Is EPDM Better Than TPO?

single ply roofing installation

Commercial Roofing That Works

Commercial roofing isn’t for the faint of heart. The first questions asked when a commercial building owner starts shopping for roofing are, “What is the best roofing material?”, “Which is most popular?”, an “Which is the best bang for the money?” Roofing contractor will talk with them about single ply roofing options, often steering their clients to TPO single ply roofing.  

What is single ply TPO roofing? 

Single Ply roofing is a membrane with an assortment of materials available. The main characteristic is there is one layer installed, which is flexible and UV resistant. It is a roofing material that is typically black or white and if installed over roofing insulation by being fastened or glued. 

There are two groups of membranes in the single-ply roofing category: Thermoplastic and Thermoset. The Thermoset membranes is made with a combination of CSPE, EPDM, and Neoprene polymers. Thermosets membranes is used on large roof areas because it requires minimal seams to install. 

tpo roofing

How good is TPO roofing?

TPO is hyped with many benefits that EPDM and PVC roofing materials offer, but not the drawbacks or extra expense. It is a new product in the industry for single-ply roofing, it still has some issues and shortcomings. However, it is growing in popularity among roofing contractors as a preferred material for single ply roofing installation and repairs. 

Which is better EPDM or TPO?

The single ply roofing material EPDM has a dark surface that absorbs heat. For commercial buildings where the summers are long and UV rays are strong, this requires the cooling system to work overtime. TPO single ply roofing material reflects the UV rays, allowing the air system to work efficiently. Other single ply roofing benefits that TPO material offers: 

  • Cost-effective: TPO single ply roofing is attractive for commercial property because of its reasonable cost. TPO has many benefits that PVC roofing offer, but more cost-effective. 
  • Durability: When compared to other thermoplastic single ply roofing membranes, TPO is better at mold-resistant, dirt accumulation, impact-resistant, puncture-resistant, and tear resistant. TPO is made flexible and moves with the structure as it moves and settles, handing contraction and expansion effectively. 
  • Installation Ease: TPO single ply roofing membranes are manufactured wider sheets that are light weight, making it easier to install with few seams. This easier installation accounts for the more cost effectiveness. 
  • Energy Efficiency: TPO single ply roofing membrane’s white reflective surface has proven to be effective in reducing cooling costs, which reduces carbon footprint.          

How are single ply roofing membranes secured to a roof deck?

How to install single ply roofing depends on the type of single ply roofing material used. The following are some options: 

  • Mechanically Attached: This method uses individual fasteners to secure the membrane the roof, and depending on the decking, the fasteners can be augers, concrete screws, nails, or other types of penetrating fasteners. 
  • Fully-Adhered: This method uses an adhesive to keep the membrane in place and is used when mechanical attachment isn’t suitable. Single ply roofing that is fully-adhered becomes wind-resistant and is recommended where substrate penetrations need to be avoided.
  • Ballasted Roof: A ballasted single ply roofing is made of gravel, paving stones or washed river rock that is placed over the single-ply roofing membrane to fasten it. The ballast has a strong resistance to UV rays.         

Which of these options is best for your commercial building’s single ply roofing?  The roof structure and how the building will be used are primary factors considered when choosing a single ply roofing material. The climate where the building is located is another factor, and the biggest factor is the company’s budget. 

For a business, it is important to choose a single ply roofing material that can be installed quickly and without disrupting business. Durability and longevity makes an impact on the decision as well for future repair anticipation and possible amount of foot traffic the building may have with other contractors.

Does EPDM have to be glued down?

They do not have to be glued down. EPDM single ply roofing can be attached mechanically, which is the most recommended method. When glued down, EPDM will need inspection and maintenance more than other single ply roofing because of the seams that are known to come apart. 

single ply roof installation

Top Off This Roofing Subject

Commercial roofing is expensive, so choosing the best one is essential for the owner and maintenance team to get the one that will provide the most ROI. The cost of the material and labor to install is a strong factor, but even strong is the after installation. Inspection and maintenance can be time-consuming, which is maintenance team time, and in a business, time is money. The right single ply roofing material can make it less maintenance and less labor-intensive.