Commercial Roofing San Diego – Recover or Replace?

WhiteRoofCropSan Diego’s building owners and facility management executives know that with regular inspections and roof maintenance, their commercial roofing systems can protect their buildings for decades – but eventually, there comes a time when even a well maintained roof will need to be replaced.

So how do you know whether you need to replace your commercial roof, or can repair or recover?

The first step to determining how much more life you can get out of your existing commercial roof is to have a roofing professional conduct a careful, detailed evaluation of your existing roof. They will take into consideration the weather/climate implications of your geographic region, the age of the existing roof, impacts on business activities, and your long-term plans for the building your roof is protecting. Then they will inspect for damage to your roofing membrane, insulation and roof decking.

 A Roofing Professional Will Inspect for:

  • Moisture infiltration and resulting damage
  • Slippage, movement or splitting of the roofing membrane
  • Age, overall condition and pliability of the roof membrane
  • Structure integrity of the roof decking


Whether you plan to repair, recover or replace your commercial roof, an inspection for the presence of moisture below the roofing membrane is critical. Your roof inspector will ask about previous incidences and severity of roof leaks. They will closely inspect the roof for any evidence of moisture. The membrane may appear to be in good condition on the surface but there may be the presence of moisture below the roofing membrane. Whether from tears or penetrations of the membrane itself or from other sources, moisture will create problems that compromise the integrity of the roof. Wet insulation, wood blocking and gypsum will deteriorate the roofing membrane, cause structural damage to the roof deck and may lead to further problems, such as mold growth and expensive mold remediation.

If the subsurface moisture is extensive, 30 to 35 percent or more of the entire roof area, it may be more practical and cost effective to remove the entire roof system and replace it rather than attempting to recover. If the areas affected are somewhat isolated, you may be able to put off a complete roof replacement but all wet insulation and materials must be removed and replaced prior to repairing or recovering an existing roof.


Another determining factor that will influence your decision to recover or reroof is the roof cover’s ability to withstand the uplift pressures associated with severe wind. Roof cover performance can be measured by conducting an uplift test in the field, perimeter, and on corners of the roof.

Uplift tests are useful to help determine a roof cover’s ability to stay intact during severe winds. Though the roof may look like it has weathered the storm, a time or two, exposure to uplift forces could weaken the roofs ability to resist uplift pressures during the next big storm.

Local building codes provide the minimum acceptable standards for roof strength. While a roof cover system may have 20 year warranty, often consumers are not aware that most roof warranties will not cover damages as a result of named storms, wind speeds over 74 mph (or sometimes less), wind damage, acts of God, hail, etc. Conditions where the warranty is voided are typically listed in the “Exclusions” part of the warranty. If damage is caused by any of the exclusions listed, the building owner’s deductible and insurance company may not cover the cost to repair or replace the roof cover. Some companies do offer warranties that include windstorm damage, but it is not standard practice and will often cost extra.

Should your roof qualify for a roof repair or recover, the project should include securing existing roof cover to the deck below before recovering.

 Age and Condition of the Roof System

Another factor influencing whether or not a recover project is feasible is establishing how many roof systems or layers are currently in place, which requires making inspection openings. Most modern building codes allow a maximum of two non-ballasted roof systems on a structure, mostly due to the weight associated with the roofing materials. Other code-related issues include fire resistance, which the building’s insurance carrier may also influence through specific requirements.

The length of the warranty required for the new roof also needs to be considered, because many roofing material manufacturers will limit the duration for the warranty available on recover projects. Commercial Roofing Contractors will often offer warranties on workmanship and extended warranties on materials. See Sully-Jones Extended Warranty.

 Roof Decking

When considering whether to recover or re-roof your commercial roofing system, it is critical to have the roof decking system inspected. If significant damage to the decking is found, you will have no choice but to tear off and re-roof.

Recovering Pros and Cons

Cons – There is a risk of trapping moisture beneath the new roofing surface, which will continue to deteriorate insulation and roof decking. Trapped moisture can also lead to mold and costly mold remediation.

Pros – Recovering is less expensive than roof replacement. There are no tear-off and disposal fees. Recovering can help you extend the life and cost effectiveness of your existing roof. See our post about flat roof covering options. 

Replacement Pros and Cons

Cons – Costs are higher than roof repair or recovering. It will take longer to complete the work.

Pros – There have been many advancements made in roofing materials. You will have a completely new roof that complies with current building codes and will stand the test of time – often longer than the warranty.

If you are unsure whether your roof can be repaired or recovered, or if you are in need of a roof replacement, contact Sully-Jones Roofing, San Diego’s flat roof experts.


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