Damaged Commercial Roofs: Re-cover or Replace?

Commercial roofing systems are designed to last for many years. Even so, problems can still arise throughout the course of their lifespan. Perhaps the roof was improperly installed, the owner failed to maintain it, or there was a flaw in the original design. When a problem occurs with commercial roofing, there are four basic solutions to choose from: coat, repair, full replacement, or re-cover.

Before making a decision, a few points need to be considered first.

  • How damaged is the roof, and how is its overall condition?
  • Is there enough insulation installed in the roof?
  • Is the building occupied or vacant?
  • What is the building used for?
  • Where is the building located?
  • Can the roof be easily removed?
  • Do I need a short-term patch up or a long-term fix?

To determine which is the best solution to pursue, consider the benefits of each one and what factors to examine on the roof itself.


Quite often, commercial roofs can be coated as a method of extending their life. There are numerous reasons why owners may choose to coat the roof. It offers extra protection from leaks, is less disruptive than removing the entire roof, and improves its overall aesthetic look. Coating also improves the comfort level inside the building because it reflects the sun away from the roof and keeps the building much cooler. It’s a cost-effective option, as it generally costs less to coat the roof than to repair, replace, or re-cover. Reflective coatings will also provide energy savings by keeping UV rays and excess heat off the building.


A lot of roofing problems are fairly minor and easily repaired. In this case, the costs of replacement are not needed. If the roof has ample insulation, the membrane is still in relatively good condition and hasn’t bypassed its life expectancy, and the owner prefers to keep costs minimal, repair is likely the best option. This is a far less expensive solution than re-covering or replacing the entire thing, and repairs also help to extend the life of the existing roof.

Full Replacement

Sometimes there is simply nothing else to do but fully replace the roof. If it was re-covered once already or the amount of damage is too much to repair (more than 25% of the roof), a full replacement is probably in order. Replacement may also be the better option if insulation is wet or insufficient or if the owner wants a long-term fix or wants to install new technologies. Owners that want to keep the building for a long time would benefit more from full replacement than those who don’t plan to stay very long. There is also a lower maintenance cost, more energy savings, and fewer chances of future problems with an updated, fully replaced roof.


If repair is not enough to mend the roof but replacement is too drastic a solution, re-covering may be the best step to take. Roofs that are still in primarily solid condition and are well installed often do well with a re-cover. In most cases, roofs that originally only had one membrane can have a second one placed over top of it. Keep in mind, though, that this can only be done once. Owners can choose to re-cover when the roof’s insulation is in tact but the membrane’s life expectancy has passed and re-covering has not been done previously. It’s cheaper than a full replacement and less disruptive than tearing the entire roof off. Additionally, a new extended warranty will be available and there is less risk of the roof being left exposed to the elements.

For more information about correcting damage to the roof of your commercial property, contact us.