Any experienced contractor will tell you the best time to find flat roof replacement options is when your existing roof is about five years until the manufacture-set lifetime ends. True enough, you can find plenty of commercial flat roof materials to replace your roof.

However, flat roof systems differ from each other in terms of cost, advantages, durability, lifespan, and overall value for money.

Therefore, it pays to know the different types of flat roof alternatives you can get for Toronto ON commercial properties. Here are all of them listed below.

The Best Flat Roof Replacement Options Available

Metal Roofs

When we say metal roofing, most Toronto ON commercial property owners believe we are talking about residential properties. The truth is, one of the best flat roof replacement options is a metal flat roof.

These roofing materials can last for more than 50 years with effective maintenance. In addition, aluminum roofs do not corrode at all. However, this material is the most expensive of all metal roofs. However, steel roofs with acrylic coating cost lower and can withstand adequate foot traffic.

arched metal roof commercial structure in japan

In most commercial properties, metal roofs are slightly arched rather than flat. This allows it to introduce better rainfall management and excellent aesthetic too.

Related: Why Get Metal Roofs for Your Commercial Property?

Tar and Gravel

Many commercial property owners cut flat roof replacement cost by using built-up roofing (BUR). Tar and gravel roofs are classic examples of BUR materials and are frequent flat roof replacement options.

First, contractors will find suppliers of waterproof roofing materials. Next, they will cake these materials together with tar to form sandwiched layers before installing them on the roof. True enough, tar and gravel roofs can withstand several hailstorms because of its gravel layer that catches the hailstones upon impact.

However, tar is smelly. Property owners may have to ask tenants to take a few weeks of leave until the smell of tar goes away after installation.


Ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) roofs are one of the most affordable flat roof replacement options. Many contractors and property owners favor EPDM or rubber roofs because of its durability, longevity, and low price.

EPDM costs $0.4 per square foot. Therefore, a square of EPDM roof costs about $400, which makes them one of the most common flat roof replacement options for most Toronto ON commercial properties.

However, some tools and even ladders can puncture EPDM roofs easily. However, standards ensure this single-ply roofing material withstands several hailstorms and lasts for 15-25 years.

Related: How Many Years Does a Flat Roof Last?


Thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) is the evolution of EPDM roofs. First, manufacturers create an EPDM base. However, instead of slate and sawdust as its strengtheners, thermoplastic polyolefin has talc and fiberglass.

In turn, the material gains better durability and longevity. It can withstand more hailstorms than EPDM roofs. Additionally, it has a white color because of talc and fiber, which introduces better roof appeal than a monotonic black finish common with EPDM roofs.

However, TPO still has the same lifespan as its predecessor offering about 15-25 years of protection for roofs until they’re due for replacement.


A PVC flat roof is a primary choice among commercial property owners willing to invest in materials with longer lifespans. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is the same material that plastic pipe manufacturers use in their materials. However, PVC roof manufacturers flatten their materials and reinforce them with felt and fiberglass to strengthen and improve their lifespan.

PVC materials offer 20-30 years of excellent roofing protection. In addition, it can carry heavy equipment because PVC has a strength of 300 pounds per inch (PPI).

Modified Bitumen

Built-up roofing is one of the most common flat roof replacement options for commercial property owners. However, an affordable yet long-lasting alternative to these materials are modified bitumen roofs.

Manufacturers use the same waterproofing materials for tar and gravel roofs. However, instead of tar, manufacturers sandwich them together with mastic asphalt.

During the installation process, contractors use a heating element such as a welding torch to melt the material on the roof structure. In turn, it introduces a watertight seal that guarantees excellent protection, insulation, and long-term durability up to 40 years.

Spray Applied Coating

Spray polyurethane foam is one of the most affordable flat roof replacement options in the market.

First, it does not require extensive labor but will require spray applied coating specialists. Second, it allows you to keep your existing roofing material and seal it in with spray polyurethane foam to extend its lifespan and improve its durability.

Polyurethane coating acts as a sealant that seeps into the cracks, holes, and other problematic areas of your roof. Then, it will dry up and harden in the process.

Once it hardens, contractors will apply a thin coat for added roof reinforcement. Lastly, commercial property owners can choose to have their coated roof painted to improve its aesthetic appeal.

Green Roofing

Green roofing is an excellent replacement option for flat roofs because it gives exceptional curb appeal for any commercial property, introduces excellent insulation, hailstorm protection, and tax exemptions in Toronto ON too.

However, green roofing is labor intensive. It will require hours of contractor work from laying down the waterproofing material, soil for planting, the planting of the vegetation, and final checks until the green roof is good for public access.

Green roofs can last for 50 plus years or more with effective maintenance in the form of gardening and underlayment and downspout checks.

beautiful green grass roofs in new york

Green roofs are labor intensive. However, they introduce excellent benefits for commercial property owners.

Concrete Slab

Similar to green roofs, concrete slabs are labor intensive. However, they require less expenses on maintenance yet offer excellent hailstorm protection, durability, and longevity in the process.

First, contractors will create the concrete slab foundation by erecting steel beams that will serve as the mold of the roofing slab. Then, they will bring in heavy equipment to pour concrete. Next, they will let the concrete mixture dry before they lay down the flat roof tiles.

True enough, bare concrete slabs make a commercial property look industrial when you view it from a tall structure. However, tiles allow it to withstand better foot traffic and improve its lifespan too.

contractors preparing a building roof for conrete slab pouring

Before pouring the concrete, contractors build the framework using steel bars and even wood for concrete slabs.

Wrapping Up

If you’re planning to replace your flat roof material soon, then knowing all these options for flat roof materials will definitely help you make the right decision.

However, make sure you have a contractor with installation or replacement experience with your chosen roofing material. Skyluxe Roofing is a decades-experienced contractor with installation, repair, and replacement for green roofs, single-ply membranes, built-up roofing, and modified bitumen roofs.

Call us today if you need to have your roof replaced immediately!