Should you replace a commercial roof, or just get by for a little longer with some repairs? This is a question just about every building owner faces at one time or another, especially during these times where companies are cutting costs. An entire roof replacement can be a large expenditure, but sometimes the lower-cost repairs just cover up a larger problem and are not worth it. Choosing whether to repair or replace a commercial roof depends on several factors, including the age of the roof, the extent of the damage and other considerations. If you’re contemplating whether to repair or replace your roof, you’re in the right place. Here’s everything you need to know to help your decision, including how to estimate the overall costs of commercial roof repair and replacement.
Roof Repair and Replacement Considerations
When you’re deciding between a repair job or a full replacement for your commercial roof, you should take several things into account. Here are two of the most important questions you should ask yourself, as well as the considerations you need to know for estimating costs:
How Old Is the Roof?
The age of the roof is one of the biggest indicators in the repair vs. replace decision. How often you should replace a roof depends on the type of roof you have, the materials used and how well the roof has been maintained. However, for many types of roofs, once they are 25-35 years old, replacement is often the better choice. If the roof is in great condition and has been maintained well, this lifespan can be stretched a little, but once it reaches that 25-year mark, repairs just may not be worth it. After a roof is about 15 years old, it should be watched more closely for signs of wear or damage.
Is There Damage?
Another very important consideration for commercial building roofing is the potential presence of damage. If there is damage to the roof, the location and extent of the damage are also important. A commercial roof can be damaged in many ways, from normal wear and tear due to aging to storm damage or other common causes, including:
- Lack of drainage system. Commercial roofs are often flat but constructed to prevent water from pooling on top. However, if something is missing or malfunctioning from the drainage system, water can collect and lead to leaks and soft spots.
- Damage to the flashing. The flashing around a roof protects the edges and junctures of rooflines. Drastic temperature changes, severe weather and old age can all damage the flashing, which can allow water into the roof, as well as ceilings and walls below.
- Damaged roofing membrane. The outer membrane of the roofing system provides the barrier between the elements and the other roofing materials. Cracks, blisters and other weak spots in the membrane can cause further damage to the roof.
- Pipes, drains and air filter openings. All sorts of openings along the roof serve to drain water or provide for air filtration for the building. The openings are designed not to allow water in, but clogs or breaks in the pipes and seals can allow for water to seep in unexpectedly.
- Cracks in the roof. Cracks can form in several different places in the roofing system and can easily spread, creating larger cracks that could require more extensive repair work.
- Weather. Extreme storms with wind, heavy rains and hail can easily damage roofing systems. But even the normal seasonal weather over time can wear down the roofing elements. Temperature changes, heat from direct sun, wind, hail, rain and heavy snow all take their toll on a commercial roof.
But if you’re not a roofing expert and are not up on your roof inspecting for damage, how do you know you have roof damage? There are a few signs to watch for, most of which you can check out without climbing up on the roof. Keep an eye out for these common giveaways of a damaged roof that may need repairs:
- Missing or damaged shingles: Not all commercial roofs have shingles, but if you have this type of roof, you can watch for missing pieces or cracked, chipped or otherwise damaged shingles. You can also watch for missing or damaged pieces of flashing, trim or other roofing components on any type of roof.
- Stained ceilings and walls: If you’ve noticed water stains inside the building, on the ceiling or along walls, they could indicate a leaky roof. Look for yellowed or light brown streaks or stains.
- Mold or damp odors: If you see any indication of mold on ceilings or walls or notice a funky, musty smell, a roof leak could be to blame. A slow leak could mean that ceilings and walls stay damp, encouraging mold growth to spread across the walls.
- Puddling of water: If you have visible leaks resulting in actively dripping water from the ceiling and puddles of water on the floor, you likely have a more serious leak that needs to be addressed right away.
- Increases to energy bills: Your roof keeps water out, but it also helps maintain the interior climate of your building, keeping your heat and air conditioning in. If you’ve noticed soaring energy costs without any other explanation, a damaged roof may be to blame.
If you’ve noticed signs of damage, commercial flat roof repair may make sense if less than 25% of the roof is damaged and the rest of the roof is in good condition. However, if the extent of the damage goes beyond 25%, commercial roof replacement is likely necessary as repairs won’t be as cost-effective. You should also consider the location of the roof damage. If the damage is over a critical area of the business or has already been repaired before, it may be worth it to do a full replacement. If you’re wondering when to replace your roof, these warning signs indicate that a replacement is needed soon.
Estimate the Cost to Repair
Cost is another important consideration when deciding whether to repair or replace your commercial roof. You’ll want to know what the estimated cost to repair the roof would be. You should also factor in whether the roof has been previously repaired and just how extensive the damage is, as well as what type of materials are needed. A small area of repair on a relatively new roof may be the best option. However, if there is extensive damage, the repair costs are going to be much more. If the repair cost is quite high, it may make sense to spring for a full roof replacement instead.
