What is EPDM Roofing?
EPDM stands for Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer, otherwise known as a “rubber roof”. Commonly found on low-slope or flat roofing, EPDM is an extremely durable and tough synthetic rubber roofing membrane.
EPDM is available in widths between 7.5 to 50 feet and in thicknesses of 1.1mm, 1.5mm, 1.9mm and 2.3mm. It’s offered in either black or white, although the white version of EPDM is simply an additional surface layer installed on top of the existing black layers.
The following are the EPDM layers in order of installation:
- EPDM: Elastomeric bottom layer.
- AFR EPDM: Fire-retardant layer.
- FRM EPDM: Top layer which is reinforced with polyester fabric.
- FlexWhite: Optional top layer which is used for increased UV reflection.
The Advantages of an EPDM Roof
- Inexpensive & Easy Installation: In a direct comparison to TPO (Thermoplastic Polyolefin), in regards to expense – EPDM wins handily. While a 2500 square foot TPO roofing system would cost you approximately $7 per square foot, EPDM costs $5.5 per sf for the same area. Unlike asphalt shingles, which require individual installation, EPDM is manufactured in sheets and rolls which allow roofing service providers to simply roll it out.
- Inexpensive Repair: Compared to asphalt or metal sheets, EPDM roofing has less seams due to the long and wide rolls that are used in installation. This reduces the likelihood of leaks occurring as a result of less points of failure, and a thicker membrane.
- Immense Longevity: EPDM is one of the longest lasting commercial roofing systems available on the market; its lifespan can exceed 30 years – if it is professionally installed and well-designed.
- Light-Weight Materials: An average asphalt shingle weighs approximately 2.3 lbs per square foot. In comparison, fully adhered and membrane-only EPDM weighs a mere 0.5 lbs. per sf, reducing the load on your roof.
- Hail Resistance: Due to the inherent nature of rubber, debris or hail simply bounces off EPDM roofing, resulting in less roof deformations and damage from impact.
- Reduces Energy Consumption: Whether you live in a hot or cold climate, EPDM has got you covered. If you live in a northern region, you’ll generally opt for black EPDM, the default that absorbs solar radiation and heat. Alternatively, if you live in a southern area, an optional layer of white EPDM will serve to drive utility costs down as a result of increased UV reflection.
- Wide Operating Temperature: EPDM has a maximum operating temperature of 300º F and a minimum operating temperature of -40º F.
- Fire-Rated: The AFR layer added in the construction of an EPDM roof serves to make it fire retardant.
Are There Disadvantages of an EPDM Roof?
- Easily Punctured: If your roof is subject to constant foot traffic or falling tree branches, consider choosing a thicker membrane to prevent instances of puncturing. Unfortunately, EPDM can puncture, so it’s recommended that you ballast your roof to prevent such an occurrence.
- Generic Appearance: Simply a flat sheet of white or black, EPDM’s overall curb appeal isn’t really worth writing home about.
- Poor Petroleum Resistance: EPDM can break down if it comes into contact with petroleum-based products such as asphalt shingles.
- Requires Expert Installation: If installed by an unqualified contractor of performed DYI, you run the risk of putting EPDM in contact with petroleum-based products such as asphalt shingles – causing it to fail.
How to Know If EPDM Roofing Right For Your Business
While EPDM roofing boasts tremendous advantages as a commercial roofing system, there are also some disadvantages you need to consider before deciding whether to employ it for your roof. It’s best to contact a professional roofing company that will evaluate your particular business building and commercial roofing needs, and help you arrive at the optimal roofing solution for your business.