NATIONS ROOF® BLOG​

Demystifying Commercial Roofing Costs: What to Expect in Your 2024 Project

White single-ply roofing membrane on a large commercial building

Looking out across the vast expanse of a commercial roof and gauging a price can seem impossible to the average person. There are a lot of nuances to the materials and techniques, and it takes a pro to understand what’s best for the building. After all, some roofing systems are more suitable for a given situation, whether it’s insulation, walkability, or reflectivity, among other factors.

That’s why we put together this guide. We want to pull the covers back on commercial roofing to help property owners get a better understanding of the cost factors commercial roofing projects entail. This will help you to compare cost factors and get competitive quotes for your roof. 

Factors of Commercial Roofing Pricing

Understanding everything that goes into the price of a commercial roofing project would take years of experience. However, the basics are easy to understand and will provide the majority of the insight needed. 

Materials and Roofing System Choices

To no one’s surprise, the chosen material makes a major impact on the price of a commercial roof replacement. An architect or consultant can prepare specifications that will allow you to select the best materials for your building and get bids so you can compare apples to apples.  

The materials commonly include:

  1. The membrane such as TPO, PVC, EPDM, modified bitumen or BUR for low slope roofs.  These membranes are available in different thicknesses.  The thicker you choose, the more costly the membrane.  
  2. Insulation to meet building energy codes and reduce your utility costs.  The thickness and number of layers of insulation can vary and the more you specify, the higher the cost.
  3. Accessories like fasteners, plates, adhesives and tapes to attach the roof and make the roof watertight at the flashings. 
Black roofing membrane covering a multi-level commercial flat roof

Roof Size 

Roof size is a significant factor in price for several reasons. Larger roofs require more materials and more labor, which obviously points to them being more expensive than smaller roofs. However, from a square-foot perspective, the correlation isn’t always direct. Larger roofs are often cheaper per square foot than smaller roofs. Here’s why:

  • Larger materials orders (bulk orders) are typically cheaper.
  • Mobilizing a crew once for a longer period (a larger project) is less expensive than moving them several times for smaller roofs.
  • Materials can be ordered to fit the larger roof more efficiently, often reducing waste.
  • Permits are typically a fixed price and don’t scale with the size of the project.
  • Crews can work more efficiently on a large project rather than stopping, packing up, and moving onto another roof several times a week.

However, it’s still important to understand that a large roof will generally be more expensive than a smaller roof. 

Roof Pitch

The roof pitch, or the angle of the roof relative to the ground, will determine some of the price of the project. While most commercial properties have a low-slope or flat roof, those that don’t will be priced accordingly, as higher pitches are harder to walk, store materials and tools on, and work on. 

These roofs are also more dangerous, as a slip and fall on a steeper slope could mean the roofer sliding off and getting hurt. The higher risk and difficulty for commercial roofing contractors affect the price, increasing according to the risk.

Building Height

All other things equal, taller buildings will cost more than lower buildings. Often, tall buildings require carrying materials up stairs or ladders, using elevators, or even hoisting the material onto the roof with a crane. All of these factors have a cost associated with them, whether it’s the cost of labor carrying the materials or taking longer rides in elevators, or paying for a crane, a crane operator, and paying the local jurisdiction for a permit. 

Installation Costs (Labor Costs)

We’ve sort of stumbled upon labor and installation costs a bit down the list but they’re sometimes the most important factor in the cost of commercial roofing. The amount of time it takes to remove the existing roof, handle the required materials so they’re readily available, prepare flashing, make necessary repairs, and install the roofing are all part of the quote. 

The method you select to attach your roofing system can also have an impact on the cost.  In general, ballasted single-ply assemblies are the least expensive because there are lower costs for fasteners and it is faster to lay washed river rock over the membrane to hold it in place.  Mechanically attached systems that use fasteners and plates to attach the membrane to the deck are typically higher in cost than ballasted roofs.  Adhered membranes that use adhesives to attach the membrane to the substrate are typically the most expensive type of attachment due to the additional cost of adhesives and the labor to apply them. 

Existing Roof Conditions

The condition of the existing roof structure can impact the overall cost of having a commercial roof installed or replaced. A new commercial roof on a building with no existing roofing system will be less expensive than an older roof which requires complete removal and commercial roof replacement. Also, extensive roof damage will come with additional costs and significantly increase the price of the roofing system.

However, note that making minor repairs on an existing roofing system before installing a new system on top can sometimes be the most affordable option—even more affordable than a new installation on a fresh roof deck. Commercial roof replacement costs much more.

ray curved metal roof on top of a commercial building with a modern design

Energy Efficiency

Energy-efficient materials aren’t necessarily more expensive to have installed on commercial roofs than standard materials, but they do have long-term impacts on the investment. Some materials, such as reflective metal roofing and single-ply surfaces, prevent the building from absorbing heat from the sun, resulting in reduced cooling costs. They can be more expensive upfront (specifically metal), but save the property owner money in the long run. 

Location 

The location of a commercial building has a role to play in the cost of a commercial roofing project, but this is another cost factor that isn’t exactly linear. 

Commercial roofs in large, busy cities are expensive. These buildings are typically tall and require a crane or boom lift to get the required materials on top. Special permits are required for the lift and street closure, often costing many hundreds if not thousands of dollars each hour. Also, the dumpster required to dispose of all the waste often sits on the sidewalk and costs roofing contractors a significant amount. 

Conversely, rural areas with easy access to the building are typically fairly affordable. Vehicles can typically pull close to the building and unload easily. However, if the area is remote, the mobilization costs associated with materials deliveries, crew housing, and other overhead will impact the cost as well. 

Regional Impact

In general, construction is more expensive in some areas throughout the country than it is in others. For example, almost any project in California will be more expensive than a similar project in a southern state. This is due to the cost of living, taxes, and other factors, and it applies to commercial roofing as much as it does to other projects. 

Nations Roof: Your Commercial Roofing Solution

Don’t feel overwhelmed about your commercial roofing system or choosing your roofing contractor. If you have a commercial roof in need of repair, replacement, installation, or even just assessment, call Nations Roof. As a professional roofing company with over 100 years of combined experience, we have the skill and knowledge to ensure commercial buildings are protected regardless of the material chosen and the cost of the commercial roofing system. Call today to learn more about our commercial roofing services.

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