7 Different Types of Roofs for Commercial Properties

metal roof

Your contractor will ask you which type of roofing material you would prefer when building a commercial property from scratch. You can go with their opinion given their experience working with different types of roofs.

However, before doing so, it can save you much money on material, installation, and future repairs or restoration if you know the pros and cons each type of material can offer you.

Here is a list of different types of roofs suitable for commercial properties.

metal roofing

Different Types of Roofs


Mineral felt is a common flat roofing material that is easy to install. Roofing experts refer to it often as torch-on felt, hot mop, three-layer felt, pour-and-roll felt, and hot flat-roof bitumen.

These variations are descriptive of the different ways contractors apply mineral felt on a roof. They have an average lifespan of 20 years.

Mineral felt can cost about $0.39 per square feet. The price is excellent for commercial properties that need a durable roof capable of resisting water leaks and durable enough to last weathering.

However, even thick, three-ply bitumen felt can pool rainwater. If there is damage in the felt membrane, water pressure can enlarge these cracks and shorten the lifespan of the felt roofing.

Tar and Gravel

Tar and gravel membranes are among the sturdiest among the different types of roofs on this list. Using several layers of water and corrosion-resistant material, contractors insert hot tar between the layers. They then install the sandwiched tar membrane on each area of the roof. Contractors then use a gravel surface layer or a different type of aggregate to add decoration and improve its lifespan.

These roofing materials are the most economical. They provide UV ray protection, stylish, and is fire-retardant. Tar and gravel roofs can last up 20 years with well-maintained roofs reaching the age of 40 years.

However, weight is a disadvantage. The tar sandwich can put the joists of your roof under great stress. Another issue is that tar is odoriferous. It introduces an unpleasant indoor smell during the first few days of its installation.

Because it is a compound membrane, tar and gravel roofs cost about $4 per square feet.

Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM)

Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM)

Contractors often have this as a top recommendation out of many different types of roofs for good reason. EPDM is affordable, strong, durable, and has a long lifespan averaging about 20-30 years.

Similar to tar and gravel, EPDM roofs are made from different materials to create its rubber base. Some of these are recycled tires, sawdust and slate dust.

If contractors install these roofs effectively, the seamless material guarantees a watertight seal that adds to the property’s insulation. In addition, they block UV rays, support rooftop gardens, and have variants that help improve their insulation capabilities.

EPDM is also cheap. It only costs $0.80 per square feet.

Some disadvantages it has is its lack of curb appeal due to its monotone black color. Hard objects such as tools can quickly penetrate the material and reduce its lifespan.

Thermoplastic Olefin (TPO)

As its name implies, this roofing material made from polypropylene and ethylene-propylene rubber is thick enough to create a watertight seal around your roof. TPO materials can have a thickness as wide as 45 to 80 millimeters.

The material is also fire-retardant. It offers the best insulation for any property allowing it to save up to 90% energy.

However, its price can have some property owners reconsider using it. A square feet of TPO material costs about $5-6. Its average lifespan can only reach about 20 years as well.

Another disadvantage is the lack of manufacturing standards. One manufacturer’s TPO priced at the same amount as another can drastically differ in quality and lifespan.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

PVC membranes are among the strongest when it comes to the different types of roofs for commercial properties. Manufacturers strengthen them enough that they are capable of surpassing the national standard of 200 pounds per inch (PPI) up to 350 PPI.

Most hotels and high-rise condominiums use PVC membranes because of their impeccable resistance. If contractors efficiently install the material, the seamless membrane can withstand any chemical, animal droppings and activities, and mold buildup. In addition, they offer excellent UV resistance and is fire-retardant.

However, PVC can also be expensive. A 50-millimeter membrane will cost about $6 to $9.5 per square feet. Another disadvantage is its incompatibility with asphalt-based roofing materials. Interaction between the two results in discoloration, softening, and a reduction in its average lifespan of 20 years.


Most traditional commercial properties use metal roofs. Contractors find them advantageous because of their lightness, which won’t require additional joist installment for support.

For some property owners, steel or aluminum roofing feels flimsy or weak compared to modern materials such as PVC, EPDM, and tar and gravel composites. However, properly installed metal roofs can last from 30-50 years with special roofing paint having an average lifespan of 30 years before they start chipping. They are also easy to repair and restore.

metal roofing

Some disadvantages offset the lightness, ease of installation, and UV and fire resistance of metal roofs.

Metal roofing is the most expensive compared to the different types of roofs in this list. Materials can cost from $15-60 per square feet. However, their long life makes them an excellent investment.

Another is rainwater or halestorm noise. The sturdy yet hollow property of metal makes it an excellent conductor of sound vibration. Frequent rooftop activity can also cause dents to form on the roofing material, which can reduce its lifespan.

Mastic Asphalt

Mastic Asphalt

Mastic asphalt has the longest lifespan out of all available roofing materials. It can last up to 50 years on average. Indeed, this is a testament to its durability.

The material is also used in building bridges, car parks, structural decks, and rooftops with high foot activity, such as hotel decks.

It has the least negative impact on the environment. Worn-out mastic asphalt is recyclable. Its waterproof capabilities combined with its durability make it possible to support rooftop gardens. They are also easy to repair. The material is moldable into different shapes.

However, it may require an upgrade to roof support joists because it is heavy. Mastic asphalt also requires frequent maintenance to reverse the damage caused by weather. It is also expensive at $2.50 – $4.00 per square foot.


Different types of roofs can give you an edge over cost, efficacy, installation, durability, and other factors when you’re building a property from scratch. However, they are also advantageous if you’re planning a complete roofing renovation by effectively reducing costs using new material that does not require frequent maintenance.

Take note that the average lifespan of any roofing material is not guaranteed. Several factors such as the installment procedure, weather effects, temperature, and others affect its material in negative ways. Therefore, having a professional roofing company install your roof for you is imperative to ensure its long life and durability.