Choosing the Right Commercial Roofing Materials

The type of material used for commercial roofing will depend on several factors, including but not limited to the weather, type of roof, and the budget. A professional roofing contractor can recommend the best materials for each case. Below are the most common materials used in commercial buildings and in some instances for residential structures.

Asphalt Shingle

Comparatively inexpensive and simple to install, asphalt shingles are perhaps the most widely used roofing material in the US for both commercial and residential purposes and can last for up to 30 years. Laminated asphalt shingles come in various textures and colors and can last for up to 50 years.

Slate Shingle

A much more expensive and somewhat fragile alternative to asphalt shingles, slate shingles are chosen for the esthetic quality they add to any commercial or residential building. While they are breakable, slate shingles can last up to 100 years.


Tiles are typically heavier than other roofing materials, and require more robust support. They can last up to 50 years before needing replacement.


Metal roofing materials are quite common as well, and are usually a more cost-effective alternative to shingle or tile roofing materials except for copper. It stands up well to extreme weather but is vulnerable to damage during hail events unless it is covered with a granulated layer. Typically, metal roofing will last up to 50 years.


Built-up roof or BUR consists of multiple layers of roof felts and bitumen, topped with a protective component such as a cap sheet, asphalt, or gravel. It is usually only used in commercial roofing.


Typically used in commercial low-slope roofs, Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer or EPDM is rubber and is comparatively inexpensive and easy to install. The expected lifespan of this material is between 12 and 25 years.

Modified Bitumen

Commercial roofs with a minimum slope of ΒΌ inch per horizontal foot can be made of modified bitumen, asphalt that has been chemically altered to acquire plastic properties. It works best in combination with BUR.

Single Ply

These are synthetic materials produced in smooth, flexible sheets that are ideal for a flat roof. It is not usually recommended for a roof with a slope of more than 2 inches per horizontal foot unless an adherent is applied.


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