Pros & Cons of Different Commercial Roofing Types

Knowing the Ins and Outs of Commercial Roofing Types

Built-Up Roofing (BUR) – A Popular, Low Maintenance Type of Commercial Roofing

Built-Up Roofing (BUR) is one of the most common roofing types. It is composed of alternating layers of reinforced fabric and asphalt, with a topcoat of gravel to make it extra sturdy.

  • Pros: BUR has a life span of 20-30 years and is very low maintenance. It is also easy to repair. BUR is preferred for flat roofs because it creates a continuous seal, creating great traction.
  • Cons: On the flip side, BUR roofs can be slow to install, and the instillation process comes with a risk of toxic fumes. Depending on the type of instillation, some BUR roofs are susceptible to wind and water damage, and finding a crack under the layer of gravel can make repairs difficult.

Metal Roofs Advantages In Arizona

Metal Roofs have increased popularity in Arizona within the past few years thanks to their variability in materials and being safe and stylish.

  • Pros: Metal roofs are very durable and reliable. They have a life expectancy of 20-50 years. In addition to being more resistant to high winds, metal roofs won’t corrode or crack. They are even impact resistant. Metal roofs are considered to be the most environmentally friendly material. They are effective in reducing energy consumption by reflecting solar heat, thus reducing cooling costs.
  • Cons: Cost is the primary issue, as metal roof pricing can be double the price of conventional materials. The loud noise made from heavy rains can also be a factor, as most people commonly think metal roofs only make a smooth pitter-pattering sound. Should your metal roof need repair from paint chipping, matching the color can be difficult, as the color may lighten after prolonged sun exposure time.

Modified Bitumen Roofing

Modified Bitumen Roofing, similar to the BUR, is also a multilayered roofing system, but differs in that it has a great stylized roofing look, along with added durability and strength.

  • Pros: Whether it is built using self-adhesive sheets, hot-mopped asphalt or cold-applied adhesives, the seams are usually melted together, giving it durability to withstand fire, water, wind and UV damage. It is also easy to install, as the process is quicker than using original BUR.
  • Cons: While durable, the life expectancy is shorter than most, averaging 10-20 years, with the fire resistance only lasting 5-10 years.


Thermoset Roof Membrane (EPDM) roofs, another of the commercial roofing types, also known as rubber roofs, are unique in that they use single-ply rubber material.

  • Pros: EPDM roofs are favorably priced, easy to install, lightweight, and are flexible, fire, temperature and wind resistant, with a life expectancy of 20-30 years. As it is laid in single pieces, it results in fewer seams, and requires minimal maintenance and repairs.
  • Cons: Because the material is rubber, it might be considered unattractive, and the installation process is very precise, so it takes a longer time to install compared with other roofs. EPDM roofs are delicate and can puncture easily, resulting in possible leakages.


Thermoplastic Membranes are typically made of either thermoplastic olefin (TPO) or polyvinyl chloride (PVC); layers of roofing membrane that are quickly growing in popularity in commercial roofing.

  • Pros: TPO roofs are great in terms of energy costs and temperature control, given that the material reflects UV rays and helps avoid excessive heat. With a 20- to 30-year life span, TPO roofs come in a variety of different colors, and are fire, puncture, chemical, wind and temperature resistant.
  • Cons: TPO roofs, having the top layer laminated, can be prone to shrinkage and cracks that can affect roof exposure. The seams, after accelerated weathering, can loosen over time, which can make your roof subject to leaks.


Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF) roofs are the most energy efficient roofing option, as they deliver thermal, air and moisture barriers.

  • Pros: The SPF installation process is one of the easiest and most cost efficient, because it’s seamless. This type of roof has a life expectancy of 10-20 years. Its energy efficiency keeps the heat out during the summer and retains heat in the winter, which effectively lowers the cost for facility owners.

Cons: While installation is easy, it can be messy, and SPF roofs can only be installed in temperatures above 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Installation cannot be performed when there is ice, frost, surface moisture, or visible dampness on the existing roof. Like wood, spray foam is highly flammable and can catch fire under extreme heat.

Contact American Roofing to answer your questions about the common roofing types.

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