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Factors That Can Affect Your Commercial Roof's Life Expectancy

Factors that can affect your Commercial Roof’s Life Expectancy

The Average Life of Your Commercial Roof

Saying that your commercial property’s roof is a significant investment is an understatement. Many property managers overlook how long their roof should last with proper maintenance. Often a roof is “out of sight, out of mind” until it starts demanding attention with a leak or other issues. A roof that is well-maintained can last their projected lifespans and then some.

Many factors come into play that determines how long a commercial roof will last such as:

  • Extreme heat or cold
  • Weather factors such as high wind, rain, hail, snow, hurricanes, and tornadoes
  • The expertise of the roofers installing the roofing system
  • Annual maintenance
  • The type of roof system installed
  • Roof penetration caused by roof-top equipment, such as HVAC systems

Most commercial roof systems last anywhere from 10 to 40 years. As the roofing industry’s technology evolves and installers become better trained in repair and maintenance, the longevity of commercial roof systems expand.

How long will your commercial roof last?

As mentioned above, many factors play a part in how long your roof will last. Here are some of the typical roof life expectancies:

EPDM- 25-35 years

EPDM (Ethylene propylene diene monomer) is a synthetic rubber roofing membrane. It can be fully adhered to the roof system, ballasted, mechanically attached, or sealed with liquid adhesives.

TPO – 15-30 years

TPO is a single ply roofing system that was first introduced in the 1990s as an alternative for PVC roofing products. TPO blends polypropylene and ethylene propylene polymers with polyester reinforcement. The sheets contain properties that are UV and fire resistant. 

Modified Bitumen – 12 -25 years

There are two primary types of modified bitumen systems: Atactic polypropylene (APP) and Styrene-butadiene-styrene (SBS or SEBS). They can often be applied in a variety of ways such as torch applied, set in hot asphalt, set in cold adhesive and self-adhering systems

Built-Up – 15- 25 years

Built-up roof systems, or BUR, are made up of alternating layers of bitumen and reinforced fabrics. Surfacings for built-up roof systems include aggregate (such as gravel, slag or mineral granules), glass-fiber or mineral surfaced cap sheets, hot asphalt mopped over the entire surface, aluminum coatings or elastomeric coatings.

Metal – 30 -45 years

Metal roofs may consist of corrugated and ribbed metal with exposed fasteners or metal shingles, stone-coated steel or standing seam metal roofs.

Asphalt – 15-40 years

Not a common roofing material for flat roof systems. Mostly used in pitched roof applications.

Preventative Maintenance Program for Commercial Roofs

Four ways you can extend your commercial roof’s lifespan

1. Annual Maintenance

Annual maintenance, including roof inspections, are designed to catch the small problems before they become larger ones. A proper maintenance plan is tailored to the type of roof installed, the climate in which the building is located, and how the roof is being used. Considering contracting with a professional commercial roofing company to perform your annual maintenance program. Some roof warranties may even become void without proper documentation of regularly scheduled maintenance programs in place.

An annual roof maintenance program should provide the following services:

  • Identify potential energy or leak issues
  • Remove debris, clean drains, and gutters, and top off pitch pans
  • Provide recommended actions based on urgency levels for repairs

2. Roof Coatings

Roof coatings help to restore and extend the life of your roof. The restorative coating is the process of cleaning, repairing, sealing and re-coating a flat roof system to ensure that it is kept in optimal condition. As part of overall building maintenance, roof restoration can identify any weaknesses and repair them accordingly to ensure the roof stays functional. 

3. Proper insulation and ventilation

Insulation and ventilation is key to airflow and moisture reduction. When hot and cold air has nowhere to escape, it can cause ice dams and water ponding on the roof or mold and rot in the structural elements of your commercial roof. Insulation and ventilation are not only crucial to your roof system but also helps to regulate your HVAC equipment allowing it to work more efficiently.

4. Professional installation

You could choose the best roofing materials, spare no expense on the waterproofing accessories and the best available warranty, but the roof is only as good as the installation. There’s a science involved in knowing how to choose the right type of roof system for your building’s location, construction, and use. Commercial roofs undergo a high amount of stress from dynamic movement and changing weather conditions.

When it comes to the longevity of your roof, is it really in your best interest to choose the cheapest roofer or a professional commercial roofing contractor that is registered with the Construction Industries Board, and undergo thorough industry and manufacturer training to ensure correct installation techniques that adhere to product specifications and warranty details?

The benefits of roof coatings

Roof coatings can extend the life of your roof by creating a barrier between the weather elements, potential penetration hazards, foot traffic, and creates a watertight seal. While a roof coating should never be used as an alternative to a full roof replacement, if your roof is already in good condition, a roof coating can add another ten years to your roof’s lifespan.

Roof coating can also provide significant energy-efficiency to your commercial building. A white layer can reflect harmful sun rays away from your building and reduces a building’s energy costs. An additional benefit to roof coatings is the tax incentives you can receive due to the preventative maintenance nature of the coating.

Consulting a professional commercial roofing contractor is recommended when considering a coating your commercial roof. Any current leaks, drainage issues or repairs to the roof’s structural system must be resolved, and the roof must be thoroughly cleaned to ensure proper adhesion to the roof.


Just like your car, a roof will last longer if you take care of it all throughout its life. Preventative maintenance is just as important to the life of your roof as it is for your car. Take the time to invest in a preventative maintenance plan to ensure that your roof will last up until the higher end of its life expectancy. Treat your roof well, and it will return the favor. Contact Red River Roofing & Construction to learn more about our comprehensive roof maintenance program that is custom-tailored to your needs and budget.

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