Summer Reflections: Impacts from Sunlight & Heat on Commercial Roofing Over Time

Skywalker Roofing Company
Summer Reflections: Impacts from Sunlight & Heat on Commercial Roofing Over Time
June 30
By Luke Wilson | Commercial Roofing

Summer Sun, Summer Heat, & Your Commercial Roof

The roof over your head is likely not the most visible feature of your commercial building – most commercial roofs are typically out-of-sight from ground level. Chances are very good that you don’t give your roof very much thought (if any) when you walk in and out of your business every day … until there’s a problem. If water starts to pour through your ceiling and onto your office, sales, or manufacturing floor after significant rainfall, that’s usually enough to get your attention!

Of course, it’s never a good thing to have to deal with roof repair or replacement in the middle of an emergency situation. That’s why it makes sense for you to pay attention to the condition of your commercial roof now, so you can make some smarter decisions ahead of time and be able to avoid the most costly and unfortunate of roof disasters!

Since summer has officially arrived, let’s look at two particular impacts of the season that can do some real damage to your roof over time: the sun, and the heat!

Can Your Roof Get a Sunburn?

Thankfully, your roof won’t get a sunburn-like you will when you spend a day out at the lake or the beach and forget to put on some high-SPF sunscreen. After all, your roof isn’t made of skin! At the same time, the materials that cover your commercial roof are very much susceptible to negative impacts from exposure to sunlight over time.

The fact of the matter is that ultraviolet light emitted by the sun will help to degrade roofing materials over time. Even on a cloudy day, and even if you live in a cooler climate, UV rays still make their way through the atmosphere and will still land on your roof. Asphalt (like that found in shingles) and tar (like that found on some flat roofs) are particularly susceptible to UV radiation, which slowly alters the chemical makeup of these petroleum-based materials. During this breakdown, some of the oily moisture evaporates, and the resulting material becomes more brittle and prone to cracking or tearing – which can ultimately lead to energy inefficiency and water leaks. Protective coatings and sealants on commercial roofing can also absorb radiation, and some of these coatings can eventually wear out when exposed to too much sunlight.

Some roofing materials like metal or EDPM membrane are more resistant to UV light and usually have a longer lifespan, so that’s something to keep in mind when it’s time to look at replacing your existing commercial roofing.

It’s Getting Hot in Here!

Ever been on or around your commercial roof on a sunny day? If you have, then you know it can get downright hot up there! While some commercial roofing materials are better engineered to withstand higher temperatures than others, sustained summer heat can result in shortening the life of your roof. Plus, if heat builds up in the attic of your commercial building, this will also force your air conditioning system to have to work harder, which ultimately increases your electricity costs. Below are some specific impacts of heat where your roof is concerned:

Heat Expansion

When roofing materials heat up, they naturally expand. Once the sun goes down and temperatures drop, these same materials will then contract. This constant cycle of expansion and contraction can put a lot of stress on your roof, leading to more wear-and-tear and surface damage.

Pressure on Roof Fasteners & Seams

The above-mentioned expansion and contraction cycle also puts stress on your fasteners and seams, causing them to shift and move in place. This can eventually result in some seam splitting or some fasteners that will pop up out of place. Both of these results will negatively impact your long-term roof stability.

Moisture Build-Up

During the heat of summer – especially in the Southeast – your HVAC system is likely having to work overtime to keep your facility cool. Most commercial HVAC units are located on the roof, meaning that’s where condensed moisture can often accumulate. This can lead to algae growth or other moisture-related problems which can eventually lead to roof leaks if these issues aren’t caught in time.

Warping & Cracking

This is an effect we see more often with plastic and polyvinyl materials on commercial roofs. Sunlight tends to heat up these materials easily. In addition to the normal impact of thermal shock cycles, the extra heat of summer can also help to destabilize, warp, and crack these materials. Metal components like flashing or brackets can warp as well, or they can also become more weak and brittle, leading to breaks and leaks.

What Can You Do About It?

If you live in the South, there’s not much you can do about the sun and the summer heat. But still, there are some things you can do to help mitigate commercial roofing damage that might come as a result of summer sun and heat exposure. Here are a few strategies that can help prevent some costly headaches down the road:

  • Annual Inspections: At the very least, you should have your commercial roof inspected annually for signs of sun damage or other threats. You want to make sure the seams are checked for gaps, and you should look for cracking or curling of any plastics or other membranes. Any damaged spots should be addressed immediately, and you also might want to consider some restoration options that will help keep your roof performing smoothly for more years to come.
  • Add Some Ventilation: Proper roof and attic ventilation are crucial; your roof really does need to be able to breathe! Make sure your commercial roof has a well-designed ventilation system. If it doesn’t have the proper balance of intake and exhaust vents for fresh air to enter and hot air to exit, you’ll want to have these installed by a licensed roofing professional.
  • Add Protection Through Heat-Resistant Coatings: One of the best things you can do to protect your commercial roof from both sun and heat is to have a heat-resistant coating applied. The viability of this will ultimately depend on what your roof is covered with now and the condition of those materials, but a heat-resistant coating can help protect your roof from both UV damage and thermal shock, and can also help slow your roof’s aging process.
  • Hire a Commercial Roofing Contractor: Assuming you aren’t trained to inspect service, repair, or replace your commercial roof yourself, it’s really best to entrust these tasks to a local, licensed contractor you can trust. Who’s the best name in commercial roofing across North Carolina and southern Virginia? Skywalker Roofing, of course!

Choose Skywalker for Your Commercial Roofing Needs in NC & VA

What sets Skywalker apart? For starters, we treat each and every commercial client as if you were our ONLY client. We work with all the popular commercial roofing materials, including PVC, TPO, EDPM, and standing seam metal, and we have all the specialized tools, training, and knowledge to be able to serve your needs well.

Skywalker Roofing is the only commercial roofing solution you should consider in the NC Triad, NC Triangle, Charlotte Metro, and Roanoke, VA areas! But don’t just take it from us – take some time to see what our satisfied customers and clients have to say about us on Guild Quality. Then, give us a call to schedule your FREE on-site roof inspection and consultation!

If you’d like to have the peace of mind that comes from knowing your commercial roof is really delivering the protection you need for your business or structure, just give us a call at +1 (336) 627-5596 today! We’d love to have the opportunity to show you the Skywalker difference!


Luke Wilson

Luke Wilson

Owner - Skywalker Roofing

Luke Wilson started working on roofs with his dad when he was a teenager, and eventually launched Skywalker Roofing in 2003. Skywalker operates in 5 locations across NC & VA, and now includes windows, siding, and other exterior services. Luke also hosts the popular Roofing Mythbusters series on YouTube.

recent blog posts

Blog Categories


get started now

Book Your Appointment & Get a FREE Estimate