12 Common Commercial Roof Problems


When it comes down to it, all roofs have the same purpose: to stop anything from falling on top of the items and people inside.

Commercial roofs, although much bigger, tend to have a much smaller slope than those of residential homes, which means that they also require more maintenance.

Without the necessary maintenance, a commercial building’s roof will begin to deteriorate and, eventually, fail.

Here are some of the most common commercial roof problems to expect—and how to manage them.

What Are Some Common Commercial Roof Issues?

Commercial roofing issues can range in severity from simple cosmetic issues to more severe ones that can affect the roof's integrity and the building's safety:

1. Stained Shingles

Common Roof Issues: Stained Shingles

Stained shingles are a common issue in humid areas that can be caused by various things: algae, mold, natural debris, and more.

Some stains, like those left by black algae, are purely cosmetic, but this isn't true for all stains. Many, particularly stains caused by lichens, hold moisture, which can cause the roof to decay over time if the stains are left untreated. These are more difficult to remove, and being too rough when you try to remove them can damage your shingles more. Other stains can result from rust and should be checked to ensure they aren't creating holes, which could lead to roof leaks.

2. Rain Damage

Rain Damage

Rain damage is one of the most common commercial roof problems and the most damaging. Water can seep under the shingles and into the roof deck to cause damage to the overall structural integrity of the roof.

It will also lead to holes, where water can leak through and into your home, leading to mold, mildew, and decay. If the building's gutters and drainage cannot handle heavy rainfall, they can become backed up, which adds to the potential damage.

3. Disconnected Shingles

Shingles that have become dislodged or slightly raised are a cause for concern. Incorrect installation methods, too much roof overhang, age, and strong winds all have the potential to dislodge shingles, which leaves the roof vulnerable to the elements.

Fixing disconnected shingles as soon as it's noticed is critical, otherwise, there is a risk of water seeping into the roof decking, which can create mold and decay. Water can also leak into the building, which can lead to mold and mildew.

4. Dismantled Shakes

Dismantled Shakes

Like dislodged shakes, dismantled shakes are a cause for concern. If the dismantled shakes aren't replaced quickly, it means the roof decking risks exposure to the elements, particularly rain, and moisture, which can lead to mold, mildew, moss, and even rot and decay.

5. Mossy, Moldy Roof Tiles

Mossy, Moldy Roof Tiles

Another of the common commercial roof issues you don’t want to ignore is a mossy, moldy commercial roof. Moss forms when moisture mixes with natural debris sitting on a roof, and while it takes a while for the moss to grow, moisture is already causing damage and shortening the roof's lifespan. It can also begin to lift shingles over time, which furthers the risk of damage.

That same moisture can also lead mold to grow, that can slowly spread to the surrounding shingles if left untreated. Just like with any roof-related issue, moss and mold destroy the shingles and increase the likelihood of leaks.

6. Limited Load-Bearing Capacity

Limited Load-Bearing Capacity

Another one of the most common roofing issues is roof-load bearing.

Every roof has a load-bearing capacity, which is the maximum weight the roof can support. The weight is divided between the “dead load,” which includes the roofing materials and permanent fixtures like HVAC ducts and other long-term equipment, the “live load,” which can include people on your roof and temporary equipment, and the “transient load” which includes snow, ice, and standing water.

Exceeding a roof’s maximum load capacity can cause roof damage and even structural collapses that can result in many serious repercussions, including injuries and inability to continue operations with the building.

7. Burned Roof Shingles

Burned Roof Shingles

There is an increased risk of commercial roof fires in areas like California, Nevada, and other Western States, which are prone to wildfires. These fires are most often caused by embers, which are the small, superheated pieces of material that fill the air and can be carried for miles. When embers land on a flammable material, like wood shakes or shingles, they can easily ignite and start another fire that can quickly spread over the entire surface.

Even if the fire is put out in time, the shingles have already burned and the heating and cooling can cause materials like asphalt shingles to form hairline fractures, which can make them less effective at keeping water from getting underneath. They can also warp and curl, which further minimizes their protectiveness. Burned shingles can also be toxic, by releasing various harmful chemicals to people and the environment.

8. Old, Disheveled Roof Tiles

Old, Disheveled Roof Tiles

As a roof ages, many problems can become possible, materials can crack, come off, or slowly deteriorate until you have virtually no shingles left. Moss, mold, and mildew also become more of an issue, which can hasten the deterioration. Some of the scariest problems that come with old roofing are a lowered load capacity and sagging, which can put the roof at higher risk of collapsing or causing other large-scale damage

9. Hail Damages

Hail Damages

Even small pieces of hail that most would dismiss can be a cause for concern.

