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Re-Roofing: Commercial Metal Roof vs Commercial Flat Roof

Re-roofing your commercial building is a big project. In fact, it may be one of your biggest business investments, so it’s critical you do your research and talk to a commercial roofing expert before choosing between a metal or flat roof. Climate, building slope, roof size, and building codes are all key points to think about if you are considering commercial roof replacement. 

In this blog, we help make this process easier by comparing our Butler manufactured MR-24 Metal Roof System to a conventional flat or membrane roof.

Butler’s MR-24 Metal Roof Versus Flat Roof Systems

Comparing Re-roofing Materials

Flat roofs come in a variety of different materials. One of the most common, a “rubber roof” also known as EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) membrane roofs, is made from a blend of recycled tires, sawdust, and slate dust. They are single-ply roofs and installed in large sheets that are chemically bonded together. TPO and PVC membrane roofs, made of thermoplastic materials, are also in the commercial flat roof family:

  • TPO (Thermoplastic Polyolefin) – a single-ply roofing membrane composed of synthetic components along with a fabric reinforcing scrim that stabilizes and strengthens the membrane.
  • PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) – a synthetic thermoplastic polymer prepared from vinyl chloride. PVC is a white membrane that is installed using heat welding with a hot air gun to weld the seams.
  • Ballasted Roofs – a layer of stone spread over a loose laid membrane to hold it and the insulation down.

Butler’s MR-24 Metal Roof is an industrial and commercial standing seam metal and comes with many benefits including the following: 

  • Precision engineered steel panels were designed and manufactured at a quality-controlled factory and seamed together on-site with the industry’s only 360-degree Pittsburgh double-lock seam.
  • Resistant to corrosion, foot traffic, and easily sheds snow and ice.
  • Able to be installed over existing roof framing with minimal or no reinforcement.
  • Made from recycled content and can be recycled again once it reaches its lifespan.
  • Typical lifespan of 50+ years.

Take a look at several re-roofing projects to see what your commercial building may require.

Metal Roof vs Flat Roof Installation

Tearing off an old roof and starting from scratch is expensive, time-consuming, and exposes the interior of the building to harsh elements. Fortunately, both metal and commercial flat roofs (with the exception of ballasted roofs in most cases) can be installed over an existing roof. This is a major advantage of both metal and membrane roofs.

One of the major differences between the two is how the individual roofing sections are connected together. The seaming process, which is one of the most critical details during the re-roofing installation, is what creates the weather-tight barrier between the structure and the elements. Metal roofing and membrane roofing have very different processes.

  • Membrane roof seams are glued together, heated with an asphalt tape sealant, or chemically bonded. Proper application of these seams can be difficult in some climates and result in delamination, leaks, and eventual roof damage.
  • Butler’s MR-24 Metal Roof System is mechanically seamed every 24 inches, with the exclusive 360-degree Pittsburgh double-lock seam, the same seam that is used in automobile fuel tanks, oil storage drums, and soft drink cans. The final 180-degrees of the seam is mechanically field-rolled for superior protection, leaving no room for human error. 

The last thing any business owner needs is ongoing roof maintenance concerns. The MR-24 Metal Roof seaming installation guarantees the strongest possible seal, resulting in minimal weather-induced damage and repair costs.

Take a look at our re-roofing installation checklist to get your project started on the right track!

Re-Roofing Lifespan

A properly installed Butler MR-24 standing seam roof has a lifespan of 50+ years, while a membrane roof typically lasts between 20 to 30 years, depending on several factors including material type, thickness, and climate conditions. 

Due to its innovative design, the MR-24 Roof System is labeled as one of the most dependable standing-seam metal roofs and has over 50+ years of proven weathertight performance. 

  • Metal roofs can often cost more upfront when compared to membrane or flat roofs, but the extra cost is an investment in its longevity. A building owner will pay for at least two membrane roofs in the time coverage of one MR-24 roof.

Roof Durability

When it comes to durability, there are some significant differences between membrane and metal roofs. 

  • Membrane roofs are more susceptible to damage from harsh weather, especially if you live in an environment subject to high wind, extreme temperatures, or frequent freeze/thaw cycles. 
  • Membrane roofs are susceptible to damage from a high degree of foot traffic. Walking on the surface can weaken seams or puncture the roof surface, resulting in leaks. This makes repairs and maintenance tricky because regular access to the roof can be necessary for routine maintenance.
  • Many metal roofs are designed to withstand rigorous testing standards. The Butler MR-24 roof system is approved for UL Class 90 wind uplift rating, U.S Army Corps-tested, FM Global available, and is Miami-Dade County approved.

One industrial manufacturer needed a re-roofing contractor to help keep the ice cream churning! View the case study now.

Roof Maintenance Comparison

When you invest in a traditional commercial flat roof, you are also investing in ongoing preventative maintenance and upkeep. There are seasonal maintenance items that must be completed to extend the longevity and functionality of the roof. With proper care and maintenance, a flat membrane roof can last 20 - 30 years.  An owner can expect to see annual maintenance costs for patching and flashing repairs about ⅔ through the life of the roof. 

The only upkeep required for an MR-24 standing seam roof is to seasonally clean gutters of leaves and debris. It’s a great worry-free option over a conventional membrane roof and comes with a 25-year warranty for panel finish protection and optional weather tightness warranty.  The bonus: An MR-24 roof will likely last for 50 years or more with minimal maintenance and upkeep. 

Did you know A.C.E. Building Service offers industrial and commercial re-roofing services? Take a look here to learn more now.

Re-Roofing Energy Efficiency

Re-roofing involves placing a new roof on an existing roofing structure, and as a result, both a rubber and metal re-roofing job is likely to increase the energy efficiency of your building.

A re-roof adds another layer of insulation to keep heat contained in the winter and to protect from direct sunlight in the summer. Re-roofing is a great way to improve your energy efficiency and give your building a new look and added protection.

Download our Re-Roofing Checklist to see how the ‘other guys’ in the market simply can’t compare to Butler’s innovative roof systems and installation approach.

Which Commercial Roof is Right for Your Roof Replacement?

Metal and membrane roofs are the leading industry standard for flat and low-slope commercial buildings, such as warehouses, office buildings, and retail centers. For years, they have provided business owners peace of mind knowing their facility, employees, and products are protected.

But when it comes to key factors like lifespan, installation, and durability, there is no comparison to Butler’s innovative design and long-standing superior reputation.

A.C.E. Building Service offers commercial and industrial re-roofing services with a reputation of being trustworthy, fair, and honest. We are happy to help assess your re-roofing needs and will work with you to fully understand what choice is best for your business. 

Are you interested in learning more about our services or our partnership with Butler Manufacturing? Call us today or complete the project consultation form. We look forward to hearing from you!

Topics: Reroof

Written by Chris Herzog

Chris is a graduate of The University of Wisconsin - Platteville where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Construction Management. In addition, he is a LEED accredited professional (LEED-AP). He began his career with A.C.E. in 2005 as an estimator/project manager and later held the responsibilities of business development and marketing before assuming the role of President in 2021. In addition to the overall management and leadership of the company, he continues to build relationships with clients, serves at the board level in several community organizations, and ensures that the company's core values are upheld and at the center of every project.