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Commercial Roofing: Contractors, Installation and Systems


Commercial roofing is used to describe all aspects of the installation, repair and maintenance of large commercial building roofs. The type of buildings this covers includes offices, supermarkets, warehouses, industrial facilities and retail stores.

These buildings may have a range of roofing systems which will vary depending on the commercial roof structure. This can be flat and low-sloped roofs through to pitched roofs. Commercial roofing contractors normally possess a range of expertise and have specialist equipment which allows them to provide solutions for a variety of different commercial roof systems.

Such contractors are normally larger companies with the ability to manage large roof areas, provide support to the building owners and ensure every aspect of the operation is done in line with safety regulations.

All commercial roofing has the primary goal providing a durable weather resistance barrier which protects the building below.  This includes, the commercial buildings functionality, structural integrity, the weather, people and the contents within.


Commercial Roofing Systems: 8 Steps To Decide For Your Building?

Choosing the correct roofing system for a commercial building is extremely important. Several factors must be carefully considered. Below are the 8 steps which a building owner should analyse before committing to a commercial roofing system.

  1. Assess the requirements of your building: You should asses the size, structure, location, and function of your building. This includes factors like roof slope, load-bearing capacity, insulation needs, and the presence of any unique architectural features.
  2. Take into the climate and weather conditions your building will be subject to: Certain roofing systems are more suited to certain climates and weather conditions than others. Factors to consider include: temperature extremes, precipitation levels, wind speeds, and sunlight exposure. This will help you when assessing the correct roofing system for your commercial building. Things to check are energy efficiency, and resistance to elements likely to be encountered in the specific climate.
  3. Calculate lifespan and maintenance requirements: Every roofing material will have its own expected lifespan and maintenance needs. You should analyse these for each system your considering before making a final decision. Things to consider include inspections, repairs, and cleaning. You ideally want to calculate the cost of the system per year of service life. This can be done by calculating not on the initial cost of installation but the long-term costs of maintenance and potential repairs. And dividing it by the expected lifespan of the roof.
  4. Sustainably and Energy Efficiency: Commercial roofing systems which are energy efficient can reduce the heating and cooling costs for a building. This will not only enhance indoor comfort. It will also contribute to environmental sustainability. A system which uses a roofing material which has a high level of thermal resistance (R-value). And with solar reflective capabilities is an ideal candidate for a roofing solution which is both sustainable and energy efficient.
  5. Consider The Budget Of The Project: Similar to step 3. The budget of the roofing system needs to be considered. This needs to be both for the installation. Then any maintenance and repairs over the roofs lifespan. If a roofing system is not within the projects budget, any beneficial attributes will be irrelevant.
  6. Consult A Professional: Seek the advice of an experienced commercial roofing contractor. Often, they will be able to find innovative solutions for your commercial building which will reduce the cost of the project without reducing the effectiveness of the roofing system.
  7. Obtain multiple quotes: Once you have decided on the system you want, request detailed quotes from roofing contractors with good reputations. Compare the proposals they make. Do not only consider price. Pay attention to warranties, references and previous projects they have successfully completed. A good contractor will significantly reduce the risk of anything going wrong with your commercial roofing.
  8. Comply with Building codes and regulations: Ensure your chosen roofing system complies with local building codes and regulations. Understand if there are any restrictions or requirements in the area your commercial building is situated. Also consider fire ratings and energy efficiency standards.

These 8 steps will help you find the perfect balance between durability, performance, energy efficiency, and budget. And will maximise the chances of your chosen commercial roofing system being a success

7 Most Common Commercial Roofing Materials

The seven most common commercial roofing materials are:

