Better Business Bureau A+ Rating

Common Commercial Roofing Systems

April 20, 2022
Common Commercial Roofing Systems

McKinnis has been a leading installer of commercial roofing systems in the Omaha metropolitan area for over 40 years. We are versed in many types of applications and install to manufacturer specifications. Following installation, we offer a two-year workmanship warranty AND work with local manufacturer representatives to ensure they stand behind our application. McKinnis will assist you in obtaining a manufacturer warranty of your choice and help you take care of your roof. Whether it’s a school, office building, or warehouse, McKinnis has got you covered with any commercial application available. Here are the most common commercial roofing systems and the advantages vs. disadvantages of each so you can make an educated decision yourself!

Common Commercial Roofing Systems

TPO (Thermoplastic Polyolefin)

TPO roofing systems were originally introduced in Europe in the mid-1980s and has been readily available since 1991 in the United States. Popular manufacturers include GAF, Firestone, and Carlisle. These manufacturers have plants based in the United States and are partners McKinnis regularly works with.
Technical Name – thermoplastic polyolefin

Ply (layers) – Single

Life Expectancy (per NRCA) – 10 to 20 years

Composition: Synthetic components along with a fabric reinforcement to stabilize and strengthen the membrane.

Advantages of Tpo roofing systems

  • Cost-effective
  • Reflective UV light
  • Repellant of grease
  • Resists bacteria
  • Recyclable at end of life

Disadvantages of Tpo roofing systems

  • Lamination leads to limited durability. The top layer is laminated. Once that is compromised, it is more susceptible to cracks/splitting.
  • Quality varies by manufacturer
  • Thickness disparity (thicker does not mean better)
  • More seams – smaller rolls lead to more seams which lead to more areas of loosening

Application Types

  • Mechanically Attached
  • Fully Adhered
  • Ballasted (meaning a layer of rock)

Thickness

  • 45 mil
  • 60 mil
  • 80 mil

Note: a mil is a unit of measurement denoting a thousandth of an inch

Colors

  • White
  • Gray
  • Tan
  • Blues*
  • Reds*
  • Browns*
  • Greens*
  • Yellows*

*Specialty colors are an additional cost

EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer)

First introduced in 1962, EPDM roofing became increasingly popular in the 1970s as a result of the lower quality and increasing costs of asphalt-based roofing products. Having 60 years of “real world” performance, EPDM systems have been continuously evolving; becoming the quality product it is today. McKinnis installs Carlisle, Firestone, and Johns Manville systems on a regular basis.

Technical Name – ethylene propylene diene monomer

Ply (layers) – Single

Life Expectancy (per NRCA) – 15 to 20 years

Composition: Synthetic rubbers are made with two main components (ethylene and propylene) which are derivatives of oil and natural gas.

Advantages of EPDM Roofing Systems

  • Cost-effective
  • Easy to maintain and repair
  • Fire resistant
  • Insulator; keeping your building warm in the winter and cool in the summer
  • Recyclable at end of life

Disadvantages of EPDM Roofing Systems

  • Absorbs heat
  • Disintegration with petroleum-based products:
  • Can puncture fairly easily
  • Appearance (not much curb appeal with rubber)

Application Types

  • Mechanically Attached
  • Fully Adhered
  • Ballasted (meaning a layer of rock)

Thickness

  • 45 mil
  • 60 mil
  • 90 mil

Note: a mil is a unit of measurement denoting a thousandth of an inch

Colors

  • White
  • Gray
  • Black

PVC (polyvinyl chloride)

PVC roofing systems were birthed in 1960s Germany. By the mid-’70s the United States and Canada began to introduce the product. PVC exceeds in flammability/fire resistance; requiring a temperature of 734 degrees Fahrenheit to catch fire. McKinnis installs Carlisle, Duro-Last, and Firestone.

Technical Name – polyvinyl chloride

Ply (layers) – Single

Life Expectancy (per NRCA) – 15 to 20 years

Composition: type of plastic formed through a gaseous reaction of ethylene with oxygen and hydrochloric acid; resulting in the plasticized material

Advantages of PVC Roofing Systems

  • Resistant to (some) chemicals
  • Wind resistant
  • Fire resistant
  • Withstand water ponding
  • Recyclable at end of life
  • Resistant to mold and bacteria

Disadvantages of PVC Roofing Systems

  • More expensive
  • Trickier to repair
  • Full removal of the old system (cannot overlay)
  • Prone to shattering in long periods of cold temperatures

Application Types

  • Mechanically Attached
  • Fully Adhered
  • Ballasted (meaning a layer of rock)

Thickness

  • 50 mil
  • 60 mil
  • 80 mil
  • 115 mil

Note: a mil is a unit of measurement denoting a thousandth of an inch

Colors

  • White
  • Gray
  • Tan
  • Blues*
  • Reds*
  • Browns*
  • Greens*
  • Yellows*

*Specialty colors are an additional cost

BUR (Built-Up Roof)

BUR systems have been with us for over 160 years! The Grandad of all roofing systems, BURs first appeared in the 1800s and still account for 30 percent of new roofs installed (NRCA). The longevity of this system speaks for itself with popularity and high life expectancy. McKinnis Roofing proudly stands behind this application and works with manufacturers such as Firestone and Garland.

Technical Name – built-up roof

Ply (layers) – Multiple

Life Expectancy (per NRCA) – 20 to 30 years

Composition: alternating layers of reinforcing fabric and bitumen (aka asphalt) – often topped off with a layer of stone or gravel or bitumen cap.

Advantages of  Bur Systems

  • Creates a continuous sealed surface
  • Long-lasting
  • Seams are very well sealed (many times over)
  • Exceptional UV protection
  • Low-maintenance
  • Excellent impact resistance
  • Excellent fire resistance

Disadvantages of BUR Systems

  • Leaks are easily repaired, however, labor can be costly
  • Heavy! The roof must be able to handle the weight of the multiple layers
  • Slow and more complex installation

Application Type

Layered as follows:

  1. Substrate / Decking
  2. Roof Insulation
  3. Roofing Asphalt
  4. Cover Board w/ Roofing Asphalt
  5. Ply Sheet w/ Roofing Asphalt
  6. Gravel in Asphalt or Modified Bitumen Cap

Thickness

  • 2” to 4” on average

Colors

  • N/A – although gravels vary in color and cap sheet is a lighter color

 

Additional Reading: Extending Commercial Roof Life Expectancy

 

Contact the Omaha commercial roofing experts to learn more about commercial roofing systems!

TRUST THE EXPERTS AT MCKINNIS

If you are in need of roofing, windows, siding, or gutter work, give us a call today at 402-426-2644, visit our website at www.mckinnisinc.com or fill out our contact form. Our roofing and exterior experts are highly trained and always ready to help!

GET A HOME 3D MODEL TODAY!