Upgrading Your Commercial Roof: When and Why it is Necessary

Upgrading your commercial roof concept.

Commercial buildings need modifications over time, especially as the roof ages. This article will discuss several reasons a commercial property owner would want to consider upgrading their roof. The key questions are how you would benefit from an upgrade, what upgrades to make, and when to make them. Once your upgrade project is complete, you’ll see a range of long-term and short-term benefits for your employees, customers, business, and property asset.

When to upgrade a commercial building’s roof

Commercial property owners commonly consider improvements to their roof near the end of its lifespan, approximately 20-25 years. This is when you will likely see a combination of visible wear and tear, signs of less-than-ideal performance (such as higher energy bills), and the need for more frequent servicing. Upgrades are also commonly considered when planning building renovations, expansions, or changes in occupancy. 


A commercial roof upgrade may also be beneficial or necessary under these circumstances:

  • Wanting to raise, or avoid lowering, the selling price of the property 
  • Compliance with a purchase and sale agreement
  • Change in property use, such as from a grocery store to an auto dealership, an abandoned factory to a self-storage facility, or a warehouse to an HACCP food manufacturing facility
  • If the lender holds back the cost of a roof replacement against the loan advance when refinancing a property
  • Plan to use rooftop space for cellular or solar PV, particularly when starting a long-term project is when your roof is less than seven years old

Benefits of commercial roofing upgrades 

Given advances in roofing materials, insulation, and techniques since installing the existing roof, you will have options that provide superior performance, durability, and longevity. Of course, two of your main goals will be avoiding the risk of leaks and reducing expenses for maintenance and repairs.

When you upgrade your commercial roof, you can also set objections and prioritize potential benefits, such as: 

  • Enhance energy-efficiency
  • Let in more natural light
  • Increase the comfort of employees and customers
  • Be more environmentally sustainable
  • Raise the value of the property
  • Comply with revised building codes, safety regulations, safety standards
  • Increase long-term ROI

Upgrading your commercial roof concept.

Ways to upgrade your commercial roof

As you work with your roofing contractor, you will discuss ways to meet your objectives while meeting your schedule and budget. Below are examples of upgrades popular among commercial property owners.

Upgrade roof materials or membrane  

Three common goals when upgrading your commercial roof include improving durability, weather resistance, and longevity. The best options include modified bitumen or BUR asphalt and gravel membranes. When replacing your roofing options, your roofer will also discuss the fire rating, UV resistance, and environmental certifications.

Add or upgrade insulation

Insulation upgrades–such as rigid foam boards that achieve optimum R-values and thermal resistance, can reduce rooftop temperatures and cooling costs in summer and heating costs in winter. Improved insulation materials do more than previously possible for minimizing heat absorption, mitigating urban heat island effects, and improving occupant comfort. 

Upgrade roof drainage

One of the main reasons why commercial roofs leak, require excessive maintenance, and need more frequent repair is a poorly planned or damaged drain systems. Drainage is a primary element your contractor will address when upgrading a roof. Upgrades may include installing additional roof drains, scuppers, or gutters to ensure proper water run-off away from the building.

Proper drainage can improve roof performance in so many ways:

  • Improve the longevity of roofing materials and preserve structural integrity 
  • Prevent ponding water that can result in damage to underlying materials 
  • Ensure prompt and effective drainage away from seams, flashing, roof penetrations, and other vulnerable areas 
  • Protect against ice dams and the effects of Toronto’s freeze-thaw cycle
  • Reduce the risk of rot, mould, biological growth, and deterioration of building materials
  • Prevent ice accumulation either on the roof or at locations where there is a discharge to grade that can cause slip and fall injuries   
  • Protect landscaping and property features by preventing erosion and improper water run-off 
  • Direct water away from sensitive areas such as gardens, walkways, pedestrian entrances, and the building’s foundation walls

Install skylights

Skylights maximize natural light and reduce reliance on artificial lighting in areas with little direct sunlight–but with serious precautions. Often a roof upgrade will include the provision of new skylights. It is important to plan out the locations of the skylights on the roof to make sure that water flows are not obstructed, and snow drifts and shading are kept to a minimum. Check out this case study for a community center and building of worship.

Improve roof access and safety

It’s a good idea to ask your roofer if you should upgrade your roof access to better protect maintenance personnel, service technicians, and emergency responders. Your roofing contractor’s plan should include proper installation and placement of roof access hatches, guardrails, walkways, and fall protection systems. To avoid liability, be sure that the roofer is in full compliance with building and safety codes. 

Is it time to upgrade your commercial roof?

Whether you have an aging roof, plan to renovate, intend to sell, or anticipate a change in occupancy, it pays to consider upgrading your commercial roof. Upfront costs may be higher, but they will be outweighed by benefits, including energy savings, reduced maintenance costs, increased property value, extended roof lifespan, and return on investment. 

You can further protect your existing or upgraded roof using two key methods. The first is to keep up maintenance to keep minor problems from turning into larger, more expensive ones. The second is to schedule twice-yearly inspections to repair existing problems and detect potential issues down the road. When it’s time to upgrade your commercial roof, you can trust Toronto’s Elite Roofing to install your roof with superior workmanship backed by our 24/7 emergency service. Contact us today and get the Elite Advantage.