What Is The Average Lifespan Of A Commercial Roof?
If you own or manage a commercial building, you know how important it is to have a reliable and durable roof. Whether we like it or not, life happens. A commercial roof protects your business assets, employees, and customers from the elements, and also affects your energy efficiency and curb appeal.
But how long can you expect your commercial roof to last? And what factors influence its lifespan?
Why Should You Care About Your Commercial Roof’s Lifespan?
Knowing the lifespan of your commercial roof is crucial for several reasons. First of all, it helps you plan ahead and avoid unexpected costs and disruptions. And there are costs, but they’re necessary. Replacing or repairing a commercial roof can be a significant investment, ranging from $5 to $50 per square foot on the property, depending on the material and the extent of the damage. By knowing how long your roof will last, you can set aside funds and schedule the work at a convenient time.
Secondly, a well-maintained roof can save you money in the long run by reducing your energy bills and preventing water damage. A commercial roof that is properly insulated and sealed can lower your heating and cooling costs by up to 40%. A commercial roof that is leak-free and resistant to mold and rot can protect your building structure and interior from costly repairs.
Thirdly, knowing your roof’s lifespan can help you make informed decisions about the best roofing material and contractor for your needs. Different roofing materials have different advantages and disadvantages in terms of durability, performance, aesthetics, and environmental impact. Choosing the right material for your climate and building type can extend your roof’s life and improve its functionality. Similarly, hiring a professional and certified commercial roofer can ensure that your roof is installed correctly and meets the industry standards.
What Factors Affect the Lifespan of a Commercial Roof?
The lifespan of a commercial roof depends on several factors.
The most common materials used for commercial roofing are thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO), ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM), and metal roofing. Each material has its own pros and cons in terms of durability, cost, maintenance, and environmental impact.
TPO is a synthetic rubber membrane that is flexible, lightweight, and resistant to UV rays, heat, chemicals, and punctures. It is also easy to install and repair, and has a high reflectivity that reduces heat absorption. TPO roofs typically last between 15 to 20 years.
EPDM is another synthetic rubber membrane that is durable, flexible, and weather-resistant. It can withstand extreme temperatures, hail, wind, fire, and ozone. It is also easy to install and repair, and has a low environmental impact. EPDM roofs usually last between 20 to 25 years.
Metal roofing is made of steel, aluminum, copper, or zinc alloys that are strong, lightweight, fire-resistant, and recyclable. It can also be coated or painted to enhance its appearance and performance. Metal roofs can last between 30 to 45 years, depending on the quality of the material and coating.
The climate of Detroit, Michigan can have a significant impact on the lifespan of your commercial roof. A couple of days of snow is great for all of the kid in each of us; Detroit experiences four distinct seasons, with hot and humid summers, cold and snowy winters, and variable spring and fall weather. The average annual temperature is 49°F (9°C), with highs of 84°F (29°C) in July and lows of 18°F (-8°C) in January. The average annual precipitation is 33 inches (838 mm), with 42 inches (1067 mm) of snowfall. So… more than a couple of days of snowballs.
These weather conditions can pose various challenges for your commercial roof.
- Thermal expansion and contraction: The temperature fluctuations between day and night, summer and winter can cause your roofing material to expand and contract repeatedly. This can lead to cracks, splits, leaks, or buckling over time.
- Moisture accumulation: The high humidity levels in summer can cause moisture to accumulate under your roofing membrane or in your insulation layer. This can result in mold growth, rotting, corrosion, or structural damage.
- Ice dams: The snowfall in winter can create ice dams on your roof edges or gutters. Ice dams are thick ridges of ice that prevent melted snow from draining off your roof. This can cause water to back up under your shingles or membrane, causing leaks or damage.
- Hail damage: The hailstorms that occur occasionally in Detroit can damage your roofing material by denting, cracking, or puncturing it. This can compromise its integrity and performance, and expose it to further deterioration.
The maintenance of your commercial roof is another crucial factor that affects its lifespan. Regular inspections and upkeep can help you detect and fix any issues before they become worse, and prevent potential problems from occurring. A well-maintained roof can last up to 25% longer than a neglected one.
Some of the maintenance tasks that you should perform on your commercial roof include:
- Cleaning: You should clean your roof at least twice a year, or more often if needed. Cleaning involves removing any debris, dirt, algae, or moss that may accumulate on your roof surface or in your drainage system. This can improve your roof’s appearance, functionality, and lifespan.
