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Single Ply Membrane Roofing

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Single Ply Membrane Roofing

When it comes to flat roofs, single-ply membrane roofing can be an excellent option for commercial buildings. They offer several advantages over other flat roofing systems. First, let’s go over the basics of what consists of single-ply membrane roofing. Then, we’ll cover what you need to know about these roofing systems.

Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO)

Although this is a newer technology for roofing, it is one of the more popular choices and has a large portion of the market share. These roofs also have the nickname of white roofs as the material they are made out of is a reflective white. It also comes in a few other colors: gray, green, red, blue, and tan.

Ethylene Propylene Diene Terpolymer (EPDM)

This type of roofing has been on the market for over 60 years. It has an excellent track record in the field and offers a high-performance roof that’s reliable. EPDM has the nickname of a black roof as the surface is a dark color due to the rubber compound. It features excellent heat retention and weathers well.

Don’t Forget the Insulation

One thing to keep in mind with single-ply membrane roofing systems is that they don’t have insulation added to them. The nice thing about this is that you can have more options for picking the proper insulation for your needs and budget.


Both TPO and EPDM are installed similarly, and it’s a relatively simple installation compared to other roofing systems. This simplified installation can often mean that it’s less expensive to have installed. First, the roof surface is prepared either by cleaning or removing the old roof. Then the insulation is installed. Once that’s in place, a cover board is added. The cover board then has the single-ply membrane attached to it. This action typically requires it to be glued or fastened down. The critical difference between the installation of TPO and EPDM is the way that the seams are handled. TPO has the seams melted together using a hot-air gun. EPDM uses seam tape that joins the pieces together. These materials are relatively lightweight and flexible compared to other roofing systems, which makes them a good choice for commercial flat roof systems.

Negatives of Single-Ply Membranes

While there are many positives to single-ply membranes, such as cost, durability, and simple installation, a few potential negatives come from using a single-ply membrane. They can be more easily punctured compared to other thicker systems, the seams are vulnerable to leaking, UV rays can degrade the roof over time, and it can be hard to incorporate items such as A/C units or air vents into the system as they have to be cut around.

Are you considering a single-ply membrane roofing system for your commercial building? Both of these materials can be a good choice for your roofing needs. Our staff would be happy to discuss your options and help you to pick the perfect roofing system for your low-slope roof. Contact us today to learn more.

Single-Ply Membrane Roofing Frequently Asked Questions

When considering what roofing system you want to install, one of the factors that often helps in making a decision is how long the product will last. Single-ply membranes have a lifespan of 30 years. There are some things that you can do to ensure that you get the most out of single-ply membrane roofing systems and other systems you may consider. Regular maintenance and inspections are vital. Protecting your investment means being more proactive to prevent problems rather than reactive to issues as they occur. Also, some warranties require you to have your roof maintained adequately, or they may void your warranty when you need it the most.  ​​​​

The best way to determine which roofing system is best for your flat roof is to speak with a professional. They can examine your current roof, talk with you about your budget, and go over the best options available to you. Then, you can make an educated decision on which type of roofing system you want to have installed for your next flat roof.

A few things need to be done to maintain a membrane roof properly. The first step is making sure that it’s inspected regularly. Inspections are essential because they can identify any maintenance needed to keep the roof in the best shape possible. In addition, some issues may not be visible to someone who’s not a roofing professional at first glance. They may even use tools that help them identify problems that need to be addressed that can only be seen using imaging tools when they are still minor issues. Next, the roofing inspector will create a list of tasks that need to be done to maintain the roof. In addition to any of these tasks, the roof also needs to be regularly cleaned. Cleaning removes any dirt and debris that could damage the roof, such as sharp sticks poking the material over time. Algae can also grow on roofing surfaces that aren’t properly maintained and cause even more damage and problems. In addition, cleaning helps keep the roof white, which helps protect its thermal benefits.

When choosing a new roofing system, there are a lot of choices to make. There are still more choices once you’ve decided on a single-ply membrane. Both TPO and EPDM are single-ply membranes, and each has its own pros and cons. TPO, also known as Thermoplastic Polyolefin, typically comes in white, but you can choose some other color choices for your roofing surface. While it’s a newer material compared to some of the others, it currently holds a large portion of the market. EPDM stands for Ethylene Propylene Diene Terpolymer, and it’s a more tested material that’s been around for over 60 years. It typically comes in black. It’s known to be a reliable roof that’s easy to maintain. Both materials are reliable and relatively easy to install.​​​​​