EPDM vs PVC: What’s Right for Your Roofing Needs?

If you are the owner of a flat-roofed or low-slope roof structure, you already know that your roofing needs are far different from those with buildings featuring traditional, more steeply sloped rooftops. Your roofing has to be resistant to everything from extremes of temperatures and the risks of pooling water, snow and ice to structural movement. This is why the issue of EPDM vs PVC so frequently emerges.

Why the EPDM vs. PVC Issue?

You will see a lot of EPDM vs PVC comparisons when you start to search for roofing because these are the two most commonly chosen materials for flat roofs. EPDM is a rubber material made mostly with oil based ingredients. PVC is a vinyl-like material made of chlorine and ethylene.

Are there pros and cons to each? Absolutely, and it is imperative to run that EPDM vs PVC comparison as you narrow down your choices for your new or replacement roof on a flat-top or low slope building. Let’s start with the EPDM and its many pros and cons.

EPDM vs. PVC: The Pros and Cons of EPDM

Ethylene propylene diene monomer or EPDM is a synthetic rubber and is treated with a range of chemicals to help stabilize the material and make it long-lasting, flexible and durable. Typically, EPDM is UV stable, meaning that it can be exposed for many years to the intense powers of sunlight without degrading or breaking down. It is also able to withstand extremes in weather such as incredibly hot summers and intensely cold winters without turning brittle or breaking down.

EPDM is able to flex enough to support structural movement, too. And perhaps one of the most important “pros” for the EPDM roofing is the fact that there is no special equipment or skill needed to install it. It does ask for a great deal of prep in terms of cleaning and/or installing a new roof decking on which the material is applied. However, with good brushes, rollers and patience even a novice can do a good job.

Lastly, it is the most affordable type of single-ply membrane-style roofing and has been in use for decades.

EPDM vs. PVC: The Pros and Cons of PVC

A more recent innovation in single-ply, membrane-style roofing is PVC roofing. However, one of the major “pros” of the PVC roofing is that it is actually made of three layers of material that feature PVC material reinforced with polyester “scrim” between. It is, however, described as a single-ply membrane. This means it is considered a bit more flexible and stable with high break and tear resistance. It is identical to EPDM in that it has UV resistance and can remain stable under extremes of heat or cold. PVC is also quite resistant to fire and chemicals, and typically inhibits the growth of any fungi or plant materials.

And also just like EPDM, the PVC materials are designed to be watertight and leak free for many decades after installation. This material also requires attention to prep when it is installed, and it requires “hot air welded seams” rather than an adhesive to bond together properly. This is why the PVC roofing is also a job for professionals who know how to handle the machines and materials properly.

This tends to boost the price of a installation, making EPDM the lower priced option with the added benefit of a DIY installation if desired.

In the debate of EPDM vs. PVC we now know that PVC is just as durable but requires experts to install the material properly. If you are looking for a long-lasting, easy to install and affordable roofing material for a flat roof, the EPDM materials may be the ideal choice.

Worth It or Not: Rubber Roof Coatings

The roof of a building, commercial or residential, can be troublesome in terms of needing expensive repairs. There are things you can do though that will help to bring down the number of times you’ll have to be look at repairs.

When you invest in a building, it’s likely the largest investment you’ll ever make. Buildings do require some work for the upkeep and longevity of your investment. Something you spent so much money to get should be cared for as much as possible so it continues to serve its purpose for a long time.

The Trouble Usually Starts at the Top

If you’ve owned any kind of building before, you know that rooftops can take a beating. You might also know that when there’s trouble that brings on the need for repair, it usually starts at the top, where you’ll find—the roof.

Issues that you’ll find with a structure’s roof are gaps in the seams, water leaking in from somewhere, drafts coming in, or dents, dings, and scratches caused by flying debris or hail. You could also see water ponding, meaning your roof doesn’t have good drainage, or drying that leads to cracks.

There is a solution that will help stave off all of these things that cause so much damage to a roof and, in turn, the interior of the building.

Rubber Roof Coatings

You can fix or prevent most or all of what we just mentioned by applying one of the rubber roof coatings that’s on the market today. A coating like this will help keep your roof in the best shape possible and it will extend the life of it for what could be decades.

Liquid EPDM Rubber

This is an easy-to-apply solution to most of the problems that building owners are faced with when it comes to their roofs. These coatings come in liquid form that simply has to be painted on and allowed to dry so it cures and creates an airtight, watertight, and UV resistant seal over the entire surface of the top of the building.

Is It Worth It?

Our answer to the question of whether it’s worth it or not to put rubber roof coatings on rooftops is a resounding yes it is. The number one factor that causes damage to a home or commercial space is water that comes in through the roof.

