If you own a commercial building with a flat roof, you know that roof replacements are a significant investment. Choosing the right roofing system can make a big difference in the lifespan of your roof and the ROI you can expect. In this guide, we’ll compare the most common flat roofing systems in use today: EPDM, TPO, PVC, and Modified Bitumen.

  1. EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer)

EPDM is a synthetic rubber roofing membrane that has been used for decades. It is a popular choice for flat roofs because of its affordability, durability, and ease of installation. It is available in two main types: mechanically attached and fully adhered.

Mechanically attached EPDM is the most common installation method. The membrane is laid over the insulation and then fastened to the roof deck with screws and plates. This method is relatively quick and easy, making it an affordable option.

Fully adhered EPDM is glued directly to the roof deck with an adhesive. This method provides additional protection against wind uplift and is ideal for roofs with complex shapes or slopes. However, it can be more expensive than mechanically attached EPDM.

Mixed installations are a hybrid of the two methods. A section of the roof may be mechanically attached while another section is fully adhered, depending on the specific needs of the roof.

EPDM roofing has a lifespan of 20-30 years, making it a long-lasting option for your commercial building. The material is resistant to weathering, UV rays, and chemicals, making it a popular choice for industrial buildings. It is also easy to maintain and repair, with many contractors offering patching services.

  1. TPO (Thermoplastic Olefin)

TPO is a newer roofing material that has gained popularity in recent years. It is a thermoplastic membrane made from a blend of polypropylene and ethylene-propylene rubber. It is available in three main installation methods: mechanically attached, fully adhered, and a hybrid of the two.

Mechanically attached TPO is the most common method of installation. The membrane is laid over the insulation and then fastened to the roof deck with screws and plates. This method is quick and easy, making it an affordable option.

Fully adhered TPO is glued directly to the roof deck with an adhesive. This method provides additional protection against wind uplift and is ideal for roofs with complex shapes or slopes. However, it can be more expensive than mechanically attached TPO.

Mixed installations are a hybrid of the two methods. A section of the roof may be mechanically attached while another section is fully adhered, depending on the specific needs of the roof.

TPO roofing has a lifespan of 15-20 years, making it a slightly less durable option than EPDM. However, it is resistant to weathering, UV rays, and chemicals, making it a popular choice for industrial buildings. It is also easy to maintain and repair, with many contractors offering patching services.

  1. PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)

PVC is a thermoplastic membrane that has been used for roofing since the 1960s. It is a popular choice for flat roofs because of its durability, energy efficiency, and resistance to chemicals and weathering. It is available in three main installation methods: mechanically attached, fully adhered, and a hybrid of the two.

Mechanically attached PVC is the most common method of installation. The membrane is laid over the insulation and then fastened to the roof deck with screws and plates. This method is quick and easy, making it an affordable option.

Fully adhered PVC is glued directly to the roof deck with an adhesive. This method provides additional protection against wind uplift and is ideal for roofs with complex shapes or slopes. However, it can be more expensive.

Additionally, PVC roofs are more resistant to chemical and UV damage, making them a good choice for commercial buildings in areas with high chemical exposure or intense sunlight.

Modified Bitumen roofs are made up of asphalt and a variety of modifiers and reinforcements, and are installed in layers. They are often used on flat or low-slope roofs and are known for their durability and resistance to harsh weather conditions. There are two main methods of installation for modified bitumen roofs: torch-applied and cold-applied. Torch-applied systems use heat to melt the adhesive layer on the back of the modified bitumen sheets, allowing them to bond with the underlying layers. Cold-applied systems use adhesives or asphalt emulsion to bond the layers together.

In terms of cost, modified bitumen is typically less expensive than PVC or TPO, but more expensive than EPDM. The installation costs for modified bitumen roofs can also vary depending on the installation method used. Torch-applied systems are typically faster to install and require less labor, but require more safety precautions due to the use of an open flame. Cold-applied systems take longer to install and require more labor, but are safer to install as there is no open flame.

When considering the ROI of a flat roof replacement, it’s important to consider not just the initial cost of the roofing system, but also the potential energy savings and long-term maintenance costs. PVC and TPO roofs are known for their energy efficiency and low maintenance requirements, which can result in cost savings over time. Modified bitumen roofs, while durable and weather-resistant, may require more maintenance over time, which can impact the overall ROI.

In conclusion, there are several options for flat roof replacement, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. EPDM, TPO, PVC, and Modified Bitumen are all viable options depending on the specific needs of the building and the budget of the owner. When considering a flat roof replacement, it’s important to work with a qualified roofing contractor who can provide guidance on the best system for the building and ensure proper installation for maximum ROI.