If you're looking at the different commercial roofing systems, you might be overwhelmed by all the options. You're likely wondering what will give you the most bang for your buck in terms of durability, cost, and efficiency.

So what are the right roof systems for your commercial building, and is one commercial roofing material the best choice? As with so many other questions in life, the answer here is: It depends. The environment is a big factor in this decision. Will your roof be frequently walked on? Will it be exposed to chemicals, acid, or grease in an industrial environment? Will it likely be subject to full sun exposure, high wind, or extreme temperatures? The climate of your area and the building's intended use will absolutely factor into your choice.

You'll also want to consider replacement and maintenance costs in the future, plus energy efficiency throughout the year, when calculating the costs of your options. Here in Florida, for example, light colors such as white are often favored for industrial roofing because they'll reflect heat away from the building and put less strain on the building's air conditioning, making them the more energy-efficient choice.

So what commercial roofing systems could be right for you? Below, we'll cover the types of roofing systems for roofing commercial buildings that you'll want to consider, and we'll break down the pros and cons of different commercial roofing materials.

What are all the commercial roof types?

The most popular commercial roofing materials include metal, shingle, single-ply membrane or built-up roofing systems. Overwhelmed by all the options? Below, we'll touch on each commercial roof type and discuss the pros and cons of installing them.

1. Metal roofing

Metal is a popular commercial roof type because it's durable, lasting decades. Metal comes in multiple roofing systems, with some including solar or snow removal integrated into them. Metal isn't a monolith; it's a category that includes a number of roofing materials including aluminum, zinc, and tin; copper, tile sheets, corrugated galvanized steel; coated or stainless steel.

Metal's often favored for its strong fire resistance, wind resistance, and general durability, plus it can have a sturdy, finished look that some businesses gravitate to. It comes in a wide range of profiles and colors. However, one drawback is that metal roofing can face corrosion, which is why modern metal roofing adds protective layers to mitigate damage from environmental factors such as moisture and pollution.

2. Shingle roofing

Shingles are commonly associated with residential homes (you likely have a shingle roof yourself), but they're also used as commercial roofing materials for properties with steep roofs. Like metal, shingles come in various materials including slate, asphalt, plastic, and ceramic.

On the plus side for commercial property owners, shingle roofs are affordable and easy to install. On the other hand, the life span is often lower for shingle roofing than other commercial roofing types. If your roof is under shade from trees, for example, your shingled roof could grow moss and mildew.

3. Concrete or clay tile

Commercial roofs aren't limited to the standard industrial materials. Whether you need traditional profiles such as flat, small-roll, or high-profile Spanish "S" or Barrel tile, we have them. Concrete and clay tiles come in a wide variety of colors and shapes, so everything from an authentic Spanish Mission style to a more contemporary high-gloss glaze is available.

4. Single-ply membrane

Single-ply roof options vary from thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) to polyvinyl chloride (PVC) to ketone ethylene ester (KEE) polymer-based sheets. These materials are beneficial because they're resistant to multiple adverse conditions such as chemicals, UV light, and bacterial growth. They're also heat-reflective, lightweight, fire-resistant, and tolerant of high wind and heat.

TPO in particular has become the most common single-ply membrane option in the Southeastern United States because of its high weldability and properties that help it fit into a multitude of commercial building applicants. It's also often considered the best flat roof material for commercial flat roofing. It can be properly applied quickly, which reduces labor cost, meaning it's often a less expensive option upfront. It's popularity, however, means that many manufacturers have rushed into the market to create their own versions, so it's essential to source from a reputable manufacturer such as GAF, Firestone, Carlisle, Versico, Johns Manville, and FiberTite.

5. Conventional built-up roofing systems

Conventional built-up roofing systems offer time-tested performance. These are traditional hot asphalt-applied using multiple layers of fiberglass roofing felts, hence the "built-up" part of the name that reflects the system's high tensile strength. Then, they're surfaced with a mineral-faced cap sheet or gravel.

With this roofing system, the primary materials are highly cost-effective, but the labor is more intensive with applying the multiple layers of felts. The result, though, is a strong roof with superior weather resistance and redundant layers of protection. That redundancy reduces the likelihood of the roof being penetrated by an errant screw or storm debris, which prevents leaks and offers long-term stability and easier maintenance.

6. SBS-modified bitumen

Styrene-butadiene-styrene, or SBS, refers to the polymers that modify the bitumen (aka asphalt) in this roofing system. These systems offer the redundancy of multiple plies of roofing with the high elasticity of SBS-modified asphalt. It's popular for industrial buildings with asphalt-based roofs with low slopes, and the redundant strength means it's a winner in the harsh Florida climate for that reason.

Have more questions?

Give us a call at 1-800-NEW-ROOF, and we can see if one of these systems is the right fit for your commercial roofing project in Florida.