- Repairing: You should repair any minor damages or defects that you find on your roof as soon as possible. Repairing involves sealing any cracks, holes, or tears that may cause leaks or allow moisture to enter your roof system. This can prevent further damage and extend your roof’s life.
- Replacing: You should replace any major damages or worn-out parts that you find on your roof when necessary. Replacing involves removing and installing new roofing material or components that may affect your roof’s performance or safety. This can restore your roof’s functionality and durability.
The installation quality of your commercial roof is another important factor that influences its lifespan. Nobody wants to be too cold in the winter or too hot in the summer – especially in Detroit. Keep an eye on these signs for warning:
- Improper flashing: Flashing is the material that seals the joints and edges of your roof, such as around vents, skylights, chimneys, or pipes. Improper flashing can cause leaks, water damage, or structural damage to your roof system.
- Insufficient ventilation: Ventilation is the process of allowing air to circulate under your roofing membrane or in your attic space. Insufficient ventilation can cause heat buildup, moisture accumulation, mold growth, or ice dams on your roof.
- Incorrect slope: Slope is the angle of your roof surface that determines how well it drains water. Incorrect slope can cause ponding, which is the accumulation of water on your roof for more than 48 hours. Ponding can damage your roofing material, cause leaks, or attract insects and algae.
- Inadequate fastening: Fastening is the method of attaching your roofing material to your roof deck or substrate. Inadequate fastening can cause your roofing material to loosen, shift, or blow off in high winds..
Lifespan Expectancy Based on Roofing Material
Different roofing materials have different lifespans depending on various factors. From youngest to oldest, let’s take a closer look.
TPO roofing is one of the most popular and affordable options for commercial roofing. It offers a good balance of durability, performance, and aesthetics. TPO roofs typically last between 15 to 20 years, but they can last longer with proper maintenance and installation.
EPDM roofing is another common and economical choice for commercial roofing. It has a proven track record of longevity, flexibility, and weather-resistance. EPDM roofs usually last between 20 to 25 years, but they can last longer with proper maintenance and installation.
Metal roofing is a premium option for commercial roofing. It has many advantages over other materials, such as strength, fire-resistance, recyclability, and versatility. Metal roofs can last between 30 to 45 years, but they can last longer with proper maintenance and installation.
How to Extend the Lifespan of Your Commercial Roof
One of the best ways to extend the lifespan of your commercial roof is to conduct regular inspections. Inspections help identify and address any issues before they become worse or cause more damage. As a best practice, inspect your roof at least twice a year, preferably in spring and fall. Not too warm, not too cool. You should also inspect your roof after any severe weather events, such as storms, hail, or snow.
During an inspection, you should look for signs of damage or deterioration on your roof surface, such as cracks, holes, blisters, bubbles, wrinkles, tears, punctures, or stains. You should also check your flashing, vents, skylights, chimneys, pipes, and other penetrations for any gaps, leaks, rusting, or corrosion.
If you find any problems during your inspection, make sure that you grab photos and notes and contact a professional commercial roofer as soon as possible. A commercial roofer (ahem – we’re here), can provide you with a detailed assessment of your roof’s condition and recommend the best course of action.
Of course, there are the timely repairs.
Some of the common repairs that you may need to perform on your commercial roof include:
- Sealing: Sealing involves applying a liquid or solid material to fill any gaps, cracks, or holes that may cause leaks or allow moisture to enter your roof system. Sealing can prevent further damage and extend your roof’s life.
- Patching: Patching involves applying a piece of roofing material over a damaged or worn-out area of your roof surface. Patching can restore your roof’s functionality and durability.
- Coating: Coating involves applying a layer of protective material over your entire roof surface or a specific area. Coating can enhance your roof’s appearance, performance, and lifespan by adding UV resistance, water resistance, fire resistance, or reflectivity.
- Replacing: Replacing involves removing and installing new roofing material or components that are beyond repair or have reached the end of their lifespan. Replacing can restore your roof’s functionality and durability.
Timely repairs can save you money and time by preventing more extensive and costly damages in the future. They can also improve your roof’s efficiency and safety by reducing energy loss and preventing water damage.
The final way to extend the lifespan of your commercial roof is to ensure that it is installed by a quality contractor. A quality installation will set your mind at ease and you’ll know you’re working with the best.
A quality contractor can provide you with the following benefits:
- Expertise: A quality contractor has the knowledge and experience to handle any type of commercial roofing project. They can advise you on the best roofing material and design for your needs and budget. They can also handle any challenges or complications that may arise during the installation process.