  1. Built-Up Roofing (BUR): This system is sometimes referred to as felt. It is composed of multiple layers of reinforcing materials. This is typically, asphalt-saturated organic or fibreglass felts. It is alternated with layers of bitumen. Then finished with a cap sheet. A good cap sheet for built-up roofing (BUR) should be durable, weather-resistant, flexible, and UV-resistant. It must also be compatible with the underlying layers of the system.
  2. Single-Ply Membrane Roofing: These are flexible sheets which are made from materials such as TPO (thermoplastic olefin), PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and EPDM (ethylene propylene diene terpolymer). Single ply roofing is lightweight, easy to install and durable. They stand up well to both UV rays and the adverse weather conditions.
  3. Metal Roofing: Mostly seen in industrial buildings such as factories and warehouses. The metal used is normally steel or aluminium. These metal roofing systems are known for their longevity, durability, and resistance to fire. Metal roof systems normally suffer from cut edge corrosion at some point in their service life. Thankfully, if treated promptly the lifespan of this roof system has the potential to be in excess of 50 years.
  4. Modified Bitumen Roofing: Modified bitumen roofing is a type of asphalt-based roofing which makes use of additional polymer modifiers. This provides enhanced flexibility, strength, and resistance to weathering. It is commonly installed as a two-ply system using torch application or cold adhesives.
  5. Liquid Polyurethane: is a liquid applied roofing system. It uses a cold applied polyurethane coating to create a seamless, durable, and flexible membrane over the substrate of the roof. This commercial roofing system provides excellent protection against leaks, UV rays, extreme weather conditions, and movement. Due to the ease of installation it also significantly reduces contractor risk. It can be applied to a range of roofing substrates, including metal, concrete, and single-ply membranes. Its seamless application eliminates the need for seams and joints. This minimises the probability of water ingress occulting. Liquid polyurethane’s key benefits are its long lifespan, easy application, and ability to be used as an overlay to extend the life of existing roofs.
  6. Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM): EPDM is a synthetic rubber membrane which offers exceptional resistance to UV rays, ozone, and weathering. It is often used in large-scale commercial roofing applications due to the amount of roofing which can be installed per day. Large rolls of EPDM can be rolled out to cover huge areas and then be mechanically fixed to the substrate. Although this is a type of single ply roofing it deserves its own category due to its popularity.
  7. Green Roofs: These roofing systems incorporate living vegetation on the surface of the roof. Green roof systems provide several environmental benefits, including improved insulation, rainwater management, temperate regulation and protection from UV radiation.

Do Commercial Roofing Products Differ In Quality?

Yes, commercial roofing products can differ in quality. There is a wide range of manufacturers and suppliers in the commercial roofing industry, and not all products are created equal. This means when getting quotations from contractors understanding if you are receiving competitive prices for your project can be difficult.

Variations in materials, manufacturing processes, and quality control can result in differences in the durability, performance, and lifespan of commercial roofing products.

High-quality commercial roofing products are often designed and manufactured to meet rigorous industry standards and undergo thorough testing to ensure their performance in various conditions. They are typically made from superior materials that offer greater resistance to weathering, UV rays, impact, and other environmental factors.

Lower-quality roofing products may not meet the same standards and may be more prone to issues such as leaks, premature ageing, or failure under extreme weather conditions. They may also require more frequent repairs or replacement, leading to increased maintenance costs and potential disruptions to the building.

To ensure the quality of commercial roofing products, it is essential to work with reputable manufacturers, suppliers, and roofing contractors who have a track record of using high-quality materials and adhering to industry best practices. It is also important to review warranties and product specifications to understand the performance and durability of the materials being used.

By investing in high-quality commercial roofing products, building owners can benefit from increased durability, longer lifespan, reduced maintenance needs, and improved protection for their commercial properties.

How Can You Maximise The Service Life Of Commercial Roofs?

Maximizing the service life of commercial roofs requires proactive maintenance, regular inspections, and proper care. Here are some steps to help extend the lifespan of commercial roofs:

