How Do You Fix a Flat Roof That Leaks?

closer up of light reflecting wet roof materials

Fixing Flat Roof Leaks

Commercial structures in the Great Lakes area, including Pennsylvania and Iowa, can take on a lot of elements. With the winter weather of ice and snow along with hot sunny summers, in addition to hard rains and high winds. At least once in the lifetime of a flat roof, repairs will be needed, it is an unstated fact in this area of the country. 

What is the lifespan of a commercial flat roof?

It will depend on the type of material that is installed, whether flat roof repair needs are not neglected, and if routine maintenance is kept. For average, the three most common rubber roofing materials offer the following lifespans: 

  • EPDM: Lifetime of 20 to 40 years
  • PVC: Lifetime maximum of 30 years
  • TPO: Lifetime of 20 to 30 years

What is the best material for a commercial flat roof?

Of the three commercial flat roof materials listed above, PVC has the longest history because of its durability and longevity of up to 40 years. Like EPDM, it typically comes in white, but you can choose brown, gray, or rust-colored PVC. White PVC has the best energy-saving effect. However, it is worthwhile to ask your commercial roofing contractor about other materials: 

  • EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Terpolymer)

Another durable rubber roofing membrane is found on many commercial flat roofing surfaces. It has a lifespan of 50+ years and is known for its heat absorption. For areas where temperatures are cooler than hot, this can be an advantage in absorbing UV rays to keep the building warm. 

  • TPO (Thermoplastic Polyolefin) 

This is a single-ply, white roofing membrane that reflects sunlight, best for areas where the temperatures are hot more than cool year-round. With proper installation and flat roof repairs done as needed, this durable roofing material will last up to 25 years. Where aesthetics is a concern, this material tends to yellow with age. 

Other materials to ask your roofing contractor about are standing-seam, BUR, and Modified BUR as well as spray foam roofing. Inquire about the installation process, the required maintenance, and the frequency of flat roof repairs. 

What issues are common for commercial flat roofs?

The most common issues for commercial flat roof repairs or replacement are:

  • Workmanship

Proper installation is crucial for a commercial flat roof. This ensures there are minimal problems and can extend or shorten the lifespan. A BUR commercial roof system installed on a roof surface that hasn’t been properly cleaned and allowed to dry before the primer is installed is a must. Blisters, leaks, and crinkling can happen when the commercial flat roof isn’t installed correctly. 

  • Ponding Water

Commercial flat roof repairs are frequent due to ponding water. This is caused by clogged roof drains, clogged HVAC drain lines, and an improper slope to the roof.

  • Lack of Maintenance

The need for flat roof repairs for leaks, moisture, and ponding water can be attributed to a lack of maintenance. It is important to have the roofing contractor train the maintenance staff on what is needed or have a maintenance contract with the roofing contractor.

  • Leaks and Moisture

Leaks and moisture can be for a variety of reasons depending on the type of flat roofing material. For instance, a BUR (built-up roof) can develop a leak where the flashing details are improperly fastened when the roof is installed. A modified bitumen flat roof can leak if a moisture barrier isn’t installed and lack of maintenance can cause leaks and moisture buildup.

  • Penetration and Punctures

A common problem that requires flat roof repairs is foot traffic which can cause cuts and scrapes on the membrane. Besides the risk of leaks, damaged roofing membranes can be caused by tradespeople. Having walkways installed with the commercial flat roof installation will minimize the foot traffic and tradesmen damaging the roof. 

  • Improper Flat Roof Repairs

Using only the proper materials in the proper manner can minimize flat roof repairs or replacements. A metal roof or single-ply roof should not be repaired with caulking and plastic roof cement.

How do you know when a commercial flat roof needs replacing instead of repairing?

With the monthly flat roof inspections, check for any blistering, bubbling, and cracking. Check for splitting seams, and loose or missing flashing. A roof check after rain is recommended to check for clogged drains and/or ponding.

the top of a wet commercial roof

What do commercial flat roof repairs cost? 

Commercial flat roof repair jobs will depend on a few factors: 

  • The square footage needs flat roof repairs
  • The extensiveness and type of damage
  • The roofing material
  • Penetrations in the roof

What does a new flat commercial roof cost? 

If you were to ask a roofing contractor the most common question, they will all tell you “What’s this going to cost?” There isn’t a flat rate or set rate for this project. Like flat roof repairs, replacements are based on key factors that include the size, type of roof material being installed, and the condition of the existing roof. 

What is the warranty on a commercial flat roof?

The most common warranty for a commercial flat roof is between 20 and 30 years. The warranty will depend on the new roofing material being installed and the brand of the material. 

How are commercial flat roofs maintained?

The recommended flat roof maintenance starts with routine roof inspections. With routine roof inspection, you’ll find issues that flat roof repairs can fix before they become bigger problems. The basic maintenance step after that will depend on the type of roofing surface. It is recommended to discuss this with the roofing contractor, many will provide written instructions along with the warranty.

In The End

When getting quotes on flat roof repairs, just like with getting a new replacement, do not go with the most expensive quote any faster than you would the least expensive. You should get 3 to 4 quotes and review the process and warranty of each one. 

Great Lakes Commercial Roofing provides assistance with flat roof repair in Pittsburgh, PA. Call 412-256-8050 to get scheduled. 

What Type of Roofing is Used In a Warehouse?

An Industrial Roof

Industrial Roofing Specialist

For any commercial, industrial, or warehouse structure situated in Eastern Iowa, Eastern Ohio, or Pennsylvania, the type of industrial roofing in Pittsburgh, PA is an important component. It must endure the hot summer weather and the ice and snow-filled winters, with some hailstorms and high winds in between them.

