workers building new commercial roof
WRITTEN BY The Embry's Team 6 minutes READ

Is it time to add a new roof to your commercial property? An old, outdated, or damaged roof not only compromises your curb appeal, but it can also lead to structural issues and make your building less energy-efficient. 

However, choosing a new roof isn’t always easy or straightforward. There are lots of different commercial roofing materials to consider, and each one has its own pros and cons. 

Today, we’re taking a closer look at the most common commercial roof types so you can determine which one is the best fit for your business!

Main Commercial Roof Types

commercial roof with thermoplastic polyolefin

The main types of commercial roofing materials include:

  • Ethylene Propylene Diene Terpolymer (EPDM)
  • Metal
  • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
  • Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO)
  • Asphalt Shingles


EDPM is a synthetic rubber membrane. Usually made from recycled materials, you can completely recycle this type of roof when it reaches the end of its life. Many business owners prefer EDPM because it’s lightweight, affordable, and boasts a high tensile strength. 


Metal roofs are usually comprised of corrugated, galvanized steel. They are strong and long-lasting, as well as energy-efficient. Some of the most common metal types include:

  • Steel
  • Copper
  • Aluminum
  • Seam standing metal
  • Zinc
  • Tin


PVC is a reflective, single-ply membrane that consists of ethylene and chlorine. Like EDPM, it’s also eco-friendly and durable. Many restaurant owners and manufacturers prefer PVC because of its ability to withstand exposure to oils, grease, and other chemicals. 


Another reflective, single-ply membrane, TPO contains a polymer of polypropylene and ethylene-propylene rubber. It’s durable, energy-efficient, and one of the quickest commercial roofing systems to install. 

Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt-shingled roofs are common on many businesses. They have the ability to withstand inclement weather, including strong UV rays. They’re affordable and readily available, and minor repairs are simple to perform. 

These shingles are also available in a range of colors and styles, which makes them a versatile and attractive choice. 

Factors to Consider 

Before you begin researching different roofs, there are a few factors to take into consideration. You want to make sure the finished product is one that meets your needs today and long into the future. It should also fit into your budget and deliver a significant return on your investment.

Here are the top elements to keep in mind. 

Your Existing Roof Quality

Begin by making an honest assessment of your current roof. Write down the answers to these key questions:

  • What type of roofing system is it?
  • Does it house any type of existing structure, such as an HVAC or fire mitigation system?
  • Does it have any protrusions (e.g. vents, skylights, AC units?)
  • Does it conform to any local building codes?
  • What are the accessibility requirements? 
  • What are the local climate and surroundings like?

Let’s break down these elements of your existing roof quality and why they’re important. 

Type of Roofing System

commercial roof of modern industrial building

If you’re looking to save time and money on your roofing project, you may be thinking about reroofing. This is the process of layering a new commercial roof on top of an existing one, without tearing anything out. While this can be a quicker and more economical route, not all roofing systems are designed to be installed this way. 

You need to know what you already have in place, so you can ensure the materials are compatible. For instance, you cannot lay a new PVC roof over an existing asphalt roof because the two materials are not meant to be applied together. If you’re set on replacing your asphalt roof with PVC, you’ll need to tear the first roof out completely, first. 

Existing Structures and Protrusions

If your roof has any type of structure or protrusion attached to it, this can affect how the installation team installs and maintains the new commercial roofing system you choose. They will need to choose materials that will fit the current setup and won’t require any major restructuring. 

Local Building Codes

Local building codes can dictate the type of roofs that commercial businesses are allowed to have. If there are any such regulations in place in your area, your preferred commercial roofing contractor will need to research and understand these before helping you choose a new system.

Accessibility Requirements

Do you need access to your roof on a regular basis? While no one should technically be walking on a roof except for licensed roofing professionals, there may be a situation in which your roof sees more foot traffic than normal. 

If this is the case, you’ll need a material that can hold up against wear and tear without compromising safety and quality. Traditional, single-ply roofing can be punctured more easily, while metal gets slippery when wet, which can pose a hazard. 

Local Climate and Surroundings

It goes without saying that your new roof should also be well-suited to your local climate and immediate surroundings.

For instance, if your business is located in an area that’s frequently hit with heavy hail and snowfall, you may benefit from the strength and durability of a metal roof. Or, you may prefer a more flexible material like EPDM if your region sees major fluctuations between extreme cold and extreme heat. 

As you consider the different materials, also keep any nearby obstacles in mind. If your business is located in a wooded lot, a puncture-resistant material like TPO may be preferable. 

Type of Business

Next, think about the type of business you operate. This answer can help you determine which special features you need in your new roofing system. Here are a few examples:

  • Warehouses: Intensive roofing systems with temperature control
  • Retail store: Extra insulation for comfort and energy efficiency 
  • Restaurants: Accommodation for exhaust and ventilation systems, oil exposure

Your Roofing Budget

professional workers repairing the commercial roof

As you plan this project, don’t forget to keep your roofing budget in mind. In addition to the cost of the material and labor, remember to also add in the true lifetime cost of the roof. This includes factors such as:

  • Future repairs and maintenance 
  • Available warranties
  • Overall longevity

While you might be able to save money upfront by going with a cheaper roofing material, you’ll usually pay more in the long term when it comes to replacements and repairs. This will be a major business expense, but it’s worth investing wisely. 

Schedule a Commercial Roof Installation

Now that you know a little more about the different commercial roof types, are you ready to jumpstart your own project? If so, our team at Embry’s Roofing is here to help!

From full-scale replacements to small repairs, we can do it all. For more than 45 years, we’ve been one of the top commercial and residential roofers in the Tri-State area. We specialize in affordable pricing, excellent customer service, and top-tier installations and warranties. 

Complete our online form to schedule your free roof inspection today!

professional workers repairing the commercial roof

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