Picking the Correct Commercial Roof System for Your Building

Whether you are building from the ground up or retrofitting an existing building, one of the most important decisions you will have to make is what type of commercial roof will best suit your needs. Your choice will impact your building’s safety, energy efficiency, and longevity. There are multiple factors to consider when making your choice.

The first recommendation for finding the right commercial roof for your building is to find a trustworthy, established contractor. An expert in the field, like Register Roofing, will be able to consult with you, consider your wants and needs, and help you make a confident, informed decision.

However, the ultimate decision is yours, so you must have a little knowledge coming into the process. Below we have compiled a list of five factors that must be considered to ensure you pick the right commercial roofing system for your building.

Factor One: Determine Your Roofing Needs (Beyond Shelter)

If you are re-roofing your commercial property, the current roof and its condition are essential considerations. If you are doing new construction, you should determine what your roof needs to do beyond providing shelter. In either case, you have many factors to weigh when selecting your roofing system.

For example, does the roof need to be aesthetically pleasing? A cedar shake roof is more attractive than an asphalt shingle roof but does that matter for your building? What equipment will be on the roof?  An excessive amount of HVAC or electrical systems on the roof will result in a lot of foot traffic. In this case, selecting a thicker, more durable roof like modified bitumen would be a better option than a Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO) roof system.

If you have an existing roof, you may be able to apply the new commercial roofing system directly on top of it to save cost and time. Some roofs cannot be applied over at all, while some types are incompatible. A PVC roof, for example, cannot be used over asphalt shingles because the rough, rocky material would damage the PVC.

Factor Two: Location, Climate, and Surroundings

The environment of your commercial roofing system is vital to consider. Are there hazards present like overhanging trees or wildlife? What do local building codes allow? What type of weather will it be exposed to? 

Our climate in the Southeastern United States is harsh, so roofs must be designed with the elements in mind. You should learn about the products that have been tried and proven to perform in our region. Sometimes codes and ordinances will automatically narrow your selection. In Register Roofing’s home state, for example, all exterior building materials must have a “Florida Product Approval” or they cannot be used.

Wind design must also be considered. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ACSE) publishes a standard of wind resistance criteria that is the go-to reference in the establishment of most local building codes. It sets requirements based on a building’s location, critical purpose, and size. A high rise on the beach, a gas station 60 miles inland, a school gymnasium, and a warehouse will all have different standards of compliance.

Factor Three: The Building Usage

The business conducted within your building is a significant factor in selecting the correct commercial roofing system. A warehouse facility will have very different requirements than a standard office building or a hospital. Storage may simply require protection from the elements. In this case, cost and durability may be the most important things to consider. 

Human comfort must be factored in an office environment so an energy-efficient, climate-impacting roof would be more appropriate. On the other hand, a hospital is a critical operation where a roof leak may cause life-safety concerns. Therefore the tolerance for potential water intrusion is factored in for a time period over 20 years.

Buildings that house restaurants and manufacturing facilities require roofs that can hold exhaust and ventilation systems and not be affected by oils and chemicals. These facilities must account for the comfort of workers and patrons, so a professional consultation is essential.

Factor Four: Environmental Impact

Consumers value organizations that care about the world around them. Many commercial roofs on the market today are made from recycled materials or materials that can be recycled when it is time for a replacement. Highly reflective commercial roofing systems decrease energy costs and lower your carbon footprint. 

Systems that can accommodate more insulation do the same thing. A building material’s insulation rating is known as an R-Value. A newly installed roof is required to have an R-25 or higher rating, but a replacement roof is only required to meet the R-Value of what is being replaced

In this scenario, you have to weigh the importance of the building users’ comfort alongside the value of long-term savings on energy costs. It is also possible that a more energy-efficient and eco-friendly roof will qualify you for incentives or tax breaks that greatly offset the higher cost of a high-efficiency roof. Our team will consult with you on the incentives available in your area.

Factor Five: Your Budget

A commercial roofing system for your building is a significant investment. Your budget is a critical factor, but given the life expectancy of your roof, it is vital to consider the long-term value, not just the initial cost.

Maintenance, repairs, longevity, and warranty all should be accounted for as you determine the total cost of ownership. Inexpensive materials may be tempting to drive down the initial price tag, but these roofs often require more maintenance and repair and will likely require a complete replacement sooner.

The question you must ask yourself is this. Would you rather pay more upfront for longevity and a commercial roof with more peace of mind, or would you prefer to accrue more costs over time and be less confident when those expenses will come?

Considering these five factors before consulting with a contractor will make it easier for the company to directly address your needs and ensure you are getting the perfect roof.

Are you constructing a commercial building, government facility, manufacturing facility, or multi-family residential property? Is your facility in need of a reroof? We have provided commercial roof solutions throughout the Southeast for over 40 years.


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