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Roofing Systems

We at David Brown Roofing have the expertise to install any of the roofing systems in common use. Whether you are a general contractor, business owner, facilities manager or homeowner our wide experience with roofing systems, methods and materials can give you confidence that our advice, techniques and choice of products are time-tested and proven.

The selection of a roofing system for your home or building is dependent upon a number of factors. The choice usually comes down to a prioritization of:

  • Appearance/esthetics

  • Longevity (how long does  it last)

  • Durability (how well does it withstand severe weather events, for example)

  • Cost (materials + installation)

  • Suitability (governed by roof slope, structural integrity of the building, building codes)

  • Ease of maintenance (attentiveness required to stave off premature deterioration)

  • Fire resistance

  • Energy efficiency (how well does the roofing system insulate the building)

  • Eco-friendly (renewable source materials, “green” manufacturing, recyclable materials)

If you have questions about the type of roof most suitable for your home or building, environment and budget give us a call and we’ll be glad to help you sort these things out.

A word about cost. A lot of things factor into the cost of a roofing system - the types of materials, the quality of the material of a particular type, accessories, adhesives, underlayments, etc. And there is installation. Some roofing systems require extra time and care to install, thus increasing the cost of the roof. Trying to save a few dollars with roofers having less able crews or using cheaper materials may not be in your best interest. There is a saying in Spanish, “lo barato sale caro”, or, “the cheap turns out expensive.” Another way to say this is you get what you pay for. Don’t make a mistake. Your choice of roofer is very important! Bank on experience, common sense and integrity. That is the way of David Brown Roofing, Inc.

Following is a brief description of some of the most popular roofing systems along with their advantages and disadvantages. We have divided the overview into two categories, residential and commercial, depending upon with which structure type the roofing system is most commonly associated. There is overlap in some cases.


Residential Roofing Systems

Asphalt/composite shingle roof


Asphalt shingles are the most common roof type, in use on over 80 percent of homes. Asphalt is among the least expensive materials and has a reasonably long life - typically up to 20 years or even 40+ years for high-end materials in moderate climates. The high-end shingles are costlier but can be more visually appealing (some are made to look like slate).

Asphalt shingles are susceptible to loosening in high winds, softening and deforming in high temperatures, cracking in varying temperatures and moss and mildew growth if installed in wet and shady areas. Also, problems can occur if pipe flashings are not adequately installed.

Advantages: Appearance, inexpensive, reasonable lifespan, versatility, style variety, fire-resistant, easy to install

Disadvantages: Maintenance, non-recyclable materials

Asphalt/Composite shingle roof near Salt Lake City, Utah

Pipe flashing on roof

Properly installed pipe flashing

Shake roof near Ogden, Utah

Old-growth shake near Ogden, Utah


Wood shingles and shakes have been in use for a long time. (A shake is a basic wooden shingle made from split logs.) Wood is more susceptible to weathering, rot and insect damage than other roof types, but if properly maintained can last up to 15 years for shakes from new-growth trees. This is slightly less than asphalt, although wood shingles are more expensive. Shakes made from old-growth trees are more dense than those from farm-raised trees and can last twice as long, but are about twice the cost. Many people like the look of the wood, though, especially on a home with wood siding.


Wood is flammable. Most modern shakes are treated with fire-retardant chemicals but the effectiveness of these chemicals diminishes over time. This is why in some areas and conditions wood shingles may be considered a fire hazard. There are synthetic alternatives to wood that reduce the maintenance required and avoid the fire hazard restrictions. Ask us about those if you are interested.

Advantages: Appearance, made from natural, renewable materials

Disadvantages: Maintenance, susceptibility to fire

Residential standing seam metal roof

Standing seam metal roof


Metal roofs are hardy, and are an especially good choice for areas prone to harsh, wintry environments. Some manufacturers guarantee the materials for 50 years and the roofs can often last 70 years or more.

Metal roofs can be either shingled or standing-seam. Both types are wind resistant. Properly installed standing-seam roofs can withstand winds of over 140 mph.


Metal roofs reflect solar radiation, which can help keep cooling costs down on hot days.

Because of their long life metal roofs are rarely discarded. When they must be disposed of their materials are largely recyclable.

Homeowners can choose between several materials - tin, zinc, aluminum, copper, or galvanized or stainless steel. We can discuss the best choice with you. Also, metal is available in a wide array of colors, finishes and shapes. And of course, it is paintable.

Advantages: Appearance, durability, longevity, lightweight, heat reflective, non-combustible, custom formable, low-environmental impact

Disadvantages: Expensive, "noisy" (rain, hail - subjective), labor-intensive replacement


Clay tile roofing system

Clay/Ceramic and Concrete tile

Tile made of clay (or ceramic) or concrete is one of the most durable and long lasting roofing materials. Clay tiles can last 100 years. Concrete tiles typically endure for over 50 years. Either type is available in a wide variety of profiles and styles.

Clay tile roof

Most tile roofing installations result in natural air ventilation under the tiles which is beneficial to the energy efficiency of the building. Manufacture of these tiles has low environmental impact and the materials used are renewable.

A clay tile roof can cost two to three times as much as an asphalt roof. Concrete tiles are less expensive than clay.

Tile is heavy and therefore not suitable for some structures. We can tell you if tile is an appropriate choice for your home.

