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TPO vs EPDM? Choosing a Commercial Flat Roof System

1.29.2014 010While winter does manage to slow things down a bit in our industry, the wheels never really stop turning here at Weaver’s. In fact, winter provides some great opportunities to catch up on things that we have to struggle to make time for during the peak spring and summer months.

Our Roofing Division recently took advantage of two cold winter days to update their training in TPO and EPDM flat roofing systems. Representatives from manufacturers of both systems participated in the training.

“Basically we brought everyone up to speed on current best practices and trained some newer employees on aspects they weren’t familiar with,” said Roger Stauffer, Roofing Foreman. “It was a great opportunity to learn some new things and get technical advice from the experts.”

If you’re trying to choose a flat roofing system, you’ll find a lot of conflicting advice out there about TPO and EPDM systems. Here are some basic facts to help clarify your options.

EPDM Systems

Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM) roofing is a singly-ply membrane system made from high-performance synthetic rubber. EPDM has been around longer than TPO and has a proven track record. Properly installed and flashed, an EPDM roof will last 25 years or more. It is black, which is advantageous in colder climates where absorbing heat is desirable during much of the year. Recently other options for coloring EPDM have become available.

EPDM withstands exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light and extreme temperatures. It is flexible and expands to accommodate building movements. Its heat absorption helps snow and ice melt faster.

TPO Systems

Thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) roofing is a newer type of single-ply roofing membrane that resists damage from UV light and chemicals. The main advantage of TPO is that it reflects sunlight. Many TPO roofs are white, but they are available in other colors, and all of them are reflective. As a result, TPO roofs can lower a facility’s cooling costs, making them an increasingly popular choice in warm climates.

Installation

Both systems are fastened to the roof deck either with fasteners, adhesives or both. TPO seams may be heat welded, while EPDM seams may be spliced with tape or sealed with adhesives. Both systems can perform well when installed properly.

Which Should You Choose?

As is so often the case when you’re hoping for a simple answer, there isn’t one. The best roof for your facility will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • Your budget and ownership plans.
  • Your climate and location.
  • The use of your building, including occupancy, temperature and moisture levels.
  • Anticipated traffic on the roof.
  • Equipment installed on the roof and access requirements.
  • Building codes and other local ordinances.

To choose the best roof system, you should consult with an expert installer who can evaluate all of those factors and explain your options. As a Licensed Firestone roofing contractor, we can help you choose the system that will perform best for you and meet your long-term goals.

Continual Learning

In addition to providing a much-needed break from the cold, the training helped Weaver’s roofing team stay on top of current best practices in their field. “It’s important to invest in ongoing training to keep up with evolving technology,” said Randy Weaver, Owner and Executive Vice President. “It gives us a chance to get together and learn something new, which we enjoy doing.”

Want a free roofing consultation? Contact us and we’ll help you get started.

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