Commercial Roof Life Expectancy Explained

The average commercial roof can last anywhere from 10 to 40 years, if it’s properly installed and maintained. The life expectancy varies based on the materials used along with a few other factors. Let’s look at the expected life spans of common commercial roofing materials.

Commercial Roof Life Expectancy Explained

Roofing Materials

Here is a list of common commercial roofing materials and their expected life span:

TPO (Thermoplastic polyolefin)

TPO (Thermoplastic polyolefin) can last between 22 and 30 years. These roofs are one of the most popular options as they are affordable, durable, and highly energy efficient. They also have high resistance to damage including fire, chemicals, punctures, and winds.

EPDM (Ethylene propylene diene terpolymer)

EPDM (Ethylene propylene diene terpolymer) can last between 10 and 15 years. While EPDM has shorter durability than other materials, it is one of the most affordable. However, EPDM also absorbs heat quite easily which can increase utility costs.

Modified Bitumen

Modified Bitumen can last between 10 and 20 years. This is a multi-ply roofing material that can be hard to install but your building benefits from its multiple layer structure. Like the EPDM, this material also absorbs heat rapidly.

Built-up Roofing

Built-up Roofing can last between 15 and 20 years. Also called the tar & gravel roof, this style includes piles of alternating layers of bitumen with the gravel or other similar materials. These roofs can hold a lot of weight and allow for heavier traffic on the roof, but you need to make sure there is stability to support the roofing materials.

PVC (Polyvinyl chloride)

PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) can last 20 to 30 years. This is another highly popular flat roof material as it is quite strong and durable. These roofs consist of a thermoplastic material that features heat-welded seams which make them very strong. PVC is a great choice for durability but can also be quite expensive.

Metal roofs

Metal roofs can last between 40 to 60 years. Tried and true metal roofs offer the best longevity although they are also the most expensive.

Silicon roofs

Silicon can last for up to 20 years. This is also referred to as a spray-on roof and is built from converting silicon to a spray which is then sprayed onto the roof. This makes a seamless roof which is an advantage, but converting silicon to a spray is not cheap.

Solar roofing

Solar roofing can last 25 years or longer depending on how well it is maintained. This is a newer roofing option but is gaining in popularity due to the conservation of energy and money.

Green roofing

Green roofing can last between 30 and 50 years. Your commercial flat roof is covered with vegetation and can extend your roof life by protecting the membrane. They also improve insulation to the building and are planted over waterproof roof membranes.


Slate can last over 50 years with proper maintenance and comes in many colors but is also one of the more expensive materials to use.

Factors That Affect the Expected Lifespan of a Commercial Roof

It is important to be aware of the factors that can shorten or prolong a commercial roof’s lifespan.

  • Installation: Any flaws in the installation process can shorten the life of the roof so you want to choose experienced and qualified roofing professional for installation and repairs.
  • Slope: With a flatter roof, there is more likely to be water pooling on the surface. When water doesn’t flow off the roof, it will find the lowest point and stay there until it evaporates and these low spots are often where leaking starts and damage starts to happen.
  • Ventilation: Roofs need adequate ventilation of the attic space below to help prevent the build-up of heat and moisture. Hot summer temperatures will bake the roofing materials and if there is any built-up moisture present, it can lead to rot and mold.
  • Maintenance: Routine inspections and maintenance prevent small problems from becoming major ones. It’s easy to neglect a roof when it doesn’t have any problems. But, that neglect can end up causing major roof issues in the future.
  • Weather: Harsh weather such as hail and high winds, can cause direct damage to the materials in your roof. In general, the daily exposure of all elements eventually takes its toll on any roof.

Final thoughts

Commercial roofing can last for decades so long as it has proper installation and regular maintenance. If you own or manage a commercial property, perform routine maintenance and make repairs as needed to prolong the roof’s life. Repairing any damage right away will prevent more serious problems from occurring. Reach out to us today for all your commercial roofing needs.

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