Roofing is typically an afterthought for homeowners who only consider this important part of their home when it has a problem. Likewise, many people do not realize there are differences between residential and commercial roofs. Although the job of these structures is similar for any type of building, they are quite different. Below, we explore the four key differences between commercial and residential roofing.
A roof actually enhances a home’s curb appeal, not just providing the property with protection from the elements. In fact, a roof is an important part of residential design. It has the power to make a home more appealing to a buyer, being so visible to those on the grounds and passing by.
Commercial building roofs differ from residential in their tendency toward flat design, typically not being visible to passers-by. There is typically no slope beyond the slight percentage required to enable water drainage and prevent pooling water. This slight, yet not readily visible, slope is why many builders refer to flat roofs as low-slope roofing.
The purpose of residential and commercial roofs also differ. Commercial roofing is more often designed according to function, instead of using decorative design, patterns or colors like residential properties. Commercial roofs also extend over a larger area, typically applying a great deal of pressure to the structure. Residential roofs extend over a much smaller area, thereby not creating so much structural pressure.
Residential roofing typically uses materials that easily drain precipitation in conjunction with a steep slope serving the same purpose. Options for shingles on a home include asphalt shingles, tiles, slate and cedar shake shingles.
Commercial roofs do not typically use such materials, unless their design mimics a residential structure. Instead, galvanized steel, tin, copper and aluminum are more common materials for business buildings. Some make use of composite materials. These include PVC, built-up roof membranes and Thermoset roof membrane with multiple reinforced layers.
Roof installation is typically based on its slope and the materials used. Each type of surface dictates how long it will take to install the roof, in conjunction with the roof’s surface area. Residential properties are typically much smaller in size than commercial. This means a residential roof is more rapidly completed, often within a day. Home roofing involves attaching wood boards to trusses, installing underlayment and applying the outer materials.
For commercial roofs, multiple layers of metal and insulation must be installed. Installation of these roofs commonly takes several weeks. These jobs typically require specialized tools, materials and safety equipment not needed for a residential roof. Commercial roof projects involve more moving parts and essential steps over a much larger structural span.
A fourth difference between commercial and residential roofing is how each is maintained. A residential roof typically only requires periodic visual inspection by the homeowner. This inspection takes place from the ground level, looking for signs of damage after storms or at other times. Indicators of damage include missing shingles, detached gutters and other problems.
Inspection and preventative maintenance for commercial roofing typically involves a professional roofing contractor. The contractor must look for signs of damage, such as leaks. For flat roofs on commercial buildings, professional inspections occur more often. It is important to involve an inspector on a routine basis. The inspector must also check the roof surface after mechanical equipment contractors work there, ensuring they have not caused damage.
Both Types of Roofing Necessitate Professional Roofing Contractors
Whether you are building a new home or commercial structure, you need to engage a qualified and experienced professional roofing contractor. Working with a reputable professional during construction prevents maintenance problems over the subsequent years. A professional should also provide ongoing roof inspection and maintenance services on an as-needed and regular basis.
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