What Roofing Material Is Best For Commercial Buildings


When it comes to the safety of a building from the elements, nothing is more important than the material used in the construction of the roof. The roof provides insulation and drainage and should last for years on end. If cheap materials were used and the work is done sloppily, it can cause a collapse. That could mean significant injury and expensive repairs. So roofing material isn’t something to cheap out on.

Commercial roofing, which may seem similar to residential roofing, requires specific knowledge and skill. Installation and design must consider equipment located on the roof, such as smokestacks, airflow systems, ventilation, and external piping. That’s why unlike residential roofing where a homeowner may do themselves or high cheap labor, commercial roofing in Cincinnati or anywhere should be done by professionals with prior experience.

It’s good to know of the different styles of commercial roofing as a certain material may work better with one style of roofing over another. There are three styles of roofing used for commercial buildings. They are Flat, Low Sloped, and Pitched. Each has its advantages and disadvantages and is up to the business owner on which one they feel is the best for them. 

Flat Roofs are the most commonly installed due to cost-effectiveness, ease of installation and maintenance, and flexibility to work with all roofing materials. However, because of the flat plain, this style of roofing suffers from poor drainage. 

Low Sloped Roofs provide easier conditions for maintenance work to be done, good drainage, and easy installation of air conditioners, satellites, and solar panels. The only downside with low sloped roofing is that the building codes for it are stringent, and in areas with heavy snow, there is a chance for cave in. 

Pitched roofs, because of the slope, can easily have snow and water runoff without causing any damage. This reduces the need for maintenance and repairs, saving money. However, pitched roofs are more difficult to do repairs and maintenance on, which increases the cost to do repairs and maintenance.

There are many different types of roofing material, which can be very overwhelming to a business owner. However, each material has its pros and cons, which means the best type depends on the business owner’s needs. Here are a couple of the most common used materials:

  • PVC
  • TPO
  • EPDM
  • SPF
  • Asphalt Rolled
  • Acrylic Coated


PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) consists of two layers of PVC material held with polyester in between. Additives are added in to prevent curing while keeping the material flexible and uv resistant. It’s very durable and has great fire-retardant properties. It’s also resistant to moisture, wind, and chemicals while also being puncture resistant. The downside to PVC is that it’s relatively expensive compared to other materials and has a chance of shrinking over time. In colder environments, PVC is prone to becoming brittle and shattering.


TPO (Thermoplastic Polyolefin) compared to other materials TPO is relatively new material. It’s a single-ply material which makes it ideal for low sloped roofs. It’s very cheap, light, and eco-friendly. The material is white and slick, which makes it great at reflecting sunlight and moving water off a roof. Because it’s new, the longevity of the material has been put in question, especially with the problems that crop up with it. Consistency is a major issue as there are many companies out there that offer this material, which can vary in thickness. The material has been shown to catch on fire, which makes it high on the Roofing Contractor’s Institute’s problematic list of single-ply roofing material.


EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer), which is commonly called rubber roofing, is a dark, synthetic rubber material popular with flat and low sloped roofs. It’s a very inexpensive material that’s lightweight and easy to install. They’re a very durable material, and because of the rubber properties can be stretched and form-fitted. It’s also great for its ability to absorb sunlight, making it great against UV rays. The main problem with EPDM is that because it absorbs heat, it can cause problems for AC units and other electronics on the roof. The material is known to be easily pierced and will shrink in hot weather. Strong adhesive must be used for installation as faulty installation can allow water to build up under the material, making it hard to find leaks.


SPF (Spray Polyurethane Foam) is a type of roofing made from a liquid plastic that quickly hardens. While it’s drying, the plastic will also expand, covering a great deal of area. The plastic material is very durable and is resistant to stress. SPF is applied in multiple layers, with the top layer being a reflective material. This can save a business owner’s energy expenses while also being sustainable, lasting up to 40 years. Because it needs to be sprayed, SPF must be carefully applied and calibrated so the layers are even throughout a building. It requires someone with specialized training and experience to use it, making the material expensive.

Asphalt Rolled

Asphalt Rolled roofs use the same material as asphalt shingles; however, instead of being layered down, the material is rolled out onto the roof. This is probably one of the most inexpensive and quickest ways to apply roofing material. It’s commonly used on low sloped roofs and as an underside of other materials. Asphalt rolled roofs have very short lifespans of only around ten years, which means frequent replacement. The material also tends to have problems at the seams where the rolls are connected next to each other. The material it’s made out of makes it weak at energy efficiency.

Acrylic Coated

Acrylic Coated roofs are a very niche and new type of material being used for roofing material. However, it is known for being able to be applied to any type of roofing. It’s made of several layers with a primer followed by a base coat, then a fabric, with another coat on top. This makes it incredibly robust and lost lasting like PVC. The material can also be directly installed onto plywood. Although new, it’s been a very promising material. The only downside is that acrylic materials lose thickness over time, requiring occasional reapplying. The material does suffer if water starts to puddle on a roof.

These are only some of the many materials available out there, with many materials coming out every few years. A good way for one to figure out what material is best for their building is to look for companies that do commercial roofing in Cincinnati. With their experience, they should be able to come up with a suitable material. It may not even be on this list, which is why to ask.

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