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4 Common Commercial Roofing Systems

Several types of roofing systems cover every type of commercial property and each has their own unique requirements. Knowing the difference between each type can help you decide whether one or the other is right for you. State Roofing shares a comparison of these commercial roofing systems.

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Built-Up Roofing

Commonly referred to as tar-and-gravel roofing, built-up roofing is the oldest commercial roofing type and remains a cost-effective solution for most flat roofing applications. Built-up roofing is ideal for roofs that need resistance against high wind and foot traffic. Alternating layers of bitumen and adhesive are built up on top of the substrate, hence the name. The top layer is covered with gravel, which acts as both ballast and insulation against heat from the sun.

Modified Bitumen

Modified bitumen roofing is similar to built-up roofing, except that the top is covered by a cap sheet instead of gravel. It is similarly resistant to high winds, punctures and foot traffic and is ideal for commercial properties with rooftop businesses such as open-air cafes. It requires fewer layers than built-up roofing, allowing quick installation and repairs.


Metal is a versatile roofing material that works in any kind of slope, in both residential and commercial applications. If installed properly, metal roofing has an expected life span of up to 75 years. It can withstand high winds, as well as impact from debris and hailstones. Reflective “cool roof” coating can also be added to help reduce the heat from the sun that could otherwise get absorbed through the roof.

Single-Ply Membrane

Membrane roofing can be made of plastic or rubber, the most common types of which are ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) and thermoplastic olefin (TPO). This type of roofing is installed directly onto the roofing substrate either loosely (like blankets on a bed) or attached using adhesives. The seams are welded using heat, fasteners or special adhesives. Weld quality is important for single-ply commercial roofing, as a single loose seam can be easily torn apart by high winds. Membrane roofing is typically sold in white, which makes it ideal for “cool roof” applications.

To learn more about our commercial roof repair, maintenance and installation services, call State Roofing today at (360) 794-7164. You can also fill out our contact form to schedule a free estimate. We serve many areas in and near Seattle, Bothell and Everett, WA.

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