Commercial Roof Replacement: Ultimate Guide

Commercial Roof Replacement Ultimate Guide 6

Owning and managing a commercial building is no easy task. Whether the building is to conduct business or lease tenants, you have many responsibilities to keep guests safe, but one of the most important is considering the building's overall structure–particularly the roof.

In fact, the roof is just as important as the foundation of your home. It protects the interior from the elements and helps hold the walls together, providing essential structural support. It also helps insulate the interior of the building, which makes it easier to heat and cool and save you money on utilities as well.

However, with the constant exposure to the elements, the building's roof, like any other, will take a beating, and at some point, you may want to consider a commercial roof replacement.

When to Consider a Commercial Roof Replacement

There are a few ways to determine if your commercial building needs a roof replacement. Here are some of the signs that indicate you might need to look into replacing the roof on your commercial building:

1. Age of Roof: The typical commercial roof lasts between 20 and 30 years, depending on the type of construction and materials. Maintenance also factors into the age; a well-maintained roof will last longer than a poorly maintained one.

2. Pooling Water and Low Spots: If the roof has developed low areas, it can indicate that the insulation has become compressed or be a sign of another issue. Not addressing these issues quickly will only cause the issue to worsen. The same goes for pooling water; if you check the drains and find they are clear, you need a contract to come out immediately to check out the roof's structure.

3. Blistering/Bubbling: Bubbling, or blistering, is common with many membrane roof options like built-up roofing, TPO, PVC, and EPDM. These bubbles form when a leak between the membrane layers is usually caused by moisture or wind or, occasionally, poor installation or ventilation issues. If you catch them while they are small, you may be able to prevent the need for a replacement. Otherwise, you won't have much choice.

4. Damaged Flashing or Pitch Pans: The flashing on the roof helps divert water from around chimneys, dormers, and skylights. These and Pitch Pans are vital for protecting your building from water infiltration. They may not remove water if they become damaged, allowing it to seep inside.

5. Holes and Tears in the Membrane: While this may seem obvious, holes in your roof membrane often go unseen. These holes typically happen during the installation or maintenance of rooftop appliances, like HVAC systems, generators, and specialized medical equipment.

Types of Commercial Roofs

There are three main types of commercial roofs available. Each has advantages, which are important to consider when looking into commercial building roof replacement.

Flat Roofs

The first and most common type of roof is a flat roof, which provides a level surface for HVAC units and other equipment. While great for installing appliances and equipment, they are not conducive to drainage and require a protective membrane. These roofing membranes include PVC, TPO, or EDPM and help with water drainage while also protecting the roof from punctures. If, however, these roofs are not taken care of, they quickly start to elicit signs of needing commercial flat roof replacement.


Low-slope roofs are another standard option for commercial buildings. These roofs have a slope of 2:12 or less; in other words, for every 12 horizontal feet, the roof rises only 2 feet.

This is a cost-effective option for commercial roofing replacement and typically uses the same coverings as flat roofs. It is also better for drainage, as the slope will allow water to roll off, minimizing the risk of water damage and offering more longevity.

Pitched roofs

Pitched roofs are more common for residential homes, but commercial properties could also have this roof style.

These roofs have more than 10 degrees sloping surfaces and features like eaves, flashings, gables, ridges, hips, and more. Pitched roofs come in many styles: gambrel roofs, gable roofs, hip roofs, and more.

Common Commercial Roof Replacement Materials

Common Commercial Roof Replacement Materials

Many roofing materials can be used for the commercial roof replacement process. Some of the materials include:

1. Clay Barrel Tiles

Clay tiles are a popular roof replacement material because of their durability and classic appearance, but the structure of the commercial building may need to be reinforced to support the weight of the roof, which is not something individuals usually want to consider when replacing their commercial roof.

2. Concrete Tiles

Concrete tiles are sometimes an option for commercial roof replacement, though they are thicker than most materials and, thus, also heavier. This option may also require the roof to be reinforced.

3. Asphalt Shingles

Although asphalt shingles are one of the most popular commercial roof replacement options, they are not the most durable. They are an affordable option, but do not last as long as other materials.

4. Metal Shingles

Metals shingles are durable and resistant to damage, which is a great quality to have for a roof replacement material, though they are often more expensive and less design possibiliies.

5. Brava Roof Tiles

Brava Roof Tiles are the best commercial roof replacement material, specifically because of they’re durability, design flexibility, and sustainability. (We’ll talk more about Brava Roof Tiles soon.)

The Installation Process of a Commercial Roof Replacement

The Installation Process of a Commercial Roof Replacement

The commercial roof replacement process isn't necessarily complicated, but it isn't something you can rush, either. These are the general steps of the process.

1. The Initial Assessment and Inspection

As mentioned before, it is important to check your roof for damage regularly, as it will provide an opportunity to catch issues before they become severe. If you see something you're unsure about or that looks bad, call in an expert. They will do a thorough check and give you all the necessary details regarding the condition of your roof and the best course of action.

2. Selecting Your Contractor

Choosing the right commercial roof contractor is vital. Here, you want to take your time and research different companies, reach out to fellow business owners for recommendations, and read reviews online.

Once you have some names in mind, you want to look deeper. The contractor should be bonded, licensed, and insured. You also want to look at their portfolio for other work, particularly commercial roof replacements. Do this for your top three picks, and get quotes for the work.

