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Commercial Buildings and Flat Roofs: A Match Made in Heaven? Find Out Now!

flat roof

Hello there! As an experienced roofing contractor specializing in West Michigan roofing services, I’ve been helping folks like you make decisions about their roofs for more than two decades. Today, I thought it’d be helpful to discuss a common question in the quest to find the best roofing for commercial buildings, especially here in beautiful West Michigan: “Is a flat roof right for my commercial building?”

What is a Flat Roof?

When exploring the best roofing options for commercial buildings, flat roofs often come up. But what exactly is a flat roof? Despite the name, a flat roof isn’t perfectly flat—it’s just very low-sloped often 2/12, allowing for efficient space usage on top. The materials used can vary, but some of the most common include EPDM (a type of rubber), PVC, and modified bitumen. I fondly remember my first flat roof project—it was a small warehouse building, and boy, was it a learning curve!

Advantages of Flat Roofs for Commercial Buildings

Flat roofs offer several unique advantages, making them a contender for the best roofing for commercial buildings.

Space Utilization

Think about the additional space a flat roof offers. You can use it for HVAC units, solar panels, or even a rooftop garden or patio. I once worked on a project where the owner turned the flat roof into a fantastic rooftop bar—it was a real hit with the neighbors!

Cost Efficiency

Flat roofs are also generally more cost-effective to install and maintain. Less material is needed for covering the roof, and, with easier access, maintenance costs can be lower. Every penny counts in business, and the savings here can be significant. Now with products like Henry Seal Coat we are able to extend a flat roofs life cycle without having to tear it off or add heavy additional layers. Seal Coating is a great option and if your a commercial business owner you have to check out the blog about our best ways to save money on a commercial roof repair!

Architectural Appeal

And let’s not forget the modern aesthetic appeal of a flat roof. It can really make your building stand out. I remember driving past a building with a flat roof that had been fitted with a beautiful green roof—it was a sight to behold, especially against the backdrop of a stunning West Michigan sunset.

Specific Considerations for West Michigan Properties

Of course, when considering a flat roof as the best roofing for your commercial building in West Michigan, we have to take into account some local factors.

Climate

Our local climate, with its cold winters and relatively mild summers, can impact the longevity and performance of a flat roof. A well-constructed and well-maintained flat roof can withstand our winters, but it does need that extra bit of attention.

Local Building Codes

We also have to consider our local building codes. Depending on the building and the location there is sometimes a need to have different regulations approved and in place before work can begin. It’s a detail-oriented job, but hey, that’s what you’ve got me for!

Available Local Materials and Services

The availability of materials and services for flat roofs in our area is another factor. Fortunately, West Michigan has a robust network of suppliers and service providers (like yours truly) that can help ensure your flat roof is a success. We work with a few different local distributors with these materials often relying on our friends at locally owned and operated, Eikenhout Inc. They are experts in the field of flat roof materials and can quickly and safely get materials delivered to almost any location.

Potential Drawbacks of Flat Roofs

But let’s be real—like anything else, flat roofs do have some potential downsides.

Water Drainage

Proper drainage is crucial for flat roofs. Without it, water can pool, leading to leaks or structural damage. I’ve seen this first-hand on a job. It wasn’t pretty, but with the right drainage system, it’s totally avoidable.

Pitch changes over time especially if a flat roof has some repairs completed over the years as is usually the case with a commercial building. The replacement of these flat roofs is very costly and intrusive so often property owners opt to have a repair completed to avoid the direct cost or inconvenience with their business.

If proper drainage is not in place and water is ponding on your commercial flat roof have no fear there are still options! Henry Seal Coat as mentioned above provides a warranty on ponding water which 10 years ago would have been unheard of, well as they say…. technology right?! Check out some of our other blogs about pitch or seal coating to learn if your flat roof can be repaired for significantly less than replacement and still have the same longevity and possibly even better performance.

Snow Load

The accumulation of heavy snow can also be a concern, which we know all about in West Michigan! Regular roof inspections and snow removal are essential in the colder months. This includes ensuring drains are operating properly for when snow and ice do begin to melt that water has somewhere to go and does not refreeze on the roof.

Lifespan

While cost-effective, flat roofs generally have a shorter lifespan compared to pitched roofs, especially in areas with harsh weather conditions. Regular maintenance can help extend this, but it’s still something to keep in mind.

Again this has changed dramatically in the last few years with products like the Henry Seal Coat now allowing us to breath new life into old roofs and provide commercial property owners with a warranty instead of a promise. This is what commercial property owners want – results and not ideas of grandeur for a time when their roof is not leaking. Believe me I’ve had that conversation often with commercial property owners and maintenance techs!

Conclusion

So, is a flat roof the best roofing for your commercial building in West Michigan? It depends on a variety of factors. While there are potential drawbacks, the advantages can make it an attractive option. Consider your specific needs, budget, and building codes, and consult with a local roofing expert. I’m always here to answer any questions you might have or to offer a consultation on your specific roofing needs.

Remember, your roof is a big investment, and it’s important to make the right choice. As someone who’s seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of roofing in West Michigan, I’m here to help you navigate these decisions with confidence. #DoeverythingwithCharacter

Read more: Your Essential Checklist When Hiring a Roofing Contractor

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