For commercial property managers, learning about your roof can empower you and save you money in future repairs. 

A roof is not simply a cover for your building. A commercial roof is a structural element of your facility and directly influences your energy costs.

This blog is a small introduction to Commercial Roofing for Property Managers. We break down the most common types of commercial roofs.

We will also cover each roof type’s lifespan, durability, and common problem areas.

If you don’t know what type of roof your building has, you definitely need to keep reading!

Introduction to Commercial Roofing for Property Managers

If you want to learn practical tips to avoid costly replacements & repairs, this blog is for you!

Built-Up Roofing

Built-Up roofs, AKA “BUR,” dominated the commercial roof market until the 1980s, when the price of single-ply membrane systems became widely available. 

These roofs are made via alternating layers of tar/asphalt and felt pads and are finally covered in an even layer of gravel. 

Lifespan of Built-Up Roofing:

When properly installed and taken care of, a built-up roof has a 20-30 years lifespan.

Pros and Cons of Built-Up Roofing:


  • Inexpensive
  • Compared to other systems, built-up roofing is one of the cheapest materials on the market.
  • Durable
  • Because they are made of many layers of material, built-up roofs are resistant to extreme weather. 
  • Withstands foot traffic well
  • For the same reason that they withstand weather well, a BUR is a good choice for a high-traffic roof. 


  • Difficult to Maintain
  • BUR are susceptible to many issues such as split joints, blisters, and other forms of damage.
  • Heavy
  • BURs are heavy, and the added weight stresses the structural elements of your building. 
  • Susceptible to ponding water
  • BURs are prone to ponding water, quickly becoming a significant problem if left untreated. 

Modified Bitumen Roofing

Often considered the evolution of built-up roofing, modified bitumen was first developed in Europe and brought to the US in the 1960s.

Modified Bitumen utilizes asphalt mixed with polymerized rubber or plastic to create a durable roofing surface. 

Lifespan of Modified Bitumen:

The average lifespan of a modified bitumen roof is around 20 years.

Pros and Cons of Modified Bitumen:


  • Low Cost
  • Modified Bitumen is one of the most cost-effective materials on the market. 
  • Handles foot traffic well
  • Like BUR, modified bitumen is an excellent choice for high-foot-traffic roofs.
  • Easy to repair
  • Because it is applied via rolls, ModBit is easy to patch up if damaged.


  • Short lifespan
  • ModBit has one of the shortest lifespans of all the common commercial roofing materials.
  • Toxic Installation fumes
  • Despite advances, ModBit is still applied at high heat with toxic chemicals.
  • Poor water resistance
  • ModBit’s seams do not withstand water nearly as effectively as newer thermoplastics. 

Metal Roofing

One of the most popular forms of commercial roofing, metal roofing is a premium choice that brings significant benefits.

Metal roofs are typically made of corrugated, galvanized steel, aluminum, or a different alloy that utilizes Zinc, tin, and another metal. 

Lifespan of Metal Roofing:

A metal roof has a lifespan between 40-60 years! 

Pros and Cons of Metal Roofing:


  • Lightweight
  • Metal roofs are lightweight and do not strain a building’s structural elements unnecessarily.
  • Low maintenance
  • After installation, a metal roof requires nearly zero maintenance outside of repairs.
  • Energy-efficient
  • Metal roofs reflect UV radiation efficiently and are an excellent way to save money on energy bills.


  • Costly
  • The upfront cost of metal roofing is high and could be a barrier for some building owners.
  • Noisy during rain
  • It’s no secret: metal roofing is loud during heavy rain.
  • May dent after hail
  • Metal roofs are prone to denting after a severe hailstorm. 

TPO Roofing

Thermoplastic Polyolefin, commonly known as TPO, is a relatively new form of roofing that came to America via Europe in the early 1990s. 

As a composite material, TPO utilizes a blend of various rubbers that are arranged in distinct layers. 

Lifespan of TPO Roofing:

As for its lifespan, a TPO Roof lasts between 35 and 30 years. 

Pros and Cons of TPO Roofing:


  • Easy to maintain
  • Once installed, a TPO system requires very minimal maintenance!
  • Low cost compared to metal
  • TPO is one of the best compromises when it comes to great tech at a lower cost. 
  • Energy-efficient
  • Because of their light color, TPO roofs reflect most UV radiation, saving you money.


  • Vulnerable seams
  • Where two pieces of TPO meet on a roof is a weak point, and these seams are known to have leaking problems. 
  • Tendency to crack
  • Due to its lamination, TPO sometimes cracks at the surface, which can invite in water damage. 
  • Quality disparities with manufacturers
  • Not all TPO is made equal, and we have heard horror stories from people getting duped!

EPDM Roofing

EPDM is an increasingly popular commercial roofing material that comes in two colors: Black or white.

It is made of synthetic rubber and can be installed in a variety of manners, all depending on the needs of your roof. 

Lifespan of EPDM Roofing:

EPDM can last for 50+ years!

Pros and Cons of EPDM Roofing:


  • Low cost
  • When compared with other systems, EPDM is often one of the cheapest options.
  • Fire resistant
  • EPDM is not only fire resistant, but has been known to retard the spread of fire!
  • Long-lasting
  • With a lifespan that can approach 50 years, EPDM brings stellar longevity.


  • Vulnerable seams
  • Like other systems, the seams on EPDM are vulnerable to leaking, which can spell major trouble for your building.
  • Often considered ugly
  • Most EPDM is black is generally considered an eyesore. If your roof is visible, consider white EPDM!
  • Easily damaged by foot traffic
  • EPDM is a tad fragile and is not suited for regular foot traffic in any way.

How IPP Can Help Property Managers Save Money

If you didn’t notice a trend, nearly all types of commercial roofing damage lead back to a single culprit: Water.

Whether it’s storm damage, ponding water, clogged gutters, or damaged flashing, all of these issues are problematic because they let water into your building.

At IPP, we have developed a waterproofing system that can help property managers keep their facilities clean, safe, and dry in the long term.

This system is a coating, which means it can be applied over the top of your existing roof, giving you increased protection at a fraction of the cost of a new roof.  

Maybe best of all, our Waterproofing system is self-healing, which means that it can help keep your building even if it has been punctured by debris. 

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