Choosing the Right Materials for Your New Roof

Choosing the right material for your roof is a critical decision. As a matter of fact, it’s a decision that can have a dramatic impact into the longevity of your roofing system. With so many different roofing materials from which to choose, it can be an overwhelming decision to make, especially if you don’t know what to look for. Below are a number of different commercial roofing options.

Single Ply TPO

More and more roofing contractors are turning to this single-ply roofing solution because of the easy installation and cost. Single-ply TPO roofing was introduced nearly 20 years ago and since then, it has been transformed to fit many needs. This particular material has gone through numerous physical property changes in the make-up of the sheet. It lends itself well to wide open roof areas with minimal roof traffic. The membrane is reflective and durable but it’s still one single ply of protection.

Modified Bitumen

A modified bitumen (MB) roofing system is a low-slope roofing system. It is a very reliable roofing system when correctly installed and has been around for over 30 years. An MB membrane is reinforced with polyester, fiberglass or a combination of the two. This makeup gives it strength and provides an effective roofing system that is very puncture resistance. White granular surfacing makes it reflective and it is applied in two layers, adding to the durability. It’s an excellent choice where roof traffic is prevalent.

Built-Up Roof (BUR)

A built-up roof (BUR) consists of multiple plies of roof felts laminated together with bitumen. A surfacing material is typically applied which generally consists of gravel or asphalt. Built-up roofing is one of the oldest and most reliable ways of installing a new roof. It dates back to the mid 1840’s as a means to provide a roofing solution. The current BUR systems are installed with a Modified Bitumen granular cap sheet rather than the gravel surfacing.

Selecting the Best Roof for Your Condo

Commercial roofs can last for decades, but when it comes time to replace them, businesses must correctly prioritize the criteria for selecting a new roof. Although cost should be the primary selection factor, it is important to remember that an inexpensive installation that does not perform well can end up costing more over time than the most expensive installation costs initially. If you are in the process of selecting a new roof for your business, be sure to consider the selection criteria below in addition to price:


The construction of a roof determines the weight of the material it can support. If you are replacing your building’s current version with an exact replica, the weight of the new installation should not be a problem. If you implement a new type, be sure the contractor performs a thorough inspection of the weight-bearing capacity of the understructure. With concrete for instance, the weight factor normally is not an issue.


The primary concern with durability is whether a roof can withstand the factors of its climate zone, such as wind, temperature, and humidity. Another concern is whether it can support the traffic it will receive (e.g. maintenance personnel and equipment for maintaining condenser units). Because a roof is the portion of a building that is the most exposed to the elements, and because most commercial roofs receive some level of traffic, be sure to ask a roofing contractor about the ideal durability for the roof of your building.


Underlayment helps protect decking from moisture damage. In most roofing systems, moisture damage results from the following-water leakage paths, moisture diffusion through the building materials, and the movement of air through exterior holes. Leaks and air movement through exterior holes can be resolved through maintenance, but choosing an underlayment that meets the demands of your building’s climate zone will prevent moisture diffusion.


The color of a building’s roof impacts more than aesthetics, it also affects climate control. If your building is located in a warm climate, implementing a dark-colored outer layer that draws in heat might end up increasing your annual energy bill. If your building is located in a cool climate, the same can be said of implementing a light-colored outer layer.


The longer a roof lasts, the more it justifies the initial cost. When it is time to consider how much you should spend on the installation, consider whether implementing a longer-lasting one would be worth the extra investment, especially if you plan on owning your building for years to come, or selling it for a competitive price.


When they match the needs of the building and the local climate, commercial roofing systems can last for decades. If your building needs a new roof, be sure to consider the factors above before you select one. If you need help assessing what types of roofing systems and materials would work best for your building, contact a roofing contractor for more information.

Choosing commercial roofing systems involves several considerations. A professional NRCA contractor can help you make a decision based on your needs, long term service and compatibility; not just price.

There is No “Right Roofing System” …only one that is right for your facility.

Experience has taught us that there is no one “best” roofing system. Different systems have different attributes. Some are best for one type of project or best for one type of installation, while others meet a completely different set of needs.

When considering which commercial roofing system is right for your needs, it is important to look at a variety of factors, including the building type, ease of installation, amount of foot traffic, insulation value and environmental impact of a roof.

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