They can easily damage a commercial roof’s membrane, which can lead to degradation and a shortened roof lifespan. Larger pieces of hail can also crack, puncture, or dent the roof, with some materials more susceptible than others, like metal.

10. Unsecured Metal Panels And Shingles

Unsecured Metal Panels And Shingles

If roofing materials are left unsecured, one of the worst roof issues can occur.

The flashing, that thin piece of metal under shingles, could be lifted.

If it isn’t secured, water will be able to seep under, where it can damage the frame of the building and cause leaks. Not to mention, the loose flashing could move around and damage the surrounding shingles—or even other parts of the property.

11. Uninsured Roofing

Uninsured Roofing

Arguably the most common commercial roof issue is not having commercial insurance, especially commercial property is damaged.

It is essential to choose insurance that includes coverage for your roof, which is different from the warranty that comes with your roofing material. Roof insurance is extremely useful when you’re faced with storm damage.The best insurance will pay for a full replacement, though others may only cover repairs.

12. Low-Quality Roof Integrity

Low-Quality Roof Integrity

Everyone wants to save money, but sometimes, the best choice is to spend it to ensure you get exactly what you want. Opting for cheaper options with your commercial roof means the contractor is likely cutting corners, like using few nails, less-experienced staff, and lower-quality materials.

This also means your roof will not last as long as it should and that you’ll likely have to do more repairs, which makes the roof cost more in the long run.

How These Issues Affect Building Operations And Its Occupants

These common commercial roof issues can affect more than just the appearance and function of the roof, they can also affect the occupants and the building’s ability to operate.

All of these issues can create the potential for leaks. With leaks comes the chance of mold growth, which not only damages the walls of the building, but can cause serious health issues for the occupants. People with allergies or asthma and weakened immune systems are some of the most vulnerable, but anyone can suffer from the presence of mold. Symptoms can flare up for allergy and asthma sufferers, and workers can develop persistent respiratory illnesses and many other symptoms.

A weakened roof is another major concern caused by leaks and poorly maintained roofs, as the water can cause the framing to rot. This can make the roof more susceptible to collapsing, just as surpassing the load capacity can. The potential of a roof collapse puts the building and its occupants at serious risk of injury. It would also result in significant property damage.

Beyond the physical effects, there is a strong likelihood that the building has to close while work is done to remedy the situation. This can mean lost income for employees and revenue for the business, in addition to roof repair costs or mold remediation.

Potential Financial And Legal Ramifications

Taking care of a commercial roof is the responsibility of the building owner. If issues arise that put occupants at risk, it makes them look bad and can bring serious consequences.

If people fall ill or get injured, they can file a premises liability lawsuit to seek compensation. If it is found that a building owner breached their duty of care–their legal obligation to maintain safe premises–they will be declared negligent and have to pay the claimants. This can end up costing them a significant amount of money.

This will also mean that the owner’s property insurance will not cover the repair work, which adds to the financial burden of the property owner.

Protecting Your Assets With Brava Roof Tiles

While many common commercial roof issues can be avoided with proper installation and maintenance, high-quality, durable materials also make a significant difference. Composite roofing, like that offered by Brava Roofing Tile, provides superior protection compared to the traditional materials on the market.

Brava’s composite roofing tiles are made of recycled materials that can be recycled again at the end of their lifespan, which makes them highly sustainable. They mimic the appearance of popular materials, including cedar shakes, Spanish barrels, and slate, for a realistic alternative to the real material without any drawbacks.

Brava Roofing Tiles are:

  • Fire resistant from Class C to Class A, the highest fire rating products can have

  • Wind resistant from 110+ mph

  • Impact resistant is the highest possible rating, with a Class 4 rating.

  • Moisture resistant, so tiles will not grow mold or moss and will not rot

  • Freeze and thaw-resistant, will not expand and contract like traditional materials

  • Virtually maintenance-free, only requires a season of cleaning to remove dirt

  • Many color options are available in each style, with cool roof options also available

  • Color-Fast colors penetrate the entire tile, will never fade or become discolored

The composite makeup of Brava roofing tiles makes them significantly lighter than traditional materials. Not only does this lessen the roof’s overall load capacity, it also makes them easier to handle and install. They do not require special tools, so installation can go significantly quicker and cost less. The tiles can even be nailed down in cold weather.

Contact Brava today to learn more about our roofing options and how they can help protect your property from even the most common roof issues.