Top 3 Flat Roof Materials Explained – Torch Down, EPDM, TPO – Which is the best?

Hi, my name is Eric. Although there are many commercial roofing systems to choose from I want to explain that three types of single ply roofing systems commonly installed by contractors across the United States. Of the three types, EPDM is the most popular. It has been used for over 40 years. It is the same synthetic rubber membrane used to make inner tubes.

Another type is TPO, which is a thermoplastic membrane, and finally there’s modified bitumen, which is an asphalt based membrane. Let me explain more about each of these membranes. EPDM is produced in different thicknesses.

They are 45, 60, and 90 thousandths of an inch. Most contractors use the industry standard of 60 thousandths of an inch, which is very near the thickness of a quarter.

Some advantages for using EPDM on a flat roof are; first, it is the least expensive system to install per square foot. Second, it is simple to install with the use of anchors adhesives and rollers. Also, it weighs less than other single ply membranes, and lastly, it is sold in wide rolls of eight to twenty feet resulting in fewer seams. Some of the disadvantages are that harmful ultraviolet rays degrade adhesive used on seams and flashing causing very premature separation. It’s failing, like look at that.

That’s glue that has gone bad and no longer sticking the rest of it.

This is how it starts and this is how it ends up, okay. Look how deep that goes and I’m not gonna lift it up further just because I don’t wanna make it worse, but this is around a drain area. Second, the black membrane absorbs ultraviolet light causing shrinkage and brittleness, which decreases its life expectancy drastically. Right here, over the years, the EPDM has shrunk a little bit and then, and thus stretched, right here in the corner.

And then, with the stretching and the UV rays pounding down on it, it started eating it away and right here in the corner where is mostly, stretched the most, this is where it got eaten away the most, also. You can see it has gone straight through. Third protective mats are definitely needed because the thin membrane is susceptible to punctures due to foot traffic on sharp objects left behind by maintenance crews. Another reason we don’t recommend EPDM is because it’s so easily punctured. Um, here, on this roof, you can see they’ve laid out mats for workmen to walk on and this is supposed to offer protection, but as you can see there’s never enough mats to cover the whole roof.

Repairs to seams and flashing is required long before the warranty of the fifteen to twenty years expires. Now, I’m gonna bring my finger along this seam that’s inside the cover tape; just watch this here, when I bring it along here with all that water coming out. The surface preparation can be an added labor cost when removing an old roof system, or installing one over a pre-existing one.

And lastly, the black color of the membrane absorbs heat, and can lead to the super heating of the structure below, causing air conditioning costs to rise significantly. Now let’s talk about TPO.

TPO is another type of roofing membrane. There are two thickness options to TPO; 45 and 60 thousandths of an inch, which is roughly equivalent to the thickness of a quarter. TPO is composed of laminated layers. Of the three membranes, this one requires more experienced roofing technicians and much more equipment. Some of the advantages of TPO are that the seams are heat welded rather than glued, so they are much less prone to separation.

Secondly, the white surface of the membrane reflects much of the ultraviolet light keeping the structure below cooler.

Third, if the contractor is certified by the manufacturer, to install the membrane, the manufacturer, rather than the contractor, honors with warranty. Here are some of the disadvantages of TPO. First, the system is fairly new to the roofing industry, about 15 years, and has a long track record of revisions and improvements due to surface and seam failures. Also, TPO is known to shrink and its rigidity causes stress on themes and flashing.

A prolonged period of excessive heat exposure causes ultraviolet light degradation Another con is that contractors must calibrate their welding machines very carefully. Improperly welded seams may come loose during the first freeze and thaw cycle and lead to water infiltration. Lastly, the manufacturer’s warranty is only fifteen to twenty years. Now, let us talk about the modified bitumen torch down membrane that has been around since the late 1960s. These single ply membranes can be combined to create a two-to-three ply membrane, that offers the best roofing system to date because there’s a forty year guarantee.

Some advantages for installing the modified bitumen membrane are; first, it is designed to be flexible in extremely hot and cold weather Secondly, it is a two ply membrane with a thickness of about five quarters, or three-eighths of an inch, which is very puncture resistant.

The membrane surface has been embedded with granular ceramics to protect it from ultraviolet degradation. Also, seams are fused together with high heat to prevent any separation, unlike EPDM and TPO, the 2 to 3 ply system can withstand a heavy amount of foot traffic. I want to show you some good news right now, this is uh, we always show you how bad things are and how people do things wrong, but this is how you do a roof. This roof we did 20 years ago, uh, and this is how it should be done; everything very clean, done with modified bitumen torch down, and it’s lasted this long and going strong.

Also, this 2 ply system can be installed over any existing roof or surface with minimal preparation. Re-roof it and we decided to go over, um, because rather than strip all the gravel off, and all the old tar, we saved them a lot of cost by going directly over and I started about an hour ago and this is our fiber glass liner that I’m laying down right now.

Um, this is the first step. Next, comes the self adhering base and then our final layer of modified bitumen torch down. It’s just as good as if we stripped it all the way down; you get the same warranty, um, but this is the most cost-effective ways to do it both with time, labor and debris removal.

Alright, I’ve already laid down my fiberglass liner and anchored down. This gives the roof the strength and stiffness it needs and we have a two-plus system that we, we do. This is the first of the, of the two ply. It’s a self-adhering base and you can see right here it’s already starting to it’s already starting to adhere, and it’s going to stay that way; a 2 layer membrane as well as the protection of the fiberglass liner. You can’t beat it!

This layer directly to our other two layers and I’ll show you in just a second how thick it is, but this is why this is a good system makes it one unified membrane all across.

There are actually two advantages for installing a new membrane in this case. A.There is no cost for stripping and removing the old membrane and B. Fusing an additional membrane over an old one creates a roof that will last well beyond 40 years, unlike the 15 to 20 year life expectancy of EPDM and TPO single ply roofing systems.

This is the best roof you can ever have on a house, on a commercial roof anywhere. First of all, they had a modified bitumen roof. This is modified bitumen torch down. It’s plain. They didn’t have the granular protection for the UV and that was called a single ply membrane; explained they didn’t have the ground and that was called a single ply membrane remembering years ago and it still in good shape is nothing wrong with you can see no the uv-vis had eaten up the roof and you can see it seems nice everything is nice about this room and just decided that you want now system and installing a new roof which you have a system in the industry to have it to PI system memory using modified bituminous membrane and now we fusing another modify torch down the old system that becomes the two prices them that exceeds any other roof system by this last 40 years no question what we doing now is only adding another member and we using them together you cannot do that with any other system this is a dream come true for us we love the system you find all the modified and we just talked with the granular protection in this case that particular from ultraviolet and we’ll never leak anyway some disadvantages are that the installation requires highly skilled technicians secondly the additional layer has an added costs for labor materials we installed our to fly system on the roof that we’re standing on right now it was installed several years ago over a car and gravel root I’m going to cut the member and open right now to show you how well it performed in the extreme weather conditions we’ve had over the last several years together the membranes are viewed so well together they cannot come apart and these stones never puncture this everybody always asks if that is like this that Beijing enough and it is it’s a fiberglass reinforced BC and this can never go through when I put this back you can walk on this all day long there’s air conditioning units up here they need maintenance extremely puncture resistant and look at three eighths of an inch in conclusion for many years we have specialized in installing the 25 modified bituminous georgetown roofing system it has been our experience that is by far the best roofing system that we provide a forty year warranty for our labor and our material for every roof that we install the type and condition of your existing rule does not matter our roofing system is cost effective and will outlast any other

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