Have you ever noticed the roofs on the homes in your neighborhood are different from the roofs of the buildings in your nearby commercial district? Have you ever wondered why and how they are different? Residential and commercial roofing differ in three main ways; roof design, roofing materials, and installation/repair costs. Understanding these differences will help you find a qualified roofing company for your commercial or residential roofing project.


The most obvious difference between residential and commercial roofs is their design. Commercial roofs are typically flat or have a slight slope. Because they are on factories and warehouses, they are larger in square footage than most residential roofs. Commercial roofs must be able to hold heavy equipment such as HVAC blowers and industrial pipes. They usually have multiple openings for things such as smoke stacks, blower outlets and skylights. 

Residential roofs are pitched, and typically have a smaller surface area. There is usually not anything heavy on a residential roof, except possibly solar panels. Residential roofs only need openings for things like chimneys, skylights, or vent stacks.


There is a range of materials used within both residential and commercial roofing. A number of factors determine what roof is best for your residential or commercial building, including building design and function, budget, and weather in the area. Some of the most common materials for commercial roofing in Southern California are: 

  • Metal
  • Built up Roofing (BAR) membrane
  • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
  • Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO)
  • Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM)
  • Spray on silicone
  • Shingle

Residential roofing materials have a different set of options. Some of the most popular in Southern California are: 

  • Asphalt Shingles
  • Clay and Cement Tile
  • Slate
  • Metal
  • Wood Shingles and Shakes

All of these commercial and residential roofing options have their advantages and disadvantages. That’s why it’s important to consult with an experienced roofing contractor who can help you understand the differences and choose the best option for your home or building.


The differences in design and materials between residential and commercial roofs of course means different issues related to installation and repair. Due to their larger size and many layers of material, commercial roofs typically take longer to install than residential roofs. It can take up to one month to install a large commercial roof, whereas an average residential roof can be completed in two to three days. 

Repair costs and processes differ as well. Generally, a residential roof is less costly to repair than a commercial roof. Often if there is damage on the roof of a home, it is due to a few shingles or some flashing coming loose. This is usually a more straightforward repair process than on a commercial roof. 

Because of the material on commercial roofs, repairs are typically less straightforward and costlier. Water damage is a common cause of commercial roof repair. If there is water seeping into one place on a commercial building, it is necessary to have the whole roof inspected. If it is determined the damage is confined to one or a few places, a repair can work. Damage in multiple places can necessitate a complete roof replacement. To protect your investment and avoid costly surprises, have your commercial roof inspected regularly by a trusted roofing contractor. 

Residential and commercial roofing require different, specific skill sets. Our team at GreenCal has experts in both. We are proud to Southern California’s one stop shop for your commercial and residential roofing needs. Get in touch with us today and let us show you what great customer service looks like.

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