roof Restoration… Choose Wisely

Low-sloping or flat roofs are by nature at greater risk of developing leaks than are pitched roofs that promote faster water runoff. Fortunately, business owners now have more options for repairing and restoring low-sloping and flat roofs. These options boost energy efficiency and are also effective and affordable.

Commercial flat roofs are most commonly covered in rubber membrane, metal sheets, or asphalt. These roofing materials have lifespans ranging from as short as 10 years to as long as 30. However, when any of these roofing systems leak, business owners can now opt to repair and restore them with newer applied membrane or spray-on materials. In addition to having longer lifespans, these newer roofing solutions also reflect sunlight thereby increasing the building’s overall energy efficiency. Some of these roofing solutions can also be used on new construction.

Choosing the Right Roofing Material

Foam Spray

The least expensive roofing system is polyurethane foam, which is sprayed onto the roofing substrate. It costs about $3 per ft2 and can last around 15 years. Similar foam coatings made of acrylic or silicon are also available. These can last up to 20 years but cost almost twice as much as polyurethane.

Spray-on foam systems are great for both new roof construction and repair. Plus, these foams provide insulation, further increasing the building’s energy efficiency. Because spray-on foam roofing systems are seamless, they are ideal for roofs in windy or hurricane-prone areas. Due to the chemical properties of the foam, this roofing material is also completely waterproof. Spray-on foam roofing is best for roofs that will not have much foot traffic, in other words, roofs that do not house many HVAC units or other equipment.

Single-ply Membrane

Of all the roofing systems for flat roofs, rubber roofing is the most well-known membrane roofing material. However, being black in color, these systems tend to absorb heat from the sun, raising air-conditioning costs. A more energy efficient alternative is a PVC membrane roofing system.

PVC membrane is a thermoplastic material that, like rubber roofing, is a single layer membrane laid in overlapping strips to cover the roof. However, with PVC, each strip’s edge is heat sealed to the layer it overlaps, creating a seam that is actually stronger than the membrane itself.

PVC membrane roofing is completely waterproof. And, because it is white in color this material reflects the sun’s rays, increasing building energy efficiency. PVC membrane is also better than rubber for roofs that feature multiple HVAC units or other equipment.

Metal Roofing

Metal roofing certainly is the most durable roofing material available. It is the most energy efficient and resistant to damage. Not surprisingly, metal roofing is also the most expensive. However, over time even steel roofs can leak at the seams or develop rust.

Instead of replacing the roof, a more affordable solution involves replacing damaged sections, sealing all seams, and then spraying the entire roof with a 100% water-proof, durable sealant. Such sealants not only improve the look of the old roof and prevent rust, but also greatly extend its life and increase its energy efficiency. Plus, sealing a metal roof is significantly cheaper than replacing it.

Choosing the Right Contractor

Knowing that a flat roof can be repaired and restored in various ways just adds to the decisions business owners must make when faced with a leaky roof. As with any project, it is always best to get several quotes from different contractors.

When discussing roofing material choices with potential contractors, be sure to ask them not only what material they would recommend but also why they think that material is best. A knowledgeable roofing contractor should be able to explain how local climate, roof foot traffic, and other factors inform their recommendation. They should also be well versed in all the options, not just specializing in one.

While cost is a top concern, be sure also to ask how long the recommended roofing material will last and what warranties come from the roofing material manufacturer as well as from the contractor for their labor. There are no industry standards on such labor warranties, but the average is two years. A roof that costs more up front but lasts five or more years longer, or has a longer warranty than a cheaper product may actually be the more economical choice.

Before hiring any contractor, be sure to ask for references and then visit those businesses. Ask those business owners about their experience working with the contractor and how well the roofing system has been working.

Choose Unlimited Commercial Roofing for Your Roof Restoration Project

If you’re dealing with leaks in your commercial building’s roof, know that you likely don’t need to replace it—restoration is possible in many cases! In the eastern Pennsylvania and northern Maryland areas, Unlimited Commercial Roofing offers a range of durable and energy efficient restoration options. Get in touch with us for a free on-site roofing inspection today.