6 Things to Consider for Commercial Roof Repair

6 Things to Consider for Commercial Roof Repair

May 11, 2020

No matter how skillfully it was constructed, every building’s roof will encounter problems throughout its life. This exterior feature constantly endures changing weather patterns and debris, which cause wear and tear. Additional factors like poor initial installation can make a roof deteriorate more quickly.

When you are considering a significant repair or even a full replacement, it can be difficult to know where to start. Getting a thorough understanding of the factors that influence repair or replacement is the first step, and evaluating the type of repair required is next. If you’re having trouble knowing where to start the process, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll go over what you need to consider when deciding on commercial roof repair.

Roof Repair, Replacement or Restoration?

Your first step is to decide whether your commercial roof needs a complete replacement, or if it’s a good idea to go for a repair or restoration. A full replacement of a commercial roof is a lengthy process that requires significant planning if you want to fit it comfortably within your budget. For most building owners, replacing a commercial roof is the last resort.

Commercial roof repair is a suitable option when the issue is small and located in a single area. Examples include impact damage to one spot while the rest of the roof is intact or weather damage on a roof that otherwise has many years of use left.

Commercial roof restoration is typically done by coating the roof. This process gives the building a new membrane and provides significant resistance to leaks. Applying a new roof coat is a cost-effective way to extend the roof’s life, and installation is simpler, as well as less disruptive to day-to-day business. As long as the roof is structurally sound and has not reached the end of its lifespan, repair or restoration are typically the most viable options for practicality and budgeting.

a roller applies a rubber roofing membrane on a commercial roof

Considerations for Commercial Roof Repair

When is it time to start considering repair or restoration of a commercial roof? This step is where an inspection and maintenance plan comes in handy. A commercial roof should receive an inspection at least semi-annually so you can get a timely warning on issues that may develop or worsen. In many states, frequent inspections are required by law. Such examinations may reveal problems that necessitate repair or restoration.

1. Signs of Aging or Damage

If your roof is aging or has visible signs of damage, you’ll want to act soon to remedy these issues. Here are some things that often call for restoration or repair:

Your Roof Is Old

An aging roof often needs to be replaced entirely, but if you are proactive, you can significantly prolong its lifespan with the application of a new coating. As long as the roof has not been coated before, restoration of this nature can add years of use. It can also prevent the development of other issues on this list.

You Have Leaks

No building owner or manager wants to deal with water damage. If water enters the building, it can cause serious problems like:

  • Mold
  • Sheetrock decay
  • Rusting
  • Rotting
  • Electrical fires

Leaks are not something you can ignore. They spread and compound over time, and if mold settles in, you’ll have to contend with serious consequences. In commercial buildings with customer traffic, black mold is particularly worrisome. In many cases, it is extremely dangerous, especially for children and the elderly.

If your building has a leak, your roof’s sealing, flashing, or seams have been punctured or otherwise compromised. This situation means you’ll need repairs at the very least. You can likely benefit from a roof coating to prevent the leaks from springing up again somewhere else.

Your Energy Bills Are High

You may think of leaks as only bringing water into the building, but they can also cause air to escape. This issue can happen due to compromised seams, degraded insulation or other problems. Because commercial buildings are typically large and take a lot of energy to heat and cool, the costs associated with this type of leak can quickly compound enough to increase your energy bills significantly. Adding a cool roof coating can help with high bills while extending the roof’s life.

Your Roof Has Visible Damage

In many cases, visible damage is limited enough to make repairs a good option. If the harm didn’t arise from a widespread event like a storm, a roofing professional would spot it during an inspection. On flat commercial roofs, the most common types of damage are seams splitting, flashing coming undone, or pockets of air forming between sheets of material. If the roof is already nearing the end of its lifespan, a replacement might be a good option for extensive damage.

If the roof is otherwise intact and suitable for further use, a repair combined with a coating-based restoration is a cost-effective way to get several more years out of a commercial roof.

Two employees roll out a roof membrane to repair a roof

2. Geography and Climate

A building’s location directly influences the type of damage and wear a commercial roof sustains. How do the seasons change in your area? If your building is located somewhere with extreme weather, a roof coating can provide exceptional longevity and prevent the need for weather-related repairs.

Commercial buildings located in the scorching Southwest, for example, face damage from the constant heat. Buildings in the Northeast, on the other hand, regularly endure rain, sleet, and snow. Opting for roof coatings specifically formulated to withstand these conditions can prevent the need for premature commercial roof replacement and reduce repairs.

One of the most serious weather-related problems occurs as a commercial building settles. Over time, the surface of the flat roof becomes uneven and prevents water from draining properly. This phenomenon means water pools in the indentations at the roof’s low points, resulting in an issue called “ponding.”

Silicone roof coatings serve the dual purpose of leveling out the roof surface and protecting against leakage or absorption of stagnant standing water.

3. Construction Flexibility

When you are considering whether to repair, restore or replace your building’s roof, it’s important to look toward the future. How do you anticipate your business will grow over the next few years? If you’re already looking forward to expanding the premises in the future, it typically does not make sense to go for a full roof replacement today.

It makes more sense to wait until you have acquired your final space and can do the replacement all at once. Otherwise, you may end up doing a second full replacement to accommodate the new addition.

