Roofing systems are integral to the structure and protection of any commercial building.  As such, they are built for long-term durability and feature high performance materials and components in their construction. Nevertheless, no roofing system lasts forever, particularly in climates that receive a wide range of temperature swings (like roofs in Manitoba). So, when your commercial roof is showing signs of wear and tear, how can you tell if it’s time to re-cover or replace your roof?

There are a number of reasons commercial roofs can fail; problems are sometimes associated with poor design and installation, poor maintenance, or even simply the age of the roof. Regardless of the specific problem of your roof, the best remedy should arise from careful consideration of the following:

  • The extent and severity of damage,
  • The quality and effectiveness of insulation,
  • The current status of the building (i.e. is it occupied or are their other maintenance issues?),
  • Building purpose and location,
  • Signs of internal moisture,
  • The nature of the remediation (i.e. is this an emergency repair? Are you looking for long-term solutions?).

Once you have a clearer picture of these factors, you should speak to a qualified roofing professional about the best course of action. Typically speaking, roofing fixes can be categorized as repair, coating, re-covering, or replacement.  Let’s have a closer look at each.

Repair - With respect to repairing your roof, these are great options for more minor problems. Repairs are advisable when your roofing membrane is within the manufacturer’s stipulated lifespan and no major problems have been identified.  If your roofing insulation is also in good order, repairs are usually a low cost and appropriate solution. Annual inspections are recommended on flat roofs to ensure that any minor items are caught before they fester into larger problems. 

Coating - Coating is also a good option if you want extra protection against leaks or to extend the life of your roof.  In addition, certain types of coating can improve the energy efficiency of your building which ultimately translates to lower heating and cooling costs.  A new coating is less labour intensive and will be less likely to interrupt business operations than more major repairs such as re-covering or replacing your roof. 

Re-cover - If your roof is showing more serious signs of damage, re-covering may be an option to give your roof a new face lift while maintaining the bones below. Not all damage justifies replacement, and in many cases re-covering is a more affordable and equally acceptable solution to roof problems.  If your roofer has determined that roofing structures are fundamentally sound they might suggest this route. 

Replacement - Roof replacement is typically recommended when damage is severe or extensive (i.e. more than one quarter of the roof is damaged), insulation is wet or damaged, or you want a new roof that features the most recent roofing technologies.

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