  1. Regular Inspections: Schedule regular inspections by qualified roofing professionals to assess the condition of the roof. Inspections can help identify early signs of damage, such as leaks, cracks, or deterioration, allowing for timely repairs.
  2. Prompt Repairs: Address any issues identified during inspections promptly. Small repairs prevent problems from escalating and causing more extensive damage to the roof. Delaying repairs can lead to water infiltration, structural damage, and increased repair costs.
  3. Maintain Drainage Systems: Ensure that gutters, downspouts, and other drainage systems are clear of debris and functioning properly. Proper drainage prevents water accumulation on the roof, reducing the risk of leaks and structural damage.
  4. Keep Roof Clean: Remove debris, leaves, and other materials from the roof surface regularly. Accumulated debris can trap moisture, accelerate roof deterioration, and promote the growth of algae or moss.
  5. Address Vegetation Growth: Remove any vegetation, such as moss or algae, that may grow on the roof surface. These can retain moisture and cause damage over time. Consult with professionals on appropriate methods for safe removal.
  6. Maintain Roof Coatings: If the roof has a coating, such as a reflective or protective layer, ensure it is maintained and reapplied as needed. Coatings can enhance the roof's performance and protect against UV rays, weathering, and other elements.
  7. Conduct Seasonal Inspections: Perform additional inspections after severe weather events, such as storms or heavy snowfall, to identify any potential damage caused by these events. Address any issues promptly.
  8. Ensure Proper Ventilation: Adequate roof ventilation helps regulate temperature and moisture levels, reducing the risk of moisture-related issues such as condensation or mould growth. Ensure vents and exhaust systems are functioning properly.
  9. Implement Preventive Maintenance Programs: Work with professional roofing contractors to develop and implement a preventive maintenance program tailored to the specific needs of the roof. Regular maintenance tasks, such as sealant inspections, flashing checks, and membrane evaluations, can help identify and address potential issues before they become major problems.
  10. Document Roof Maintenance: Keep detailed records of inspections, repairs, and maintenance activities performed on the roof. This documentation helps track the history of the roof, identify recurring issues, and assists in warranty claims if applicable.

By following these maintenance practices, commercial building owners can help maximize the service life of their roofs, reduce the risk of costly repairs, and ensure the long-term protection and performance of their buildings.

Does The Commercial Roofing Company You Choose Make A Difference?

Yes, the commercial roofing company you choose can make a significant difference in the quality of the installation, maintenance, and overall service you receive. Here are some reasons why the choice of a commercial roofing company matters:

  1. Expertise and Experience: Reputable commercial roofing companies have expertise and experience in working with various roofing systems, materials, and building types. They understand the unique challenges and requirements of commercial roofs and can provide effective solutions based on their knowledge and experience.
  2. Quality of Workmanship: A reliable commercial roofing company employs skilled and trained roofing professionals who can deliver high-quality workmanship. Proper installation and maintenance are critical for the longevity and performance of a commercial roof. Working with a reputable company ensures that the job is done correctly and up to industry standards.
  3. Access to Quality Materials: Established commercial roofing companies often have relationships with reputable suppliers and manufacturers, giving them access to high-quality roofing materials. They can recommend and source the best materials for your specific roofing needs, ensuring durability, performance, and compliance with industry standards.
  4. Compliance and Safety: A reputable commercial roofing company prioritises compliance with building codes and safety regulations. They stay updated on the latest regulations, certifications, and safety practices to ensure that the roofing project meets all requirements, minimising the risk of legal issues or accidents during installation or maintenance.
  5. Warranty and Guarantees: Many commercial roofing companies provide warranties or guarantees on their workmanship and the materials they use. This offers peace of mind and protection in case of any issues that arise after the installation. It's important to review and understand the warranty terms before proceeding with any roofing project. Insurance backed guarantees are preferable. The reason for this is it means you are guaranteed even if the contractor you use goes out of business.
  6. Ongoing Support and Maintenance: Choosing a reliable commercial roofing company means you can rely on their ongoing support and maintenance services. They can provide regular inspections, preventive maintenance programs, and prompt repairs when needed, helping to extend the lifespan of your roof and minimize disruptions to your business operations.
  7. Customer Service and Reputation: A reputable commercial roofing company values customer satisfaction and maintains a positive reputation in the industry. They prioritise clear communication, professionalism, and responsiveness to client needs, ensuring a positive experience throughout the roofing project.

In summary, selecting a reputable and experienced commercial roofing company can make a significant difference in the quality of work, materials used, compliance with regulations, and ongoing support. It is crucial to research and choose a company with a proven track record, positive reviews, and a commitment to delivering high-quality services for your commercial roofing needs.

