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Roofing Tips, Tricks and Ideas

Types of Commercial Roofing Systems

Published by Pickard Roofing at

All commercial roofing systems are not created equal and vary by type and material used. The type of material used on your commercial roof depends on the type of building, geographical location, weather, and many additional factors. Here's what you need to know about each roofing type.

Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO)

Thermoplastic polyolefin (often referred to as TPO) is a white, reflective roofing membrane that bounces UV rays back into the atmosphere to prevent the roof from heating up on hot days. TPO is popularly used on roofs built in warm-weather climates, because it keeps the roof, and ultimately the building, cool on hot days. TPO helps to reduce cooling costs and can shrink a building’s carbon footprint.

Who is Building With TPO?

TPO is becoming popular as companies seek ways to reduce their environmental impact and save money on utility costs. Today, TPO roofs are found on one-third of the commercial buildings in the United States.

Benefits of TPO

Commercial building owners who choose TPO are drawn to the material for a variety of reasons.

Some of the benefits include:

  • Easy to install - TPO is one of the easiest types of roofing to install and is available in large sheets meaning fewer seams.
  • Practical - TPO is practical for commercial roofs of nearly any pitch, so even roofs that are steeply angled can be used with TPO.
  • Low maintenance - Because of its durable composition, it is easier to maintain.
  • Eco-friendly - TPO does not contain any toxic ingredients and is recyclable, making it safer for the environment.


Ethylene Propylene Diene Terpolymer Rubber Roofing (EPDM)

This rubber roofing material is made from oil and natural gas. It has a flexible, rubbery quality that makes it a popular product for roofing and other building projects.

Who is Building With EPDM?

Ethylene propylene diene terpolymer rubber, or EPDM, is known for its resistance to extreme weather. In parts of the country where high-winds and rain are common, EPDM is commonly used for commercial roofs.

Benefits of EPDM

Companies that use EPDM are attracted to this product for a variety of reasons.

  • Longevity - EPDM can last many years depending on maintenance practices.
  • Extreme durability - EPDM is resistant to water, various chemicals, and UV radiation.
  • Insulating qualities - EPDM is an excellent insulator, which makes it a smart product to use in parts of the country where extreme temperatures can affect HVAC efficiency and utility bills.
  • Fire-resistance - This product is less vulnerable to fire than some others, which makes this a good roofing material in parts of the country where wildfires are a threat.


Commercial Built-Up Roofing (BUR)

Commercial built-up roofing, also called BUR roofing, has been used for commercial construction for over a hundred years. It is still in use today because it is a tried and true, reliable roofing product. BUR is comprised of various layers of bitumen and fabrics, topped by asphalt and aggregate surfacing. Because of this distinctive construction, BUR is also known as “tar and gravel” roofing.

Who is Building With BUR?

Although BUR is a flexible roofing product, it typically is used on flat and lower sloped roofs.

Benefits of BUR

BUR has been perfected as a product over time, making it extra durable, long lasting and leak-resistant. It can also be installed and maintained affordably. Other benefits of BUR include:

  • Durability - Resistance to foot traffic, excellent tensile strength, and is virtually leak-resistant.
  • Easy to maintain - Maintenance and repairs are easy to perform.


How to Choose?

Many property owners feel at a loss when the time comes to pick the roofing for their commercial building. Working with a reputable commercial roofer is the best way to ensure that the roofing selected is appropriate for the building. Choose a professional roofing company that specializes in all commercial roofing types to ensure you’re getting the best service available. A good commercial roofer will know the best type of roofing for the region, for the building type and for the project budget.


Get a Roofing Evaluation


At Pickard Roofing, we think Design. Craft. Renew. We are experienced in all types of roofing systems- and provide the right roofing design and selective craftsmanship for renewing our customer’s assets. We invite sustainable building customers to give us a call for your free evaluation. For over 90 years Pickard Roofing Company has installed countless metal, tile, slate, TPO, EPDM, and all types of shingle roofing in the Triangle. Our services include residential, commercial, custom architectural metal fabrication, and historical renovation.