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The Difference Between Residential and Commercial Roofing

The Difference Between Residential and Commercial Roofing

There is an excellent reason that services differentiate between a traditional commercial roof and a residential roof. Not only are they constructed and installed in different ways, but they also serve different purposes. It’s essential to understand the differences when planning work or maintenance on a commercial building. Here’s what you should know and why it matters:

Structural Design

While design can vary, many commercial buildings have specific “low-slope” roof designs that mean the roof is nearly flat. Residential rooftops can also be low-slope, but it’s quite common to see high-slope rooftops with significant peaks.

So what are the reasons for these design differences? A commercial rooftop often needs to cover a lot of space as efficiently as possible with affordable costs. A flat roof gets the job done with fewer materials and a faster installation process. Meanwhile, a residential rooftop's purpose is to maximize inside space, making room for a second story or attic while also showing off roof materials. These rooftops may also need to accommodate gables, windows, large chimneys and other additions. Higher slopes enable this to happen.


Commercial rooftops frequently use plastic, rubber or asphalt-based layers (or, in some cases, metal panels are the best choice). EPDM and PVC are two common materials, but there are many options. These materials have several advantages for low-slope rooftops. They're thin and don’t add much weight to the roof. They can usually be installed quickly, making large commercial roofing projects easier to plan and handle. Since commercial rooftops get so much exposure to the sun and other elements, these materials are designed to withstand UV radiation and other natural problems. If something does go wrong, the layers are typically easy to quickly patch for repairs.

On the other hand, residential rooftops need materials that can easily be installed on high slopes and are pleasant to look at. That’s why nailed shingles are a popular choice. Still, a variety of shingles, panels or tiles can be used, depending on the roof and climate. Roofing materials broken down into smaller parts like this are easier to install on high slopes, durable against wind damage (which is a greater factor here), and easier to replace in sections if part of the roof gets damaged.

The Difference Between Residential and Commercial Roofing


Not all commercial buildings need a traditional commercial roof. Some commercial buildings are shaped more like residential houses and will benefit more from a residential approach. Other businesses may be in historical buildings that require their own unique renovation and materials. Different types of buildings, like warehouses vs. office buildings, could call for different types of rooftops as well. That’s why it’s crucial to find an experienced roofing service that can offer advice on what materials and approaches will work best in which situations.

Interested in having work done on your commercial roof? Need a unique project like a historic restoration? Contact MG Roofing today, and we will be happy to provide you with more information, quotes and inspections to get your roofing project started.