C-Port Blog

Roofing Membranes: Which Is Right For You?

Mar 18, 2019 11:37:54 AM / by Scott S.

A commercial rooftop is an important investment for any building owner or home owner. Like everything else in life, there are pros and cons to each roofing material that can be installed. Contractors and engineers need to know what qualities they can maximize in the price point that they are working with. Today we are going to discuss the following:

  • EPDM
  • TPO
  • PVC
  • Asphalt decks
  • Metal Roofs


Ethylene propylene diene monomers (EPDM) is the most common contractor recommendation due to its affordability and quality. These qualities have made EPDM roofing popular worldwide. EPDM manufacturers use recycled rubber from tires, slate and sawdust to manufacture EPDM. With proper installation, property owners can have 20-30 years of quality, hailstorm-proof roofing. EPDM roofs are installed with either adhesives, tape, mechanically attached or ballasted. EPDM is available in 2 thicknesses - 45 and 60 mils.



Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO) roofs are single-ply membrane flat roof systems for commercial buildings. TPO is installed with a heat-welding application as opposed to an adhesive. The typical lifespan for a TPO roof is 20-30 years. TPO is known for their prevalent white color which deflects. TPO resists mold growth, dirt accumulation, tears impact and punctures. It is made to be flexible and can allow for a home’s or building’s movement or settling. Reinforced TPO membranes can handle a building’s thermal expansion and contraction more effectively than other single ply roofing products.



Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) roofs tend to have a higher cost than EPDM and TPO. Just like TPO, PVC is heat-welded at install and provides exceptional insulating properties. It also comes in a variety of colors. PVC roofs are specifically engineered for strength, ensuring the membrane’s long service life. The American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) requires a roofing membrane to have a minimum breaking strength of 200 pounds per inch. PVC roofing membranes far surpass this standard, all having a minimum breaking strength of 350 pounds per inch.


Asphalt Decks

Flat roof systems for commercial buildings usually require asphalt decks for rooftop parks and garden. These decks can last for 50+ years however they are at a higher price point.

Metal Roofs

Similar to asphalt decks, metal roofs can last over 50 plus years but are also one of the most expensive roofing materials. Aluminum being one of the most expensive metal roofing materials is also the lightest. Galvanized steel would be the counterpart to aluminum, it is heavier but also at a lower price point. Both will withstand corrosion through a protective zinc coating.

The rooftop that will house all the equipment from plumbing, electrical HVAC, telecom etc. should be identified for choosing the proper pipe support. Some membranes are “tougher” than others. You do not want a sharp plastic support sitting on the roof membrane with the possibility of puncturing it. Do you need a gasket, slip sheet or supplemental pad? Check out our blog we wrote on that HERE. Do your due diligence and you will make the right decision. 


Topics: Insider, recycled rubber, c-port, did you know, Eco Friendly, Recycled Material

Scott S.

Written by Scott S.