Commercial Metal Roofing – Why It’s the Superior Choice for Your Building
When constructing a pre-engineered metal building, materials selection is a critically important part of the process, and the selection of roofing materials just may be one of the most important decisions you can make for the longevity, efficiency and long-term maintenance associated with your building. In a previous post about roofing, we discussed the benefits of installing the Butler MR24 Standing Seam Roofing System. We recommend this system because after four decades in the commercial construction business, we’ve tried it all and have determined that this product is far superior to its metal roofing counterparts.
But is commercial metal roofing the only game in town? What about other roof types for commercial buildings? Is there a viable alternative? In this post, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of some other available roofing materials, and argue that, in the end, metal is preferred and Butler is best.
Types of Commercial Roofing Materials
There are many ways to roof a building and some of the most popular materials date back thousands of years. Because most commercial roofs are flat and do not have the advantage of a slope to help with water run-off, one of the most important characteristics of commercial roofing materials is their ability to keep water out. Our first metal alternative up for review is bitumen.
What is Bitumen and Should You Roof Your Commercial Building with It?
Bitumen, more commonly known as asphalt, is a construction staple with a history dating back 40,000 years. Its first recorded use is found at Middle Paleolithic Neanderthal sites, where it was used to fuse tools together. As a waterproofing agent and adhesive, bitumen has been used throughout the ages to seal boats, water tanks, roads, driveways and, of course, roofs.
Bitumen, modified bitumen, and built up roofing systems that use layers of bitumen in conjunction with felt sheeting are very popular options, and their waterproofing capabilities are reliable when installed correctly. A quality bitumen roof can last about twenty years.
When compared to the more advanced metal roofing options, which can last up to seventy years, there is a definite sacrifice in longevity for an initial lower cost – and this can affect the building’s value over time, as well as the total cost of ownership. In addition, because bitumen roofing is black, it readily absorbs the sun’s heat, which can contribute to lower overall building efficiency and higher operational costs.
Thermoset and Thermoplastic Roofing Membranes
Two other popular, non-metal roofing systems are thermoset membranes made from ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM), and thermoplastic membranes made from materials such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC). These roof types, essentially rubber and plastic, are long-lasting for the most part, but proper installation is crucial.
These options are single ply, water resistant, affordable roofing materials that have an impressive lifespan of 35-40 years.
The number one negative with this type of roofing is leaks, which is the absolute last thing you want to worry about with your roofing system. These systems must be installed perfectly or else leaks can occur around joints and pipes. Plus, they can shrink over time making them vulnerable to leaks at the seams. Add to this their acute vulnerability to damage, and you have a roofing system that comes with a lower upfront cost but a long-term maintenance bill that is prone to go up, up, up over time.
Metal is Preferred, Butler is Best
Over the many years we’ve been in this business, we’ve installed a lot of roofs and we’ve helped maintain even more. Experience has proven to us that the initial higher investment in a quality metal roofing system more than pays for itself in building efficiency, maintenance and longevity. We know that building owners have budgets to keep, and there are definitely aspects of a build where quality can be substituted for cost effectiveness – but the roof is just not one of them.
If you’re going to spend millions of dollars on a new construction or retrofit, it pays major dividends to invest in a roofing system that will protect and enhance the efficiency of your building. Commercial metal roofing systems are our preferred choice all day every day, and the Butler MR24 Standing Seam Roofing System is the gold standard.