Which Type of Roof Do You Need?

While the age-old adage is to be grateful you have a roof over your head, you want to make sure it’s the right one too! A poorly designed roof can leak when it rains, let in too much heat in the summer and too much cold in the winter, and be more susceptible to pest invasions. 

But not all well-designed roofs are created equal. Depending on if you’re building a commercial or residential building, you’ll want different types of roofs. Make sure you consider roof design, choice of materials, and installation requirements when approaching a commercial or residential roofing project. 

Roof Design

Commercial and residential roofs need to be designed differently. Commercial roofs are designed with either a low slope or are entirely flat. These types of roofs are often seen on warehouses, shops, restaurants, and factories. 

Commercial roofs also tend to be much larger than a typical residential roof. They are also much stronger because they often must bear heavy items, such as large HVAC blowers or industrial pipes. Their surface is often broken up with multiple openings for equipment, such as blower outlets, smokestacks, and skylights. 

Residential roofs tend to be loftier than commercial roofs. They are also smaller than commercial roofs in most cases. The surface usually has nothing sitting directly on it so it doesn’t have to be as strong. Roof openings are minimal, usually including chimneys, vent stacks, and skylights.

Man working on roof

Roofing Materials

The materials used for commercial and residential roofs vary based on the roof design, cost, and climate conditions. Usually, residential roof installation involves nailing plywood to wooden rafters, thus creating a roof deck. Then, the roofer applies a protective underlayment before installing the chosen roofing material, such as shingles, shakes, or tiles. 

For residential properties, the most popular roofing material is asphalt shingles. They install easily and are one of the most cost-effective options on the market. Other residential roofing options include wood shakes, metal panels, slate, tile, and ceramic.

Commercial roofs, because they are flat or low-pitched, are poor candidates for typical residential roofing materials. Roofers often use materials such as modified bitumen, tar, gravel, single-ply coverings (PVC, TPO, EPDM), sprayed polyurethane foam, or other commercial roofing systems.

A commercial roof requires several layers, including insulation, decking, protective coating, and reflective coating. The exact mix depends upon the type of roofing being applied. Because of this, it’s important to hire a commercial roofer who can determine what materials should be used on a particular roof. 

Roof Installation and Repair

Installation and repair requirements differ greatly between commercial and residential properties. For instance, installing a commercial roof can take months. This is due to the large size of commercial roofs and the several layers involved. A residential roof is much simpler to construct, usually requiring just a few days. 

Commercial and residential roofers also have different approaches to installation and repair. Commercial roofers must understand the many material options and the proper way to repair and patch all of them. Residential roofers need less specialization. They usually work with asphalt shingle roofs, which require basic skills compared to a typical commercial roof.

The last thing you need is a poorly designed or poorly repaired roof. From installation to repairs, you want to make sure you work with a knowledgeable contractor who specializes in either commercial or residential construction

Carlton Building Services in Hampton Roads Virginia

Carlton Building Services specializes in repairs, maintenance, renovations, remodelings and build-outs for a variety of clients in Hampton Roads, Virginia. We have years of experience handling projects in the retail, office, and healthcare space and would love to work with you on your next project!

To learn more about our services, check out past project highlights or contact Carlton Building Services to see how we can help with your next project. 

JP Carlton

J.P. Carlton

J.P. Carlton is the founder of Carlton Building Services, a Hampton Roads-based construction company.