3. The Planning Process

Once you've chosen your contractor, you want to sit down with them and begin planning. At this stage, you want to pick your roofing material and the design, which will help determine what kind and how much prep work is necessary.

You'll also want to determine what type of commercial roofing replacement is necessary. A tear-off is when the old roof is removed entirely, and a new one is placed. Re-roofing typically involves overlaying the new roofing system over the existing one.

4. Old Roof removal

If you opt for a tear-off commercial flat roof replacement, the old material has to be removed and discarded. This process goes layer-by-layer until workers reach the roof decking. Once revealed, they will inspect the decking and address it as needed.

They will then prepare the roof for installation. This can include replacing any damaged decking, installing edges and borders, adding new insulation, and installing a new membrane.

5. Install the New Commercial Roof

Once all the prep work is done, you can install the new roofing system. How long it takes can depend on the project size, material availability, and the type of replacement you opted for. Generally, it can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks; your contractor can give you a more accurate timeline.

Cons of Commercial Roof Replacements

When considering a commercial roof replacement, it is important that you consider every angle, including the drawbacks.

One notable drawback to a commercial flat roof replacement is the cost. It costs significantly more to do a full replacement, which requires ripping off the old material first and prepping the roof surface. This increases labor costs.

The process to replace a commercial roof is also incredibly disruptive. Despite being outside, on the top of the building, the noise, smell, and fumes can all bother occupants and disrupt businesses. Their tear-off process may also require tenants to stay away until the process is finished, which leads to lost revenue.

A full roof replacement also has a more significant environmental impact, generating more waste. While many materials are environmentally friendly, not all are recyclable, meaning they add to landfills.

The Benefit of Brava for Commercial Roof Replacements

While commercial roofs are typically metal or membrane-based, they aren't the only options. A commercial roof needs to be high-quality, withstanding the elements all roofs face, from the sun's heat to strong winds and rain. It also needs to be resistant to moisture, protecting the roof decking and the building's interior from potential leaks and water damage.

Brava Roof Tile specializes in composite roofing products for both residential and commercial properties. Their tiles are all Class A or Class C fire-rated, Class 4 impact-rated, and, overall, the best option to replace a commercial roof. They are lightweight and made from recycled material, making them both environmentally friendly and recyclable, minimizing waste in landfills.

There are three styles of Brava tiles:

Old World Slate

Old World Slate

Brava's Old World Slate has the appearance of natural quarried slate and is the thickest composite slate product on the market, with a 1" profile. It comes in 12" standard slate widths and 6", 9", and 12" multi-width slate sizes, allowing you to create a more dimensional appearance. They come in 15 colors; you can get them in any custom color or color combination.

Cedar Shakes

Cedar Shakes

Brava cedar shakes come in three widths, which help create the more authentic hand-split appearance found on traditional cedar shakes. They also have varying thicknesses from 5/8" to 7/8", adding depth and further adding to the natural appearance. The synthetic cedar shakes have 14 color options.

Spanish Barrel Tile

Spanish Barrel Tile

There is no better option for a Mediterranean look than the Spanish barrel tile. These tiles use an unrivaled revolutionary coloring system in the industry, creating the most authentic clay-like coloring you'll find. While the tiles are available in traditional Terra Cotta, there are 17 colors total, including multi-colored and aged tile colorings.

The Only White Composite Tile

Brava is the only company offering white composite roofing products on the market. No matter what style you choose, the white will stand out beautifully, creating an impressive image and offering more reflectivity than options like white asphalt shingles. You won't need to worry about them weathering; a quick wash will make them as good as new.

Commercial Replacements Performed by Brava

Many commercial roofing contractors are familiar with Brava and other composite tile brands, making it easy to find a reputable contractor for the job. Many commercial businesses have already turned to Brava for more reliable roofing solutions.

Here are a few examples, with many more ideas and inspiration on the website. (You can also view our gallery)

1. Lake Barrington Brewery

Lake Barrington Brewery

A Lake Barrington, Illinois, brewery called the Wild Onion turned to Brava when they chose to replace their brewery's roof. The owners opted for the cedar shake in the "natural cedar" premium color.

2. Iowa Courthouse

Iowa Courthouse

A courthouse in Iowa chose Brava's slate roofing type in the "Washington" color. The tower has accents of other colors, which create a pattern on the face of the roof.

3. Train Station

Train Station

This train station chose Spanish Barrel tiles in the "Cool Terra Cotta" color, creating a vibrant roofing option that can last for generations to come.

4. Sarasota, FL Complex

Sarasota, FL Complex

This Sarasota, FL complex also opted for Spanish Barrel tiles, choosing "antique clay" as their color option. The reddish-brown of the antique clay color accents against the rush of green in the surrounding area.

Only the Best Roofing for Your Commercial Property

Taking care of your commercial roof is critical to the safety of the building and all its occupants. The moment you notice or suspect issues with your roof, contact an expert for an evaluation. The sooner you catch it, the better!

But, if it is time for a commercial roof replacement, then look no further than Brava. Our products will protect your roof, while giving it a new aesthetic that you can’t achieve with traditional commercial roofing materials.

Contact Brava today for more information about using our composite tiles for a commercial building roof replacement and request samples.