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Difference Between Residential and Commercial Roofs

Roofs aren’t really something that you really think about often, is it? Here at Industry Elite Services we think about roofs all the time. Have you ever noticed how different a store’s roof is from the roof on your house? They are very different. One is flat and made of a membrane and the other is sloped and has shingles. Why are these two things that do the same job so different?

Difference Between Residential and Commercial Roofs

Installation Process

The difference starts right from the beginning. The roofs are very different, so they require very different installation processes. The size of the roofs are often very different. Commercial roofs tend to be a lot bigger than residential. Because of this, commercial roofs can take weeks to install. The installation process also requires specialized tools, materials and safety equipment. Commercial roofs tend to be made of membranes that come in large sheets that are melted together. This calls for intense equipment and manpower. Commercial roof also have a lot of obstacles to work around such as smoke stacks, air flow systems, and external piping.

Residential roofs, however, are often a lot smaller. They can be completed in just a few days. These roofs tend to made of smaller materials that need to be nailed down. This requires fewer tools and less expertise. Residential roofs also have a lot less obstacles to work around. The only obstacle tends to be a chimney.

Slope of Roofs

A very visible difference is the slope of the roof. Commercial roofs have a slight or flat slope. This is to accommodate structural changes. The typical design of a commercial roof has a few factors to consider such as the weight of equipment that is housed on the roof and the need to cover a larger area.

Residential roofing systems have steep slopes.  This is why they are a key element to curb appeal. The covered area is smaller, which means the roof doesn’t put much pressure on the structure.


Roof materials for commercial and residential roofing differ in cost and longevity. Commercial roofing is made of a single-ply membrane or modified bitumen. These materials can cover large areas affordably.

Shingles, tiles and slate are the most common materials used in residential roofing.  Each of these moves precipitation easily when installed on a steep slope.

Maintenance of Roofs

Residential and commercial roofs both require attention, however, the amount differs. All building owners should make sure that gutters are clear and downspouts are open. Built-up debris can lead to ice damming or blockages. If downspouts open to the ground, owners should also make sure that exit points are clear so that water can move freely away from the building.

Commercial building owners can take a walk around on the roof, note any potential issues, and contact a professional roofing contractor to handle them. Unlike most residential roofs, commercial roofs require regular inspections and preventative maintenance. In addition to ensuring that gutters and downspouts are clear, a professional roofing contractor will identify problems of all sizes before they become much larger problems. Commercial building owners should also be aware of any rooftop mechanical equipment and ensure that mechanical contractors working on the roof don’t damage the roof while there.

Residential building owners, however, should conduct occasional visual inspections from the ground. They should be looking for wind-damaged or missing shingles, particularly after a storm. A homeowner should never go onto his or her roof. Walking on a sloped roof can be very unsafe. If something is wrong, an experienced roofing contractor can inspect the roof and make the necessary repairs to prevent further damage.

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