EPDM VS. TPO Roofing: What’s Best For My Property

Oct 25, 2023 | Commercial

When choosing the right roofing materials for your commercial building, EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) and TPO (Thermoplastic Olefin) roofing membranes are the two most notable options. While both offer weather resistance and durability, they have distinct characteristics and installation methods that cater to different preferences and needs. The key differences between EPDM and TPO are listed below, summarizing which roofing membrane is best for your business.

Material Composition:

  • EPDM Roofing: EPDM roofing is a synthetic rubber compound primarily composed of ethylene, propylene, and minimal diene. This rubber roofing material is characterized by its elasticity and weather resistance.
  • TPO Roofing: TPO roofing is made up of rubber-like materials and reinforcing fillers. This material is notable for its puncture resistance, durability, and flexibility.

Color and Reflectivity:

  • EPDM Roofing: EPDM roofing membranes typically come in black. The black EPDM quickly absorbs heat from the sun, reducing heating costs in colder climates, meaning the further up north you are, the more likely an EPDM roof will be beneficial. It is essential to note EPDM can increase cooling costs in warm climates unless a reflective coating is installed. With Pennsylvania and surrounding regions being in a moderate climate, both EPDM and TPO roofs still provide benefits, depending on the time of year.
  • TPO Roofing: On the other hand, TPO membranes are typically white. This color choice is excellent for hotter climates, as it will reflect sunlight and heat, thus reducing cooling costs and keeping your building cooler during hotter months. However, your heating costs may increase due to the roof not absorbing heat/warmth as well. With Pennsylvania and surrounding regions being in a moderate climate, both EPDM and TPO roofs still provide benefits depending on the time of year.

Installation:

  • EPDM Roofing: When installing an EPDM roof, adhesive, ballasted, or mechanically fastened systems are typically used. Mechanically fastened systems are mainly used for roofs with steep slopes, whereas ballasted and adhesive systems are standard for low-slope roofs. Seams and flashings require the use of tapes, primers, and sealants.
  • TPO Roofing: TPO membranes are typically installed by either heat welding, adhesive, or mechanical fastening. Heat welding provides the strongest possible protection for your roof’s weak points, with all seams and flashing being heat-welded.

Durability and Lifespan:

  • EPDM Roofing: EPDM roofs are very durable but are prone to punctures and damage from hail or sharp objects due to the installation method of the roof as well as its materials. With proper maintenance, its lifespan typically ranges from 20-25 years.
  • TPO Roofing: TPO roofs are incredibly durable and highly resistant to fire, mold growth, and UV rays. TPO’s seam strength is considered 3-4 times stronger than EPDM. With proper maintenance, TPO roofs typically last 20-25 years.

Repair and Maintenance:

  • EPDM Roofing: Even though EPDM is subject to punctures from sharp objects, it can be easily repaired with the proper materials. Regular professional inspections are vital for maintenance and durability.
  • TPO Roofing: Compared to EPDM roofs, repairs are considered more difficult and should only be done by a qualified professional. TPO tends to need less maintenance during its lifespan, but regular professional inspections are crucial for maintenance and durability.

Cost:

  • EPDM Roofing: With EPDM being very easy to install, it’s usually cheaper than TPO on smaller projects. It’s important to note that prices depend on the size of the roof, installation method, and location.
  • TPO Roofing: For larger projects, TPO roofs tend to be cheaper than EPDM projects due to their time-saving applications requiring fewer accessories. Like EPDM roofing, prices fluctuate based on roof size, installation method, and location.

Which Roof Should I Get?

Whether you should get a TPO roof versus an EPDM roof depends on your needs, preferences, and budget. That includes considering your heating and cooling needs when getting a TPO or EPDM roof. While both roofing membranes are suited for specific climates, Pennsylvania and the surrounding regions typically have a mixed climate throughout the year, meaning we experience both hot and cold temps for an extended period. You get benefits from either roof, depending on the time of year. Generally, it’s advised to go with TPO roofs for larger-scale projects and EPDM roofs for smaller roofing projects due to pricing and other factors. Again, it’s also important to consider that prices for both types of roofs can fluctuate based on installation methods and location. Regardless, contacting a roofing professional who can assess which roofing system would be best for your building is essential.

Contact Greenawalt Roofing today for an inspection and free estimate for your roofing project.

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