How Do You Choose A Quality Commercial Roofing Contractor?

Choosing a quality commercial roofing contractor in the United Kingdom involves careful consideration and research. Here are some steps to help you make an informed decision:

  1. Gather Recommendations: Seek recommendations from trusted sources such as business associates, colleagues, or industry professionals who have recently worked with commercial roofing contractors. Their first-hand experiences can provide valuable insights and help you create a list of potential contractors.
  2. Check Credentials and Certifications: Verify the credentials of the commercial roofing contractors you are considering. Look for certifications and memberships in professional roofing organisations, as these indicate a commitment to quality and industry standards. In the UK, certifications such as those from the National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC) or the Contractors Health and Safety Assessment Scheme (CHAS) can be good indicators of credibility.
  3. Review Experience and Track Record: Evaluate the experience and track record of each contractor. Consider the number of years they have been in business and the range of commercial roofing projects they have successfully completed. Look for evidence of their expertise in working with different roofing systems, materials, and building types.
  4. Check for Insurance and Licensing: Ensure that the commercial roofing contractor carries appropriate insurance, including liability insurance and worker's compensation coverage. This protects you from potential liabilities and ensures that the contractor and their employees are covered in case of accidents or property damage.
  5. Request References and Portfolios: Ask for references from previous clients and request a portfolio of completed commercial roofing projects. Reach out to references and inquire about their experience with the contractor, including their professionalism, workmanship, adherence to schedules, and overall satisfaction with the project outcome.
  6. Obtain Multiple Quotes: Request detailed quotes from the shortlisted commercial roofing contractors. Compare the proposed scope of work, materials, timelines, and pricing. Be cautious of significantly low bids, as they may indicate subpar materials or workmanship.
  7. Communication and Professionalism: Assess the contractor's communication style, responsiveness, and professionalism during your interactions. A reliable commercial roofing contractor should be prompt in answering your inquiries, addressing concerns, and providing clear and transparent information.
  8. Warranty and Maintenance Services: Inquire about the warranty offered on the workmanship and the materials used. A quality contractor stands behind their work and provides a warranty that covers any potential issues that may arise after the completion of the project. Additionally, ask about their post-installation maintenance services to ensure ongoing support for your commercial roof.
  9. Read Reviews and Ratings: Research online reviews and ratings for the shortlisted commercial roofing contractors. Look for feedback from previous clients on platforms such as Google. While individual reviews should be taken with a grain of salt, they can provide insights into the contractor's reputation and customer satisfaction.
  10. Contract and Documentation: Before finalising your decision, carefully review the contract provided by the chosen contractor. Ensure that all details, such as scope of work, timelines, payment terms, warranties, and any additional services, are clearly stated in writing.

By following these steps and conducting thorough due diligence, you can choose a quality commercial roofing contractor in the United Kingdom who meets your specific needs and delivers a successful roofing project.

Commercial Roofing Installation: What Is The Process?

The process of commercial roofing installation can vary depending on the specific roofing system, building requirements, and the scope of the project. However, here is a general outline of the typical steps involved in commercial roofing installation:

  1. Initial Assessment: A professional roofing contractor will conduct an initial assessment of the existing roof or building plans to evaluate the scope of work, determine the appropriate roofing system, and identify any potential challenges or requirements.
  2. Planning and Design: Based on the assessment, the contractor will work with you to develop a comprehensive roofing plan and design that meets your specific needs and complies with building codes and regulations. This includes selecting the roofing materials, determining the insulation and ventilation requirements, and considering any additional features like skylights or rooftop equipment.
  3. Material Selection and Procurement: Once the commercial roofing design is finalised, the contractor will assist you in selecting the appropriate roofing materials. They will consider factors such as durability, weather resistance, energy efficiency, and budget. The contractor will then procure the necessary materials from reputable suppliers.
  4. Preparing the Roof: Before the installation begins, the existing roof may need to be prepared. This may involve removing the old roofing materials, repairing any damage or structural issues, and ensuring a clean and stable surface for the new roof.
  5. Installation: The commercial roofing contractor will start the installation process according to the design and manufacturer's guidelines. This typically involves:

