Commercial Roofing vs. Residential Roofing: What’s the Difference?

You would think that one roof is pretty much like any other. However, commercial roofs tend to be quite different from residential ones. Before you hire an Orlando roofer, it’s important to understand the difference between the two and why you need to hire a roofer that knows your type of roof.

There are three major differences between commercial and residential roofs: roof design, choice of materials, and installation requirements.

Roof Design

Probably the most obvious difference between commercial and residential roofs is their design.

On a commercial roof, the slope tends to be very low or entirely flat. You often see these types of roofs on warehouses, shops, restaurants, and factories. The roof tends to be much larger than a typical residential roof. Its surface can be home to heavy items like large HVAC blowers and industrial pipes. The surface can be broken up with multiple openings for blower outlets, smokestacks, and skylights.

A residential roof tends to have a higher pitch than a commercial roof. It is smaller than a commercial roof in most cases. The surface usually has nothing sitting directly on it, with the rare exception of solar panels. Openings in the roof are minimal, usually confined to chimneys, vent stacks, and skylights.

Roofing Materials

The materials used on both residential and commercial roofs vary based on the roof design, cost, and weather conditions. It’s important to hire a commercial roofer who can determine what materials should be used on a particular roof.

The most popular roofing material for residential properties is asphalt shingles. They are easy to install and one of the most cost-effective options on the market. Other options frequently used on residential properties include wood shakes, metal panels, slate, tile, and ceramic.

Typically, residential roofs involve nailing plywood to wooden rafters, creating the roof deck. Then, the roofer lays down a protective underlayment, before installing shingles, shakes, or tile.

Commercial roofs, being flat or low-pitched, are not good candidates for typical residential roofing materials. They are often covered with options like modified bitumen, tar, and gravel, single-ply coverings (PVC, TPO, EPDM), sprayed polyurethane foam, or other commercial roofing systems.

Building a commercial roof involves multiple layers, including insulation, decking, protective coating, and reflecting coating. The exact mix of layers depends on the type of roofing being applied.

There are, in fact, many more options for commercial roofing materials than there are for residential ones. That’s one reason why it’s critical for property owners and managers to hire a qualified and experienced commercial roofer for installation and repairs.

Roof Installation and Repair

Installation and repair requirements differ greatly between commercial and residential properties. For example, a commercial roof can take a month or more to install, because of the sheer size of it, plus the number of layers involved. A residential roof, on the other hand, can take just a few days, due to its simpler construction.

Repairs on commercial roofs can become a major project. When water gets through the layers of a commercial roof, the entire roof must be assessed. It may only involve patching one section of the roof, or it might involve making major repairs and reapplying layers to a good deal of the roof. A simple leak can end up costing a lot of money.

With a residential roof, leaks often occur in isolated spots where shingles are loose or flashing has become loose. The work can usually be done in a few hours. Leaks can, of course, indicate major problems with a residential roof. However, that’s usually rare compared to isolated leaks due to minor problems.

The skillset between commercial and residential roofers differs as well. Commercial roofers need to understand the multitude of material options and the proper way to repair and patch them all. Residential roofers need a less specialized skill set. They tend to work mainly with asphalt shingle roofs which require basic skills compared to a typical commercial roof.

Don’t let your commercial or residential roof fall into disrepair. If you have a leak or need another type of repair, give Janney Roofing a call today. We are the Orlando roofer trusted by commercial property managers and homeowners alike. Let us take a look at your roofing issue, and we’ll give you an honest estimate. We are proud of all the work we do.