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How To Protect Commercial Building Roofs From High Winds

High winds have the potential of having devastating effects on buildings and they can easily rip roofs right off of buildings. Regardless of your geographical location, high winds have the potential of destroying roofs and other structures – even if it isn’t something that happens very often in your area.

Here is an explanation of some of the construction materials and techniques that are commonly used on commercial building roofs. As well as several tips to best protect your building against high winds when they inevitably come.

Designing The Roof

The design of commercial roofs play a big role in how it will withstand high winds. The majority of commercial buildings have flat roofs with a pitch of 1 to 10 degree slope. The next most common roof on commercial buildings is a slight slope with a pitch of 11 to 17 degrees. The least common commercial roof type is a steep slope, with a pitch of 18 degrees or more— steep slopes are most commonly found on residential buildings. Each design has its pros and cons, and selecting the correct roof, all depends on the purpose of the building.

Roofing Materials

There are some common materials when it comes to the construction of commercial roofs. Each has their own pros and cons — it is vital to select the proper material to ensure the longevity of the roof, and its ability to withstand hazardous winds. Here are 4 of the most common roof types.

Built-Up Roofing (BUR) membrane

BUR, most commonly known as tar and gravel roofs, are made up of layered roofing asphalt and asphalt felts. When these asphalt sheets are installed in interwoven piles they form the roofing membrane.

Metal roofing

A metal roofing system is one that is made up of multiple metal pieces or tiles. Metal roofing is very popular on commercial roofs because of the various metal materials that are available such as steel, aluminum, metal tile sheets, copper and tin.

Thermoset roofing membrane

Thermoset roofing membrane, also commonly referred to as EPDM (ethylene propylene diene terpolymer) roofing membrane, is an extremely durable synthetic rubber material widely used in low slope buildings.

Green roofing

Green roofs are extremely versatile and great for the environment compared to any of the commercial roofing materials listed. A green roof is made up of a layer of vegetation planted over a waterproofing system that is installed on top of a flat or slightly sloped roof.

How do High Winds Destroy Roofs?

Roofs don’t just get ripped off buildings, there is science behind these devastating winds destroy buildings. High winds will travel over your roof and create a low pressure atmosphere— making the pressure around the roof lower than the atmosphere below it. While this occurs, winds that enter the structure through doors and windows will create pressure inside that causes an upward thrust of air.

It is these pressure differences combining and working with each other to create the suction effect that lifts the roof and blows it off. This is what is known as the Bernoulli’s effect, it is the same effect that allows airplanes to fly.

How to Prevent Roof Damage

Although extreme weather can have a detrimental effect on your roof, there are several ways to best protect your building's roof when you know hazardous weather is on its way. Here are 6 days to protect your building.

  • Make sure your roof is built up to code or exceeding code. This is very important if you are not the first owner of the building, it is possible the previous owner may not have hired a reliable contractor to install the roof. Over time building codes change, and may become outdated, ensuring the roof is always in proper condition will save you money down the road.

  • Seal your roof by using the proper roofing cement— this will prevent gale-force winds from penetrating the underside of the roof. In addition, make sure the roof decking is sealed as well.

  • Install windproof sheathing – When installing a new roof, be sure that the sheathing is windproof. Roof sheathing is the second line of defense against heavy winds.

  • Maintain your roof supporting frame – Inspect the structure regularly for cracked, worn or rotting trusses, rafters and supporting frame.

  • Do not open windows or doors when a major windstorm is expected – Opening windows or doors before a storm only exposes your building to more damage from both wind and rain.

  • Add roof/hurricane clips – These galvanized steel clips attach your roof to your rafters, they are specifically designed to reduce the damage caused by highwinds, and will prevent any major blow offs of your roof. The strength of these clips range, so choosing the right ones for your roof and area is important. The clips strength can range from 300-1500 lbs. To find out the wind danger in your area check out the Government of Canada’s Wind Load Calculator for roof cladding and vegetated roof assembly.

After The Storm

After a major storm has passed, it may be difficult to see the extent of the damage caused to your home and property. If possible, do your best to document as much of the damage as you can, taking photos and video so you can send visuals to your insurance provider.

There may be some damage you will not be able to see or recognize, so hiring a professional roofer to come and gauge the extent of the damage is the best idea. They will be able to provide you with a quote for getting your roof repaired, while also providing you with ways to prevent future damage. Speaking with your insurance provider as soon as possible will also fast track your process and get your claim fulfilled faster.


Regardless of where your building is located, highwinds can have a detrimental impact on your home or businesses' roofs. Taking the steps to ensure that it is well protected will mitigate any serious damage that high winds may cause. Preparing your roof will provide you with the peace of mind that if a major storm does tear through your area damages may be minimal to your home. Having the proper insurance that covers your home is another great step in preparing for the worst. Our insurance professionals at Palladium insurance can help find the right insurance for you, your home and your business. Visit this page to find out more about home insurance.