If you had an idea about the capability and price of different types of flat roofing systems, you’d find it truly easy to choose the right material for your Toronto ON commercial property. Becoming familiar with the different flat roof advantages and advantages, flat roof materials prices, and flat roof design makes the process even a leisure at times.

In addition, if you don’t like flat roof aesthetics, you’ll find some great flat roof alternatives having the same flat roof costs as the usual commercial roofing materials we listed here. Lastly, you’ll learn how to install flat roof systems in the best and most efficient way possible.

Choosing The Right Commercial Roofing Materials

  1. Built-Up Roofing
  2. Modified Bitumen
  3. Single-Ply Membranes (3 Items)
  4. Spray Polurethane Foam (+4 more)

Top-Performing Types of Flat Roofing Systems To Use

Built-Up Roofing

From 1920 onwards, the United States and other Western countries have spearheaded the use of built-up roofing. Among all the types of flat roofing systems, it is one of the oldest and continues to remain an efficient material.

Contractors refer to them as tar and gravel roofs because they use multiple felt layers sandwiched together by melted hot tar. This creates a membrane capable of withstanding rain, hail, or snowstorms. In addition, its gravel layer improves UV insulation, which helps overall property insulation.

However, tar emits an extremely strong and noxious odor that requires some time to dissipate. Additionally, you may dislike flashing covered in tar — despite not having any negative effect at all! It costs about $10-$12 per square foot of material.

Modified Bitumen

Built-up roofing tar was noxious enough to urge tenants to stay away from the property for one to two weeks. Before single-ply materials became readily available, commercial property owners chose to use modified bitumen roofing.

One of the most affordable types of flat roofing systems, modified bitumen shares similarities with tar and gravel roofs. First, it still uses waterproof roof membranes and the same “sandwich” form that gives built-up roofs their durability and insulating capacity.

However, instead of using melted tar, it has chunks of asphalt in between each sheet. Then, contractors will use a heat weld to melt the roofing material on the commercial roof. Additionally, it is more affordable costing only $7-$8 per square foot.

bitumen roof heat welded for efficient installation

Heat-welds melt the asphalt between the layers of bitumen roofs and will not emit any noxious smells.

Single-Ply Membranes


Ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) roofs, which contractors refer to commonly as rubber roofs, is one of the most affordable types of flat roofing systems. First, it uses recycled rubber sourced from former roadworthy tires, boots, and other rubber-plastic hybrids. Next, the melted rubber material received durability and longevity reinforcement from slate and sawdust.

Lastly, their machines will produce flat, single-ply membranes that are inches in thickness and let it dry until it is ready for rolling and distribution. It costs only $0.4 per square foot, introduces excellent rain, hail, and snow protection, but fails in handling huge foot traffic and additional heavy rooftop equipment.


Thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) is the next stage of EPDM roofs. You will recognize it easily from EPDM because of its natural white color (EPDM comes in black).

Sharing similar qualities with EPDM, TPO is made from rubber, but gets better reinforcing materials. Instead of slate and sawdust, TPO uses talc and fiberglass for its improved durability and longevity. Furthermore, talc gives it its powder white color — yet comes in different colors for an additional.

With this quality, TPO introduces better insulating capability than EPDM roofs. In addition, it can handle adequate foot traffic and lightweight rooftop equipment. It costs about $5-$6 per square foot.

TPO roofing membrane used in industrial application

TPO gives a snow-white color to any rooftop, which makes them perfect for insulation-hungry industrial properties.


Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is an industrial-grade plastic plumbing manufacturers widely use to create durable and long-lasting piping systems. Roofing material manufacturers use PVC as its base material for single-ply membranes. Using talc and fiberglass reinforcements, PVC roofs are as strong as metal roofs in many aspects.

With over 300 pounds per inch carrying capability, PVC is the choice where there are multiple HVAC and rooftop equipment. In addition, it handles foot traffic effectively, particularly invincible to pooled water, and is easy to clean. It comes in different colors too.

However, PVC roofs have a higher price compared to its counterparts. It costs about $14-$16 per square foot of PVC flat roof materials.

Spray Polyurethane Foam

Instead of using self-adhesive layers or heat-welds for material melting, spraying your roof on the deck is a faster and affordable process for most Toronto ON commercial properties. Specialty contractors and installers with manufacturer license can spray on your new polyurethane foam roof.

Polyurethane is a material that comes out as a liquid and hardens into foam a few hours after its application. The thick layer of foam guarantees excellent insulation and protection from the elements and rain, hail, and snowstorms. To enhance its durability, contractors will use an elastomeric paint the manufacturer provides.

However, SPF roofs require twice-yearly inspections to prevent possible severe damage and re-application. On the other hand, repairs only take a few sprays and crack-fills.

Alternatives to Flat Roofing Systems

Flat Metal Roofing

Metal flat roof materials use a special waterproof underlayment to ensure no internal leakage. Their appearance is similar to corrugated roofs. However, instead of the sinewave-style pattern for Toronto ON residential properties, commercial flat roof metal has square or rectangle sinewaves manufacturers usually adapt to commercial low-slope roofs.

In turn, it functions similar to usual flat roof materials but with added durability and longevity. Metal roofs can last for more than 70 years and are easy to install. However, they can be quite expensive; it costs $10-$14 per square foot of metal roofing materials.

roofing contractor preparing roof for concrete slab pouring

Contractors use additional labor to install the steel frames that will support the hardened concrete materials for slab roofs.

Concrete Slab

True enough, concrete slabs are one of the most expensive types of flat roofing systems. It requires massive labor, special equipment, and almost a ton of cement and additional materials such as specialty steel framing for concrete structures. It may cost about $16-$20 per square foot.

However, the payoff is truly amazing. Concrete slab roofs can last for more than 70 years and introduces an excellent roof that can withstand rain, hail, or snowstorms. True enough, it may require additional waterproof shielding through acrylic paint, but it can withstand heavy foot traffic and roof deck installations for hotels and similar properties.

One More Alternative: Green Roofs for Commercial Properties

Ensuring an Effective Flat Roof Installation

You’re already making an investment in expensive flat roofing materials, so you’d definitely want to make sure the labor installs it correctly to avoid long-term roofing damage and unexpected replacement costs. A good contractor is one with experience and knowledge in their roofing procedures.

Skyluxe Roofing has decades of experience installing roofs for residential, commercial, and industrial properties. We are confident we can deliver the top-quality roofing service you need. Contact us today for a free estimate!