EPDM, commonly known as a “rubber roof” or ethylene propylene diene monomer, gets its name from the chemicals mixed in various proportions to form it. It’s manufactured in large sheets or rolls and is quick and easy to install, on top of being one of the most inexpensive roofing materials around. EPDM roofing membrane is very lightweight, so the roof deck will not need any reinforcement. And because there are few seams, leaks are rare and a good quality EPDM can last for decades.
EPDM generally comes in at the lowest price per square foot for flat or low-sloped roofs. Generally, it is long-lasting with a lifespan of over 20 years. And if purchased in white, since it is easily paired with polyiso insulation, it can be a very energy-efficient roof choice.
Ballasted EPDM systems are relatively inexpensive when compared to others, however fully adhered or mechanical systems are slightly more expensive than TPO. In the wrong environment and towards the end of its life, EPDM can start to become fragile. Additionally, there is a common thought that the black flat EPDM roofs are not the prettiest sight to look at.
TPO, Thermoplastic Polyolefin, is made up of a single layer of synthetics, usually a blend of polypropylene and ethylene-propylene rubber. Its primary advantage is that it’s typically the lowest material cost for single-ply membrane roofs. It typically comes in white on top, which can help reflect the sun’s light and stop heat buildup within the building.
TPO can be attached with adhesives, fastened directly to the roof deck, or even heat welded in places around chimneys and other protrusions. It resists corrosion, mildew, and algae growth, and does not require pressure washing, making it even easier to care for during the annual checkup.
TPO provides outstanding resistance to ozone, ultraviolet rays, and some chemical exposure at a low cost. It reflects heat radiation better than EPDM and resists mold growth, dirt accumulation, tears impacts, and punctures.
Heat welding the seams requires a very high-quality installation to hold up over time. Some formulations of TPO may not last much past the 10-year mark, and newer technology makes for a lack of a proven track record.
PVC, polyvinyl chloride, is made from a lower percentage of oil and petroleum than TPO or EPDM. Energy-efficient and surprisingly strong, it can be installed by heat welding the seams, as opposed to adhesive or utilizing a taped seam. This installation method allows a PVC roof to expand and contract with a building. PVC can also be sealed with solvent welding and attached to metal flashing and other components with adhesives.
PVC is highly efficient with heating and cooling, reflects the sun and mitigates the heat island effect in cities, and is recyclable, even after over twenty years of service life. Some commercial buildings will have significant amounts of exposure to chemicals. PVC roofs also do not support combustion, burn slowly, are difficult to ignite, and even extinguish the fire if the source is removed.
These features all come at a cost that is typically higher per square foot cost than both EPDM and TPO. PVC typically doesn’t perform as well in cold climates, becoming brittle and cracking or shattering if walked on. In addition, you will need to completely remove your old roof before moving forward in the case of a re-roofing job. This also adds more cost to the job as it can be very labor intensive to remove the old roof.
At Certified Inc. Roofing, we have years of experience in commercial roofing that will ensure you the job is done as intended the first time. If you’re ready to see what your roofing solutions can look like, schedule an estimate with us today.