- Certification: A quality contractor has the necessary licenses and certifications to operate in your area. They also have the proper insurance and bonding to protect you from any liability or risk. They also follow the industry standards and codes for safety and quality.
- Warranty: A quality contractor can offer you a warranty on their workmanship and materials. A warranty can give you peace of mind and protection in case anything goes wrong with your roof after the installation. A warranty can also cover any repairs or replacements that may be needed within a certain period of time.
Budgeting for Your Commercial Roof’s Lifecycle
Here are some tips on how to budget for your commercial roof’s lifecycle:
Cost of Replacement vs. Repair
One of the main factors that you need to consider when budgeting for your commercial roof’s lifecycle is the cost of replacement vs. repair. Not a conversation that you should put off, and certainly something that you and your household should plan ahead for. As we have mentioned earlier, replacing or repairing a commercial roof can be a significant investment, ranging from $5 to $50 per square foot, depending on the material and the extent of the damage.
Generally speaking, replacing a commercial roof is more expensive than repairing it, but it can also offer more benefits in terms of durability, performance, aesthetics, and warranty. Repairing a commercial roof is cheaper than replacing it, but it can also be less effective or temporary in some cases.
Let’s think about the following:
- The age of your roof: If your roof is nearing the end of its lifespan or has exceeded it already, it may be more cost-effective to replace it rather than repair it repeatedly.
- The condition of your roof: If your roof has extensive or severe damage or defects that affect its functionality or safety, it may be more cost-effective to replace it rather than repair it partially.
- The type of your roof: If your roof is made of a material that is difficult or expensive to repair or maintain, such as metal roofing or slate roofing, it may be more cost-effective to replace it rather than repair it frequently.
- The value of your building: If your building is valuable or has a high occupancy rate or revenue potential, it may be more cost-effective to replace your roof rather than repair it poorly or inadequately.
Tax Benefits and Incentives
The final factor that you need to consider when budgeting for your commercial roof’s lifecycle is the tax benefits and incentives that may be available for you. Depending on the type of roofing material you use or the type of maintenance you perform, you may be eligible for some tax credits or incentives that can reduce your expenses or increase your income.
Some of the tax benefits and incentives that may be available for you include:
- Federal tax credits: The federal government offers tax credits for using certain energy-efficient or renewable energy roofing materials or systems, such as solar panels, cool roofs, or green roofs. These tax credits can cover up to 30% of the cost of installation or improvement of these roofing materials or systems.
- State tax credits: Some states also offer tax credits for using certain energy-efficient or renewable energy roofing materials or systems, such as solar panels, cool roofs, or green roofs. These tax credits vary by state, but they can range from 10% to 50% of the cost of installation or improvement of these roofing materials or systems.
- Local tax credits: Some local governments also offer tax credits for using certain energy-efficient or renewable energy roofing materials or systems, such as solar panels, cool roofs, or green roofs. These tax credits vary by locality, but they can range from 5% to 25% of the cost of installation or improvement of these roofing materials or systems.
- Utility rebates: Some utility companies also offer rebates for using certain energy-efficient or renewable energy roofing materials or systems, such as solar panels, cool roofs, or green roofs. These rebates vary by utility company, but they can range from $0.10 to $1.00 per watt of installed capacity or per square foot of installed area.
To find out if you qualify for any tax benefits or incentives for your commercial roof, you can use online databases or tools that are available on various websites. You can also consult with a professional commercial roofer who can provide you with a free consultation or guidance based on your specific needs and preferences.
Wrapping It Up: The Lifespan of Your Commercial Roof
The lifespan of your commercial roof can vary depending on the material, weather conditions, maintenance, and installation quality. However, it can also be extended by following some tips and best practices.
By knowing the lifespan of your commercial roof, you can:
- Plan ahead and avoid unexpected costs and disruptions
- Save money and time by reducing your energy bills and preventing water damage
- Make informed decisions about the best roofing material and contractor for your needs
- Extend the life of your commercial roof and get the most out of your investment
- Budget for your commercial roof’s lifecycle and take advantage of any tax benefits or incentives
We hope that this article has provided you with a comprehensive guide on the average lifespan of a commercial roof, and how it varies depending on various factors. We also hope that it has given you some tips on how to extend the life of your commercial roof, and how to budget for its replacement or repair.
If you have any questions or comments about this article, please feel free to contact us anytime. We are always happy to hear from you and assist you with your commercial roofing needs.