7 Types Of Commercial Roofing: Overall Comparison (Pros & Cons)

Jamie Jacobs
Jamie Jacobs joined APX Construction Group in June of 2020 specializing in interior design, marketing, event planning, and business development.
  • Finding the right type of roofing for your business can make all the difference. The right roofing will protect your business, last for years, and fit your budget perfectly. In today’s blog post, we’ll be laying out all of the best commercial roofing options for your business.

    Built-Up Roofing Membrane (BUR)

    First on our list is BUR, or built-up roofing membrane. These roofing systems are essentially rubber roofs. The built-up membrane is poured many different times to secure a thickness. After the membrane has dried, small stones are placed over it to help protect it from hail, high winds, and debris that could hit the roof.


    • Effective at waterproofing and sealing against leaks
    • Easy to install, especially for contractors who specialize in BUR installation
    • Cost-effective and affordable


    • Can be slippery when wet, making it dangerous for people walking on the roof without proper equipment or training; it tends to hold water, creating an ideal environment for mold and mildew.
    • Only recommended in low-slope applications (less than a 12:12 pitch) due to the high weight of built-up roofs; it requires additional footings or support systems under the roof decking, which can add to installation time and costs.
    built up roofing

    Metal Roofing

    Metal roofs have become some of the best roofing materials on the market. Metal roofs are very durable, long-lasting (some types of metal roofing can last up to 50 years), and they’re also low-maintenance. Metal roofs are a great choice for commercial buildings because they last so long and require very little upkeep. While they can be more expensive up front, they’ll last for decades and often pay for themselves in that way.


    • Extremely durable and long-lasting; can last for decades if properly maintained/installed
    • Very low maintenance costs due to the high corrosion resistance of metal roofs


    • Relatively expensive compared to asphalt shingle or BUR roofing, but much longer-lasting
    • Can be slippery when wet, especially with metal types that have been painted or coated, so it’s important to have proper fall protection in place for those working on the roof

    Modified Bitumen Roofing (MBR)

    Modified bitumen roofing or (MBR) is one of the most versatile types of commercial roofing. It’s made up of an asphalt-saturated felt that has fiberglass mesh embedded in it. The asphalt is then coated with a mineral-based primer to make the roof waterproof and protect it from damage.


    • Has the lowest initial costs of any commercial roofing option, making it an excellent choice for budget-conscious business owners and contractors
    • A self-adhesive sheet that can be installed directly over existing asphalt shingle roofs
    • Extremely effective at preventing leaks and protecting the building from water damage


    • Has a shorter lifespan than other types of roofing, typically only lasting around 15 years or so before needing to be replaced. This can depend on environmental factors such as exposure to sunlight and temperature fluctuations that contribute to material breakdown over time
    • Can be slippery when wet, maintenance is difficult to perform

    Thermoset Roof Membrane

    Thermoset roof membrane is a rubber membrane that’s similar to BUR in some ways. This type of commercial roofing has been gaining popularity due to its ability to last for decades. They’re often installed over existing asphalt roofs; the rubber membrane is adhered using heat and pressure.


    • Great for high traffic roofs
    • Low maintenance costs compared to other types of roofing due to its heat resistance and durability against UV rays from sunlight.
    • Low water absorption rating (less than 0.0033) is excellent for roof types that may be exposed to standing water or other weather conditions that can hold moisture against the membrane and lead to leaks/mold growth over time.


    • Can be very expensive to install, making it best used in situations where it’s needed
    • Slippery when wet
    Thermoset Roof Membrane

    Thermoplastic (PVC & TPO) Roof Membrane

    Thermoplastic roof membrane is another type of commercial roofing that’s gaining popularity due to its high impact resistance and flexibility. This one has the highest U-Factor out of any types of roofing, making it an excellent choice for commercial buildings looking for a sustainable option with low energy costs.


    • One of the most affordable types of commercial roofing available on the market today, making it an excellent choice for small businesses and contractors with smaller budgets.
    • Has a long lifespan compared to types such as asphalt shingle that can deteriorate from exposure to sunlight or other environmental factors over time. Even when exposed to harsh conditions, thermoplastics types of roofing materials can retain 90%+ of their initial material strength. 
    • Low maintenance costs compared to other types of commercial roofing due to its heat resistance and durability against UV rays from sunlight and the fact that it will not need repairs or replacements nearly as often.


    • Has a shorter lifespan than types of roofing such as concrete, clay tile, and metal that require little-to-no maintenance throughout their long lifespan.
    • Regular maintenance is required
    pvc roofing

    Garden “Green” Roofing System

    A type of green roofing system, garden roofs are made up of several layers, including a drainage layer to help prevent standing water on the roof. The main purpose is to allow plants and soil to be grown on top, which helps with insulation as well as providing an aesthetic appeal that’s attractive for some types of businesses or commercial buildings looking for environmentally friendly options. Additionally, these roofs can help businesses reduce their carbon footprint.


    • Natural types of roofing are designed to mimic the appearance and functions of traditional plant life, allowing rainwater runoff to be filtered naturally before returning back into the environment
    • Helps reduce carbon footprint by a measurable amount
    • These roofs last for decades and provide your business with insulation


    • Requires extensive installation, including special types of storage equipment for plants during construction (which can increase overall costs) as well as special types of drainage systems that must be installed to ensure proper water filtration for the types of plants used in the garden roofing system
    • Requires regular maintenance and upkeep, which can get costly depending on factors such as location (elevation) and size/type of types of plant life used
    green roof

    Asphalt Shingles

    This is one of the most common types of commercial and residential roofing material used throughout America. Asphalt shingle roofs are relatively cheap to install. They’re water-resistant, making them an ideal choice for businesses that may be exposed to rain or other types of precipitation regularly.


    • Cost-effective and easy to install
    • Great in almost every climate


    • Very low durability compared to types such as metal which can last upwards of 100 years if properly maintained; asphalt shingle types typically only have a lifespan between 15-30 years (depending on exposure to sunlight, types of weather conditions, and other variables).
    • Requires regular maintenance and check-ins to ensure that there are no leaks and everything is working perfectly.
    commercial asphalt shingles

    APX Construction is a commercial builder located in the heart of Minnesota. We provide commercial construction services to businesses throughout the state. Whether you’re looking for a warehouse, office remodels, or new construction, We’ve got you covered!

    Reach out to us today to speak to someone from our fully in-house team.

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