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.

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.

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.