6 Most Common Commercial Roof Types

6 Most Common Commercial Roof Types


The roof is the first line of defense in keeping moisture out of a building and the type of roof and roofing materials determine how long it will last.

Here in Florida, we have a humid subtropical climate with a lot of rain. Along with the rain, we also have blistering heat from the sun and very high winds from storms which take a toll on roofing.

The average roof in Florida lasts about 30% – 50% less than the same roofs in other parts of the country. For example, a 40-year shingle roof in Florida usually only lasts about 22 years.

The main culprit of the low roof life is the Ultra Violet rays from the sun and heavy winds.

Being a certified master inspector with over 18 years of inspections and specializing in roof systems, I have inspected multitudes of commercial roof types and know the issues each system has.

I will go through the different types of the typical issues I find. The most important part of any roof system is making sure the quality of construction of the installation is professional and correct. Many of the roofs I inspect have leaks due to poor workmanship. There are many different parts to a roof and any area that is lacking proper installation or improper repairs can allow for water intrusion through the roofing.

Each type of roofing system has its pros and cons and depending on the needs of the building and client, certain systems will do much better. If you are looking for a certified and experienced commercial roof inspector, we are here to help you any way we can. 

Your Most Common Commercial Roofing Systems

  1. Modified Bitumen (Torchdown)

modified bitumen


The manufacturers of this roof system option have made it typically easy to install and less expensive than many of the other roof systems used by the manufacturer or roofing material. It is a system where each layer of asphalt in an asphalt rolls with granules as a top that is overlapped and heated so that the tar is melted and melts the layers together to get a waterproof seal. This is typically applied over underlayment with wood decking on a flat roof or a low sloped structure. Flat and low sloped roofs typically have issues with proper drainage.

For businesses and building owners on a budget, this is a very common roofing method for commercial buildings due to the benefits of having a cheaper price of the material and a relatively easy installation by the roofing contractor. As a business, most try to keep their costs at a minimum. Keep in mind, like anything cheaper, it has drawbacks that may make this choice of roofing less desirable.

Due to the weather conditions, many factors have adverse effects on these membranes. With the sunlight, ultraviolet rays and excessive heat and the amount of rain in Florida, the average life of this roofing membrane is only about 12 years.

The sun starts to dry out the roofing material with its exposure to high temperatures, causing cracking in the asphalt and separation in the seams.

Companies in the roofing industry apply many of these roofs and these roofs do have the ability to undergo a repair and extend their usefulness. That is one advantage of this roofing system.

A downside is that a contractor will not want to do a repair but a replacement. That is where knowledge and information from a 3rd party inspector who is an expert is of great use.

Contractors make their money on replacements and I have saved clients a lot of money explaining if it only needs a repair. Experts having the knowledge of knowing the difference between needing a roof repair by a company that offers roofing services, or a replacement by roofing contractors, is what a 3rd party inspector is for.

In order to make a decision to replace the roof membranes or just needing a repair could be the difference in multi thousands of dollars. Another drawback to this roofing, unlike sloped roofs, flat roofs are more susceptible to hail damage. With the surface being flat, there is no deflection of the hail but a solid hit upon the roof surface. The granular coating will be damaged just like a shingle on a roof. Other types of roof systems typically do better in harsh weather conditions. There are different kinds of roof coatings and roofing options that all have good and bad aspects. If you want a roofing system that aids in insulation, spray polyurethane foam would be a good choice in a hot environment. In an area like California where the climates are cool but dry but susceptible to fire, A slate roof or one with a higher fire/heat resistance may be a more optimal choice. To see more about other roof systems, keep reading.

  1. Metal roofing

Metal Roof


Metal roofing is one of the longest lasting lifespan of roofs that is used. Metal roofs will typically last 30–50 years. Metal roofs have a higher degree of reflection of the sun and typically add to the energy efficiency of the building they are installed on.

Metal roofs also come in a variety of colors which will add to the visibility of a building being noticed as some brands are familiar with the colors of the brand. These roof systems typically have a good wind rating against wind damage and do not require much maintenance. There are also different types of metal roofing to chose from. You either have a standing seam where the fasteners are covered and protected from the elements and then there are exposed fastener metal roofs. Some metal roofs have interlocking metal shingles and then there is a metal roof that resembles tile roofing for the tile appearance.

There are some negative issues with some metal roofs. If the roof panels are made from steel (which is the most common) they are susceptible to corrosion and rusting.

Metal Roofing


The panels can also be found in copper or aluminum, which are corrosion resistant. Metal roofs also typically carry a higher price due to material costs.

