TPO Vs EPDM Comparison

TPO Vs EPDM Comparison

TPO vs. EPDM Roofing: Is One Single-Ply Membrane Better Than The Other?

The most common commercial roofing materials currently used in the market are EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) and TPO (Thermoplastic Polyolefin) – both single-ply membranes, cost-efficient, simple to install and lightweight. However, each system has its pros and cons, and it’s essential to look at the differences between them in terms of:

– Cost

– Energy-efficiency

– Installation

– Longevity

– Maintenance

– Strength


A Look At The Good and Bad Of TPO Roofing 

Image of commercial flat roof with white TPO membrane

Pros Of TPO Roofing

Cost – It’s easy on the budget mainly because of how cheap it is to make. It’s also easier for roofing contractors to install, reducing labor costs.

Easy Installation – Since it’s so lightweight, TPO is easy to install. The wider TPO sheets mean you have fewer seams to weld together, which also reduces labor and time costs.

Energy-Efficiency – Most TPO membranes are white, meaning they are UV resistant and very reflective, helping to lower roof surface temperatures and lower interior cooling costs when the weather is warm.

Flexibility – TPO is an extremely durable membrane that is highly resistant to water damage, biological growth, dirt buildup, punctures, etc.

Cons of TPO Roofing

Heat Loads – When TPO membranes are exposed to high heat, it can cause the flashing and seams to come apart, causing cracks along the top layer and leading to damage.

Longevity – With newer TPO technology available, it’s unknown how long a TPO roof can last now. It’s suspected the timeframe is anywhere from 10 to 25 years. Another aspect is the manufacturing process, which can also affect how long the roof lasts.

Quality Differences – Since TPO is a new kind of single-ply membrane, perfections are still being made. Therefore, some TPO currently on the market may not be as worthwhile as the newer stuff introduced to the market.

A Look At The Good and Bad Of EPDM Roofing

Commercial flat roof with black EPDM roofing membrane

Pros Of EPDM Roofing

Cost – When compared to other commercial roofs, it’s cheap to buy and install the EPDM roofing system. The reasonably priced assembly of all EPDM roofing systems is the ballasted EPDM, which is completely attached.

Easy Installation – EPDM is easy to install, with its lightweight material rolled widely for easy, rapid installation. The time to install is much less than other roofing systems.

Easy Maintenance – Since EPFM roofing systems have wider rolls, they have fewer seams, which can help lower repair and maintenance costs. It’s also easier to patch or repair this type of roofing compared to others.

Eco-Friendly – The EPDM membrane can be recycled entirely, and there is very little impact on the environment to manufacture it. 

Longevity – One of the significant aspects of EPDM roofing material is how long it can last. If installed correctly and properly maintained, it can last up to 40 years, if not more. This is much longer than other single-ply membranes.

Cons Of EPDM Roofing

Aesthetics – A real problem with EPDM is that it can look dingy and dirty if not taken care of regularly.

Resilience – The older the EPDM membranes get, the more susceptible to the damage they experience – be it artificial or natural.

Seam Adhesion – As the roof ages, the adhesive bond of the seams will begin drying out and weakening, causing cracks to appear and allowing water to seep on through. This problem can also be caused by poor installation or shrinkage.

Shrinkage – Shrinkage results from the membranes separating around sensitive areas like the seams, parapet walls, etc. This action takes place over time but can also occur because of a bad design or poor installation.

EPDM vs. TPO Roofing Material: How Do They Measure Up By The Metrics 

Cost – Both have cost similarities, but EPDM’s longevity makes it better in terms of cost. However, you must also look at various factors, such as building code requirements, weather conditions, climate, warranty requirements, roof construction and more.

Energy-Efficiency – TPO membranes are better for reflecting UV rays and lower cooling costs in warmer areas of the world. The black EPDM membranes soak up the sun’s heat, which helps to lower heating costs for those colder regions. Which one is best will depend on your location and the number of days you have cold weather compared to hot weather.

Installation – Both roofing systems are easy to install thanks to coming in rolls, and the contractor you choose will also factor in how quickly the process takes. TPO can be installed two ways – mechanically attached or fully adhered – with the seams welded together with heat using specialized tools.

EPDM is mechanically-fastened, ballasted or fully adhered. With a ballasted system, the membranes are loosely laid on the surface with concrete pavers, gravel or river-washed stones holding them in place. The seams are bonded together with specialized tape and adhesive.

Longevity – EPDM has a longer lifespan than TPO, but since it’s a recent addition to the roofing market, it’s not entirely proven itself. TPO has only increased its popularity in the last two decades. EPDM has had 60 years of proving itself.

Maintenance – Both TPO and EPDM roofs should be inspected often, but EPDM is likely to need more addition because its seams are bonded through adhesives. The membranes of the EPDM do not have a high resistance to chemicals, oils and other solvents.

Strength – TPO is far more resistant than EPDM to punctures, and its seam strength is also four times better than the taped seam. However, the EPDM roofing membranes last much longer than you’d get with TPO. The thicker the membranes of both types, the better they are and the longer they will last. Remember, the performance of both is affected by routine maintenance, proper installation and climate factors.

So, Which Roofing Material Is Better?

When deciding which roofing material is better, the answer isn’t as black and white as you’d like it to be. It all depends on various factors, but the most important factor is location. More and more people are choosing TPO for their single-ply membrane roof, mainly because states have been rushing to implement building cool-roof codes.

TPO is better for warmer climates because of its UV resistance and excellent reflectivity features. That doesn’t mean EPDM isn’t a worthwhile option for commercial businesses. It’s a good choice for businesses located in a colder climate. The black EPDM surface maintains the heat of the sun, which can help lower the heating costs you have in the winter. Other factors besides location include:

– Building code requirements

– Roof construction

– Warranty

Let’s get started on your commercial roofing project!

11 + 3 =