If you are looking for a guide on commercial flat roof systems, you have come to the right place. We’ll discuss the most popular types of commercial flat roofing systems used on commercial and industrial buildings. We’ll also discuss the expected maintenance, lifespan, and cost ranges – and answer a few common questions.

Types of Commercial Flat Roofing Systems

Which flat roof system is right for you? Here are some of the standard options.


epdm flat roof

Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM) roofing is made from industrial-grade synthetic rubber and is a durable roofing material for low-slope roofs. 

This flat roof surface is known for being durable and rugged. It expands and contracts with temperature changes and resists ultraviolet light. It’s been used for commercial flat roofs for more than 50 years. 

Maintenance: EPDM roofing membranes are tough, but the surface may split when in contact with sharp material. Regular checks and periodic cleaning are required to maintain an EPDM surface. Also, making sure the roof surface has proper drainage is essential. 

Lifespan: A well-maintained, properly installed EPDM system can last more than 30 years. 

Cost: EPDM roofing costs between $3.25 and $14.75 per square foot.

It’s worth noting that the brand of roofing material plays a vital role in how long the roof will last


Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO) is the most common single-ply membrane system in the US. It is made of polypropylene and ethylene-propylene rubber. The materials come in giant rolls, and the seams are hot-air welded. This single-ply system is typically white but can also be manufactured in gray, tan, or a custom color. 

Maintenance: A TPO roof system should be periodically cleaned and inspected to ensure a long life span. Also, your TPO roof must have a working drainage system like every other roof system.

Lifespan: A well-maintained, expertly installed TPO system may last 20 to 30 years. 

Cost: TPO roofing systems cost between $3.50 and $14 per square foot to install. 

Select a highly-rated commercial roofing company for your roof replacement project. 


pvc flat roof

The PVC roof system is similar to TPO, as both have polyester reinforcements, hot-air welded seams, and color options. The top layer of PVC contains additives that make the surface UV resistant (and resistant to chemicals). Besides being durable, PVC roofing is flexible, making it easier to install than other roofing systems. 

PVC systems are fire-resistant and come in various thicknesses, widths, reinforcements, and colors. 

Maintenance: PVC must be periodically cleaned and inspected like the other single-ply membranes. In addition, the drainage system must work properly to extend its life. 

Lifespan: Your PVC roof may last up to 30 years if properly maintained. 

Cost: PVC roofing systems cost between $4 and $12 per square foot. 

It’s worth noting that building owners should cut back trees overhanging their buildings to keep falling branches from puncturing their single-ply roofing systems.

BUR Flat Roof & Modified Bitumen

The built-up roofing system (BUR) has been around for a long time. It consists of three or four layers of roofing felts that are applied with hot asphalt adhesives. 

Modified bitumen (MB) is a more modern version of the BUR roofing system. It combines asphalt and a chemical polymer into the material to increase the system’s flexibility and temperature resistance. Both methods are highly durable because of the thickness of the membrane and the coarse surface. 

In addition, because of this granulated surface, a BUR or modified bitumen membrane is resistant to heavy foot traffic. 

Maintenance: A BUR system requires less maintenance than other roofing materials since the system has several layers. However, petroleum-based products become dry and brittle over time, and a professional should inspect the surface at least twice per year.

Lifespan: Modified bitumen roofing systems last between 20 and 30 years.

Cost: A modified bitumen system costs between $9.50 and $14.50 per square foot. 

Regular maintenance can reduce injuries and protect the company from expensive shutdowns and equipment damage. If you have a BUR roof system, ensure it is properly maintained.

Metal Roof

metal flat roof

Metal roofs are one of the oldest types of roofs for commercial buildings, and since metal roofs last 30 years or more, it’s understandable why this roof system has seen such longevity. However, a metal roof system has a higher price tag than others.

Maintenance: Periodic inspections and proper drainage are required to maintain a metal roof system. Also, it’s important to keep falling debris from metal panel roofs. 

Lifespan: Metal roofs with adequate slopes can last 30 years or more if proper installation guidelines are followed. 

Cost: Metal roofing costs between $8 and $18 per square foot.

Metal roofs can come in striking colors, which is why they are popular with certain types of commercial buildings, including malls, apartments, and hospital roofs

FAQs About Commercial Flat Roof Types

While we’ve outlined the most common commercial flat roof types, we know you have additional questions about roofing systems. 

What is a commercial flat roof called?

There are several different types of flat roof systems, including the following:

  • EPDM
  • TPO
  • PVC
  • Built-Up Roof System
  • Modified Bitumen
  • Metal Roofing

You may be able to replace your current roof membrane with a liquid-applied roofing membrane to fix leaks and prolong the life of your roofing system.

What type of roofing is best for a flat roof?

There are many factors to consider when selecting a commercial roofing membrane, including the following:

  • Climate/temperature
  • Budget
  • Building usage
  • Rooftop traffic

Your commercial roofing experts will help you select the right commercial roofing system (or replacement system) for your building. 

What is the longest-lasting commercial flat roof?

Metal roofs are the longest-lasting commercial roof systems. 

Learn More About the Best Systems for Flat Roofs 

If you are a building owner ready to complete a commercial roofing project, contact Nations Roof for expert guidance. Nations Roof has 28 locations in 24 states. Start the process by scheduling a 21-point roof inspection. Our flat roof inspection checklist is thorough, and we will discuss each point with you. We can’t wait to serve you!

Flat Roofing Systems: Key Takeaways

  • EPDM roofs are made from synthetic rubber. It’s a highly durable system, but it must be appropriately maintained.

  • TPO roof membranes come in giant rolls. TPO membranes are typically white but can be ordered in various colors. 

  • PVC has flexibility, making it easier to install than other systems. 

  • BUR systems have been around for a long time and are a great choice if you have a lot of foot traffic on your roof.

  • Metal roofs are long-lasting, but a metal roof system may cost more than other flat roof systems.

Contact us today