The exposed fastener metal roofs have more maintenance issues as the fasteners need to be resealed to prevent leaking after a number of years and also, due to vibration from wind and movement, fasteners are susceptible to backing out and allowing water intrusion through the screw hole. Like shingle or tile roofs, the metal tile and shingle roofs also require maintenance with caulking.

The UV rays from the sun dry out and crack the caulking and allow water intrusion over time.

  1. EPDM – (Ethylene Propylene Diene Terpolymer)

Black EPDM rubber roofing


EPDM is a rubber membrane that can be installed by mechanically fastening, or a liquid adhesive (glued). This roof type is typically cost-effective and also comes in white, which is more reflective and aids in energy efficiency against sun heat transfer. This type of roof is good on flat or low sloping roofs. These roofs have been known to last more than 20 years.

The downside to this type of roof is that it is prone to damage from puncturing. Wind blown debris or damage from people working on roof-based equipment can puncture the membrane and cause leaking.

  1. TPO – Thermoplastic Polyolefin

TPO roofing


Like the EPDM this is a single-ply roof system which can be mechanically attached, or liquid adhesive attached, but the seams should be heat sealed to seal the seams. The TPO is white, so it helps with energy efficiency with sun reflection and stands up well to impacts and punctures. The material is also cost-effective. Like the EPDM if it is installed with mechanical fasteners and the fasteners are not properly installed, the fasteners can damage the TPO and cause leaks.

In terms of durability, TPO outperforms EPDM with its superior puncture resistance. Moreover, the seam strength of TPO is nearly four times stronger compared to EPDM’s adhered or taped seams.

  1. Asphalt Shingles

Shingle roofing


Shingles are popular with sloped roofs. The roofing has been around for a long time and is fairly easy to install. Shingles are also cost-effective and quality shingles will last 17–25 years in Florida. The bad side of shingles is typically poor installation and high winds.

After about 15 years, shingles start losing granules and become brittle and start to lose their adhesion to other shingles, which will cause lifting. Once this starts, high winds have the ability to damage shingles or blow them off the roof.

  1. Built-up Roofs or BURs (Tar and Gravel)


Built-up Tar & Gravel roof system

Built-up roofs are a layered roof of moisture barrier, tar that is poured over the barrier and then gravel added to deflect ultraviolet rays from the sun. Done correctly, these roofs have durability and can last over 30 years. They are seamless and waterproof.

Problems with these roofs are that without proper gravel coverage, the tar is prone to cracking, causing leaks. Roofs that are not sloped are prone to water ponding which will seep into any access into a built-up roof, so it is imperative to have complete tar coverage over the roof.

Water getting under the tar will cause steaming and cause the tar to blister, creating holes in the tar and allowing for water intrusion.

These are not all the roofing types used on commercial properties here in Florida, but they are the most common options that I run across on a daily basis.

Tile roofs are popular here also, but not on commercial properties because of the cost, so they were not included in this post.

There are many companies in Florida that do roof repairs. Many of the repairs that I see are improperly done and are short-lived before the roof begins to leak again. Make sure anyone working on your roof or installing your roof has the proper experience and knowledge of the kind of roof system that you have or are installing. A properly installed roof will save you a lot of headaches and money in the long run.

As you can see, whether it’s Modified Bitumen, Metal, EPDM, TPO, Asphalt Shingles, or Built-up Roofs, each has its unique advantages and challenges.

The key to maximizing the lifespan and efficiency of your commercial roof lies in professional installation and maintenance. Don’t let your property fall prey to the harsh Florida weather and subpar repairs. For expert guidance and thorough inspections, trust a proven professional.

Call us now for your commercial roof inspection in Central Florida. Ensure the longevity and integrity of your roof with our expertise. Don’t wait until it’s too late – safeguard your investment today!


Commercial Roof Inspection

Commercial Roof Inspection

Commercial roof inspections differ greatly from residential roof inspections depending on the type of building construction and different types of materials used. Not only do we offer Windermere Home Inspections we also offer these roof inspections.

Many commercial roofs are flat and therefore use materials that are specifically designed for flat roofs. Most residential roofs are usually shingle or tile with a few being a buildup roof of tar and gravel.

Getting your commercial roof inspected can be done by either a roofing contractor or a licensed home inspector but there may be a difference in the amount of knowledge and experience between a contracting inspector and a home inspector.

Here are some of the pros and cons of using either of these commercial roof inspectors.

Pros and Cons of Hiring a Commercial Roofing Contractor


  • Has the knowledge and education of the different kinds of roofs and materials used?
  • Has the knowledge of the different flaws in each roofing type.
  • Can offer a quote for repairs or replacement.


