Time to Replace your Commercial Roof – How to Recognise the Signs
The need to replace a commercial flat roof doesn’t happen overnight – it sort of creeps up on you! This typically starts with something as innocuous as a leak that’s been left unfixed, which, as time goes on and seasons change, may cause the roofing materials to contract and sustain damage, particularly during the winter months. We’ve just experienced a fairly severe winter here in the UK with plenty of snowfall in most parts of the country. Now would be a good time to check on any commercial flat roof on your business premises to see just how much damage it has sustained in recent months.
In an emergency, a professional commercial roofing contractor should be able to repair your roof at any time of the year, preventing problems from getting worse and causing more damage. If the roof needs replacing, the contractor will let you know this and should be able to give you a quote and a timescale for the work, which will make it easier for you to carry on with your business activities.
Age may not always be the best predictor of when a commercial roof needs to be replaced. A commercial flat roof should last at least a decade, if not several decades – this depends on several factors. The key to taking care of a commercial roof lies with regular maintenance and addressing any damage or problems as soon as they occur. If a full replacement is necessary, make sure that you communicate openly with your chosen roofing contractor to co-ordinate according to the time of year, the climate, the cost and their assessment of any ongoing roof issues.
If a full roof replacement is necessary, you may want to consider switching to a higher quality material. There have been so many developments in flat roofing materials in recent years which mean that there is more choice available when it comes to materials and costs:
- Felt Roofing – bitumen felt roofs are applied in three layers, a vapour control layer, a reinforced felt layer and cap sheet. These are welded together using a torch and the work should be carried out by an expert contractor who has insurance to work with a hot flame. This is the cheapest option and should hold a 10 or 20 year guarantee.
- EPDM Rubber Roofing – a rubber roof can often be installed in one complete layer without any joins (depending on roof size). EDPM is a synthetic rubber which is very lightweight, elastic and tough and most are guaranteed for 30 years and upwards. They are very durable, waterproof and can withstand foot traffic. However, they can easily be damaged or vandalised.
- TPO Rubber Roofing – this is a two component elastomer system with great environmental credentials and is more easily heat-weldable than EODM. It generally has a lifespan of at least 20 years.
- Fibreglass Roofing – fibreglass GRP (glass reinforced plastic) is usually installed in one or two layers with a jointless finish. Most fibreglass roofs are guaranteed for 25 years but will last longer if well maintained. Fibreglass is seen as an expensive option and, despite not being as flexible as rubber, it’s very resistant to damage and repairs are easy to carry out. Fibreglass is an extremely weatherproof option with little risk of leaking or developing frost damage so it can be a sound option in terms of durability and aesthetics.
Whatever type of materials you choose for a replacement commercial roof, if regular access is necessary for maintenance of plant and machinery, protecting the roof by installing a roof walkway system is vital to ensure longevity.