The Commercial Roofing Installation Process

a. Installing the Underlayment: A protective underlayment is often applied to the roof deck to provide a barrier against moisture and improve insulation.

b. Applying the Roofing Material: The chosen roofing material is installed according to the manufacturer's instructions. This may involve techniques such as torching, adhering, or mechanically fastening the materials.

c. Flashing and Sealing: Flashing, which is a waterproof material, is installed around roof penetrations (such as vents, chimneys, or skylights) to prevent water infiltration. Sealing is done to ensure a water tight finish and protect vulnerable areas.

d. Edge Detailing: The edges of the roof are properly detailed to ensure a secure and weather-resistant finish. This may involve installing edge metal, drip edges, or other protective elements.

  1. Quality Assurance: Throughout the installation process, the contractor will conduct quality assurance checks to ensure the work meets the required standards and specifications. They may perform inspections, test for leaks, and address any issues promptly.
  2. Clean-up and Final Inspection: Once the installation is complete, the contractor will clean up the work area, removing any debris or leftover materials. A final inspection will be conducted to ensure that the roof is properly installed, meets all requirements, and is ready for use.
  3. Documentation and Warranty: The contractor will provide you with documentation, including warranties or guarantees for the materials and workmanship. It is important to review and keep these documents for future reference and potential warranty claims.

Remember, the commercial roofing installation process can be complex and may require customisation based on the specific needs of your building. It is crucial to work with an experienced and reputable roofing contractor who can guide you through the process, ensure proper installation, and deliver a high-quality roofing system.

What Are The Different Types Of Commercial Roof Repair?

When it comes to commercial roof repair, there are several different types of repairs that can be performed based on the extent and nature of the damage. Here are three common types of commercial roof repair:

  1. Patch Repair: Patch repair involves fixing localised areas of damage or leaks on the roof. It is typically used for small to moderate-sized issues, such as punctures, cracks, or isolated leaks. The damaged area is identified, cleaned, and repaired by applying patching materials or sealants specifically designed for commercial roofing. Patch repair is a cost-effective solution when the overall condition of the roof is still relatively good, and only certain sections require attention.
  2. Overlay: An overlay, also known as a roof recovery or re-roofing, involves installing a new roofing system over the existing one. This method is suitable when the underlying roof structure is sound, but the surface materials have deteriorated or suffered extensive damage. With an overlay, a new layer of roofing material is applied directly on top of the existing roof, providing added protection and extending the roof's lifespan. It can be a more cost-effective and less disruptive solution compared to a complete roof replacement.
  3. Roof Replacement: Roof replacement is the most extensive type of commercial roof repair, involving the complete removal of the existing roof and the installation of a new roofing system. This is typically necessary when the current roof is severely damaged, has reached the end of its lifespan, or is structurally compromised. During a roof replacement, all layers of the old roof are removed, and a new roofing system, including insulation, underlayment, and the final roofing material, is installed. Roof replacement ensures a fresh start and provides long-term durability and protection for the building.

It's important to note that the type of commercial roof repair required will depend on factors such as the extent of damage, the overall condition of the roof, budget considerations, and the advice of a professional roofing contractor. A thorough inspection by a qualified roofer will help determine the most appropriate repair method to address the specific needs of your commercial roof.

What Is A Commercial Roof Patch Repair?

A commercial roof patch repair is a localised repair method used to fix small to moderate-sized areas of damage or leaks on a commercial roof. It involves identifying the problem area, cleaning and preparing the damaged spot, and applying a suitable patching material to seal and protect the area from further water infiltration. Patch repairs are cost-effective solutions that target specific issues without requiring a full roof replacement.

Can A Patch Repair Be Done On All Commercial Roof Systems?

Yes, Patch repairs can be done on many types of commercial roof systems, but the feasibility and effectiveness may vary depending on the extent of the damage, the type of roofing material, and the overall condition of the roof.

What Is A Commercial Roof Overlay?

