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TPO vs EPDM: Which Is the Right Choice?

Here’s How to Compare TPO vs. EPDM for Your Commercial Roof

With so many commercial roofing materials out there, it can be difficult to determine what’s best for your roof. Single-ply membrane systems are popular throughout the commercial roofing industry, but comparing options like TPO vs. EPDM can be tricky if you’ve never faced this decision before.

Here at JW Roofing, our experienced roofing contractors have installed countless commercial roofing systems over the years throughout southwest Ohio. We commonly work with both TPO and EPDM roofing, but we tend to favor TPO in many cases. Here’s what you should know about these two roofing systems, and which has the edge in several key qualities.

Overall Durability

When it comes to resistance against common forms of damage, both TPO and EPDM roofing perform well. Both of these materials resist wind damage fairly well, provided installation was completed by trained professionals and no sections failed to adhere properly. Both also stand up effectively against impact damage, such as from hail and other debris. Excessive walking may cause damage, however, and it’s a good idea to install walk pads with either TPO or EPDM if your commercial roof sees frequent foot traffic.

Both about equal

Water Resistance

Water resistance is the first area where we see some differences when comparing TPO vs. EPDM. The key difference when assessing water resistance lies in the way these roofs are installed.

Rolls of EPDM are attached using adhesives, such as tape or glue. While this is less labor intensive, it can leave the roof vulnerable against moisture. TPO, on the other hand, is sealed using heat-welded seams that provide no opportunity for water to seep in. Because of this, TPO roofs often last longer by preventing moisture, the number-one enemy of commercial roofs.

Edge: TPO

Total Installation Cost

Both TPO and EPDM are fairly quick to install, and the materials are also relatively inexpensive compared to materials such as metal roofing. However, while heat-welded seams are ideal for protecting against moisture, it does increase the price of TPO somewhat. While both of these roofing materials are among the most cost-effective available, this is one area where EPDM just barely beats TPO roofing.

Edge: EPDM

Energy Efficiency

Business owners and commercial property managers are increasingly aware of the need to improve energy efficiency. Not only is this good for the environment, but a more efficient building will reduce operating costs, particularly when it comes to temperature control.

When it comes to energy efficiency, TPO enjoys an inherent advantage over EPDM: it is typically white in color, while EPDM is made of black rubber. This difference in color means that EPDM roofs retain much more heat than TPO, which reflects heat away to cool your building. 

Edge: TPO

TPO vs. EPDM: Which Is Better?

Overall, TPO provides more benefits in more situations compared to EPDM, including better energy efficiency and water resistance. While EPDM is typically cheaper to install, that cost is often made up for in the long run due to savings on energy costs and the potential added maintenance and repairs from water intrusion on EPDM roofs. Still, upfront costs are very important, and if moisture is less of a concern in your area, EPDM may be the better choice.

JW Roofing Can Help You Weigh TPO vs. EPDM Roofing

While we recommend TPO roofing more often, the reality is that no single commercial roofing material is best for all roofing situations. There are some cases where EPDM makes more sense, and of course PVC, metal, and many other materials are also common options for commercial roofs. 

When you work with JW Roofing, you get a roofing partner you can trust to help you make this key decision for your roof replacement. If you have further questions about TPO vs. EPDM roofing, or if you’d like to schedule an inspection, contact us today!

a tpo roof on a government building

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