EPDM or TPO: Which roofing system is right for your building?

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Thursday, January 10, 2019

It’s a current trend in roofing: because of Americans’ growing awareness of and concern for climate change, people are jumping on the band wagon to install white reflective roof systems, known as Thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO). However, one roofing system does not fit all; for some building needs and geographic locations, ethylene propylene diene terpolymer (EPDM) may be the better solution.

How do you know which to choose? Making the best and most efficient choice for your company’s building is about matching the needs of your building with the correct roofing system.

TPO roofing system

TPO roofing systems are single-ply membranes that, because of their white color, reflect heat, creating an energy-efficient roofing solution in warm-weather climates. They provide resistance to ultraviolet, ozone and chemical exposure. They are solar-reflective and resist deterioration from restaurant grease.

EPDM roofing systems are made of a durable synthetic rubber roofing membrane and are primarily black. They absorb heat in the winter months, can handle expansion and contraction of large temperature swings and have been around for longer, establishing a proven history as an effective roofing system. A recent long-term weathering study of EPDM roofing systems showed EPDM roofs continue to perform well over a span of 30 years: all five of the 28 to 32-year roofs examined still performed “like new,” with most or all of the roofs exceeding minimum characteristics for aged EPDM on elongation, tensile strength, thickness XD, thickness MD and factory seam strength.

EPDM roofing system

While TPO roofs keep buildings cooler in the summer, EPDM roofs absorb some of the heat, allowing the roofing system to remain warmer in the winter. This causes ice and snow to melt faster, removing this stress off of a building sooner. EPDM is also able to cope with large temperature swings better than TPO.

Your building’s geographic location affects the type of roofing system that is best for it; location matters. Studies have determined the Mason—Dixon Line is the point at which the heating and cooling cost benefits begin to lean one way over another: locations south of the Mason—Dixon Line benefit from a white membrane, while locations north of this line benefit from a black membrane. In Southeast Missouri, located right at the Mason—Dixon Line, there is little effect from the color of the roof membrane; the choice is up to the building owner’s discretion.

In Southeast Missouri, insulation (R-value) remains the best way to keep your building energy-efficient. By making sure your roof’s insulation has a R-30 as recommended by the Division of Energy, you can ensure your building is as energy-efficient as possible.

For more information or to schedule a roofing consultation for your building, visit riversideroofingcompany.com or contact Riverside Roofing Company in Cape Girardeau at (573) 803-4028.