Commercial roofing systems are a critical component of any business infrastructure, providing protection from the elements, contributing to energy efficiency, and enhancing the overall aesthetic appeal of the building. Understanding the various types of commercial roofing systems is essential for making an informed decision about which is best suited for a particular structure. This article will delve into the most common types of commercial roofing, their benefits, and their typical applications.

Built-Up Roofing (BUR) Systems

Overview: Built-up roofing, also known as “tar and gravel” roofs, is one of the oldest and most reliable types of commercial roofing systems. It consists of multiple layers of bitumen and reinforcing fabrics that create a finished membrane.


  • Multi-layer protection makes it highly durable.
  • Offers excellent waterproofing capabilities.
  • Reflective coatings can be added to enhance energy efficiency.

Applications: BUR systems are well-suited for most low-slope or flat roof commercial buildings, particularly in areas with heavy foot traffic or where durability is of the utmost importance.

Metal Roofing

Overview: Metal roofing is a popular choice for commercial properties due to its longevity and durability. Common materials include aluminum, steel, copper, and zinc.


  • Exceptionally long lifespan and resistance to extreme weather.
  • Energy-efficient, often reflecting solar radiant heat.
  • Can be recycled, making it an eco-friendly option.

Applications: Metal roofs are versatile and can be used on both low and steep-slope roofs. They’re ideal for commercial buildings looking for a long-term investment.

Single-Ply Membranes

Overview: Single-ply membranes are sheets of rubber or other synthetics that can be ballasted, mechanically fastened, or chemically adhered to insulation to create a layer of protection on your commercial building.


  • Lightweight and flexible, suitable for varying temperatures.
  • Easy to install and maintain.
  • Available in white or light colors to reflect sunlight and reduce cooling costs.

Applications: These systems are commonly used on flat or low-sloping commercial roofs. They are particularly favored in climates with significant temperature fluctuations.

Modified Bitumen Roofing

Overview: Modified bitumen roofing is an evolution of asphalt roofing. It is made from asphalt and a variety of rubber modifiers and solvents.


  • High tensile strength and resistance to foot traffic.
  • Easy to repair and maintain.
  • Good elasticity in cold temperatures.

Applications: This type of roofing is suitable for medium to low-sloped roofs and is often selected for commercial buildings with heavy equipment on the roof.

Green Roofing

Overview: Green roofs are an innovative and eco-friendly option that involves a layer of vegetation planted over a waterproofing system.


  • Reduces the urban heat island effect and improves air quality.
  • Acts as an insulator, reducing energy costs.
  • Absorbs rainwater, reducing the risk of flooding.

Applications: Green roofs are ideal for urban commercial buildings looking to improve sustainability and can be adapted to various roof slopes.

Thermoplastic Olefin (TPO) and Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Roofing

Overview: TPO and PVC are types of thermoplastic single-ply roofing membranes known for their heat-reflective properties and resistance to UV light, punctures, and chemicals.


  • Highly reflective and energy-efficient.
  • Resistant to mold growth, dirt accumulation, and tears.
  • Typically include heat-welded seams for superior strength.

Applications: These roofing systems are perfect for commercial buildings with flat or low-slope roofs, especially in regions that experience high temperatures.


Choosing the right commercial roofing system involves considering the climate, building design, budget, and specific needs of your business. Each type of roofing material offers unique benefits and can be tailored to suit the requirements of your commercial property. It’s always recommended to consult with a professional roofing contractor who can provide guidance based on extensive experience and knowledge of local building codes and environmental conditions.

Investing in a high-quality roofing system can result in long-term savings and protection for your commercial property. As you consider your options, weigh the advantages each system offers against the specific demands of your building to ensure you select the best possible roofing solution.