As a business owner, you know how important your commercial building’s roof is, even if it isn’t always top of mind. After all, as long as you and your employees are safe and dry, the barrier over your heads is easy to forget until it begins leaking or a natural disaster punches some holes in it.

But if your roof has reached the end of its service life and you’re thinking about having it replaced, you’re probably grappling with what type of commercial roofing material to choose. It’s natural to want the best and most lasting one you can afford. Below are the four main types of commercial roofs and how long each is designed to last.

Thermoplastic Olefin (TPO)

This type of roofing material has been around since the 1980s and can last 20 to 30 years—sometimes even longer with proper maintenance. The material is made of large plastic sheets that vary in size and thickness. They’re fastened together and reinforced at the seams. TPO roofs typically appear on flat or low-slope commercial buildings such as malls, strip shopping centers, and warehouses. They’re known for being more environmentally friendly, UV-resistant, durable, and flexible, even in extreme temperatures.

A subset of TPO roofing that’s also common is PVC. PVC roofing predates TPO and isn’t considered as durable or reflective. However, the membrane does resist oil and gasses better, which is why it’s the preferred material for restaurants with grease traps on their roofs. PVC is also considered more flexible than TPO. With proper maintenance, it lasts 20 years or more.

Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM)

Also typically a flat-roofing material, EPDM is made from a synthetic, industrial-grade rubber that can last from 20 to 30 years. It comes in black and white rolls and can be adhered to the roof, ballasted, or mechanically attached. The roofing membrane’s two main chemical components, ethylene and propylene, are derived from fossil fuels. EDPM also varies in length and thickness.

Metal Roofs

When applied to a sloping roof, metal roofing can last for many years depending on what material or alloy is used. Common types of metal roofing include galvanized steel, steel, aluminum, copper, and zinc. While galvanized steel can corrode more in coastal areas because of its exposure to salty air, aluminum is considered more durable and affordable.

Copper is, by far, the most durable metal roofing material of all, but few people choose it because it’s so expensive. (Copper roofing panels can cost from $900 to $1,400 per square foot.) All in all, a metal roof will usually last a lifetime and beyond, as long as it’s maintained properly. It’s been the go-to choice in residential and commercial construction for hundreds of years.

Asphalt Roofs

This material also lends itself best to sloped roofs that allow proper drainage, but when a low-slope asphalt roof is installed, it can last between 20 and 30 years. A steep sloped shingle roof can last up to 40 years with proper maintenance. How long either type of material lasts depends on the angle at which it’s installed, how it’s made, and how well it’s kept up over time.

We Can Help You Make the Right Choice

While the roofing materials outlined above aren’t exhaustive, they are the primary types from which to choose. If you still aren’t sure what might work best on your commercial building, the pros at Rainville-Carlson can help you find the best material for your needs and budget. Call us today to explore your best roofing options.