Advantages: Appearance, durability, longevity, low maintenance, heat-insulating, non-combustible,  environmentally friendly

Disadvantages: Heavy, expensive, complex installation

Natural slate roof

Slate roof


Slate is one of the longest lasting roofing materials (it is rock, after all!), but it is also the most expensive. A homeowner may consider the high initial cost of materials and installation defrayed by the fact that these roofs last so long. Slate shingles can last over 100 years. Slate has a tendency to shed ice and snow which makes it a good choice for areas prone to those conditions.

Slate tiles are fragile, however. It requires special care to handle them and walk on them. Slate is also heavy and therefore not suitable for some structures.

There are synthetic alternatives to slate that are cheaper, lighter and more durable. You might ask us about those if you want the appearance of natural slate but are troubled by some of its disadvantages.

Advantages: Appearance, longevity, fire resistance, low-environmental impact

Disadvantages: Cost, weight, durability, complex installation

Synthetic slate roof


There are synthetic materials that imitate the natural materials such as wood and tile. Examples are PVC, EPDM and TPO. These materials are more commonly associated with commercial structures but are gaining in popularity for homeowners. The characteristics of these materials are discussed below under “Commercial roofing systems”. As always, if you want to know more give us a call .

IKO synthetic slate roof

Commercial roofing systems

Most industrial or large commercial buildings have flat or low-slope roofs. These roofs present a special challenge because water doesn’t run off the roof surface quickly and will seep through even small breaks in the roofing surface.
Common roofing systems for commercial structures are metal, tar-and-gravel (BUR), thermoset (EPDM), and thermoplastic (TPO and PVC). Read on for an overview of these systems. Contact us for more information.


Flat metal roof on government building


Metal is the most popular form of roofing system on commercial buildings and has been in use for a long time. There are a variety of materials available, including galvanized steel, blends of zinc, aluminum and silicon-coated steel, stainless steel, copper, and aluminum. Metal can be applied as standing seam, corrugated or shingles.

Advantages: Appearance, durability, longevity, lightweight, heat reflective, non-combustible, custom formable, low-environmental impact, easy to clean

Disadvantages: Expensive, potentially a barrier to radio reception and cellular communications


BUR (Built-up roofing membrane)

The BUR roofing system is popularly referred to as “tar-and-gravel”. This system had been in use for over 100 years for low-slope roofs, though modern materials are now typically part of the makeup.

Most BUR systems comprise three parts: bitumen material, ply sheets, and one or more surfacing materials. It is generally applied in alternating layers (called plies) of bitumen and reinforcing fabrics to create a finished membrane. The bitumen

Flat metal roof on government building near Salt Lake City, Utah

Commercial BUR roof

typically used is asphalt, coal tar (both referred to as “hot” or "torch-down" because they are applied with flame heat) or cold-applied adhesive. The number of layers can be varied with respect to costs and durability requirements. Surfacings can be aggregate such as gravel, slag or mineral granules, glass-fiber or mineral surfaced cap sheets, hot asphalt mopped over the entire surface, aluminum coatings or elastomeric coatings.

The gravel surface (or other type of granule) tolerates hail well but is vulnerable to wind, which can blow off this top layer. This leaves lower layers open to damage from water or hail. The smooth finishes, such as asphalt are less susceptible to wind damage but are more vulnerable to hail.

As with all roofing systems, lifespan depends upon a number of conditions, notably climate and materials used. BUR has a typical lifespan of 15 to 30 years, sometimes 40 years in suitable climates. BUR fares better in warmer climates than cold.

Advantages: Durable, superior waterproofing, fire-resistance

Disadvantages: Labor-intensive installation, susceptible to severe weather damage

Built-up roof (BUR)

Commercial EPDM flat roof

EPDM roof


EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) is a synthetic rubber roofing membrane. It is a single-ply system. EPDM is the most widely used synthetic flat-roof material in U. S. It has been in use longer than TPO or PVC.

EPDM is made from recyclable materials that are inexpensive compared to TPO and PVC. However, the requirements of installation can make the net cost of an EPDM roof exceed that of the other single-ply systems.

EPDM is susceptible to seam and flashing failure due to UV degradation of the adhesives used and is vulnerable to punctures. EPDM is available in rolls or shingles and in a variety of colors and designs.


Advantages: Longevity (25 - 30+ years), lightweight, eco-friendly (made from recycled materials), weather and fire resistant


Disadvantages: Appearance (looks like stretched rubber), maintenance, heat absorbant

TPO commercial flat roof

TPO roof


TPO (Thermoplastic Polyolefin) is like EPDM and PVC a single-ply roofing system. TPO the primary chemical component of the roof membrane. It is similar to EPDM in characteristics. It is less expensive than PVC and provides better resistance to wind.

Advantages: Less costly than PVC, seam strength greater than EPDM, more eco-friendly than PVC (no added plasticizers), wind resistance

Disadvantages: Lifespan 10 - 20 years, not as flexible as PVC

PVC/Vinyl commercial flat roof

PVC/Vinyl roof near Salt Lake City, Utah



The PVC (polyvinyl chloride) roof system is a single-ply polyester-reinforced CPA/PVC membrane. PVC roofs come in two general types. One is primarily used on flat roofs, while the other is used on conservatories.


PVC lasts longer and handles grease and chemicals better than TPO.


Advantages: Durability, longevity (20+ years), strength, fire-resistance, chemicals, water, dirt and wind resistance, low maintenance, easy to repair, lightweight, energy efficiency (UV resistant and high reflectivity)


Disadvantages: Most expensive of the synthetic flat roof materials

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