And because most of these structures are flat or low-sloping roofs, the decision can’t be taken lightly. As such, industrial roofing is a major concern for commercial property owners, hence, the many concerns and questions they need to be answered when choosing the proper roofing material. We are a commercial roofing specialist. Find out how we can help by calling 412-256-8050.

What is a typical industrial roof?

The most common industrial roofing material in this area is EPDM rubber roofing. Ethylene propylene diene terpolymer, (EDPM) roofing systems is frequently referred to as rubber roof and is popular on both commercial and industrial properties. It is a lightweight material that is easy and quick to install and is highly durable. For industrial roofing, it is inexpensive, long-lasting, and low maintenance. Repairs of EPDM roofing are easy and won’t break the bank. 

Metal is another common industrial roofing material in his area. It is available in aluminum, copper, and steel and each is an environmentally friendly material that is corrosion, fire, mildew, and mold resistant. A durable material that can handle various types of inclement weather and has an expected lifespan of fifty years or longer. A plus that attracts many business structure owners is the ability for this material to be recycled and repurposed. 

What are other types of roofing materials for industrial roofing?

Industrial roofing covers a large expansive surface that takes a beating 24/7/365. In addition, it must hold up under chemicals, exhaust, and other residues from the activities inside, like manufacturing processes and restaurants. 

Other factors that need to be considered when choosing the right material for industrial roofing are the ventilation systems and types of weather in the area. Because most industrial roofing typically has multiple skylights, this can add to the complexity of choosing the right roofing material. 

Any penetration in a roofing system is prone to leaks unless the system is installed correctly and maintained. Among the metal and EPDM materials for industrial roofing, the following are other choices that are popular too: 

  • Modified Bitumen Roofing

This industrial roofing material is an asphalt-layered roof with modifiers added to create a plastic or rubber-type property for durability. It can be installed to have a granule or smooth surface with the granule being added during installation for UV protection. It is an impact-resistant and tear-resistant roofing that lasts over 20 years. 

  • Built-Up Roofing

Bulit-Up Roofing is known as BUR in the industry and has been used since the 1800s, proving its lifespan of 50 years or longer. The installation process is considered to be inefficient and unsafe, nor is it the least expensive option for industrial roofing. 

  • Thermoplastic Polyolefin

TPO is a single-ply roofing membrane that is installed in various sizes of sheets made of synthetic rubber with a reinforcing scrim and has a life expectancy of up to 25 years. It is a bright white material that is UV reflective, helping to keep the interior of the structure cooler. Ideal material for restaurants or chemical use in manufacturing with its resistance to the substances emits by these industries. 

What are the strongest industrial roofing materials?

BUR is considered to be the toughest of materials for industrial roofing. The gravelly appearance is recognized but can be a costly option based on the number of layers requested for installation. 

How much weight can a commercial roof hold?

A professional commercial or industrial roofing contractor will be familiar with determining the type of roofing materials when inspecting the roof.  With a commercial flat roof, the standard weight support includes the HVAC component, up to 300 pounds, in a 2.5 × 2.5-foot area, which is considered by the roofing contractor to choose the right material. 

What is the average thickness of industrial roofing materials?

Like most things we have today, industrial roofing systems have been improved to be lighter weight, making installation easier. The weight can vary based on which of the many different materials are chosen, such as: 

TPO Industrial Roofing

  • 45-mil TPO membrane: measures between 15 and 19 mil thickness
  • 60-mil TPO membrane: measures between 21 and 27mil thickness
  • 80-mil TPO membrane: measures between 30 and 38 mil thickness

EPDM industrial roofing is typically around .60 mil thickness. 

Last Words of Advice

Use an industrial roofing contractor that has a strong reputation in the local area. Ask for copies of their insurance and certification, as well as recent references for jobs similar to yours, and then follow through by calling those references. Word-of-mouth is the best advertisement a roofing contractor can have. We are established industrial roofers in Pittsburgh, PA. Find out more by calling 412-256-8050.

An Industrial Warehouse

What is the life expectancy of a commercial metal roof?

A Commercial Metal Roof

Commercial Metal Roof Repair

For commercial structures in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Iowa, the winters are commonly harsh, but some years, the spring and summer can be harsh too. With that being said, there are frequent calls for roof repairs and replacements, including commercial metal roof repairs in Pittsburgh, PA. 

Now, metal is said to be the toughest roofing material you can have, so why would there be a need for commercial roof repairs? Well, any roofing contractor will tell you that they can still have leaks, especially if they aren’t installed correctly. And while they have a long life expectancy, and are 100% recyclable, they will eventually need to be replaced. If your metal roof needs repair, call {nw_data field=company} at 412-256-8050.

What is the life expectancy of a commercial metal roof?

As we just said, the lifespan of roofing can be dependent on the quality of the installation, maintenance, upkeep, and staying on top of any commercial metal roof repairs. This is true of any roofing material. 

For a commercial metal roof that uses quality metal, is professionally installed, and has routine maintenance and upkeep, you can expect a minimum of 45-year lifespan, and in many cases, up to 70 years and longer. 

The lifespan of other materials used for commercial roofing include: 

  • EPDM: Between 22 and 35 years
  • TPO: Between 22 and 30 years

What are the biggest concerns about a commercial metal roof?

While commercial metal roofing is highly recommended and is durable, there are some concerns that many business owners will express with their roofing contractor that result in needing commercial metal roof repairs. Those concerns are: 

1. Leaking

Whether it is your home or business, a leaking roof is not something you want to experience. Left unattended or unnoticed, a leaking roof of any type will cause even more damage inside and to the structure. 

With a commercial metal roof, repairs for leaks are often because of leaks between the panel seams. Either the panels weren’t installed correctly or fastened in place securely.  

