The impact of hail damage on a commercial roof can be disastrous. While hail damage can vary in severity depending on the type of roof membrane you have, any damage should be assessed and attended to promptly by a professional roofer.
How Commercial Roof Types Stand Up to Hail
Each type of commercial roof has its strengths and weaknesses. When it comes to withstanding hailstones, some commercial roof types are more prone to sustaining damage than others, succumbing to hailstones as small as a half-inch in diameter or even smaller. Other types of commercial roofs have a more robust resistance to hail damage.
Here is a breakdown:
- BUR: Built-up roofing (BUR) that features gravel surfacing to protect the roof membrane is very hearty in standing up to hail. BUR systems installed in smooth-surfaced configurations are more susceptible to hail damage.
- Metal: Metal roofing commonly becomes dented when pelted with hail, but the damage is typically cosmetic. However, hailstones can impair a metal roof’s water-tightness if the roof panel finish is chipped or cracked by the hail, which can then lead to the development of rust.
- EPDM: Ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) roofing, also known as rubber roofing, is flexible and usually stands up well to hail up to 2.5 inches in diameter. If an EPDM roof does sustain hail-related damage, it usually manifests as surface cracking. EPDM roofs are most susceptible to hail-caused fracturing at the roof perimeter or in areas where equipment has been installed. Additionally, if the roof substrate isn’t solid, hail can puncture the membrane.
- Modified Bitumen: Modified bitumen roofs are generally able to withstand even very large hail. Granule-surfaced BUR is the heartiest type of modified bitumen roofing, but the underlying reinforcement can sustain fracturing from hail, and hail can also displace the granules. The most vulnerable parts of a modified bitumen roof are unsupported areas where there is ridging or blistering.
- Thermoplastic: Thermoplastic roof membranes, like PVC and TPO, can hold up against hail that is approximately 1 ¾ inches or smaller, but fracturing and other kinds of damage can occur from even very small hailstones if the membrane is old and has deteriorated.
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