If future construction is on the docket, it’s most logical to choose commercial roof repair or restoration to bring the existing building up to code. These measures are significantly more affordable than a replacement and extend the roof’s lifespan so the building owner can more strategically plan a full replacement.

4. Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency is becoming more important in numerous ways. Rising energy costs mean shrinking margins for commercial building operators, so finding ways to increase energy efficiency is simply a matter of practicality. This factor is especially important in buildings where customers or workers expect a narrow range of ambient temperatures, as opposed to structures like warehouses where temperature control is less of an issue.

Additionally, energy efficiency has become a point of pride for many businesses, which use it as a marketing tool based on corporate social responsibility. Either way, increasing energy efficiency is a win-win for commercial building owners and managers.

While a full roof replacement can certainly improve efficiency, it isn’t always practical when the point is to save money. The quickest and most cost-effective way to increase energy efficiency is to invest in a coat of cool roofing.

Cool roofing lowers the energy costs of operating a building by keeping the structure cooler. It does this in two ways — the first of which is solar reflectivity. Traditional roofs absorb a significant amount of sunlight, which makes the building’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems work harder to maintain a bearable temperature. Cool roofing deflects sunlight and its heat away from the structure.

Cool roofs also have a high level of thermal emittance, which means they release more of their absorbed heat back into the air and away from the building. If you need commercial roof repair and are considering ways to improve energy efficiency, ask about having a cool roof coating applied at the same time.

5. Budget and Cost

Numerous reasons can prompt the need for roof repair or replacement. Naturally, the nature of the damage or wear impacts the project’s cost and determines whether a repair or replacement is more economical.

In most cases, the most affordable option is to repair any damage that has occurred in a contained area of the roof. When the whole roof is damaged, such as by a severe hail storm or other extreme weather events, a full replacement may become the only option.

It is also important to note that if you attempt to fix the roof without providing any additional restoration — like a roof coating — the repair could fail. Alternatively, another problem could spring up right after the first repair is complete. Adding a roof coating is the best way to ensure improvements are worth it in the long run.

One thing to factor into the cost is the warranty. If your commercial roof is under warranty, you may be able to recoup a prorated reimbursement for a percentage of the repair. Remember that the older your roof is, the lower the reimbursement you will receive for repairs. If the warranty is nearing its end and the roof is extensively damaged, replacement may be the better option.

rolls of material for commercial roof repair on a commercial flat roof

6. Building Materials

The material a commercial roof consists of significantly impacts its frequency of repairs — and the point at which you will need to replace it. The two most common types of commercial roofs are built-up and membrane roofs. This can lead to testing.

Built-Up Roof (BUR)

Built-up roofing is the older of the two flat roof types. Also known as a “tar and gravel” roof, this system introduces tar or asphalt in layers interspersed with fiberglass or felt. It is most commonly applied with heat, although there are versions that use chemical activators or self-adhesive for application. The roof is then topped with gravel, river rock, crushed shell or another protective covering.

While a BUR does not have significant maintenance needs, it does have a short lifespan, and the presence of gravel can make it harder to pinpoint leaks and other damage. One way to extend a BUR’s lifespan is to replace the topping material with a roof coating.

Membrane Roofs

Membrane roofing comes in various materials, with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) being one of the most common. Membrane roofs are easier to install and repair than built-up versions, but they are more susceptible to leakage between paneling. They’re also vulnerable to damage from impacts like dropping tools on the surface. They can also succumb to ultraviolet (UV) rays that degrade adhesives more quickly.

If you plan to repair a membrane roof, understand you may have to do so more times than you would with a BUR. One positive is that membrane roofs last significantly longer than built-ups.

The Benefits of Commercial Roof Coating

When replacing your roof is unnecessary or impractical, consider a roof coating. Whether used on its own or to improve the longevity of necessary repairs, a commercial roof coating is a cost-effective way to get the most out of your building’s roof.

Capital Coating uses two types of a roof coat. The first is an elastomeric coating, which is a liquid compound that can expand and contract as temperatures change throughout the year. The polymer-based liquid is flexible and prevents cracks from forming due to temperature fluctuation. The other option is polyurethane spray foam roofing, which has a similar set of advantages. Aside from offering a viable alternative to full roof replacement, commercial roof coatings offer the following benefits:

  • Longevity: The whole point of roof coating is to make a commercial roof last longer. A properly installed and maintained coating can last for 10 to 20 years.
  • Tensile strength: A roof can’t have maximum durability without tensile strength. The ability of polyurethane and elastomeric coatings to withstand expansion and contraction without cracking is key to their stability.
  • Permeation: With leaks being seriously dangerous to commercial roofs, the lack of permeability in roof coating materials may be the most significant benefit of this type of repair.

A man repairs a commercial flat roof

Commercial Roof Repair With Capital Coating

If you are looking to explore options for commercial roof restoration, repair, or replacement in the Northeast, Capital Coating is here to help. With more than 20 years of experience serving commercial clients in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, we have the expertise and skill to find you the right roofing solutions.

When you opt for roof coating, you can rest assured Capital Coating will do the job right, with a thorough cleaning of the existing roof and precise application of the new coating. To find out more about our process or request a quote, contact Capital Coating today.