How Commercial Roofing Differs From Residential Roofing

A roof is a roof, right? Not necessarily. Commercial roofs are different from residential roofs. Yes, both are structures that enclose the building and protect it from the elements. Your home’s roof has many similarities to the roof of a commercial building. However, there are enough differences to make it vital that you understand the varied approaches to roofing.

Let’s examine how commercial roofing differs from residential roofing and why those differences matter.


Commercial roofing is usually much more focused on practicality and function than residential roofing. That doesn’t mean that the roof on a family home doesn’t need to function well or that the roof on a commercial building will be unattractive. It indicates that appearance is generally lower on the priority list for commercial roofing selection.

The purpose of either a commercial or residential roof is fundamentally the same: keep weather and nature out and keep cooled or heated air in. But how those tasks are performed differs, as does the typical order of items on a list of priorities like appearance, costs, or longevity.


You may sometimes see the same materials used for commercial and residential roofing projects. However, there are more material options available for commercial applications. Commercial roofs are also more likely to incorporate air conditioning or additional vents. That may affect what materials are appropriate for supporting those elements. Quality roofing materials are available for both types of roofs. Your roofing contractor can help you determine which materials best fit your style of structure, budget, roof shape, and priorities.

Shape and Design

Most commercial structures have gently sloped or flat roofs. Houses tend to have taller, steeply sloped rooflines. This higher pitch makes residential roofs look different and affects functionality and the construction of the underlying roof support structures.

Commercial buildings tend to be larger than residential structures. That means a commercial roof has to cover more surface area. That larger size changes how the roof must be designed and constructed. More space to cover also leads to differences in what materials work most effectively.

A larger roof is a heavier roof. Commercial roofing contractors will understand how to deal with the additional weight, what products will perform best, and how to deal with the need for extra or different types of support.

Costs and Timelines

A bigger roof will take more time to install and will likely cost more than your residence’s smaller roof. More materials and more installation labor increase prices and completion times. Additionally, if your commercial structure requires more support, additional vents, or other special considerations, you can expect those elements to increase costs and timelines.

Take advantage of roofing contractors near you that offer free roofing estimates. Not only will that give you an idea of your costs, but it can also be an excellent opportunity to discuss the particulars of your project. That ensures you understand the options available and the scope of the work needed.


Many of the same principles and skills apply to commercial and residential roofing installation. However, because of the different sizes, shapes, support structures, and materials, you want to ensure that you work with a roofer with the relevant experience. Commercial roofing contractors will have the skills necessary for larger projects. Some roofing companies will do both commercial and residential projects and can complete either type of job expertly. Just ensure that they have experience with your type of roofing project. That knowledge is essential to avoiding low-quality work and problems with installation.


Commercial roofs tend to require more maintenance. If the roofline has twice as many feet of gutters, that’s twice as much gutter cleaning. With the increased size of many commercial roofs, properly evaluating their condition can also be challenging. For most residential roofs, you can do at least a cursory scan of the entire area while you stand on the ground, looking for areas of concern. This type of inspection isn’t always possible with a larger commercial roof.

You should frequently check your commercial or residential roof for any changes or areas that look like something might be off. Consider more frequent professional roof inspections for a commercial building to ensure you catch minor issues before they become big problems.

A roof may seem like just a glorified wall. You often aren’t aware of all that a roof does to protect your building and belongings. Your roof helps to manage the temperature, reduces heating and cooling costs, and protects your structure from humidity, among other functions. When your roof is doing its job correctly, you don’t notice it. Only when something goes wrong are you reminded of the critical role your roof plays. To prevent that painful reminder, you need a properly installed roof with suitable materials for your project. Knowing that there are differences between commercial and residential roofing means understanding the importance of hiring a roofing contractor with the skills and know-how to get the project done right.

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