2. Corrosion

Yes, metal roofing is stated to be corrosion resistant, but that is limited usually up to 60 or 70 years. Corrosion can happen on the underside if the panels are properly coated at the factory. For structures near saltwater, the type of metal used is important. Aluminum and zinc are the best for a coastal area, but they still have a possibility of corrosion after many years. 

Corrosion also happens when different metals are combined. This can create a negative interaction that causes corrosion, as well as cut edges on the metal panels. It is important to follow the recommended maintenance and upkeep of a commercial metal roof, repairs be done immediately when problems are found.

3. Chalking and Fading

If you notice a white residue on a commercial metal roof, this is called chalking. This happens when the paint resin breaks down from constant UV exposure, which can also cause painted commercial metal roofing to fade. 

4. Poor Installation 

Poor installation of a commercial metal roof will inevitably end up needing commercial metal roof repairs. This can from the installing contractor taking shortcuts with accessories and components, not securing all screws are properly installed, or loose flashing. 

5. Scratches and Scuffing

Painted commercial metal roofing is susceptible to scratching and scuffing like any other type of painted surface. While the manufacturers take due diligence ins trying to minimize this, it can still happen, and if you allow that scratch or scuff to remain without getting commercial metal roof repairs by patching and painting those scratches and scuffs, they can lead to roof leaks if they rust all the way the through. 

6. Oil Canning

Oil canning is a prevalent issue that causes the need for commercial metal roof repairs. It is often caused by insufficient space allowed during the installation process for the metal and its fasteners to contract and expand with the temperature. 

What is the best roof repair for a commercial metal roof repair job?

With leaks being the number one reason that commercial metal roof repairs are needed, having an acrylic roof coating applied is the best repair. A spray-on acrylic coating will provide an elastic-type membrane that restores the lifespan and coats the seams and other areas prone to leaks while maintaining the UV reflection. 

Does a metal roof require a tear-off?

As far as the durability of a commercial metal roof installation, now, tear-off isn’t required. However, local building codes and ordinances may state differently. And another aspect to consider is the warranty of the metal roofing material and possible added commercial metal roof repairs. Many manufacturers will void the warranty if it has been installed over an existing roofing material.

In Conclusion

A metal roof on a commercial structure is a smart investment with a high ROI for several reasons.  When installed correctly with insulation, the chances of needing commercial metal roof repair in Pittsburgh, PA are minimized and the lifespan is extended.  Set up a service appointment today by calling 412-256-8050.

A Metal Roof on a Commercial Building

What Is a Silicone Roof Coating?

Contractors Spray a Coating.

What is a silicone roof coating?

North of the Red River, the roof of a commercial structure needs to be durable and resilient. It should be able to withstand the blistering hot sun and hold up to the weight of ice and snow. This makes the choice of roofing materials an important factor and is why a silicone roof coating is often recommended.

What is the difference between roof sealant and roof coating?

Most commercial structures have a flat roof and if drainage isn’t working properly, that flat roof can become a swimming pool quickly. A silicone roof coating and a silicone roof sealant will do a good job of making the roof watertight. 

Where the key difference between the two comes into focus is how and where they are applied to the roof. A silicone roof sealant is excellent for creating a watertight seal around the air vents and vent pipes, over the screw heads, and along the roof edges. 

What does silicone roof coating do?

A silicone roof coating is applied over the entire roof and fills in any cracks and small holes, creating a smooth, watertight roofing surface. It protects the structure from water leaks, and it reflects the sun’s UV rays, helping to keep the interior of the building cooler. 

How do you install silicone roof coating?

Where silicone roof sealant comes in a tube and is applied directly where needed, like around the vents and vent pipes, along the roof edge, etc., a silicone roof coating is applied with a paintbrush or paint roller over the entire roof. This method provides even coverage across the whole roof. 

Are roof coatings worth it?

It depends on the issue at hand as to why it is being considered. A silicone roof coating is not the answer to every commercial roofing problem. There is a place and time that it is the best solution. Some benefits of a silicone roof coating are:

  1. Investment Protection: On a commercial roof with a steep slope metal roof, a silicone roof coating will extend the lifespan of the metal. 
  2. Budget-Friendly Repair: Roof leaks are not always in sync with the budget, and a silicone roof coating can provide a temporary patch until the budget is ready for the expense of a new roof. 
  3. Energy Efficiency Increases: An application of cool silicone roof coating can ease the energy used by minimizing the HVAC use. 

How long does it take for silicone roof coating to dry?

Generally, a silicone roof coating is thoroughly dry within eight to twenty-four hours. The weather conditions can affect this drying time. For example, in humid weather conditions, it will take a silicone roof coating longer to dry, but on a day that is sunny and dry, it will probably be dry in the 8 hours. 

Is silicone roof coating any good?

If your commercial structure has any exposure to the sun, a silicone roof coating is your best friend! It will provide your building with a high level of reflectiveness, which will keep the roof cooler and the interior of the building cooler. Another benefit of silicone roof coating is a reflective material keeping the building cooler, which is less energy used on the HVA system, which also extends the life of the HVAC system. 

But the sun does more than heat a structure up! The UV rays of the sun cause the original roofing membrane to dry out. This takes away the flexibility of the roof contracting and expanding with the building and the temperature. This is how the roofing membrane begins to crack and separate. 

How long does a silicone roof coating last?

A properly applied silicone roof coating that has the recommended maintenance performed can give a commercial roof 15 years of service. If choosing to go with a silicone roof coating, always use a contractor with experience. The application process and the thickness are key to getting the most mileage from a silicone roof coating. 

How do you clean a silicone roof?

Speaking of maintenance, a silicone roof coating can be cleaned with a gentle power wash after all the loose dirt, leaves, and debris have been removed. There are specialized cleaners made for silicone roof coating that should be used, following the instructions on the container. 

Can silicone roof coating be painted?