Estimate the Cost to Replace
It’s worth getting a quote that calculates the cost of commercial roof replacement to compare to the cost of a repair job. A roof that’s older or has more widespread damage may need a full replacement anyway. The cost of a new commercial roof can vary widely depending on the size of the building and the type of roof. The complexity of the project and how much labor is needed also affect the replacement cost.
Commercial Roof Replacement
If a commercial roof replacement is the best option for you, you have a few factors to consider. You’ll want to choose the best type of roof for your building and a roofing material that will last for years to come.
Choose a Type of Roof
For most buildings, a wide variety of commercial roof types can be installed. Depending on the building, you may want a flat roof or a sloped roof. The right type of roof for your commercial building depends on your budget and how the roof will be used. Some commercial roofs are designed for usable space with foot traffic or even eco-friendly vegetative roofs. Or if a simple, cost-effective covering is all you need, there are commercial roof options for that as well.
Generally, roofs are categorized as either flat or sloped, and for commercial buildings, the size and style of the facility determine which type of roof makes the most sense. For many commercial buildings, the larger size makes sloped roofs impractical, as they would require gigantic roof peaks or a complicated series of many roof peaks. This makes for a more complex roofline and a more expensive roof overall. So, for smaller businesses, a sloped roof may work if that matches the building design, but larger commercial buildings usually use the flat roof style. Even with a flat roof, the roofline is slightly angled to allow for moisture runoff and to stand up to the elements better.
Choose a Roofing Material
If you’re in the market for a new commercial roof, you can choose from a few different types of roofs. Let’s take a look at the most common commercial roof types available:
- Single-ply: A single-ply roof is a simple, affordable choice that consists of just one layer of an elastomeric membrane. The single-ply membrane can be constructed of rubber polymers, PVC, TPO, fiberglass or polyester. This type of roof is considered low-slope and is attached with screws, adhesives or ballast. These roofs are very affordable and convenient, as the construction can be completed quickly. With many different materials to choose from, this style is a versatile choice that can be customized to your specific building’s needs. They generally are good at reflecting the sun and lowering energy costs.
- Metal: A very popular choice for commercial roofs, metal roofing actually encompasses a range of different materials, including stainless steel, tin, copper, aluminum, metal tiles and corrugated galvanized steel. These metal roofs have excellent fire resistance and are very attractive, as well as being strong and durable.
- Modified bitumen: This common type of roof is asphalt-based and ideal for flat or low-slope roofs. Modified bitumen roofs can be applied in various ways, including the torch method, the hot mop method or a cold adhesive. This roof style offers multi-layer protection for an incredibly durable and strong roof that’s highly resistant to leaks.
- Cool roof: This roofing system is designed to reflect sunlight to keep the building cooler and save on energy costs. Cool roofs are often white or another light color, but new technology allows for darker materials that still have the reflective qualities to help energy usage for the building.
- Green roof: For the ultimate in sustainability, a vegetative roof or garden roof is an option for most commercial buildings. The green roof option can include solar power panels, as well as several vegetation options. The greenery on the roof can help with energy costs for the building and provide a more eco-friendly option that benefits the surrounding environment.
Size of Roof
The size of your commercial building will be a major factor in choosing the right roofing style. Many commercial buildings are of a larger size, making sloped or peaked roofs impractical. But for smaller businesses, the style of a sloped roof may be perfect. Flat roofs are far more common for larger commercial buildings, and commercial flat roof installation is easier than ever, with many available options. The size of your building’s roof will affect the available choices and the overall cost of the project.
Possible Additional Costs
Finally, when you’re considering a flat roof replacement, there are a few extra things to consider. It’s important to keep in mind the code requirements for your area and type of building. With any commercial roof installation, you need to comply with local codes. These codes are continually updated and may be different from when the original roof was installed, so some updates may be necessary.
In addition to local code compliance, consider the potential for water damage repair when fixing a flat roof. If the roof has been damaged, and water damage is present, there may be additional costs to repair all of the damaged areas during installation. If the damage is extensive and has spread to ceilings, walls and even floors, factor in these extra repair costs as well.
Commercial Roof Replacement With Kautz Roofing
Choosing to repair or replace your roof is a big decision, but the experts at Kautz Roofing are here to help you. With over 45 years of experience and expertise, the technicians at Kautz Roofing can fix your commercial roof with a full roof replacement in a style that fits your building, as well as your budget. Kautz team is a “single source solution” contractor that is experienced in every type of roof. The benefits of roof replacement so often outweigh a repair job that just fixes a small area of the roof and doesn’t last as long. Commercial building roof replacement costs may be more affordable than you think. The experts at Kautz Roofing are happy to assess your roof and help you determine what is best for your roofing project. Contact us today for a free estimate for your roofing needs or with any other questions you may have.