Roofing Contractor Tips for Roofing Types

There are many Colorado commercial roofing options available.  As a commercial roofing contractor, people always ask me things like: What’s the best roofing material?  What type of commercial roof lasts the longest?  What flat roof system is the most cost-effective?  If there was a simple answer to those questions, there wouldn’t be so many options!  They each have their own benefits in different situations as we will discuss below.  But for flat roofs, the life expectancy and warranties are similar for most of the systems.

There are plenty of pitched (or steep slope) commercial roofs that will be roofed with materials such as asphalt shingles or tile.  For this article, we will focus on Colorado flat roofing materials and standing seam metal roofs.


EPDM Commercial Roofing System

EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) rubber roofing has consistently been a top choice for commercial flat roofs in Colorado.  It comes in large rolls much like carpeting and is rolled onto a flat roof.  The material is essentially recycled tires.   It’s attached to the roof by either gluing it down (fully adhered) or screwing it down with small metal plates (mechanically fastened).

EPDM is durable, waterproof, and typically lasts for many years.   The black rubber single-ply membrane is designed to absorb sunlight. During the winter it effectively melts snow and keeps it from causing leaks.  EPDM also reduces heating costs in the winter, thanks to its heat-absorbing properties.   Although normally installed in black color, it can now be installed in a variety of colors.

Since EPDM rubber roofing is made from recyclable materials, it can also qualify your building for Energy Tax Credits.  With its superior elasticity and other properties, it’s an especially good fit for restaurants and any high traffic roofs.


TPO Roofing  

TPO Roofing

TPO commercial roofing Platte Valley Middle School

A TPO (Thermoplastic Polyolefin) roof system is like EPDM in that it comes in large rolls and is attached to the roof as either fully adhered or mechanically fastened.  It is made of durable, high-quality plastic material, which is naturally resistant to chemical damage and weakening due to ultraviolet exposure.  Also, like EPDM, TPO roofing membranes are 100% recyclable and can qualify your building for Energy Tax Credits.

TPO is typically installed in white color.  So, it is highly reflective and is more likely to qualify under a new “cool” roof ordinances than EPDM.   TPO is also a little easier to maintain than EPDM.  The warranty for both products is very similar.


PVC Flat Roofing

A PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) commercial roofing system is another thermoplastic roof like TPO.   Like EPDM and TPO, it comes in rolls and is adhered to the roof in the same way.  PVC features durable seams that are incredibly resistant to punctures, oils, and other damaging elements.  An added benefit of PVC is that it typically has low maintenance costs and is extremely durable, making it quite popular in many areas of the country.

However, PVC tends to be a little more rigid than TPO or EPDM.  For that reason, some professional roofers do not believe it is as good of a fit for Colorado’s extreme temperature changes.


Fluid-applied low slope

Fluid-applied commercial low slope roof

Fluid Applied Roofing Systems

Fluid applied systems (or roof coatings) have become extremely popular in Colorado in the past decade.  The four primary types of coatings are epoxy, acrylic, asphaltic emulsion, and silicon.  But it’s the recent advances in the silicon coating systems such as Gaco and the increased warranty levels, that have made them the go-to alternative to a full roof replacement.

A fluid-applied silicon roof cures into a finished product that is much like TPO.  It is both highly elastic and reflective.  You can install it right on top of an existing roof such as a TPO or EPDM.  Fluid applied gives you the same 20-year warranty you’d get for TPO or EPDM.  You can even avoid the messy, noisy, and expensive tear-off of the old roof system.  Since a coating is considered maintenance rather than a new roof, you can also avoid the requirement of bringing the building up to code.  This is especially important in cities that have passed “green roof” or “cool roof” ordinances.

Fluid applied coatings are not just limited to low slope roofs. They can be applied to virtually any roofing system, including standing seam metal.


Modified Bitumen Roofing

Modified bitumen is an asphalt-based roofing material, available in single, double, or multi-ply layer options.  For flat roofs, it is a cheaper alternative than TPO, EPDM, or PVC.  It is often used on high traffic rooftops that need a durable system at a low cost.  Modified bitumen has good waterproofing characteristics and will not become brittle in cold weather or shift in hot weather.  The life cycle is not as long as some of the other flat roof materials mentioned here.  It is also more susceptible to hail damages than the other options in this article.


Commercial Metal Roofing for Denver

All the roofing systems discussed above are for flat roofs only.  Metal roofing is for steep-sloped roofs.  It has long been a great option for companies that want to enhance the look of their building.  Metal roofing is also a durable product that reduces costs and maintenance.  Metal roofs provide many advantages.  They are fire-resistant, which can save you money on insurance costs in addition to the safety aspects.  A metal roof also offers great energy efficiency that can reduce your heating and cooling costs.  Due to a metal roofs durability, it typically lasts about three times as long as regular asphalt shingles.  Another feature that is especially important in Colorado is that metal roofs are highly resistant to hail damage.


Commercial Roof Warranties

After the installation of a new roof, the commercial roofing contractor will give you a workmanship warranty to guard against any defects in the installation of the roof.  These will often range from three to ten years.  In addition, you will get a material warranty from the manufacturer for the roofing product itself.  These warranties can be for up to 20 years.


Commercial Roof Maintenance

As mentioned above, most commercial roof warranties can extend up to 20 years.  However, many of them require annual roof maintenance to keep the warranty valid.  Also, some issues, such as damage caused by HVAC contractors, storms, or wild animals, won’t be covered by the warranty.  To maintain a commercial flat roof and extend its life, you will need to do some simple things such as an annual cleaning, removal of debris, and inspections following severe storms or HVAC work.

With decades of Colorado commercial roofing experience, the experts at Colorado Superior Roofing & Construction are your source for any new commercial roof installation or repair.  Feel free to give us a call if you’d like a free inspection or analysis.

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