The Difference Between Commercial and Residential Roofs

The Difference Between Commercial and Residential Roofs

Both commercial and residential roofs have similar functions when it comes to protecting a building from damage and weather. The goal is to seal the roof with waterproof layers and use additional layers to protect that seal. There are, however, some distinctions that make these two types of roofs different. Size, design, materials, and upkeep all play a role in differentiating these two roofing styles.

The Size

The size of the roofs is probably the most obvious difference between commercial and residential buildings. Commercial roofs take up significantly more square footage compared to their residential counterparts — with residential roofs averaging 1,700 sq ft and commercial roofs averaging 20,000 sq ft. This difference leads to several other contrasts that we will talk about as we go further into our list.

The Style and Design

Residential roofs tend to have steeped or pitched roofs. This makes things like ice, pooling water, and debris fall off of the surface easier and faster, preventing the possibility of water or other damage. The angled roof also allows for a lot of potential storage space and better energy management due to air under the roof.

Commercial roofs use very shallow slopes and can even be completely flat. This design makes it easier to place fixtures on the roof such as skylights or smokestacks. These roofs also have many layers to protect from things like pooling water. Flat roofs are also cheaper to install than angled roofs, which helps keep costs lower with the larger square footage.

The Material Required

There is a large variety of possible materials for both commercial and residential roofs. Consulting a professional roofer to determine the best possible materials for your project is a must.

Residential homes mainly follow the form of having a roof deck created by nailing plywood to the rafters of the house and laying roofing material on this deck. This is most commonly done with asphalt shingles, as they are very cost effective, easy to replace, and easy to install. Other materials such as metal, slate, and ceramic are all possible as well.

Commercial roofs can not use these traditional materials due to their flat (or low-sloped) nature. Many layers are used to protect these roofs in the long term. Insulation, decking, protective coatings, and reflective coatings are all potential layers for a commercial roof. A professional roofer will be able to tell you the necessary mix of these layers based on your area and the roofing that will be applied.

Roof Installation

Residential roofs are relatively easy to install and require very little machinery and training. This keeps costs lower and minimizes complications from things like heavy equipment. The cost of installation is probably the largest difference between commercial and residential roofs.

Commercial roofs can require a lot of materials, time, and training to install properly. Due to the size and complexity of some commercial buildings, some roof installations can take as much as a month to complete. These factors lead to a drastic difference in the prices of the installations.

Maintenance and Inspection of Roofs

Commercial roofs require more attention to prevent damage and leaks. This is partially due to the larger size of the roofs but is also caused by the flat roof design. Since the value of a commercial roof is so high, inspections need to take place regularly to make sure that gutters and debris are clear. Any leaks that do appear on a commercial roof can become a major project. Replacing the many layers where the leak is happening without compromising any other part of the roof requires knowledge of a variety of roofing materials and how to fix them.

Residential maintenance requires much less rigorous knowledge. An inspection from a professional one or two times a year and removal of debris when required is enough to protect a home roof in most cases. If a leak does appear, it is usually as simple as replacing a few shingles or some flashing to regain normal protection.

The Cost

The size and required maintenance for commercial roofs simply make them more expensive. The average square footage of a commercial building is about 10 times that of a residential home. Even if the roofs used the same materials, you would be paying about that 10 times more for a commercial roof. After including the need for consistent inspections and maintenance, as well as specialized equipment and trained workers for installation, it is easy to see the difference in the investment made for a commercial building.

Hiring Professional Services

To make the right decisions for your roof, it is best to work with professionals. With over 30 years of roofing experience, Paradigm Roofing can get the job done right. Filling out a simple form will get you a free quote on your residential or commercial roof. Contact us today for our services.