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.

What Are the EPDM Roof Advantages?

As a property owner, it is natural for you to weigh the various pros and cons for any materials or systems you use on that property. Whether it is a commercial building or a residential property, you want to be sure your investments give you the returns you desire. Those returns can usually be summed up (no matter what sort of project) as long-lasting, good looking, high performing, low maintenance and affordable. All of these terms apply to the list of EPDM roof advantages, as well.

What is EPDM Roofing?

EPDM is ethylene propylene diene terpolymer, an oil-based rubber roofing option that is a long-lasting and popular choice. This is because it does exactly what a property owner hopes a roofing material will do – remain watertight and effective for many years. Naturally, there are more EPDM roof advantages than the simple fact that it is an effective option for a rooftop.

For one thing, one of the most significant EPDM roof advantages is that the material can work well on perfectly flat or low-sloped roofs. Whether it is a commercial building with a lot of venting and other issues on the flat roof or a residential structure with a very low slope or pitch to the roof, EPDM is a good option.

Flat or low-slope roofing always has more trouble because it can so easily succumb to issues like intense weather (heat or cold), pooling, structural changes, and roof traffic. Thus, the EPDM roof advantages are very significant when deciding on what materials to use for your low-slope or flat roof.

A Basic List of EPDM Roof Advantages

So, just what are the EPDM roof advantages apart from its watertight properties and durability? The advantages include:

DIY – If you would prefer to tackle the project yourself, EPDM can be installed by a novice who is willing to purchase the simple tools needed for installation AND take the time to do the prep work essential to a good outcome. This may mean installing new plywood or panels for the material to bond to, performing an intense cleaning of the entire surface, and so on.

EPDM

EPDM

Affordability – Of the many materials available for flat and low-slope rooftops, EPDM is the most affordable among them. Not only can it be done by you or with a group of friends, but the materials themselves are affordably priced and considered the lowest priced among all other similar options.

Longevity – An EPDM installation will have a lifespan of 50 years or more (if cared for properly and installed correctly). It will ask for little to no maintenance and even with any issues, repairs are easy, inexpensive and fast to perform. The material resists UV damage, flexes with the building’s movement over time, and all without weakening or degrading.

Safe – EPDM materials are fire resistant, which is important as they are often exposed to intense amounts of heat and light, and if a nearby building or fire puts your property at risk, it is often noted that EPDM may slow or impede the movement of a fire.

Greener – One of the best advantages to using EPDM is that it is easily one of the “greenest” materials. It requires very little energy to produce and when you need to replace it (50 years later) the materials are 100% recyclable! You won’t even need to use heating machines to install them, meaning they ask for no energy to install.

So, if you are eager to find a roofing material with a great many advantages and few “cons” to its use, EPDM is a good choice.

A Typical EPDM Roof Life Expectancy

If you are the owner of a flat or low-slope roofed building (whether residential or commercial), and you are in need of a new roofing material, you might have already heard of EPDM. Experts in building and design have long known that it is a remarkably durable material that installs easily and comes with a very budget-friendly price. In this guide, we’ll also look at the typical EPDM roof life expectancy and just why it is probably an optimal solution to your roofing needs.

What is EPDM Anyway?

EPDM is an oil-based rubber material that can be easily applied to a flat or low-sloping rooftop. It is often described as a DIY-friendly material, too, because it does not involve any specialized skills or tools to install correctly and effectively. Preparing the area properly is also going to have an effect on any EPDM roof life expectancy.

EPDM Roofing

EPDM Roofing

Why? If you want to get the very most EPDM roof life out of an installation, it means you’ll have to consider what issues might shorten or interfere with a longer life span on the material. Generally, it is the following factors that can shorten the roofing material’s life span and decrease its performance:

  • Moisture – Any EPDM roof life expectancy can be shortened if the materials are applied to wood a foundation that is damp or retaining moisture. This can cause adhesives to fail or for trapped moisture to degrade the base materials quickly.
  • Debris – The prep work before installation involves removal of old asphalt and oil-based materials, as well as ensuring there are no sharp surfaces or pieces of debris that could work away at the backside of the roofing, causing a tear or fracture in the future, and leading to leaks inside the building.
  • Poor drainage – Preparing a roof for EPDM means ensuring that water drains away from the rooftop and into gutters. This means the installation of batten boards and other trim that channels water where it needs to go. It also means that installation requires flashing to help channel water away from vulnerable surfaces and/or joints between the EPDM and other parts of the building.

A trustworthy EPDM guide can help you learn all about the appropriate steps to take before, during and after installation. Each of these steps can prolong or ensure the long EPDM roof life you desire.

The Average EPDM Roof Life

And just what is the average life span of an EPDM installation. Generally, experts know that a well done installation provides a property owner with 40 to 50 years of roof life, or more. Regular maintenance and inspections can detect any issues or signs of trouble and extend the life span of the roof for even longer.

A Lesser Known Benefit of EPDM

And though you might read that EPDM has a long life and can withstand exposure to such things as UV light, extremes of heat and cold, structural movement and more, it is also important to recall that it is a greener sort of roofing. Not only because it lasts for such a long time, though, but also because it takes much less energy to produce and when it is replaced in later years the original material is entirely recyclable.

