EPDM and TPO - What's the Difference?
If you run a business with a commercial flat roof, there’s a good chance it may eventually need to be repaired or replaced. Having your roof in good working condition is essential to protecting your facilities, property, employees, and customers.
Two of the most common commercial flat roof materials are EPDM and TPO. Both roofing materials are single-ply membranes that can be attached to a roof to create a protective layer, keeping moisture out. Although they bear many similarities, there are some key differences between these two roofing materials. In this post from our Just Roofing commercial roofing pros, we’ll break down some key differences in these two types of roofing materials.
Membrane Commercial Roofing Services
There are plenty of key advantages to using flat roofs on commercial buildings. Flat roofs are much simpler to maintain than angled roofs you typically see on residences. They can be installed affordably since they have much less surface area than a sloped roof. They’re fairly straightforward to install, keeping labor down and saving on contracting costs.
Sloped roofs are fairly complicated and require fairly involved inspections and repairs, while flat roofs, on the other hand, can be easily inspected and repaired quickly. The design of flat roofs also allows for vents, HVAC systems, and other types of openings necessary for a commercial or industrial facility.
Types of Flat Roofing Materials
Before innovations in rubber membranes made them common, the most common type of flat roofing material was gravel and tar due to its fire resistance, cost, and easy installation. This popular roofing system has been in use by roofing contractors for more than a century.
Gravel roofs are manufactured by layering tar, asphalt, and other materials and typically adding gravel over the top. Rubber or vinyl membranes, on the other hand, are simple to install and much easier to repair than gravel and lighter in weight.
These are the three most common types of membrane used in commercial flat roofs:
Advantages of Membranes
Due to advances in roofing technology, roofing and vinyl membranes have come a long way over the years and by far surpassed any advantages of using tar and gravel. One of the key advantages of rubber membranes is that they work very well for climates with humid weather that can be extreme at times like the climate of Southeastern Virginia.
Unlike tar and gravel, which creates noxious fumes and requires a hot kettle, membranes are much less risky to install. They are also far less likely to leak than gravel and tar roofs.
EPDM rubber, short for ethylene propylene diene monomer rubber, is a highly durable synthetic elastomer that provides a high level of insulation and is impermeable. EPDM is installed in a single-ply membrane to commercial roofs.
EPDM roofs have been in use for about 60 years. One of the biggest advantages of EPDM is that it’s resistant to impacts, preventing roof damage even with high winds and hail. With regular maintenance, an EPDM membrane can last for between two and three decades.
TPO, short for thermoplastic polyolefin, is made using a synthetic polymer blend that includes a rubber, thermoplastic, and a filler. Like EPDM, TPO is used to create a single-ply membrane. TPO has in many ways exceeded EPDM as the most popular membrane material. Similar to EPDM, TPO can last more than two decades if it’s well maintained.
Which is Better: TPO or EPDM?
While similar in many ways, TPO is generally considered to have more advantages over EPDM. TPO is lighter in color than EPDM, which means it reflects heat while EPDM absorbs it. This can help to reduce energy costs in terms of significant savings over the years.
Over time, EPDM can gradually begin to shrink, adding up to problems for the roof it protects. TPO, however, is dimensionally stable. It’s also the easiest product on the market in terms of installation.
Roof Repair for TPO and EPDM
To keep your membrane at its top level of performance, it’s important to schedule regular inspections. A commercial flat roof should be inspected every two years.
We’ll inspect your roof for problems, check around the seals on your vents, and look for evidence of moisture infiltration into your facility. If the problems cannot be repaired affordably, our roofing services include removal of your existing roof and install of a new one.
Hampton, Virginia Commercial Roofing Contractor
If your business is is need of commercial roofing services, our roofing experts at Just Roofing in Hampton are here to help. We work on a wide range of roofs for both businesses and homes.
We’re taking extra precautions to keep our customers safe during this time. To schedule an inspection for your business, call us at 757-310-3873 or contact us on the web to learn more.