The difference between TPO and EPDM roofing

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Commercial buildings typically take place over a wider area, so they usually have flat or semi-flat roofing systems.

Hence, when it comes to commercial roofing, most people either go for thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) roofing or an ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) roofing system.

TPO and EPDM have single-ply roofing systems that are suitable for commercial buildings with flat or low slope roofs. They are synthetic or rubber sheets that roofers can chemically adhere to or ballast to form an insulating layer of protection on commercial buildings.

Since TPO and EPDM both have single-ply roofing membranes, differentiating and making a choice may seem a bit puzzling. Here, we will help you choose the best roofing material for your commercial facility. Read on to find out all about them!

What Is TPO?

It is one of the most popular options on the market for commercial roofing systems. Thermoplastic polyolefin, commonly known as TPO, has single-ply roofing membranes in layers made of synthetics and scrim reinforcements that can conceal flat and low-slope roofs.

In addition, the scrim reinforcement helps strengthen and stabilize the roofing system.

TPO is a combination of ethylene propylene and polypropylene. Hence, it is a highly durable option for roofing systems that can last more than 10 years.

Typically, TPO can be installed in two different ways. First, you can install this roofing either by affixing it with an adhesive to form a layer of protection or fastening it mechanically to the roof board.

Since the installation process is quite easy and can also resist damage caused by dust, smoke, and grease, it is a cost-effective option for many industries.

TPO roofing systems are also energy efficient as they come in light-colored options that can reflect sunlight. It helps the HVAC system function normally, keeping the insides of the facility cool.

What Is EPDM?

Ethylene propylene diene monomer, or EPDM, is quite a popular option for commercial buildings due to the longevity of the material. It consists of a synthetic rubber membrane that is best suited for low and semi-low roofs.

EPDM is also a preferred option for commercial buildings in hailstorm-prone areas. The rubber surface helps bounce off the hailstones without damaging the roofing.

EPDM offers high performance with a low cost and an easy installation process. Repair and maintenance of EPDM can be conducted quickly and efficiently as well.

Since it does not require welding, there is no need for any electrical appliances. You can also get solar panels installed on these roofs as the synthetic rubber surface won’t reflect sunlight.

EPDM is mechanically fastened and can be easily installed. The roofing system is either installed with the help of narrow panels attached to the side laps or large panels attached through the membrane.

For the same purpose, reinforcement scrims or non-reinforced membranes are also used. The membrane is fastened to the underlying steel deck, and the seams are fused with seam tape.

However, you can seek professional assistance from Commercial Roofing Solutions to get your EPDM roofing system installed efficiently.

The Difference Between TPO And EPDM

Now that you have got the gist of what TPO and EPDM mean and how they work, let’s take a look at how they differ. It will help you make the right choice and select the one that best suits your commercial building.

Next, we will discuss some of the factors that differ between the two roofing materials. Take a look!

Installation Techniques Matter

The installation of EPDM does not require any electrical equipment, and hence the process is quite easy and fast.

A beginner can also perform the task. However, although it does not require any special skills or expertise, your roofing contractor must take the utmost care to properly seal the seams.

TPO needs a hot air gun to fuse the seams and requires electric power to operate the equipment.

So, it is essential to have the expert knowledge to carry out the complex process, which increases the overall cost. In addition, improper procedures can lead to damage and leaks that may require repairs.

Overall Cost And Durability

TPO roofing is on the expensive side as compared to EPDM. Although both roofing membranes offer high performance and are cost-effective, their choice depends on the location of your facility.

EPDM has been in the market for far longer than TPO and has a better track record. TPO uses a newer technology that makes it difficult to determine its longevity. EPDM is well-known for its high durability and offers dependable resistance against varying weather conditions.

What About Energy Efficiency?

TPO is the most preferred roofing material for commercial buildings in areas with a hot and humid climate that uses air conditioning systems.

The reflective surface of TPO can prevent the absorption of sunlight and keep the interior cool. Hence, enhancing the efficiency of the cooling systems.

EPDM is better suited for colder climatic areas where there is plenty of sunlight to be utilized by solar panels. It has a dark, non-reflective surface that helps absorb much of the sun’s heat and generate adequate solar energy.

Although EPDM comes in white, too, it may not offer as much energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness as TPO.

How Does The Maintenance Differ?

EPDM roofs are installed using adhesives, which may come off eventually without proper maintenance.

Although the roofing will not require any repairs or maintenance in the initial years, it may come apart in the long run. So, it is essential to maintain EPDM roofs for them to last a long time.

TPO, on the other hand, is susceptible to loss of pliability over time and makes it difficult to weld materials to the existing ones. Although an activator can help repair seals, it is not as easy and cost-effective to maintain as compared to EPDM roofing.

Final Thoughts

You need expert help to choose the appropriate commercial roofing material. A professional roofing contractor can help you determine the right roofing material for your facility, depending on the budget, geographic location, and climatic conditions.

These factors influence the cost, efficiency, durability, need for maintenance, and mode of installation of your roofing.

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