A silicone roof coating can be painted, only after it has been thoroughly cleaned and dried, but it isn’t easy. However, the coverage may not be what you’re expecting, so it would be best to leave this project to a contractor that has worked with a silicone roof coating. 

A Roofer Sprays a Roof Coating.


Some applications for a silicone roof coating are beneficial to the building and the owner’s budget. It will provide energy efficiency and hold off any leaks from roof failure until a proper roof can be installed.  However, a silicone roof coating isn’t the cure-all for every situation. Refer to a roofing contractor that you can trust to provide you with the best advice. 

Interested in silicone roof coating in Pittsburgh, PA? Call us today at 412-256-8050.

What is the most common type of roof for commercial buildings?

inox Chimney on the flat roof in the city

About Commercial Roofs

There is a lot of responsibility in owning a commercial property. Making the electricity and plumbing are in working order, the security system is in working order and keeping the structure in good condition. That includes choosing the right material for commercial roof installation that holds up to the climate in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Most commercial roofing is low-sloped or flat, and where architecture is concerned, some may have a steep design, like a church.

What is a flat commercial roof made of?

Flat Roof commercial roofing installation can be made from one of several materials. The following are typically made of the following 5 most popular: 

  • Built-Up Membrane
  • Metal
  • Modified Bitumen
  • Thermoset 
  • Thermoplastic

What is the best commercial roofing material?

Commercial roofs either have a low slope roof or a steep slope roof, which is a vital part of the entire building’s aesthetics and overall health. So, when it is time for a new commercial roof installation, there are 5 types of materials to choose from:


BUR as it is referred to in the industry, is the standard tar & gravel roofing. The name ‘built-up roofing’ comes from the multiple layers used to install this type of roofing.  This creates a flexible roofing material budget-wise because the number of layers can be modified to stay within the budget. It is one of the most durable and toughest materials for commercial roof installation.


One of the most popular choices for commercial roof installation

 is metal, which has several variations that include:

  • Aluminum
  • Aggregates of aluminum, silicon-coated steel, and steel
  • Copper
  • Corrugated galvanized steel
  • Lead
  • Metal tile sheets
  • Stainless steel
  • Stone-coated steel
  • Tin

To protect against the harsh UV rays and other environmental issues, protective surface layers are added. This gives a finished aesthetic appearance and durability, with a high fire resistance rating, and is a sustainable material. 


This material for commercial roof installation uses reinforced roof fabrics that are “carriers” for bitumen. It is cut and installed in a BUR method, layers that are fastened to the commercial rooftop in a two-ply system. It is adhered to the decking, providing maximum protection and stability.


The industry refers to this as EPDM, ethylene propylene diene terpolymer, which is a durable and long-lasting commercial roof installation material. Easy to maintain and repair makes it a number one choice for many commercial property owners.  Provides a strong resistance to ozone and UV light, this single-ply rubber material helps keep energy costs lowered and is ideal for the cold temperatures in Pennsylvania. 


TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin) and PVC (polyvinyl chloride) are lightweight materials for commercial roof installation are highly reflective and have excellent weather resistance, UV resistant, bacteria resistance, and UV light. Durable and withstands punctures or tears, and has a strong resistance to most chemicals, making it ideal for restaurants or any industry that has fats and oils emitted from the ventilation system. A high tolerance to fire, wind, and high temperatures.

When should a commercial roof be replaced?

Like household appliances, commercial roof installation is recommended when the cost to repair is more than fifty percent of new roofing.  Because by that point of aging and integration, the existing roof is no longer performing cost-effectively. Typically, at this point, the seams are worn, and the material itself is worn and blistering. 

flat roof covering works with roofing felt

How long does a commercial metal roof last?

Commercial roof life expectancy varies depending on the material used, all of which can range between 10 years and 50 years. 

  • TPO roofing system: 22 to 30 years
  • EPDM roofing system: 22 to 35 years
  • Metal roofing system: 30 to 45 years

How long does it take to roof a commercial building?

Generally, a commercial roof installation can take between two and four weeks. The size of the structure and the roofing material will determine this, and during the estimate, the roofing contractor will provide a more accurate time frame. 

How long does it take to replace a commercial roof?

A commercial roof installation typically takes between 5 days and 4 weeks. There are several factors that can affect this timeline: 

  • Type of Roofing Material
  • Material Availability
  • Scope of the Project
  • Permit Revisions
  • Weather
  • Inspections

How do you repair a commercial roof?

The commercial roof repair process will depend on the problem and the existing roofing material. The first step a roofing contractor will take is to check the flashing and repair or replace it as needed. 

Any area that has worn-out sealant is re-caulked or re-tarred to give the commercial roof installation a secure and tight seal. 

If there is any damaged plywood on the roof decking will be replaced. The felt sheeting is replaced, then glued or stapled, and caulking is applied over the staples to ensure they are watertight. 

The Bottom Line – The Main Question

Every commercial structure owner will be concerned with the financial part of this project. How much does it cost to replace a commercial roof? This isn’t a number that can be stated and held to be accurate and true because it will depend on the size of the structure, the type of material used, and the cost of goods and labor is ever-changing. On average, the cost can start at $5,000 and go upward from there.

Great Lakes Commercial Roofing provides assistance with commercial roof installation in Pittsburgh, PA. Call us at 412-256-8050 for services.

How do I find a leak in a flat roof?

a flat roofing system

Keeping Your Roof Safe

From Pennsylvania and all across The Great Lakes area, commercial buildings get bombarded with the weather all year long. This leads to a lot of commercial roof repairs for leaks, and other common flat roof problems. As a business owner, knowing the type of problems that typically occur with these roofing systems can be important for your building’s operations. This can help you identify these issues far sooner.

