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What Is The Life Expectancy Of A Commercial Roof

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  • Admin
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  • Commercial Roof Lifespan, TPO, EPDM, Metal, Asphalt Lifespans, Factors Influencing Roof Longevity, Impact of Installation Quality, Role of Maintenance in Roof Lifespan
  • Posted date:
  • 06-12-2023
What Is The Life Expectancy Of A Commercial Roof

What is the life expectancy of a commercial roof? Whether you're a property owner or manager, our guide provides essential information to help you maximize the lifespan of your commercial roofing investment. Stay ahead of potential issues, make informed decisions, and ensure the lasting protection of your business infrastructure.

What is a commercial roof's average lifespan?

Commercial roofing systems are vital for the protection of businesses and their assets. Just as with residential roofs, their lifespan can vary based on the materials used, the quality of installation, the level of maintenance, and the climatic conditions to which they are exposed. On average, a commercial roof can last anywhere from 10 to 50 years, depending on these variables.

Among the most common commercial roofing materials, built-up roofs (BUR) have a lifespan ranging from 20 to 30 years. Metal roofs, favoured for their durability and energy efficiency, can last between 30 to 45 years with proper maintenance. Thermoset (EPDM) roof membranes, known for their versatility and durability, average a lifespan of 20 to 30 years. 

Thermoplastic (PVC & TPO) roofs, appreciated for their strong seam strength and reflective properties, can last 15 to 20 years. Lastly, green or "living" roofs, which are covered with vegetation, have an average lifespan of 15 to 20 years, depending on the care and upkeep of the vegetation and the underlying waterproofing membrane.

It's essential to note that the actual lifespan of a commercial roof can be maximised through routine inspections, prompt repairs, and regular maintenance. Proactive care can prevent minor issues from escalating into major problems, thereby ensuring the roof's longevity and the safety of the structure beneath.

What Is The Life Expectancy Of A Commercial Roof?

Life Expectancy Common Commercial Roofing systems

The lifespan of a commercial roofing system is a crucial factor for business owners and facility managers. It determines how frequently the roof might need repairs or replacement, which, in turn, impacts budgeting and long-term planning. Different roofing systems come with their unique advantages, disadvantages, and life expectancies. Here, we explore the life expectancies of some common commercial roofing systems: TPO, EPDM, metal, and asphalt.

 TPO Roof System

TPO, or Thermoplastic Olefin, is a popular choice for commercial roofing due to its energy efficiency and environmentally friendly properties. A single-ply roofing system, TPO is known for reflecting UV rays, which can help in reducing cooling costs.

Life Expectancy: A TPO roof system typically has a life expectancy ranging from 15 to 20 years. However, with optimal installation and regular maintenance, some TPO roofs can last up to 30 years.

 EPDM Roof System

Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM) is a synthetic rubber roofing membrane widely used on commercial buildings. Renowned for its versatility and durability, EPDM offers excellent resistance to UV rays, ozone, and harsh weather conditions. Its dark colour can, however, make it less energy-efficient in warmer climates since it absorbs heat.

Life Expectancy: EPDM roofs can last between 20 to 30 years. As with any roofing system, this range can vary based on factors like installation quality, maintenance routines, and environmental factors. With diligent care and proactive maintenance, the higher end of this lifespan can be achieved.

 Metal Roof System

Metal roofing is favoured for its durability, aesthetics, and energy efficiency. Metal roofs can be made from various materials, including steel, aluminium, copper, and zinc. They are known to reflect sunlight, reducing energy costs, and they come in a variety of styles and finishes to match the aesthetic needs of the building.

Life Expectancy: Metal roofing systems have one of the longest life expectancies among commercial roofing materials, often ranging between 30 to 45 years. In some cases, with impeccable maintenance and ideal conditions, they can last for 50 years or more. However, factors like corrosion, especially in coastal areas or places with high industrial pollution, can affect their longevity.

 Asphalt Roof System

Asphalt roofing, particularly Built-Up Roofing (BUR) systems, has been a staple in commercial roofing for over a century. These systems are constructed by alternating layers of asphalt and reinforcing fabrics, creating a finished membrane. Sometimes, a top layer of stone or gravel is added for UV protection and durability.

Life Expectancy: The typical lifespan of an asphalt roof system ranges between 20 to 30 years. Factors such as the quality of materials, the number of layers (or "plies"), and maintenance practices can influence where within this range a particular roof might fall. Properly installed and maintained BUR systems, especially those with added protective layers, can extend toward the upper end of this lifespan.

Factors That Influence Commercial Roof Lifespan

Factors That Influence Commercial Roof Lifespan

A commercial building's roofing system is not just about aesthetics or providing a cover; it's an integral component safeguarding the investment and ensuring operational continuity. While the choice of material plays a fundamental role in determining its longevity, an array of other determinants comes into play.


At first glance, the slope or angle of a roof might seem like a mere architectural choice, but its implications on longevity are profound. A roof with an appropriately designed gradient encourages efficient water runoff. In regions with heavy precipitation or even sporadic rainfall, a poorly sloped roof can lead to water accumulation. 

Persistent stagnation accelerates wear and tear, provides a conducive environment for microbial growth like algae and fungi, and can lead to leaks or structural damage. Especially for commercial structures, which tend to favour flatter designs, ensuring effective drainage systems becomes paramount. By reducing prolonged exposure to moisture, an effective slope and drainage system can substantially increase the roof's lifespan.


The intricacies of roofing installation demand expertise, precision, and attention to detail. High-quality materials can underperform or even fail prematurely if installation errors occur. Incorrectly sealed seams, poorly installed insulation, misaligned tiles, or inadequately fastened components can become vulnerabilities. Furthermore, every roofing material has unique installation requirements. 

Ensuring that contractors are familiar with these specifics and adhere to manufacturer guidelines is pivotal. Opting for experienced professionals can prevent a myriad of issues down the line, emphasising the saying, "Well begun is half done."

Installation - Life Expectancy Of A Commercial Roof


Underlying the visible expanse of a roof is a dynamic system of airflow, critical to the roof's health. Proper ventilation ensures a balanced inflow and outflow of air, preventing the build-up of excessive heat and moisture. In the absence of this balance, trapped moisture can lead to wood rot, mould growth, and a reduction in insulation efficiency. 

Simultaneously, accumulated heat can cause roofing materials to age prematurely. A roofing system with optimised ventilation not only ensures the durability of materials but also contributes to energy efficiency, directly impacting operational costs.


Proactive and regular maintenance is the unsung hero in a roof's longevity story. While a roof might be designed to last decades, neglect can significantly shorten this lifespan. Routine inspections, especially after extreme weather events, can identify potential problem areas. 

Cleaning gutters, removing debris, checking for visible damage or wear, and ensuring flashings remain intact are essential activities in a maintenance regimen. This consistent care ensures minor issues are addressed promptly, preventing them from escalating into major, cost-intensive repairs or replacements.

 Weather and Climate

A roof's external environment continually challenges its durability. In regions prone to temperature swings, materials undergo cycles of expansion and contraction, affecting their integrity. Persistent exposure to UV rays in sunnier climates can lead to material degradation. Areas with frequent storms, hail, or high winds test the roof's resilience. 

Additionally, coastal zones present the challenge of salt-laden air, which can accelerate corrosion, especially for metal components. Recognising and preparing for these environmental challenges by selecting suitable materials and protective coatings can substantially bolster a roof's lifespan.

Weather and Climate - Life Expectancy Of A Commercial Roof

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