TPO Vs EPDM Roofing: Which One Is Better?

Wondering If TPO or EPDM Is A Better Choice For Your Roof? Then Read Our In Depth Guide To Find Out.


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How Does TPO Compare To EPDM Roofing?

When it comes to flat roofing materials these days, TPO(Thermoplastic polyolefin) is gaining popularity alongside it’s long time competitor EPDM(ethylene propylene diene monomer) which has been around for over 60 years. TPO has had a slightly shorter time since inception being as it started emerging around 20-30 years ago.

Even though TPO hasn’t been around as long as EPDM, you may be wondering why TPO is gaining such a significant part of the flat roofing market share recently. There are numerous reasons many property owners are choosing to go with TPO instead, so let’s take a look at a few of the main reasons why.

Durability & Puncture Resistance

The most obvious reason that people choose TPO over other types of roofing material is because they want something durable and resistant to punctures, especially if you live in an area that is prone to hail or strong winds. Strong hail impacts can destroy a roof quickly, so having a durable membrane on your roof is key to a long lasting roofing system. Most TPO membranes of equal thickness compared to EPDM rubber membranes have a significantly higher resistance to punctures, which means less repairs and less maintenance.

Ease Of Repair

Another advantage of using TPO is its ease of repair. If there is damage to any portion of the membrane, simply placing a patch over the tear and welding the membranes together will produce a solid seal as good as new. This makes repairing leaks much easier than when dealing with traditional EPDM rubber roofs where the process is much more complicated. EPDM cannot be welded together like TPO can and if the weather is cold it cannot be re-taped either. This means temporary fixes have to be used until the weather warms up, leaving your property at risk so you can see how TPO is a much better choice for ease of repair.

Expansion And Contraction

With swinging temperatures, EPDM is much more likely to shrink than TPO, which can cause a multitude of problems across many areas of the roof such as the edges, seams, flashing and around extrusions. 

Energy Efficiency

The white reflective surface of TPO membranes are great at reflecting sunlight and keeping your building cooler than a dark colored EPDM membrane. Since it typically costs more to cool a building than to heat it, TPO is much better at reducing energy costs than it’s sun absorbing counterpart.

Ease Of Installation

When it comes to installation, both roofing materials are similar in ease of operation, but there are a couple differences. EPDM is typically mechanically fastened and then taped at the seams, where as TPO is mostly adhered chemically and heat welded at the seams, allowing for better quality installations during winter seasons.

Seam Strength

Since both materials come in rolls that are overlapped on each other, the seams run the length of the roof which is a lot of area that can cause problems if not properly sealed. Using the hot welding techniques with TPO, you can typically produce a stronger seal than with seam tape that EPDM uses. Strong seams mean less chance of developing leaks over time, which is good for your building and your pockets.

Restoration Process

If after 20 or so years, your roof is starting to wear, both TPO and EPDM membranes can be restored with silicone roof coatings. This coating is sprayed over the entire roof system to seal up any cracks and problem areas which can extend the life of your roof by 10+ years. The main difference between the two is that EPDM will need a primer before the roof coating goes on due to a film on the EPDM that prevents the coating from sticking to it properly.

Ballasted Roofs Make Life Difficult

Ballasted EPDM roofs also known as tar and gravel roofs or built up roofing, are definitely a long lasting roofing system when installed properly. The issue with these roofs is that repairs and replacement costs can increase significantly due to the need to remove all the gravel and dirt away from any areas that need attention. This can mean shoveling and vacuuming up all the rocks and then cleaning the membrane where as a TPO system is easily repaired without having to do all of that.

So Which One Is Better?

As you can see from the comparisons above, TPO roofing is a much better choice for most flat roofs than EPDM is. This is not to say EPDM isn’t a great roofing material, because it is and has stood the test of time, but overall TPO roofing membranes have the distinct advantage across almost every area of comparison. From ease of repairs to stronger seams and energy efficiency, there is an obvious winner.

If you are still curious about which one to choose or just want to speak to an expert, give us a call today and speak with one of our experts. Of course we are always here to help you repair or replace your flat roof anywhere throughout the greater Denver area so feel free to reach out for a no obligation inspection and estimate.