Rubber Roof Installation
Three Types of Roofing Systems
Roofing contractors will do a rubber roof installation of their choice. There are three types of roofing systems most commonly installed. These are EPDM, TPO, and Modified Bitumen Torch Down membrane. TPO is a vinyl roofing membrane.
EPDM Rubber is the most popular rubber roof installation among roofing contractors
Of the three systems, EPDM is most favored amongst roofing contractors. This type of roofing system is relatively easy to install and requires little labor and skills. EPDM rubber is a very thin rubber and is of the same materials as that of an inner tube of a tire.
EPDM rubber roofing is aesthetically pleasing with its smooth and clean surface. It has a black surface and gets very hot during summer.
Just because this is the choice roofing system across the country doesn’t mean it’s the best. Watch videos of EPDM failures we have made.
- Fewer seams that make it aesthetically pleasing
- Unskilled labor – it is very easy to show anyone what to do
- Inexpensive tools to install – paint brush, rollers, and utility knives or scissors
- Flexible and easily installs around objects
- Most contractors provide a 15-year warrantee
- Adhesives used on seams fail due to extreme heat
- Rubber fails before the warranty expires
- Constant maintenance is required within 3 – 5 years of installation
- EPDM Rubber degrades and shrink causing seams and flashing to separate
- Harmful Ultraviolet rays are absorbed by the black surface and make the building heat up more than necessary
Watch the video to see how Ultraviolet rays have destroyed an EPDM rubber roof.
Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Roof Installation
This used to be the most popular roofing system and can still be seen on most buildings around the country. The skills involved for a Torch Down Rubber Roof Installation is more than that of an EPDM roofing system. A torch Down roof will always outlast and EPDM rubber roof.
The advantages of a Torch Down system outways the disadvantages. As the name implies, the membrane is torched down to the roof surface and the seams are welded. Unlike EPDM using adhesives that fail due to Ultraviolet rays in a short period of time, the welded seams of the Modified Bitumen rubber are not affected by any weather conditions.
Torch Down Pros
- The rugged thick material can withstand heavy foot traffic
- Installed over any surface with little preparation
- Embedded ceramic granules protects it against UV
- White ceramic surface will keep the roof cool
- Warranties of up to 40 years available
- Can be repaired by an inexperienced person with reg. tar
- Seams are fused together and will not separate
- Requires very little maintenance over its lifetime
- Installing 2 torch down rubbers on top of each other have added benefits
Torch Down Cons
- Not many roofing contractors will install torch down
- Requires more skilled labor than EPDM rubber
- Takes more time to install
Torch Down Rubber Roof Installation
The Torch Down Roofing System still outperforms all other roofing systems. They are much thicker and can handle much more foot traffic and abuse. We have been in the Torch Down Rubber Roof Installation for over 25 years. Here are some images of our roofs we have installed over 20myears ago. They still look the same as when we did install them.
Watch this video on the three roofing systems explained
This will explain why a Torch Down Rubber roof is far better than that of EPDM or TPO systems
TPO (Thermoplastic Polyolefin)
TPO is a vinyl type of material and a heat gun is used to fuse the seams together. The membrane is only the thickness of that of a quarter. TPO is glued down to the roofing deck. At the installation of TPO, it is of the uttermost importance that the heat welding machine is properly calibrated for the temperature and weather condition of the day.
The problem with the heat welding process is that the roof technician can never be sure if the seams are being welded properly or not. Therefore he will take a sharp edge pick and test every seam to make sure it was welded. This does not ensure a proper seam and many times seams have popped loose because of this very issue.
TPO Roofing Advantages
- Seams are welded rather than glued, thus making it harder to separate
- Contractors are certified by the TPO manufacturer that in turn will honor the warranty
- White surface of TPO reflects much of the Ultraviolet light, resulting in a cooler building
- High-quality workmanship is enforced by the manufacturer
TPO Roofing Disadvantages
- A fairly new roofing system with a lot of revisions since its inception
- Ultraviolet rays cause shrinkage putting stress on seams and flashing
- Temperature plays major part with installation and can affect the quality of the installation
- Warranties are only 15- 20 years
- Highly skilled roof technicians that are specially trained for TPO are required
This is a TPO roof that was installed 10 years prior when the Marriot Hotel was built, and seams were already separating and in some areas, the UV rays have damaged the roof.
We were called out to this roof in Rhode Island because it started to leak and it was only 10 years old. A TPO vinyl roof is better than an EPDM Rubber roof but also have its flaws. A Torch Down Rubber Roof Installation will outperform all other roofing systems.
There were 2 layers of TPO roofing membranes on this roof installed. Five years after installation we were called to find the leaks and make repairs