If you’re currently looking for a new roof, you’ve probably realized the number of options available to you. Whether residential or commercial, it’s vital for property owners to arm themselves with the knowledge to make the right choices, or at the very least, to ask the right questions. To help you out, we’ve put together this guide to help you make an informed decision.

EPDM and TPO roofing systems are two of the most widely used roof types today. They are both single-ply membrane roofs and while they have some similarities, they have some significant differences that property owners need to consider before selecting their roofing system.

What is EPDM?

EPDM stands for ethylene propylene diene monomer and is more commonly referred to as “rubber roof.” It is made from a combination of recycled rubber materials mixed with slate and sawdust to add density and strength, before being flattened. EPDM is typically used on low-sloped or flat roofs, which makes it suitable for commercial buildings, but it can also be used for residential applications like carports or patio roofs.

EPDM has been the leader in the single ply roofing industry for decades, initially for commercial roofing before quickly growing in popularity for homeowners who needed a fast and efficient roofing solution. 

What is TPO?

TPO is currently the fastest-growing roofing system on the market. TPO stands for Thermoplastic Polyolefin, which is made up of a single layer of synthetics along with a fabric reinforcing scrim to strengthen and stabilize the membrane. Despite its name, TPO doesn’t have any plastic, but is instead made up of different types of rubber. Apart from the base material, these roofs can also be reinforced with fiberglass and talc. 

Like EPDM, TPO roofing systems are ideal for low-slope and commercial roofing, but can also be used for residential roofing applications. 

Top of a EPDM Roof

Comparing The Pros and Cons of EPDM and TPO Roofs

EPDM and TPO roofs are both energy efficient and quality roofing solutions, so the question at hand is simple—should you choose a rubber roof or a modified rubber roof? The answer depends on your specific roofing needs, but we’ve put together a comparison of the most important factors you should be looking at for your new roof.

Lifespan

EPDM roofs come with a relatively long life expectancy of over 25 years since it’s made of an extremely durable rubber roofing membrane. While TPO roofing can also last roughly the same amount of time, it’s a little more difficult to pin down its lifespan since it is a newer product. There aren’t many TPO roofs in the U.S. over 15 years old, but they are estimated to last around 20 years when installed and maintained properly. 

Durability

EPDM and TPO roofs are both known for their durability, and ability to withstand the elements. EPDM roofs can resist UV radiation, thermal shock, oxidants, cyclic fatigue, severe weather conditions, and brittleness in ways regular roofs cannot. If you’re looking for a roofing system that can protect your property from the elements, EPDM is the way to go. 

TPO roofs resist corrosion, as well as the growth of algae and mildew. The seam strength of TPO is stronger than that of EPDM adhesive, and it is manufactured to be as durable as EPDM, however, this might change depending on the membrane itself. However, TPO roofs boast an incredible resistance to ultraviolet rays, which can help preserve your insulation for longer.

Cost

While there are several factors that affect the cost of a roofing system—number of layers, accessibility, project location, additional material costs, and more, EPDM roofs work out slightly cheaper than TPO roofs. EPDM roofs can cost anywhere between $6.50 and $12.50 per square foot, while TPO roofs can average between $7.50 to $14.50 per square foot. However, regardless of the roofing system you choose, it’s best to invest in a thicker membrane for better performance and longevity. 

Energy Efficiency

When it comes to energy efficiency, TPO membrane roofs perform much better than EPDM roofs. Unlike EPDM roofs—which are traditionally black (although you can find other colors)—TPO roofs offer white roofs (and other colors) with sun reflective properties, which can help lower energy bills. TPO membranes are made with a “cooling” roofing technology, which can help people save costs especially if they live in sunny climates. 

This makes TPO a good choice for commercial buildings as well, however, buildings with solar panels would do better with EPDM roofs since their reflective properties are lower. 

Cleaning and Maintenance

When installed properly, EPDM roofs will not require much maintenance. However, since EPDM roofs are sealed with an adhesive, this can create the potential of them coming apart after some time, so it is best to inspect your roof annually or after a weather system moved through to make sure everything is still secure.

In the case of TPO membranes, they can lose their thermoplastic capabilities as the years pass, which might require the welding of new materials into the roof. Both EPDM and TPO roofs are easy to clean, however, since they are flat and don’t promote moss growth. 

Installation

EPDM roofs are usually installed with adhesive or fasteners to anchor them to difficult-to-reach areas. TPO roofs can also use adhesives or fasteners, but it is common for them to be hot-air welded, which requires specialized knowledge and tools. In general, it’s recommended to get the help of an experienced roofing contractor for both since the rubber will have to be molded perfectly to your roof. 

Appearance

If curb value is important to you, then TPO roofs would be a great choice. TPO roofs have a much wider range of colors to choose from compared to EPDM roofs—although they typically come in white.

Both EPDM and TPO roofing systems have their own unique pros and cons, but ultimately, it depends on what you need as a property owner. Both are a quality investment and will last years longer than traditional roofing systems. To learn more about your roofing options, contact Matera Roofing in Florida. With over 30 years of experience, we can help you narrow down the right choice for you.

Call us at (813) 971-2527 or contact us online to request an estimate today!

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