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Single-Ply TPO Roofing Systems
Short for thermoplastic polyolefin, TPO is a single-ply roofing membrane that offers excellent performance at a cost-effective price. Heat-welded seams provide superior strength. TPO’s long-term heat, UV, and natural fungal resistance, plus flexibility without need for plasticizers also make TPO a reliable low-slope roofing system.
In the 20+ years that TPO has been in the field, it’s become one the most popular products used for low-slope roofing. Over 1 billion square feet are installed annually, making up over 50% of single-ply roofs being installed today.
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The reason is that single-ply roof membranes are flat roofing which makes them perfect for the large space commercial buildings cover. You might ask; but why can’t I use a flat asphalt shingle roof? Well, flat shingles are not as durable as single-ply roof membranes because flat shingles are made from different materials. For flat shingles, water can get into the asphalt layer and since the shingles were installed as a flat roofing system, the water will not be able to get out thereby damaging the roof.
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Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO)
TPO is gradually becoming the industry’s favorite single-ply roof membrane and deservedly so. TPO is a thermoplastic single-ply membrane that comes with a polyester reinforcement base called scrim.
This is to make it adaptive for expansion after heat exposure. This is why a TPO roof will retract back to its original physical appearance after being exposed to hot air.
This is also why TPO doesn’t crack. TPO can come in white, grey, and tan colors which makes it good for reflecting sunlight and saving you money on electricity. It also distributes heat from the sun well enough to prevent excessive heat in the building. However, TPO has a shorter lifespan than EPDM. As TPO ages, it becomes less flexible which reduces its ability to withstand puncture, eventually causing it to crack open.
Although the price of TPO and EPDM can be close, you can still find TPO membranes that are far cheaper than EPDM.
Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM)
EPDM is the most common thermoset single-ply roof membrane and it has been dominating the industry for more than 50 years. However, it is rapidly losing domination to newer single-ply membrane technologies.
EPDM is a compressed synthetic polymer that is installed as large sheets. It comes in only black color which makes it poor for holding heat from the sun therefore, your workers will always have to endure excessive heat.
It also cannot reflect sunlight and that means you won’t be able to save money on electricity. The rubber material also has a problem of elasticity as it might not retract well after being expanded from heat instead it will squeeze. This leads to more problems for EPDM, it cannot withstand punctures like newer single-ply membranes thereby making it susceptible to leaks.
All in all, EPDM is not an industry leader for nothing, it has major benefits that make it a good option. It is easy to repair and it generally has a longer lifespan than TPO.
Both single-ply roof membranes have unique advantages that make them a good option for your commercial or industrial building. In making your choice, consider your budget, your geographic location considering its regular weather conditions.
If you are still not sure of which you want, seek the advice of a roofing expert to help you choose the single-ply roof membrane that is suitable for your building.
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