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.

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.