A flat commercial roof should have a lifespan measured in many decades. When damages do occur, pay attention to the three Rs -- repair, restore, or replace. Knowing which of these three Rs to choose can help extend the roof lifespan to it's maximum length.
Repair is the first option, and it goes hand in hand with regular maintenance. If you inspect the roof regularly and maintain it as recommended by your roofing service, then most issues that occur should be repairable.
Commercial roof repairs include promptly fixing and patching any leaks in the roof membrane, maintaining the asphalt on bitumen roofs, and keeping the drains clear and in good working order. It may also require periodic seam sealing or addressing problems like ponding or flashing damage around rooftop appliances and vents. The key is to catch issues as early as possible to they can be fixed before a major problem occurs.
Restoration is necessary when the same problems keep popping up. For example, if a bitumen roof keeps developing potholes or pits, it may be time to restore it with a fresh layer of tar. You can also restore old bitumen roofs by installing a new roof membrane over the top so that the old roof becomes the base.
Membrane roofs can also be refreshed and restored. The process is relatively straight forward. Any damages are repaired, including resealing of any seams on the roof. Then a roof coating is applied to create a new waterproof seal. A roof restoration costs a fraction of a full replacement, and it can add a decade or more onto the life of the roof.
Replacement is necessary when repair and restoration won't be enough to add any significant life onto the old roof. Common reasons to consider replacement are major damages, such as multiple punctures, or a complete failure of the roof membrane or the underlying roof structure.
The old roof is torn down to the base decking. Any necessary repairs are made to the decking, and then a new roof is installed. Membrane roofs are a cost effective and durable option that are easy to repair and maintain, so they are often the best choice when a replacement is necessary. You can also go with a new built-up bitumen roof, if you prefer.
Contact a commercial roofing contractor for more advice if you spot trouble on the roof.