The roof of a building is exposed to rain, snow, ice, wind, dirt, debris, UV rays, hail, and so much more. All of those elements can cause damage to the roof and open up the interior of the structure to even more damage. When the roof of gets compromised, it allows the outside elements to come inside and creates more problems in the interior.

You could potentially prevent thousands of dollars in repairs and replacements by applying one of the rubber roof coatings to a building’s rooftop.

How Much Do Rubber Roof Coatings Cost?

Obviously, we’re talking about saving money in the long-run, so you’re likely wondering how much it will cost you up front. Some of the price will be determined by how big the surface of your roof is. You’ll need to measure the length and width of the roof to get the coverage area. You’ll then purchase the amount of product needed to cover that surface.

One thing you can look for is an all-in-one product that doesn’t need a primer put on first and gives you total coverage in one coat. You can save time, money, and energy by using a product that gives you total coverage and protection in just a single coat.

TPO vs. EPDM Roofing for RVs: Which is the Best RV Roof Material?

Choosing the best RV roof material is largely a matter of personal preference. Still, there are some factors that are involved in your decision that you should be aware of before you begin shopping for a new roof. Two of the most popular options on the market for today’s RVs are TPO and EPDM. Both of these are synthetic polymers that are designed specifically for use on RVs and mobile homes. They offer low maintenance roofing solutions, but each has its own pros and cons to consider.

Before you can compare the two, you really have to understand a little more about what they are:

EPDM: This synthetic rubber is designed specifically for roofing, and is available in both liquid and sheet form. When used as a liquid, it will dry to a semi-solid finish, offering a flexible watertight seal. EPDM sheets are dried out and cured, which offers less flexibility but a slightly sturdier finish. This material is usually black, although many liquid products dry to a white finish to offer better UV protection and other benefits.

TPO: This synthetic material is a laminated membrane that is relatively cheap. This roofing material can be attached by mechanical screws or adhesion with glue or other roofing adhesives. Details and seams can be heat welded, or they can simply be glued and sealed. This material can also be combined with fiber reinforcements for added strength, but this can also cause more rigidity, leading to difficulty with installation in some cases.

The Best RV Roof Material is Affordable

Since roofing material selection is more about personal preference, what you can afford matters. The costs involved in TPO roofing are higher because the materials are more difficult to manufacture. Additionally, TPO may require additional products like sealants and the fiber reinforcements mentioned above, so you have more to consider than just the cost of the roofing material itself.

EPDM is an economical solution, and in its liquid form it is even more affordable and easy to install. Why does ease of installation matter to cost? If the process is simple, you can replace your own RV roof and save hundreds, if not thousands, on shop or dealership labor costs.

Another factor to consider when it comes down to cost is the thickness. A thicker membrane is going to perform better and provide longer protection, so you should always choose that option if it is within your budget. After all, spending a little more on a better quality roof now, regardless of whether it is TPO or EPDM, is going to save you from more frequent repairs and replacements in the future.

Installation and Maintenance

TPO roofing typically requires hot air welding for the seams, which is a more complex process. Plus, it is going to be more expensive to install because of the need for specialty tools or a skilled welder to complete the work. On the other hand, EPDM can usually be installed even by the most average handy person. Liquid rubber EPDM products are even easier to install, making them a popular choice among DIYers for their ease of installation and lack of maintenance required.

Speaking of maintenance, this is another area where EPDM rubber roofing does the job better. Rubber roofs, when properly installed, will not require much maintenance in the early years. In fact, with regular cleaning and care, a rubber roof can last a long time with minimal or no need for repairs.

A TPO roof, on the other hand, requires regular resealing for the best protection. Like fiberglass, the seams have no other protectant or adhesive like they do on a rubber roof, and therefore rely solely on the protection of a sealant. Applying and reapplying this product over the years can also cause unnecessary deterioration and damage.

Is EPDM Rubber Roofing Right for You?

If your business or home has a flat roof, or a low-slope roof, you have options in terms of roofing systems that go beyond conventional asphalt shingles, shakes, and the like. EPDM rubber roofing is one of the most popular options on the market, and it can offer quite a few benefits for business owners and homeowners. However, it is not the right solution for everyone. Is it right for your particular needs? We’ll help you make an informed decision.

A Quick Look at the Benefits of EPDM Rubber Roofing

EPDM offers quite a few benefits and advantages as a roofing material when compared to other options on the market. Understanding these is key to making the right decision.