A commercial roof overlay, also known as a roof recovery or re-roofing, is a process of installing a new roofing system over the existing one. It involves adding a new layer of roofing material directly on top of the old roof, providing additional protection and extending the roof's lifespan. A commercial roof overlay is typically chosen when the underlying roof structure is still sound, but the surface materials have deteriorated or suffered extensive damage.

Can Any Commercial Flat Roof Have An Overlay?

While many commercial flat roofs can have an overlay, not all roofs are suitable for this type of repair. The feasibility of a roof overlay depends on factors such as the condition of the existing roof, its structural integrity, and local building codes. It's crucial to have a professional roofing contractor assess the specific condition of your roof to determine if an overlay is a viable option. Factors such as the number of existing roof layers, weight considerations, and the overall condition of the roof membrane will be taken into account to determine whether an overlay is appropriate.

How Do You Repair Industrial Roofing?

To repair industrial metal roofing, start by identifying the damaged areas or leaks on the roof. Clean the surface to remove debris and apply a suitable metal roof repair sealant or adhesive to seal any gaps or punctures. In the case of cut edge corrosion a suitable coating should be applied to the affected area. For larger damage, replace the damaged metal panels or sections while ensuring proper alignment and fastening according to manufacturer guidelines.

What Is Cut Edge Corrosion?

Cut edge corrosion refers to the deterioration or corrosion that occurs along the cut edges of metal roof sheets or cladding. It typically happens when the protective coating applied to the metal panels is compromised during the cutting or installation process, leaving the exposed edges vulnerable to moisture and environmental elements. Over time, this can lead to rusting, weakening of the metal, and potential leaks or structural damage if left unaddressed.

What Is Cut Edge Corrosion Treatment?

Cut edge corrosion treatment involves addressing and preventing the corrosion that occurs along the cut edges of metal roof sheets or cladding. It typically includes cleaning the affected area, removing loose material, applying a primer to create a protective barrier, and applying a suitable coating system to seal and protect the cut edges from further corrosion. Regular inspection and maintenance are important to ensure the effectiveness of cut edge corrosion treatment and prolong the lifespan of the metal roofing.

What Is The Least Disruptive Commercial Building Roof Coating?

The least disruptive commercial building roof coating would typically be a spray-applied coating system. This type of coating allows for quick and efficient application without the need for extensive roof preparation or removal of existing roofing materials. A spray applied liquid coating can cover at least 500 square metres per day.

It minimises disruptions to the building occupants and operations, reduces noise and debris, and can provide a seamless and durable protective layer for the roof. Additionally, some spray-applied coatings have low odour and fast curing times, further minimising the impact on the building during the coating process. However, in some cases a spray applied coating could have potential problems. These are if there are high winds, or vehicles and people in proximity. Once such example would be a service deck or loading bay.

Which Commercial Roofing Systems Are Easiest To Install?

Commercial roofing systems which are generally considered easier to install include single-ply membrane roofing (such as TPO, EPDM and PVC), metal roofing (standing seam and panels), and roof coating systems (polyurethane, elastomeric or silicone coatings). These systems are known for their lightweight materials, pre-fabricated sections, and simplified installation methods like rolling, fastening, or spraying. However, it's essential to have skilled professionals follow manufacturer guidelines for a successful installation.

Which Commercial Roofing Systems Are Hardest To Install?

Commercial roofing systems that are generally considered more challenging to install include built-up roofing (BUR), green roofs, and complex architectural roofing systems. BUR requires multiple layers of bitumen and reinforcement, making the installation process more labor-intensive and time-consuming. Green roofs involve additional considerations such as waterproofing, drainage, and vegetation installation. Complex architectural roofing systems often require intricate designs and specialised techniques, demanding a high level of expertise and precision during installation. Mastic asphalt roofing is also a hard commercial system to install. Although extremely effective, highly skilled specialists are required for the installation.

Need Help From Specialist Commercial Roofers?

If you would like a quotation or any information on commercial roofing please get in touch with using our contact form or call us now on 01277 375 511. One of our experienced team of commercial roofing contractors will be happy to help.