Common Flat Roofing Problems

Some of the most problems with flat roofs include: 

Moisture and Roof Leak

Moisture and leaking roof can happen for a variety of reasons on a flat roof.  Some common commercial roof repairs are from BUR roofing (built-up roof) is leaking, usually where there is missing or improperly installed flashing. A commercial roof may leak if the modified bitumen roof was improperly adhered, or the moisture barrier was left off. 

Poor Installation and Workmanship

A professional and proper installation is key in a commercial flat roof effectiveness and lifespan. Many commercial roof repairs are due to a poor installation job and sub-quality materials. A proper adhesion process requires a clean, dry, and primed surface before the installation. Common problems that require a commercial roof repair service are blisters, leaks, and wrinkles because the roof was installed when the temperature and weather were not ideal. 

Regular Maintenance

Without routine roof maintenance and inspections, minor issues become major problems requiring professional commercial roof repair. 

Ponding and Puddling Water

This is a common problem for a flat roof is usually because of clogged drains or and improper slope. A commercial roof repair will include a thorough inspection, clearing any clogged drains or HVAC condensate drain lines, and inspecting the slight slope is sufficient. 

Penetrations and Punctures

A common commercial roof repair is foot traffic damage. With foot traffic and workers on the roof, there is always possible damage happening. From improper footwear by the workers to tools being dropped. 

Improper Commercial Roof Repairs

Previous commercial roof repairs where incorrect materials were used can cause more damage. This is especially so with a metal roof where caulking and cement were the wrong type. 

Surface Erosion

Blistering, erosion, ridging, and splitting are common commercial roof repairs on BUR roofs. If these issues aren’t addressed and repaired, bigger problems will follow. 

For any of these commercial roof repairs, you should always hire a professional commercial roof contractor that knows how to repair a commercial flat roof. Not all roofing contractors are experienced in commercial roofing or with flat roofing. 

How do you stop a flat roof leaking in the rain?

To know that the leak is repaired, finding what causes a flat roof to leak is the first step. Once you have determined what is causing the leak, the following flat commercial roof repairs can be done:

  • Leaks on the flat roof surface can usually be done with silicone as a patching material that is brushed over the leak.
  • If it is the leak is around or at the flashing, the flashing should be replaced and then secured in place with silicone. 
  • Leaks around a vent is fixed by replacing the rubber boot. 
  • Leaking that is coming from the HVAC unit, have the HVAC contractor check the unit to make sure there isn’t any issue with the unit.  

What is the best way to repair a flat roof?

The age and condition of the flat roof are taken into consideration when doing a flat commercial roof repair. The most common roof repair material types are: 

  • EPDM –an extremely durable rubber material common for flat commercial roof repairs in this country and around the world. Made mostly of ethylene and propylene, has the composition like car tires. 
  • Modified bitumen – primarily an asphalt combination of different rubbers and solvents that is heat applied using an open flame torch. 
  • BUR – a tar and gravel roofing is a built up roofing systems that has been around for over a hundred years with layers of bitumen and reinforced fabrics.
  • TPO Roofing – this single ply roofing is created from ethylene-propylene rubber and polypropylene that are polymerized together and can be fully adhered or mechanically attached. 
  • PVC roofing –crafted from two layers of a PVC roof material that has polyester in between the layers for reinforcement. 

Can I repair my own flat roof?

With the roofing materials listed above, a commercial flat roof repair can be done by building maintenance for small leak repairs. If the leak is of significant size, it is better to have it a professional commercial roof repair. 

How much does a flat roof cost to repair?

The cost for a flat commercial roof repair depends on the severity of the damage, the area needing repair, and the type of material of the existing roof. The cost can range from as low as $800 and as much as $5000 with the average roof replacement around $15,000.

a dark flat roofing material

At The Top Of The Building and at the End of this Topic 

What is commercial roof restoration? When a commercial roof repair isn’t enough for the damages and problems, but a new roof replacement isn’t in the budget, a roof restoration is a good alternative.  A commercial roofing contractor will apply a durable, waterproof coating to the existing roof after making some roof repairs. This coating will stop any leaks, prevent rusting, and expand the lifespan of the roof until the budget can afford a new roof. Sometimes when a commercial building owner is faced with deciding on flat roof repair or replace, a roof restoration will give you time to make that decision.

How often do you need to seal your flat roof?

commercial flat roof with a white flat roof coating

Protecting Your Building’s Roof

In Pennsylvania, the weather gets brutally cold and wet, which takes a toll on commercial roofing. With that in mind, owners of commercial structures must choose a roofing material that can withstand the weather and provide a long lifespan. This is the area where winter weather can shorten the life of almost anything, especially a flat roof. 

Understanding Flat Roof Coatings

Today, we’re going to discuss flat roof coating and answer some commonly asked questions. It may seem like an added expense, but a properly applied flat roof coating is both a money and a time saver. 

Why should I coat my flat roof, are there benefits?

The biggest benefit is flat roof coating for ponding water problems. A flat roof coating will help minimize and prevent water leaking when it does pond because the drains are clogged. Other benefits that flat roof coating provide when it is properly applied include:

  • Flat roof coating extends the lifespan of the roof by reducing the heat transfer to the building’s interior during the summer. Reapply flat roof coating every five years will extend the life another 10 years. 
  • Flat roof coating reduces the thermal shock with temperature variations that cause random contraction and expansion of the original roofing membrane. This keeps the membrane from wearing out faster. 
  • Flat roof coating can reduce energy costs as it reflects the UV rays by 80% on average.
  • Flat roof coating can be applied during business hours without any effect on business, employees, or customers.
  • A flat roof coating will reduce maintenance costs.

What is the best coating for a flat roof?

