What Is the Most Common Commercial Roofing Material?

When the time comes for homeowners to replace the roof of their homes, the clear winner is asphalt shingles.



Matt Lyons


Jan 21, 2021

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However, there appears to be a clear difference between residential and commercial roofing since commercial roofs tend to be made of many more different materials; let’s see what they are.

Most Common Roofing Materials

The requirements of a roof for a commercial structure differ from those that apply to a residential roofing job. To begin with, the structure of a commercial property is different than that of a house. The spaces beneath the roof tend to be larger and with greater height. That is why, if you are the owner or manager of a commercial property, you need to carefully study what each roofing material has to offer before making the final decision.

Here are some of the materials that are better suited for a commercial property:

  • EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer)
  • TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin)
  • PVC (polyvinyl chloride)
  • SPF (spray polyurethane foam)
  • Asphalt rolls
  • Acrylic coatings

What are Some Characteristics of These Materials?


Also known as rubber roofing, this material is inexpensive and easy to install. As it is quite lightweight, the roof will need no additional support structure. However, it is not an aesthetically pleasing option since it looks like an unrolled inner tube. Life expectancy runs around 20 years.


Also an inexpensive option, TPO reduces heat buildup within the structure since it is white and reflects the sun. It has heat-welded seams that avoid the need to use adhesives, it resists corrosion, and is not prone to having algae or mildew grow on it. Yet, it may be hard to find the right manufacturer and the right thickness since there are many inconsistencies.


This roofing option consists of two layers which make this material flexible while UV-stable. It is a much more expensive option than the previous ones, and since it tends to shrink over time, it may pull at the seams and is difficult to repair.


SPF is made from a foam of plastic that turns from a liquid into a solid right away. It expands some 30 times as it dries. This material is lightweight, very durable, and helps save on energy costs. It can correct ponding water or channel it to the appropriate drains. However, not all roofing contractors know how to install it properly, and once installed, it is very hard to remove.

Asphalt Rolls

Manufactured from the same material used in asphalt shingles, these rolls are a great option when it comes to buildings with low slopes. Asphalt is a very inexpensive roofing material and relatively easy to install. However, you can expect it to have some of the shortest lifespans, needing to be replaced sooner than every 10 years. It also calls for continuous maintenance and repairs while not being too energy efficient.

Acrylic Coatings

Acrylic coatings are a great alternative for any roof. After four layers are applied -primer, base coat, fabric, and more base coat- you will end up with a seamless membrane that is strong enough to withstand heavy hailstorms and, with proper maintenance, lasts a long time. If you are dealing with new construction, you can have an acrylic coating installed directly over plywood. This material is UV-resistant, easy to work with, and very reflective. Caulk is all that is required to perform a full repair when needed.

Ultimately, you may need to discuss with your roofer the particular characteristics of your commercial property to come up with the best roofing option for you.

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May 20, 2023
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