How Are Commercial and Residential Roofs Different

Often, homeowners do not think too much about roofing until it’s necessary. To many people, commercial and residential roofs are alike. However, an experienced roofing contractor knows otherwise and understands the qualities of each type. Though residential and commercial roofing protects everything in the buildings beneath them, there are significant differences between the two types.

The Differences between Residential and Commercial Roofs

Residential and commercial roofs have different designs and identities. Even if a commercial roof might look like a residential one or vice versa, they serve distinct purposes. Some of the things that differentiate residential and commercial roofs are steepness, materials used, manner of installation, and maintenance needed. Here is a closer look at each factor.

The Steepness of the Slope

Steep, slanted slopes make residential roofs attractive, and having a roof with curb appeal makes a house more desirable to a buyer. Since residential roofs are visible, manufacturers come up with different and interesting roof styles for homeowners. What’s more, residential roofs don’t apply too much pressure on the house because it covers only a small area.

Meanwhile, commercial roofs are flat and typically above a person’s line of sight. So, curb appeal is not crucial for them. These types of roofs usually have no slope. Sometimes, buildings have roofs with a slight slope to allow rainwater to flow onto the gutters. Most roofs on commercial establishments are functional rather than stylish. They also cover a larger surface area, so they exert more pressure on the structure.

Materials Used

Residential roofing often uses asphalt, cedar shake, tiles, or slate for the shingles. These materials allow water to slide smoothly down the slope. Meanwhile, commercial roofs use galvanized steel, copper, tin, aluminum, and other metals. They can also contain PVC, Thermoset roof membrane, and other reinforcements and layers that insulate the building and protect it from the elements.

Manner of Installation

The materials and slope of your roof will inform the installation process. For example, the larger the roof, the more time it will take to install it. Homes with smaller roofs can finish the project in a day. Residential projects involve attaching boards of wood to trusses, installing underlayment, and then the homeowner’s outer roofing material of choice.

For commercial roofs, roof contractors must install layers of insulation and metal. The labor a commercial roofing project requires varies depending on the installation process and its intensity. Often, roofs like these require unique materials, tools, and safety equipment. Since more steps and moving parts are involved, this type of project takes several weeks of installation.

Required Maintenance

Both commercial and residential roofs require upkeep. However, they need different amounts of maintenance. Residential owners need to conduct occasional visual inspections, especially after storms and look for missing or wind-damaged shingles. Homeowners should not go onto the roofs of their homes—it is unsafe to walk on a sloped surface. If something is out of place, experienced roof contractors can make the needed repairs to prevent the damage from worsening.

Commercial roofs also need preventive maintenance and inspections. Though it is safer to walk on flat building roofs, it’s still important to contact a professional to find and identify damages. Also, commercial building owners need to know about any mechanical equipment that the contractors will have to bring. They must ensure that the contractors won’t damage the roof differently while the contractors are working on it.


There are significant differences between residential and commercial roof repairs. Besides the materials used, the slope of the roof and installation process contribute to the extent of preventive maintenance the building owner needs to accomplish.

Protect your home or building with top-notch service from 5 Star Roofer today. We are roof contractors in Birmingham, AL, and we have been doing roofing the right way for over 40 years. From residential replacement to commercial repairs, we have you covered! Book a free inspection today and see the 5 Star difference!

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