When it comes to roofing a commercial building, there are several material choices. Two of the most popular include PVC and polycarbonate roof panels. Read on to learn the advantages and drawbacks of each roofing option. 

Polycarbonate Roof Panels

Polycarbonate is an exceptionally strong and resilient thermoplastic with an impressive impact strength and broad utility as durable roofing panels. In fact, the material is one of the fastest-growing choices for commercial roofing products, especially for low-slope and flat roofs.


For the commercial roofing industry, polycarbonate roof panels bring big benefits, including: 

  1. High-quality
  2. Nearly unbreakable
  3. UV-resistant
  4. Lightweight
  5. Resistant to harsh temperatures
  6. Ideal for greenhouses
  7. Affordable
  8. Resistant to discoloring

Nearly unbreakable, polycarbonate roofing can withstand extreme force. The material is so durable, in fact, there are bullet-resistant types of polycarbonate used in police shields. Polycarbonate roofing sheets are also lightweight, making them relatively easy to install and transport almost anywhere. 

With impressive UV-blocking characteristics, polycarbonate is especially useful for awnings and sunroom roofing. The material’s UV-reflective properties also make it a useful construction material for greenhouses. 

Resistant to very hot and cold temperatures, polycarbonate holds up exceptionally well to rain, snow and hail. The panels also last for years without fading or discoloration. 


Although polycarbonate doesn’t have many downsides, homeowners should be aware that it does scratch easily. Despite being highly resistant to breaking and cracking, the material can accumulate abrasions, which can make the surface look old and dull over time. In some instances, an anti-scratch coating is added to help the surface hold up against scratches.

polycarbonate roof panels

PVC Roofing

An acronym for polyvinyl chloride, PVC is made of chlorine and ethylene, which are derived from processed natural gas or petroleum and salt respectively. The roofing material can be installed mechanically with plates and screws or fully adhered with a sticky bonding adhesive. 


For the commercial roofing industry, PVC roofing also brings significant protection to a structure and its assets. Among the many benefits include: 

  1. Durability
  2. Strength
  3. Long service life
  4. Resistance to fire, wind, moisture and chemicals
  5. Eco-friendly
  6. Water-resistant

The material is available in a variety of colors, ranging anywhere from grays and tans to white. Highly reflective and resistant to UV rays, PVC can help cut down on cooling costs. It’s also available in a variety of different thicknesses, giving consumers a nice array of options.

Highly resistant to punctures and tears, PVC holds up quite well against oil and grease. It’s also relatively easy to repair and has a life expectancy of around 20 to 30 years.


Cost is one of the biggest drawbacks associated with PVC. Despite its many benefits, PVC roofing can be pricey, costing from $6 to $9.50 for a 50 mil membrane installed over a flat or low-slope roof on a one- or two-story structure.

To install PVC roofing, a contractor may need to remove the old roof on your structure, since the PVC needs a clean, flat surface to properly adhere. With this added work comes added labor costs. 

PVC also tends to struggle in very cold environments. The accepted temperature range for PVC is -58° F (-50° C) up to 347° F (175° C). Anything falling outside this range will cause the material to become brittle. 

Still, the material does come with some pretty diverse benefits that make it attractive to many business owners. Bear in mind, however, that the quality of a PVC roof is only as good as your roofing contractor, so be sure to select a company that won’t take shortcuts.

Which Is Right for You?

There are numerous considerations to make when choosing a roofing material for your commercial building. Each structure has unique characteristics that help determine an appropriate choice. Your budget can also play a big role in deciding the best option for your unique needs. 

This is why it’s so important to work with a reputable local roofing contractor with years of experience working with all types of roofing materials. At A to Z Roofing, we can help you determine the best roofing material for your commercial building, whether it’s PVC, polycarbonate panels or something else entirely. 

With decades of experience, we’ve developed a widespread, well-earned reputation as one of the state’s premier roofing contractors by providing expert workmanship and attentive, honest customer service. Contact us to learn more and get your free estimate today!