  • Cost: You’ll find that EPDM rubber roofing is more affordable than many roofing systems on the market. The lower cost per square foot allows you to save money on your construction or re-roofing project that can be reinvested in other areas or saved outright. However, you do not need to worry that because EPDM is low-cost, that you will suffer with low-quality roofing. It is actually stronger and more durable than many other roofing systems used today.
  • Weight: Weight is a significant consideration with any type of roof cladding. The roof system and substrate must be strong enough to handle the load. With other roofing materials, ranging from asphalt shingles to slate or terracotta tiles, the weight can be immense. EPDM rubber roofing is much lighter, helping to reduce stress and strain in your roofing system without sacrificing protection or durability.
  • Durability: The roof of your home or business is one of the most critical components. It must withstand harsh temperatures, direct sunlight, exposure to wind, rain, sleet, snow, and ice, and it must do so for decades without degrading. That’s a tall order to fill for any material, but EPDM rubber roofing does so very well. In fact, it’s one of the most durable materials on the market, with a lifespan surpassing 50 years with correct installation.
  • Ease of Maintenance: Most roofing systems require very little in the way of maintenance, but EPDM rubber roofing is particularly low-maintenance. It simply needs to be cleaned once or twice per year to remove dust. With a quality protectant applied to it, even mildew will not be a problem. Few other roofing materials can claim that – even asphalt shingles can suffer from mildew and mold buildup.
  • Ease of Installation: Installing EPDM rubber roofing is also very simple. In fact, it can be done in mere hours in most cases. Compare that to the days required for other systems and you begin to see just how beneficial this option is. All you need to apply it is a roller and a brush, although a sprayer may also be useful for applying it to large, open areas of the roof quickly and evenly.

The Drawbacks of EPDM Rubber Roofing

While there are many benefits and advantages to using a rubber roof product, there are some cons that you should know about, too.

  • Professional Installation: In most cases, you’ll need to let a professional handle installation to make sure that it’s done right. So, if you’re the DIY type, this is most likely a hands-off sort of project. This also goes for most large-scale repairs, although home and business owners can often handle small repairs on their own.
  • Roof Protrusions: Roof protrusions and other potential problem areas need to be addressed before EPDM rubber roofing is installed to prevent punctures and other damage.

In the end, rubber roofs may not be the right choice for everyone, but they are increasing in popularity thanks to their wide range of benefits and advantages.

EPDM Roof Installation Cost and Benefits

Those who are considering an EPDM roof will find that it offers a range of benefits. The traditional membranes tend to have fewer seams than other types of roofing, and when using a liquid EPDM, there are no seams at all. It is a lightweight material and it is easy to apply when compared with other options, such as asphalt. Because they are lightweight, it means that they can be installed without the need for any type of heavy machinery.

The reputation of the EPDM products is outstanding, as well. The membranes have been in use for more than 50 years in the construction field, and these high-quality sheets tend to be faster to install than other roofing methods. Additionally, they use less energy when they are created. With EPDM, you will have a roof that can last for between 20 and 30 years, making it a low-cost options. It is resistant to weathering and damage, and it works well in both high and low heat. Overall, the maintenance for these types of roofs tends to be low. This is true whether using the membranes or the liquid EPDM.

What About the EPDM Roof Installation Cost

Determining exactly how much the installation will cost can be difficult because it can vary so much based on a number of factors, such as location and the cost of labor. For the material alone, the national roofing costs are estimated to be $0.80 per square foot to $1.60 per square foot. This does not include the cost of labor. When you are trying to determine how much you will have to spend on your roof, you will want to consider the amount of square footage that you need to cover, as well as the cost of the membranes or liquid EPDM in your area. Additionally, you will want to check with several contractors who can supply the labor for the roofing.

Overall, though, it does tend to be a cheaper option than many of the other roofing alternatives out there for flat roofs. It could be a good choice for you given all of the benefits and the low cost. However, you will want to speak with contractors in your area to get full information and an estimate on what your total cost will end up being. If you talk with several contractors, you may find some small differences in the price you need to pay for your roof. Typically, they will be close to one another in cost, including labor, so choose the contractor that has the best reputation.

What’s the Cost of Not Having Quality Roofing?

There are many who worry that their EPDM roof installation costs are going to be too high, and they decide that they can wait “just a little longer” before they get new roofing. However, it is important for them to consider what could happen if they wait for too long. A leak in the roof could be more than just a little problem. If you need new roofing for your store, for example, think about how much damage rain could do to the merchandise and stock that you have. If you have a flat roof on a garage or storage shed that needs better roofing materials, consider the damage that water could do to the items that you have stored inside. The EPDM roof installation costs tend to be some of the lowest you will find for quality roofing that will keep your building safe. Spending a little now could help you to save a lot in the end.