  • Works for a company that makes its money off of roof replacements and is more likely to lead toward replacement than repair.
  • Maybe an employee of a roofing contractor and not a licensed roofer with certifications or license
  • May not have the knowledge and experience themselves
  • Probably makes salary plus commission which leads one toward describing things more harshly to direct people toward roof replacement.

This is an excerpt from Angie’s list about roofers involved in scams in 11 states and is awaiting trial.

“Problems with roofers plague consumers across the country. Over the years, Angie’s List has written a number of articles about crooked roofing contractors and seen the same pattern of fraud, poor workmanship, and storm chasing behavior that leaves homeowners high and dry, with unfinished roofs and water-damaged homes.”

Pros and Cons of using a Certified Home Inspector


  • Has no financial interest in the roof needing repair or replacement. (unless getting a kickback from recommending a roofing company)
  • Is required to be personally licensed, certified, and insured in the state and cannot operate under someone else’s license
  • May have as much or more knowledge and experience about commercial roofs than a roofing company inspector


  • May not have any roofing experience of commercial roofs
  • May have only limited knowledge of commercial roofs
  • May have limited or no knowledge of roofing materials or typical defects of specific roof types
  • May only go as far as the minimum standard of requirements of their certification. (FYI: Home inspector certifications do not require the inspector to get on a roof)

As you can see, there are issues with finding the right certified roofing inspector to inspect your roof.

Here at All American Property Inspections, we give you the best option and peace of mind to get your roof inspected.

We have the knowledge and experience of commercial roofing with our extensive experience in constructing and repairing commercial roofs. I not only carry certifications for residential but am a certified commercial property inspector as well. I am nationally certified on how to perform roof inspections as well as certified on wind and hail property damage. I have also been licensed under the Construction Estimating Institute for How Hurricanes damage Homes. My knowledge, experience, and professionalism were recognized by Home Advisor and they chose All American property Inspections as the best business 2018 Award.

Inspection Certifications and Classes Completed

What does a Commercial Roof Inspection Cover?

Whether your roof is shingle, tile, built up (tar and gravel), asphalt, modified bitumen, membrane, rubber TPO and EDPM, liquid polymer, or metal roofing, we have the experience and education to inspect your roof right. 

A commercial roof inspection should encompass, but not be limited to;

  • Supporting structures;
  • Roof covering condition;
  • Flashing condition;
  • Roof edging/fascia;
  • Roof penetrations;
  • Roof drains;
  • Evidence of standing water or “ponding”
  • Glazing’s for skylights
  • Roof and attic ventilation

Here is an example of a commercial roof inspection report done by All American property Inspections:

Your detailed report will be easy to understand to give you a thorough inspection report that is detailed and easy to understand using photographs, sketches, and comprehensive explanations.

DIY Guide to Roof Maintenance

DIY Guide to Roof Maintenance

Maintaining your roof as a homeowner is one of your biggest responsibilities. By not maintaining the health of your roof, you are putting your family’s well being at stake. A good way to ensure the long term health of your roof is to make sure that it gets inspected regularly.

DIY Guide to Roof MaintenceThere is a laundry list of issues that could arise should you neglect the health of your roof. For instance, mold, decay, and a wet, weakened roof are all symptoms of a failing roof that could have adverse effects on the homeowner. These same issues can also arise for commercial roofs as well.  It gets even worse if these problems go undetected for an extended period of time. Concerned is relatively higher for those that live in areas that are impacted from in climate weather. If storms impact your home, your roof is more susceptible to failure.

There are simple ways to tell if your roof needs attention by making simple observations yourself. For instance, if you have a roof surrounded by trees, you should observe for mold, fungus or algae that may be arising on the surface of the roof. If you can visibly see streaks on the roof, it’s an indicator that you may have a buildup of a dangerous mold or algae. These issues are particularly common during high periods of humidity, during the spring or summer.

If the roof is in the shade for a particularly significant portion of the time, it’s even more likely to be at risk. The worst-case scenario for letting this sort of issue go unchecked is having your roofing material get eaten away by a fungus or mold, which would cause deterioration which would, in turn, lead to leaking within your home. 

Removing Tree Debris from your Roof can help to extend the life of it. 

As you could likely assume, the quickest and most effective way to rectify this is to trim back trees that are nearby to improve the air circulation.

Another effective way to eradicate the opportunity for mold and fungus to build up is to install zinc strips along the edge of the roof. This will form zinc oxide during rain which will carry a protective coat across the roof that prevents the growth of dangerous mold.

