Roofer rolling out TPO roofing membrane during installation

Raise the Roof: Why TPO Roofing Is Better Than EPDM Roofing

We’re going to compare EPDM roofing with TPO roofing membrane and tell you why we think TPO material is the better choice for flat roofs. 

Before we do that, let’s separate all the letters in this alphabet soup so that you know what’s what!

EPDM = Ethylene Propylene Diene Terpolymer

Now you know why it is abbreviated! EPDM is a synthetic rubber roofing material used chiefly on low-slope commercial roofs here in the USA and all over the world.

Ethylene and propylene, oil, and natural gas derivatives are the main ingredients. EPDM is a single-ply sheeting available in either black or white. The width of the sheet can be anything from 7.5 feet to 50 feet. It comes in two thicknesses: 45 mils (0.0045 inches) and 60 mils (0.006 inches).

For future reference, 1 mill is equal to 0.001 inches.

TPO = Thermoplastic Polyolefin

TPO is a single-ply membrane composed of polymer and filler blends reinforced with a fabric scrim. The thermoplastics may include polypropylene (PP), polyethylene (PE), or copolymer polypropylene (BCPP). TPO is manufactured in sheet form, with widths of 10, 12, and 20 feet, and is also used on low-slope and flat roofs.

The usual thicknesses for TPO are 45 mils and 60 mils. It is a common misconception that thicker is better. Other factors, like insulation beneath the TPO layer, and the amount of thermoplastics above the scrim, are more likely to add to the quality of your roofing membrane, rather than just greater thickness.

The Nitty-Gritty Comparison of TPO and EPDM Roofing

Roofers installing TPO roofing membrane on a flat roofTPO offers certain advantages that make it more desirable for commercial roofing. Those in favor of TPO roofing highlight the fact that it is a white roofing material, meaning that it reflects ultraviolet waves (UV), leading to energy savings and lower industrial air conditioning costs.

While EPDM now comes in white, too, and does the same thing, you need to be willing to pay more for it than for the standard black. 

The installation methods of the two are different. Chemical adhesives are used when fitting TPO to the roofing surface, and seams between the sheets are fused with a hot-air gun. EPDM is installed using either adhesive or mechanical fasteners, and sheets are joined together with seam tape.

Both TPO or EPDM membranes are satisfactory if you want to mount solar panels on your roof. However, TPO is known for boasting greater tensile strength than EPDM. Plus, TPO systems are extraordinarily durable due to the fact that they are heat-welded. Another bonus is that TPO retains its flexibility even under extreme cold. 

TPO roofing has as much as three times greater resistance to punctures from foreign objects, unlike EPDM, which tears more easily. This is extremely important for preventing leaks. Known for its resistance to fungi and mold, and the accumulation of dirt, TPO is also better at withstanding chemicals, acids, and oils than EPDM.

Decisions, Decisions

As roofing experts, we’d like to persuade you to go with the 100% recyclable eco-friendly TPO. It also boasts a cost-effective installation.

If you still have doubts, give us a call. We’ll be happy to discuss your flat roof or commercial roofing options in detail. And don’t forget our offer of a free roof inspection and quote!

Do you need the best commercial roofing contractor at Lake of the Ozarks for your business property? Call Roof Lux today for a free consultation.

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