Five Commercial Roofing Terms You Need To Know

When working on repairing or installing a new roof, it is easy for clients to get lost with all of the jargon and acronyms thrown at them. Terms like TOP, R-value, and roof substrates are very important to us but often fall on deaf ears when talking to a manager who simply wants their leak fixed. 


MaintenX believes that education is the first step to a productive technician-client dialogue. If you’re curious to learn more about your roofing service, below are a few of the common terms you may hear, and how they pertain to your roofing service: 


Roofing systems: EPDM, BUR, TPO, and PVC 

The roofing “system” used simply means the type of material used for your rooftop. While some systems you may be familiar with – such as concrete or asphalt – these less common systems are important to understand for commercial applications: 


  • EPDM – A single-ply hardy rubber material that is common for walkways and roofing. 


  • Built-up Roofing (BUR) – A semi-flexible roofing membrane that is constructed in layers to achieve maximum durability and water resistance. 


  • TPO – A single-ply roof membrane made of synthetic compounds to increase durability and water resistance. 


  • PVC – a double-layered roof material where polyester is added between the layers of PVC to support the system.


Roofing coatings: elastomeric or acrylic

Roofing systems are not constructed in a single layer. They have materials underneath and coatings to protect the material from sun and water damage. The two most common types of roofing coatings are elastomeric and acrylic, both different kinds of plastic which provide a waterproof barrier. 



Like the roof coating, flashing helps protect the roof from water and weather damage. Flashing is placed underneath the edges of the roof to prevent leaks and debris from entering the interior of the building. 



The R-value of a roof is its rating for the ability to resist conductive heat. This is especially important for determining the energy efficiency of roofing in sunny areas like Florida and can determine whether a roofing system is safe for commercial or industrial applications.



The substrate is the foundation of the roof. It is the layer upon which everything else is built, including insulation, flashing, and waterproof barriers. 


With this knowledge at hand, you can better communicate with your MaintenX contractor and prepare for roofing maintenance for your facility. To learn more about the roofing industry and services we provide, visit our Resource Center.

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