It is imperative that property managers prioritize requests to repair roof damage and schedule regular roofing inspections and maintenance. Why? Periodic maintenance and minor repairs extend the lifespan of roofing systems, delaying the need for roof replacement. Replacing a commercial building roof already comes with a steep price tag and costs accrue quickly. Keep building maintenance and repair budgets within reason by learning the basics of commercial roofing and understanding the importance of commercial roof maintenance.
How Long Does The Average Commercial Roof Last?
Start by getting an idea of how the anticipated lifespan of a commercial building roof varies depending on the materials used. Here is a quick breakdown of the most common commercial roof types and what to realistically expect out of them:
Asphalt roofing systems. This material is used in two different categories of commercial roof: Built Up Roofing or Modified Bitumen and can last an average of 20 years or more depending on the quality of the materials used during construction. With little maintenance needed, these types of asphalt roofing use alternating layers of protection to provide weatherproofing, UV protection, fire resistance and the final layer cushions the impact from debris and hail on the roof.
Flat membrane roofing. Beyond boasting a roof life ranging from 20 to 25 years, flat membranes offer many advantages for use in commercial roofing systems. Several types of membrane materials exist, but in general, flat membrane roofs are valued for their weatherproofed and fire-retardant properties. These membranes are wind resistant, shed water easily and offer a watertight seal, preventing leaks if maintained properly.
Flat metal roofs. Metal roofs last an impressive 40 to 60 years, with warranties alone lasting decades. With particular care and routine commercial roof repair and upkeep, metal roofs can even last well beyond their counterparts. Metal rooftops are environmentally friendly, are durable and require less maintenance, lower fire hazard risks and keep heating and cooling costs low by efficiently conducting heat– something you can advertise to your tenants.
Traditional shingle rooftops. Shingle rooftops last 20 to 30 years on average. Shingles are relatively inexpensive, versatile and extremely durable. Asphalt shingles withstand high winds, stormy weather and regular foot traffic. Of course, asphalt shingles are most commonly used on sloped surfaces – something that is not unheard of, but much less common, when it comes to commercial buildings.
Once you understand the basics about different commercial roof types and their longevity, it is important to learn how to best maintain them.
Curb Costs With Proper Commercial Roof Maintenance
Follow these steps to keep commercial rooftops in top condition.
- Check rooftops for proper draining and leaks. Water damage – especially water buildup on flat roofs that goes unchecked – can be a costly problem requiring extensive repairs or even replacement at times. Leaves, twigs, dirt and other debris can accumulate and clog drains on rooftops, ultimately trapping rainwater to form pools of standing water. The added weight alone can stress roofing systems, but if leaks begin to occur, property managers risk significant damages to commercial buildings. “Regularly clean gutters and drains, in addition to valleys, pipes and skylights, to prevent damage,” recommends Commercial Property Executive, a leading commercial real estate industry publication.
- Get commercial roofs inspected regularly and repaired as necessary. For commercial rooftops with a longer anticipated lifespan, it is important to build a strong relationship with commercial roofing contractors. Roofs on commercial buildings need inspections a minimum of twice per year. It is also important to call in commercial roofing contractors as soon as possible whenever tenants or maintenance staff request repairs. Procrastinating or letting rooftops fall into disrepair will only exacerbate problems and strain budgets with rising costs.
- Clean rooftops. Whether you opt to complete this internally or hire commercial roofing contractors, it is important to keep roofs clean and debris-free as well. Professionals will most likely clean roofs with pressure washers and/or non-abrasive cleaning products. The exact method of cleaning will depend on the materials that comprise the roofing system in question. Are you clearing away dirt and grime for aesthetic purposes or removing mold and mildew? Remember, keeping rooftops clean extends their longevity.
- Consider turnover rates. This is an element unique to commercial property managers — and one that often goes overlooked. When getting inspections, repairs and working closely with commercial roofing contractors, carefully consider turnover rates. If the space has recently been vacated and rented out to new tenants, make sure to note any changes or additions to the physical space that may require an extra look at the roof to ensure durability and proper drainage.
- Factor in climate and weather. Certain climates and locales are more at risk for certain types of damage than others. For example, the hot, humid summers in Virginia may leave roofs, (especially flat roofs with higher risk of ponding water) more susceptible to algae, mold, mildew and rot as well as sun damage. On the other hand, should water get trapped on the roof during winter or the region experience heavy snowfall, the water continuously expanding as it freezes can cause leaks or the weight of the snow can cause structural damages.
Commercial property managers have their work cut out for them. Plumbing and HVAC requests, as well as tenant acquisition and turnover, can be time-consuming. Still, do not let the rooftops of your commercial properties go uninspected or under-maintained. Contact commercial roofing contractors like the experts at Select Construction to learn how we can help.