A primary concern should be ensuring that none of the shingles on the roof tear off. If you have weak shingles on the roof, it should be a top priority to repair the damage before wind gusts from a storm get rid of the shingles all together.

Replacing shingles from damaged roofs can be a do-it-yourself project that saves the long term health of your roof. The first step is loosening the first row of shingles that aren’t damaged. Then, you’ll need to pull away from the shingles that are ineffective so that they are separated. Finally, rock the broken shingle until it’s off the roof completely, then replace it with a brand-new shingle.

Roofing is an area of home inspections that can make the difference between a sale or not. 

DIY Guide to Roof Maintenance

How to Know if You Need a Roof Replacement

Often enough, a roof can reach the end of its lifespan without any noticeable failure other than some wear and tear. Watching for the warning signs of a failing roof can save lots of grief down the road. Delaying the replacement of an old roof could protect yourself from catastrophe. Here are the warning signs you should be on the lookout for when deciding whether or not it’s time for you to replace your roof.

  1. Curling or Missing Shingles:
    Curling Shingles are one of the signs of both an aging roof and excessive exposure to the elements. The fact that your roof is exposed to elements like rain, snow and the sun means that wear and tear of your shingles is inevitable. Broken and missing shingles substantially weaken your roof’s ability to shed water and will in turn become an entry point for water. If you start to experience leakage in your home during rain and snowstorms, that may be a sign that you need to replace your roof sooner rather than later.
  2. Moss and Algae Buildup is Becoming Visible on Your Roof
    If there are dark streaks starting to appear on your roof, there may be a buildup of airborne algae on your roof. Though it makes the roof look older and more worn down, it can be removed with a cleaning solution of bleach and water. If you’re feeling up to climbing on top of your roof, you can clean the buildup of algae easily to bring the color of your roof back to normal. Moss on the other hand can cause substantial damage to your roof that can become irreversible. Moss buildup can certainly be a reason to replace your roof if you feel as though that would be more reasonable than having a professional clean the moss off of your roof for you.
  3. Shingle Granules in Your Gutters
    If you’re constantly finding that your gutters are loaded with shingle granules, it may be a sign that your roof is towards the end of its life cycle. If you find a darker color on random parts of your roof, that is a clear sign that your granules are withering away. Typically, you’ll notice that your granules are starting to go missing once the roof becomes older. Granules are what is keeping your roof weather proofed, and without them your shingles will be exposed when it comes to the natural forces of the elements.
  4. Your Roof is Noticeably Worn
    If your roof hasn’t been replaced in the last 20 years or so, it’s probably safe to assume that you should be considering a roof replacement. Another good way to tell when it’s time for a roof replacement is when your neighbors are getting their roofs replaced. Homes built around the same time experience similar wear and tear and age along the same timeline. Once your roof starts looking worn down in comparison to the homes around it, it is definitely time to shop for a roof replacement.


Maintaining Your Roof by Removing Tree Debris


This is Bill with All American Property Inspections and during the windy season, we get a lot of debris that falls down off the trees.

This is right after Hurricane Irma, and as you look around, you can see where there has been a lot of debris from the local trees and the oaks.

Why is it important that you remove the debris?  What happens is after a while it begins to decay and then when the wind comes it blows grass seed on top of your roof. Over time that seed turns into grass and now you’ve got a lawn growing on your roof.

If this happens, do not under any circumstance try to pressure wash the grass off your roof. All you’ll do is take the granules with it and damage your shingles. You’ll want to get a professional on your roof to get the debris off of it.

Once it’s gone, then you’ll want to maintain the roof and keep inspecting it on a regular basis.

Trim back branches from your roof to extend the life of it

Trim back branches from your roof to extend the life of it

By doing this one simple repair it can extend the life of your roof considerably!

When doing roof inspections I run across a lot of damage that could have been avoided. Unfortunately, a lot of homeowners don’t realize they have the ability to extend the life of their roof by doing simple roof maintenance.

One of the most common things I see are branches that are not cut back away from the roof. Take a look at the video below to see what I’m referring to.


As you can see, the branches have damaged the shingles by rubbing across the granules on the roof and ultimately exposing nail heads that begin to rust. When these nail heads rust and shrink, rainwater will get in and can cause a lot of damage inside the attic.

Not to mention that everytime the tree loses its leaves they fall into your gutter system which can cause a leaky roof or water damage to the interior or exterior of your home.

By simply trimming back the branches of any tree that is close to your roof you will definitely be able to extend the life of your roof.

If you think your roof may have some damage give me a call at 407-902-7510 or schedule a roof inspection today!