Today’s technology has created advances in flat roof coating options. It is easier now to coat a commercial flat roof with any of these materials: 

  • EPDM – A single-ply product makes this easy to apply. A synthetic rubber provides a vapor barrier and the EPDM helps with making joints. This flat roof coating will last for years. 
  • Chlorosulfonated Polyethylene – A synthetic rubber flat roof coating that allows the contractor to heat the joints, making it easier to combine separate parts in one sheet.
  • Cold Liquid Application – This flat roof coating is composed of different, fast curing materials that can be applied any time, with the exception of a snow covered roof. 
  • PVC Roof Coating – This flat roof coating has variations between manufacturers, but is increasing in popularity, giving EPDM flat roof coating a run for its money. 
  • Silicone Coating – The main strength of this flat roof coating is its non-organic nature. It’s a more durable option with a distinctive, glossy white appearance, which also makes it better from an aesthetic standpoint. 

How do you apply a coating on a flat roof?

Once a flat roof has been inspected and damages repaired, the roof should be thoroughly cleaned then allowed to dry completely. Most flat roof coating materials are applied by large brushes or rollers. Now, for a question – do commercial building owners use flat roof sealants for leaks?

Yes – often the reason a commercial building owner will request a flat roof coating is to stop small leaks. A professional roofing contractor will typically recommend an elastomeric flat roof coating so that the rubber-like properties will contract and expand with the temperature changes and the original roofing surface. This flat roof coating will seal up any small cracks, holes, or split seams so that any chances of leaking are minimized. .

How often should you coat a flat roof?

To maintain the original roof’s integrity and extend its life, a flat roof coating is recommended about every five years. If monthly inspection finds any issues, a new flat roof coating may be needed sooner. This is usually caused by various extreme weather conditions. 

How do you seal an old flat roof?

If the goal is to avoid a new roof for a little longer by applying a flat roof coating, any asphalt patches and silicone caulking should be totally removed. The patches and seams should be refilled with roofing caulk then self-adhesive. Next, butyl roofing tape should be applied to any seam or tear that the caulk can’t mend. Once this is all in place, the flat roof coating can be applied.

Can metal be used on a flat roof? Can you coat metal?

Yes, metal roofing is used with success, especially aluminum roofing for coastal regions, which is cheaper than copper or zinc choices. Steel is the most affordable of metal materials used on commercial structures with flat roofing or sloped roofing. It also offers great benefits when it comes to durability and energy efficiency, along with being environmentally friendly with its recyclability. The benefits of metal roofing can be extended even further with the application of a flat roof coating. 

worker applying a flat roof coating

In Closing 

Flat roof coating will extend the life of your commercial structure’s roof, and so will monthly inspections performed by you or your staff and annual inspections by a professional roofing contractor that knows flat roofing. Commercial building maintenance is a must for protecting your property and the contents inside, as well as the safety of your employees, customers, and visitors.

An Energy-Efficiency Guide for Commercial Buildings

upward view of power lines

How can you make an energy-efficient building?

When you own or manage a commercial structure, an energy-efficient building is important. The bigger the structure and the older the structure, the more important it becomes. Energy efficiency in commercial buildings isn’t as easy as it is in our homes, but it is possible.

It is easier to build a new commercial structure into an energy-efficient building than it is to make an existing structure energy-efficient. In fact, it seems like a monumental feat right now, but with the following tips, you’ll find out it isn’t as daunting of a task as you’ve imagined right now to make existing structures energy-efficient buildings: 

  • Replacing The HVAC System: If you haven’t replaced the HVAC system in the last 10 years or more, then you need to do that first for a more energy-efficient building. Cooling and heating large commercial structures can get expensive. Check to make sure the infrastructure doesn’t need repairs first, and then get quotes on the new HVAC system, one that is more energy efficient. 
  • Replace the Roofing System: When you aren’t sure how to make a commercial building more energy efficient, look to the roof! You may be surprised how much of your cooling and heating is going right through the roof, with your utility bills! Get a few quotes on having an energy-efficient roof installed that will reflect the sun in the summer and keep the heat inside during the winter. 
  • Update the Windows: What cooling and heating aren’t going through the roof is going through the windows! Windows have a huge impact on energy efficiency. If installing new windows isn’t feasible, consider window glazing to help manage the solar heat gain and loss. 
  • Upgrade the Water Heaters: Most people don’t realize that commercial structures will have multiple water heaters, and each one can be a huge drain on the utilities. A large portion of your energy costs are fact is going to heat the water in your building. Upgrade each unit to a high-efficiency model, taking a look at the tank-less version, and you’ll be surprised how much that will help your utility bills each month, including the water! 
  • Energy Efficiency Appliances and Electronics: From the computers and other office equipment like copiers, fax machines, and more, replace them with new updated equipment that is energy efficient. Replaced the breakrooms with energy-efficient dishwashers, microwaves, refrigerators, and stoves. Go with items that are marked as ENERGY STAR® and when things aren’t in use, unplug them! 

When it comes to updating your commercial structure to a more energy-efficient building, there are a lot of things you can do. The marketplace is full of energy-efficient products for commercial buildings that can help and all without making your customers or staff inconvenienced or uncomfortable. 

What is the most energy-efficient building material?

Okay, so you have some ideas about what to do with your current commercial structure. What about new construction though? What are some things you can do to make your new-build structure a more energy-efficient building? 

