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If you’re looking into a commercial roof installation, then you’ve probably heard talk about built-up roofing (BUR) as an option. That’s not surprising—BUR has been the go-to low-slope roofing option for over a century. And even as new roofing materials have been developed, BUR remains a competitive choice for commercial flat roofs.
Classic Roofing & Construction has been installing built-up roofing systems from Orlando to Miami for 20 years, so we know a thing or two about this and other commercial roofing materials. Today, we’re going to talk about how BUR stands up to its new competition. But more than that, we’re going to discuss how to make the best choice for your commercial roof installation.
What Is Built-Up Roofing?
Built-up roofing systems, as the name suggests, are made of several layers of material. While the composition can vary, the general idea is simple: By having several layers of the same materials, the roof stays strong even if one of the layers is damaged. In other words, where other roofing systems try to prevent any kind of failure, BUR work by having redundancies in place to protect against roof failures.
As mentioned, each built-up roofing system has a different composition. But in almost all cases, it starts with a base layer of insulation and waterproofing. Asphalt is then applied over the base sheet and covered with a reinforcing layer of felt. The asphalt gives the felt (called a cover board) something to adhere to, and the felt then creates additional waterproofing.
Depending on the commercial roofing company and the needs of your roof, this is accomplished by applying hot asphalt or by cold-applying adhesive to the base. In either case, the commercial roofer then repeats this process until they reach the desired number of layers. Once the roof has been “built up,” the roofer covers it with a stone-coated cap sheet and more asphalt or gravel to improve physical durability.
In the end, you have a reliable roofing system made of several layers of protection. And with all the backup layers, your roof still has protection even if a problem develops. But what are the hard facts about built-up roofing systems? Do they really work for commercial roofs?
Pros of Built-up Roofing
When you’re looking for a new commercial roofing system in Florida, there are a lot of factors to consider. Florida is known for getting a lot of rain, a lot of sun, and a lot of storms, all of which are dangerous to a roof. So naturally, property owners want to make sure they’re making a good investment in the life and safety of their buildings.
Here are all the essential facts to know about how a built-up roofing system performs.
When it comes to longevity, built-up roofing systems are extremely competitive. As mentioned, there is a lot of variation in different built-up roofing systems. But conventional wisdom holds that you can expect to get five years from your roof per layer. As a result, you can reasonably expect a BUR roof to last up to 30 years.
Impact Resistance of Built-up Roofing
Resistance to physical damage is one of BUR’s greatest strengths. Since it’s covered with gravel, it’s extremely resistant to hail and storm debris, two big roofing problems for Floridians. This is in stark contrast to another popular commercial roofing option, TPO, which is much more sensitive to being punctured or damaged by hail or branches.
UV and Heat Resistance
The Sunshine State doesn’t take it easy on roofing systems. That’s why they have to be able to handle UV rays and heat, and BUR delivers. Thanks to the gravel on top, built-up roofing systems are largely unaffected by UV rays. This translates to a stronger, hardier roofing system for your commercial structure.
Normally, flat roofing systems have installation seams, like EPDM. However, built-up roofing systems are 100% sealed. As a result, they’re better insulated and keep a strong barrier between your building and the elements.
One great feature about built-up roofs is that they don’t require much maintenance. Of course, leaks can happen over time like with any other roofing system. But in general, BUR systems require little maintenance, and when they do need some upkeep, it can often be solved by simply adding more gravel to the system. This can help keep your roofing costs down in the long term.
Cons of Built-up Roofing
Of course, there’s no such thing as a perfect roofing commercial system. Built-up roofing has its advantages and disadvantages, and you’ll need to know both to make an informed choice for your roof. In our 20 years of installing commercial roofs across Florida, these are the issues we’ve noticed with BUR.
In terms of raw materials, BUR isn’t extremely expensive. However, the price does go up because you need many layers of material to build a secure roofing system. And that increases the cost of labor, since the roofers have to install these many layers on top of each other, which takes extra time. This is partially why single ply roofing systems have become more popular in recent years.
Being able to stand up to wind is a big issue in Florida, but built-up roofing isn’t always the best at it. While wind probably won’t damage your underlying built-up roof, it can send the top layer of gravel flying. This can create additional debris during a storm, which may pose a danger to your structure and those immediately next to it.
Difficult Leak Detection
While built-up roofs are unlikely to develop leaks, they can happen with any roofing system. And if it happens with BUR, the presence of so many layers makes it difficult to identify where the leak is coming from. Leaks can travel between layers or even get trapped in between layers, which makes the process even more challenging. So if you need to fix a leak in a BUR system down the line, you’ll need an experienced crew to help.
Find Your Flat Roofing Company
Whether you decide on a built-up roofing system or another commercial roofing material, you’ll need help from professionals you can trust. And the in-house crew at Classic is ready to help.
With 20 years of experience and no subcontractors, we bring professionalism to every job. That and our 100% happiness guarantee are why we have over 350 reviews and an average 4.8/5 stars! Whether you decide to go with a built-up roofing system or an alternative like TPO, EPDM, or modified bitumen, we have just the expert crew for the job.
If you’re ready to discuss your flat roofing options, schedule your free estimate online! One of our knowledgeable, friendly roofing experts will inspect your property and provide you with a comprehensive quote for any roofing materials you’re considering. Give us a shot and find out why Florida loves our Classic way of doing business.