If you are considering a new material for a low-sloped or flat roofed building, you have several ways you can go. However, if you need a cost-effective, low maintenance and easy to install option that can last for many years to come, then it is EPDM. Available in different colors, thicknesses and widths, it can cover large or small areas affordably and over a very long span of time.

EPDM and the Environment

More and more people today are concerned with the environment and going green, and they want to make choices that are sustainable. This includes when it comes to the buildings they own and the roofs on those buildings, particularly in the commercial sector. Builders and buyers alike are looking for ways that they can create environmentally friendly roofing systems, and one of the best options on the market is EPDM, or Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer. This material offers a number of benefits that help to make it an environmentally friendly product, and it could be the perfect option for your business.

Energy Efficient Roof

Energy efficiency is important, and this is one of the areas where EPDM can truly excel. The product is available in both white and black. This means that it can work well to accommodate different types of environments when it comes to being energy efficient.

If the white EPDM is used in a climate that tends to be warm and get a lot of sunshine, it can help to keep the building cooler. The white will reflect the sunlight. This can help to reduce the use of air-conditioning. For those that live in colder climates, having the black roofing can help, as it will more readily absorb the sunlight to keep the building warmer. This means reduced heating costs throughout much of the year.

In fact, a study conducted by Ashley-McGraw Architects have shown this to be the case. They found that using white roofing will provide 30% higher thermal heat loss than the black roofs.

Highly Durable and Long-Lasting

Another way that EPDM is environmentally friendly is in its durability. It’s very common for the coatings on roofs to last and stay in great shape for decades. They are not going to need to be recoated and repaired every year, which means less of the product is being used. Not only is this good for the environment, but it shows that EPDM is also a good value.

A study by a strategic environmental consulting firm called GreenTeam, Inc. found that EPDM performs better than other similar types of roof assemblies. They found that it has a lower environmental impact than asphalt, TPO, and PVC roofing systems.

Another one of the benefits of EPDM that helps it to last so long is the fact that it is not a rigid, inflexible material. You will find that the rubber can expand and contract with the weather, which means there is a far less likelihood of it cracking and allowing for leaks.

Applying the EPDM

If you want to have a quality roofing system that is environmentally friendly, you will find that EPDM tends to be fast and relatively easy to install. In fact, depending on the size of the roof, the slope of the roof, and the amount of time you have, it is a project that you could conceivably complete on your own. However, if you do not have the time or inclination to do it on your own, you can find some great roofing companies that can take care of the installation for you.

epdm

EPDM (ETHYLENE PROPYLENE DIENE MONOMER)

During the application process, be sure to follow all of the guidelines from the manufacturer to ensure proper installation. This includes cleaning and preparing the roof before you begin, applying a single coat, and ensuring you are following safety guidelines while applying.

Whether you choose to install the EPDM on your own or hire someone to do it for you, it is worth it. The peace of mind it can offer, along with the environmental friendliness, are priceless.

Why Choose EPDM for Roofing?

When you notice that there is some damage on your roof, whether it is leaking, or it simply appears as though there may be some cracks forming, you can’t ignore it. Problems with the roof are not going to get better on their own. In fact, they are only going to get worse. Therefore, you will want to act as quickly as you can to make sure that the roof is repaired. One of the best options for many types of roof today is to use an EPDM coating.

EPDM, or Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer, is a synthetic type of rubber, which can be applied to the roof to provide it with a protective coating that will help to keep it safe and stop leaks. While there are other options available for roofing repair, you will find that this has some nice benefits, and it should certainly be considered.

Affordable Compared to Other Options

When people discover that they have a problem with their roof, such as a leak, they immediately start to think about just how much it is going to cost to repair. If you have caught the problem before it is too bad, you will find that using EPDM as a coating is very affordable. In many cases, you can take care of the application on your own. Even if you hire someone to handle it for you, the cost is likely to be minimal since the application process is relatively simple.

Simple Application Makes It a Potential DIY Project

As mentioned, you will find that applying an EPDM coating to the roof is simple. It is possible to do it yourself with a little bit of time and the right equipment. You will also want to understand the basics of how to apply the coating to the roof, and you will want to make sure you follow all of the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure it sets properly. Always take the proper safety precautions when you are applying the EPDM, as well.

Keep in mind that you will also have to wait for the EPDM to cure. This does not typically take very long, and one of the benefits of the material is that it can cure in any temperature. It tends to cure faster when the temperature is above 55 degrees Fahrenheit, but it will still cure in lower temperatures.

EPDM Is Durable

When you make a fix to your roof, you do not want the same problem cropping up a few months later, or even a couple of years later. One of the nice things about EPDM coatings is the fact that they can last for a long time thanks to the durability of the rubber. In fact, it has the potential to last for decades. It’s nice to have that kind of peace of mind when it comes to your roof.

Use EPDM as a Preventative Measure

Even if you do not have any major problems with your roof right now, you might still want to consider using an EPDM coating. Applying it before there is a problem will give your roof a layer of “armor” that will help to keep it safe now and for years to come. This simple preventative measure can help you prevent some headaches down the road.

As you can see, there are many reasons to consider using EPDM when you have to make sure your roof is in shape and stays that way. If you have issues with your roof, this could be just the cure you’ve been hoping to find.