Every commercial building owner is looking for ways to reduce their overall costs and starting with the energy costs will give you more ROI than laying off staff. Here, offer a few innovative materials that are being used in the commercial construction industry today: 

  • Solar Shingles: If solar panels aren’t possible for your new construction, consider solar shingles for the roofing. They will harness the sun’s power to generate electricity for your building, which will allow you to cut back your electricity expenses going forward – a great ROI to be enjoyed for years. 
  • Cool Roofs: This new technology is what will keep the temperature lower so that there is less strain on the HVAC system. A cool roof reflects the sun’s heat, not absorb it, which in turn will reduce your energy costs. As a bonus, this is a green alternative that will not only give you an energy-efficient building but could earn you some tax credit too. 
  • PEX Piping: You may be surprised to find out that much of the heat in your structure is coming from the water pipes. With more hot water passing through traditional piping, the more your air conditioning has to run and that increases the utility bills. Have your new construction pipe with PEX piping and keep that hot water in the pipes. 
  • Polyiso Insulation: For any building to be energy-efficient, insulation is critical. With the many different insulation types available for commercial structures, a foam board insulation, Polyiso, has an R-value higher per inch compared to all the other options. This is a cost-effective and durable insulation ideal for commercial structures, and it is environmentally friendly, which could earn you some tax credits. 
  • Modular Partitions: Another way to have an energy-efficient building is to control the airflow inside your structure. Modular glass walls have proven to be one of the best ways to do that. Glass allows the natural light to flow through and as a mobile wall unit, you can change the layout to be more effective and energy-efficient. 

What are some energy-efficient construction techniques? 

For new commercial building construction, there are multiple things that can be done that will minimize energy consumption, like these five ways that have become common and have proven to be effective: 

The HVAC Systems

If the HVAC system isn’t appropriately regulated, it can be the biggest pull of energy. Having an energy-efficient HVAC system installed will adjust the air intake through an adjustable exhaust hood setting and other means. The timer system will help minimize the operation during empty or low capacity times of the building. 

Solar Power

Solar panels or solar shingles are effective renewable energy that will cut down the building’s electricity usage. The panels need to be positioned where they will get the most sun exposure and where there is plenty of space for the number of panels needed.


An energy-efficient building should be able to cool and heat itself independently, and ample insulation can make that happen. It aids in regulating the temperature and reduces the air that can escape from the building. 

The Building Design 

The orientation of your commercial building can significantly affect the energy efficiency, this includes the placement of other elements related to the building. Your builders should target temperature regulation as much as possible as a way to minimize the cooling and heating having excessive use. 

LED Lighting and Daylighting

Today LED lighting is more commonly used over halogen or incandescent lighting. Your building design should include LED lighting as an energy saver while still getting the same lighting the old energy-consuming lighting used. A priority focus on glass elements and windows through the building will give you more natural light, thus needing less electricity. 

Roof with solar panels

In Closing 

It is important for commercial building owners to realize how energy-efficient windows for commercial buildings will help their budget with energy-efficient commercial building tax deductions. While they’re saving money, they’re also helping the environment. To learn more or get help with windows or cool roofing in Pittsburgh, PA, reach out to our team at 412-256-8050.

What to Do if Your Roof is Leaking

Office interior with a leaking roof.

Know the Steps to Take for a Leaky Roof

To own a commercial structure is an awesome feeling of success and prestige. Or is it? While a commercial structure has its impression of being successful, it can also lead to worries, like a commercial roof leak.

Yes, as the size of your building gets bigger, the problems can get bigger too. So what happens if you don’t fix a roof leak?

A lot! A leaking roof for a home is bad enough, but when you ignore it, it simply exacerbates it for a commercial building because there is more to be affected and damaged. What damage can a leaking roof cause? Here are just a few of the dangers you could be faced with: 


Because a commercial building is larger than a residence, there is more space, and the more space, the less likely you are to find water dripping in little by little. So that small drip is left to be, and before long, there is a dark, mildewed, molded, wet corner in your building. Not only is it discolored on the ceiling and walls, and even the floor, that mold is sucking into your HVAC system and spreading through your building like a fire. 


That first issue leads to health concerns and adverse effects that your customers and employees could be suffering. Mildew and mold are major allergens for everyone, even healthy people. And anyone that suffers a respiratory illness or is immune-compromised is even more susceptible. That’s not to mention the puddle of water that could lead somebody to slip and fall. That commercial roof leak could cost you in employee time off. 


Water is a natural resource that we need to appreciate and conserve. However, it is an evil to a structure. Besides causing mildew and mold discoloration that will need repainting, a commercial roof leak will also weaken a structure’s framework. The ceiling starts to sag, the walls can’t hold up and begin to buckle and sag, and before you know it, you have a collapsed building. Or a partially collapsed one, anyway.


Any building will use a lot of wood in the construction process. The bigger the building, the more wood, like the ceiling joists and rafters. As we said above, water is not a friend of wood, yet wood still absorbs the moisture, a love lost but not yet recognized. As the moisture content’s stability is disrupted from a commercial roof leak, the wood begins to expand and contract, and that makes the integrity of the structure vulnerable. The wood will eventually buckle, rot, and collapse, and the only thing to do is replace the wood.


An aspect that will affect residential or commercial structures alike is the damage to electricity that can happen with a roof leak. Dry housing is preferable for electrical wiring and even when it has a moisture-proof coating, it can become compromised, and areas that aren’t protected can be shorted out. 

Is a leaking roof an emergency?

Yes –  based on the information we just provided, if you discover a leak in your commercial structure, you need immediate roof leak detection and repair. If the commercial roof leak is disrupting your business here and now, then of course you’d get it repaired right away, right? By putting it off though, re-read the paragraph above and let that convince you that NOW is the time to fix that commercial roof leak. 

How do you temporarily fix a leaky roof?

If you have a major commercial roof leak, you’ll need a professional roof leak repair company to fix it right, which may mean an all-new roof. However, if you have just a small leak and a small budget, you can use the following steps to stop the leak temporarily and get you a professional roof leak repair estimate later: 

  • Locate the Leak

Look inside the building where the leak is, although where it is pooled up doesn’t mean that’s where it’s coming from… but it’s a start. Measure the area suspected of leaking from the nearest wall or window. 

