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How Long Will a Commercial Roof Last?

What building owners need to know


If you own any sort of commercial building, maintenance should be one of your big concerns. Whether it contains your own business or somebody else’s, it’s your job to ensure that it is well taken care of to provide the utmost safety and comfort for occupants. Clearly, the roof is one of the most important parts of a building, which is why you have to be sure that it offers the best protection. Over time, a roof wears out and stops doing its job properly, but when is a replacement necessary? Let’s examine the factors that have an impact on the longevity of a roof, along with the average lifespan of common roofing materials. We will also discuss the best ways to keep a roof in tip-top shape for as long as possible.


6 factors that affect a commercial roof’s lifespan


1. Weather


As strong as a roofing system may be, it’s really no match for Mother Nature. Eventually, all of the rain, snow, ice, and wind will erode it. Sun exposure is another thing that causes quicker roof deterioration, particularly when the material is a dark color.


2. Installation


Often, a poorly-installed roof is the reason why a roof fails prematurely. Even minor flaws during installation can drastically shorten the lifespan of a roof. This is why it is vital to be selective with the company you choose to handle your commercial roof.


3. Ventilation


When a roof isn’t ventilated well, a couple of different things happen. In hot weather, all of that heated air can literally cook roofing materials, especially asphalt. In cold weather, poor ventilation can lead to the buildup of ice. Plus, when moisture gets trapped inside, this can cause mold or rot in the roof’s structure.


4. Slope


A roof’s slope or pitch also plays a role in how long it will be able to hold up, as it determines how well a roof can get rid of water. With low-sloped roofs, water typically isn’t shed very quickly, which results in a buildup. And the longer water is pooled on a roof, the higher the chance that it can cause a leak or even structural damage.


5. Maintenance


Even if a roof looks just fine, it can’t be neglected. A commercial roof should be examined regularly to ensure that it is doing its job properly, particularly after periods of harsh weather. Too often, building owners ignore basic maintenance and small issues that could have been easily taken care of result in much bigger problems.


6. Material


In many cases, a roof is only as good as the material it is made of. This is why building owners have to choose carefully, as some materials can last significantly longer than others. These are the common types of roofing systems and how long they usually last:


  • Asphalt. Though more often used on homes, asphalt shingles can also be put on commercial buildings. A low-slope asphalt roof will generally last 15 to 20 years, while one that is steep-sloped may last 20 to 40 years.


  • Metal. Metal is a great choice for a commercial roof because it is so durable. Depending on the type of metal used, its finish, and the slope of a roof, this type of system can easily hold up very well for 30 to 40 years, and perhaps much longer.


  • Thermoplastic Olefin (TPO). TPO is traditionally used with flat roofs on large buildings, such as warehouses or malls, and it is usually good for 20 to 30 years. However, thanks to updates and advancements with the material, a TPO roof may be able to last much longer than 30 years.


  • Ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM). EPDM is also typically found on large buildings with flat roofs. It is made up of synthetic rubber, which makes it very durable. This type of roofing material has a life span of about 25 to 30 years before it requires a replacement.


4 ways to get the longest lifespan out of your roof


1. Perform regular inspections


As mentioned, a lack of care is one of the common causes of early roof failure. At the very least, your roof should be looked at by professionals every year. With a preventative maintenance plan, experts will be able to spot problem areas and make the necessary repairs. This could also involve the removal of debris and the cleaning of drains and gutters.


2. Make immediate repairs


Roof issues can escalate quickly. Just because something is minor today doesn’t mean it will stay that way very long. Once something is discovered, it has to be taken care of as soon as possible. Because a commercial roof is comprised of so many parts that have to work together, everything is related. This is why waiting too long to fix something can put the entire system in jeopardy.


3. Apply the right coating


One of the best ways to have a long-lasting roof is by applying a coating. Coatings restore a roofing material and offer protection from UV rays, as well as limiting the effects of expansion and contraction cycles. Coatings are especially beneficial for roofs that get a lot of foot traffic. It’s important that a roof gets the right coating, and there are quite a few different types to choose from, including acrylic, solvent-based silicone, and polyurethane.


4. Only use experts for installation


When it is time for a new roof for your building, the best thing you can do to ensure it lasts for as long as possible is to only use qualified roofing contractors. They will make sure you get the best type of system and that it is installed correctly. They should also be able to provide you with other services, including preventative maintenance and repairs.

Think your commercial roof is nearing the end of its life? Get in touch with Peck Brothers Roofing for a consultation. Call us at 201-791-3235 or reach out through our online contact form.

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101 Van Riper Ave. Elmwood Park, NJ, 07407

Phone: 201-791-3235