  • Up on the Roof

From the measurements you have from inside, search for the leak on the rooftop. Look for roof membrane damage around the flashing and vents.  

  • Remove the Debris

Remove any debris and other foreign matter that has collected on the roof. You may find what caused the leak. 

  • Dry the Area

A flat roof collects water, so you want to get the damaged area as dry as possible before you begin repairing your commercial roof leak. 

  • Identify the Damage

Look for blisters, cracks, and damage to the roof.

  • Cut the Damaged Area

If there is a blister, carefully cut out the blistered, damaged membrane and remove the moisture (though remember, it needs to be thoroughly dry). 

  • Apply the Roofing Cement

Peel back the membrane layers that you just cut open and apply a generous coating of roofing cement to the leaking areas and surrounding spaces.  This will plug the commercial roof leak and provide adhesion for the flaps to stick down.  Now press hard so they can reseal. 

  • Nail it All Down

With all the flaps you created down in place with the adhesive, nail them down to the roof to secure them, being careful not to nail any wires.

Commercial roof covered in puddles.

Is a leaking roof covered by insurance?

Just like homeowner’s insurance, business insurance would cover water damage of a commercial leaking roof if it were caused by a covered event. A covered event will be spelled out in your policy, but typical coverage includes hailstones, high winds, and the like. 

Even with a temporary commercial roof leak, you should have a professional roofing contractor inspect the entire roof and give you an estimate and advice on making a permanent roof leak repair or replacement. Need help now? Call Great Lakes Commercial Roofing today at 412-256-8050.

Is Foam Roofing Worth It?

foam roofing

Choosing foam roofing

Here in the Great Lakes area of the country, our weather can go from a blistering sunshine day to a blustery snowbound day. Commercial structures need the best roofing to handle both of kinds of weather and foam roofing can do just that. 

Spray foam roofing pros and cons are many, and we’ll cover those as we answer commonly asked questions about foam roofing on commercial structures. First  though, we will specify exactly what is spray foam roofing?

Spray foam roof is a plastic type of material that can seal up cracks and gapes while insulating a building, making it more comfortable and energy-efficient. Because it has a resistance to heat transfer, it is  highly effective in minimizing unwanted air infiltrating into the building through cracks, joints, and seams. There are three main types of foam roofing used, each with a specific purpose:

  • HIGH-DENSITY:  Good for exterior and roofing use. 
  • MEDIUM-DENSITY: A continuous insulation in interior wall cavities and unvented attics.
  • LOW-DENSITY: Good for interior wall cavities and unvented attic applications.

How long do foam roofs last?

The answer to this question will start with “it depends”.  The factors that can determine the lifespan of foam roofing is quality of the installation and the follow-maintenance and upkeep of the roof. On the average, with little to no maintenance or upkeep routine, you can expect to get 20 years from your foam roofing. With routine maintenance and regular upkeep, the lifespan can be up to 30 years. 

  • Recommended maintenance includes: 
  • Recoat the foam roofing surface the 5th year and 25th year after installation. 
  • Inspection and touch up the foam roofing surface the 10th, 15th, and 20th year after installation. 

Should your foam roofing last past the 25th year, which if this maintenance schedule is followed, the roofing contractor will advise you when the next inspection, touch up, and recoating.  Your foam roofing could last well up to 80 years with this schedule. 

Can you walk on a foam roof?

Yes! You can walk on foam roofing, jump up and down too. Walk on it in stiletto heels, bang on it with a hammer or stab it with a screwdriver. Foam roofing will compress itself, healing itself and the rare times it doesn’t, no problem!  An easy repair is done by filling the crack, gap, or hole left behind with  polyurethane caulking. This closed cell foam roofing material is solid with one and a half to two inches thick. 

Is spray foam watertight?

Yes, of all the spray foam roofing material, the fact it is moisture-curing and self-expanding is one of the things that makes it so attractive. It will adhere to every common building material, resisting heat and water, slow to age and if you’re wondering, will spray foam stop water leaks, the answer is yest!  Foam roofing fills cracks, gaps, holes, and other void like around pipes and other protrusions on a flat roof to keep water out. 

foam roof application

Is foam roofing good?

Yes, the spray foam roofing benefits are proof as to why so many commercial property owners choose to go this route for their flat roofing coverage. While we have covered those benefits in this piece, we offer the following recap to the benefits of foam roofing: 

  • Energy Bills are Lower: One of the benefits that foam roofing offers is a superior insulation property that suspend aluminum particles of the foam to reflect the strong UV rays of the sun. With that, there is less air conditioning needed in the summer and less heating in the winter. Foam roofing can lower energy bills by thirty percent. 
  • Waterproofing: Foam roofing has a unique waterproof quality, making it a great insulator. This closed cell foam roofing material will not absorb water, even in a monsoon type rainstorm. Spray foam roofing starts in a liquid form, then forms a single monolithic membrane. When this material is used to cover an entire roof, there aren’t any joints or seams to worry about water getting into. 
  • Flexible Installation: Foam roofing can be applied on an existing or new roof and over concrete, metal, or wood, dome shape, flat, or sloped roof lines. Even an irregular-shaped roof, foam roofing is the perfect roof coating. 
  • Structural Integrity: Polyurethane foam roofing can withstand contracting and expanding of a structure and still remain in good condition for sealing the roof. It can withstand high winds, hard rain, and plenty of sunshine without breaking down.

The main factor that will make spray foam roofing the best money spent is hiring a commercial roofing contractor that knows how to apply foam roofing.  When it isn’t installed correctly, the benefits are overshadowed. As you call for estimates and quotes, ask for recent references and check those references. Call 412-256-8050 today for your foam roofing application in Pittsburgh, PA.