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TPO Roofing Materials

Suppose you're thinking of buying a new flat roofing system for your home, and your goal is to get an economical and energy-efficient option. In that case, you should consider getting TPO (Thermoplastic Polyolefin) roofing.

There are many benefits to enjoy from TPO roofing, including the standard benefits of EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Terpolymer), PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) roof systems, and even metal roofing.

If you've wondered what is TPO roofing, then this article is for you. We'll cover everything you should know about TPO roofing and how you can determine if it's the right option for you.

TPO Roofing Explained

TPO is short for thermoplastic polyolefin, and it's a type of single-ply roofing material that is energy-efficient and heat-reflective, which makes it an economical roofing option. To make it easier to understand, TPO roofing can be considered as a wider group of rubber roofing materials. They comprise rubber blends and other elements that enhance their flexibility and durability.

TPO roofs for residential and commercial use are becoming increasingly popular in different parts of the world for their economic nature. It's worth noting that the roofs were first introduced in the 1990s, and this was to serve as an economical alternative for PVC roofing.

Over the past few decades, TPO roofs have evolved into high-performing types of flat roof systems. As mentioned earlier, it's primarily because they are more energy efficient compared to PVC and EPDM alternatives. Another thing worth noting is that there's currently an increase in the demand for energy-efficient roofing systems.

TPO Roofing Types And Materials

The fantastic thing about TPO roofing is that they are a combination of EPDM and PVC, allowing them to be more environmentally conscious as flat roofing options. Are you wondering what they are made of? Continue reading to find out more!

Materials TPO roofing is made of

As mentioned earlier, TPO is a single-ply roof system, implying that only one TPO membrane or sheet is installed. The TPO membrane comprises up to three layers that are bonded together. These layers are:

  • Thermoplastic polyolefin top layer
  • Polyester-reinforced fabric center
  • Thermoplastic polyolefin base layer

Another thing to note is that each thermoplastic polyolefin layer has ethylene-propylene rubber. Also, they are manufactured with different fillers like fiberglass, carbon fiber, and talc. These fibers are designed to confer flexibility and strength to the TPO roof.

The flexibility actually comes from the center layer of the reinforced polyester, and this is also in addition to its potential to be easily rolled onto the roof. Because of the materials, it's made of, TPO roofs do not contain chemicals like chlorine, which makes them an environmentally friendly roofing option.

TPO Roof Options

TPO roofing has been most commonly applied on commercial properties since its debut in the market. However, it has also proven to be an effective option for residential properties in the past few years.

It offers such fantastic diversity because of its curb appeal, color range, and potential to save energy. Also, TPO roofing comes in different widths and thicknesses, making it suitable for a broader range of applications.

Color range

As mentioned earlier, TPO roofs can be applied in many ways, and this is because they conveniently meet different specifications. In most cases, they are supplied with a white color. However, you'll still find other options in the market, which are black, grey, or white.

You might be wondering why they are mainly supplied with white color. This ensures that as the TPO membrane provides energy-saving benefits, the white surfaces allow it to reflect heat and UV rays away from your home easily. If you are after aesthetic appeal, then you should consider the black or gray options.

Width and thickness

TPO roofing membranes also offer diversity regarding their width and thickness. However, this ultimately depends on the manufacturer of the TPO product that you buy. With manufacturers that provide more comprehensive options in terms of width and thickness, you'll be able to choose from a range of options.

Here's an overview of the thickness for commercial and residential use:

  • Residential TPO usually has a thickness between 0.045 to 0.060 inches. They are mostly 6.5 feet wide and made from rolls of materials that can be up to 100 feet long.
  • Commercial TPO thickness can be up to 0.080 inches. Also, they mostly come in 3- to 12-foot-wide rolls.

If your home or commercial property has a flat roof or low-sloped roof, getting TPO roofing is likely the best option. While there are so many benefits of using TPO roofing, it's worth mentioning that it also comes with its drawbacks. Since TPO roofing products are still relatively new, it's important to know these drawbacks.

TPO Roofing Advantages And Disadvantages

Advantages

1. UV resistance: TPO roofing is designed to offer good resistance to UV damage, chemical exposure, and other harsh conditions that can reduce lifespan. This UV resistance is also a critical feature useful when lowering your HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) costs, especially in hot weather.

2. Flexibility: Because of the materials that they are made of, they offer a unique type of flexibility that confers a greater level of resistance to punctures, damage, and tears that may result from building, settling, and moving.

3. Environmentally friendly: There's so much emphasis on switching to environmentally-friendly materials when constructing homes; this is what you get with TPO roofing. If you're wondering how TPO roofing is environmentally friendly, here are the main reasons you should know:

  • TPO roofing is recyclable, and used ones can be reworked and added to new roof membranes.
  • TPO provides cleaner air in homes, especially in urban areas.
  • White-colored TPO roofing is reflective and can help you lower bills during summer.
  • Their membranes don't have chlorine, which is hazardous to the environment.

4. Strength: TPO roofs feature hot air-welded seams, which confers their strength and flexibility. The fantastic thing is that they are four times stronger than EPDM seams that rely on tape and adhesive.

Disadvantages

1. Seam failure: One of the main issues people face with this type of roofing is that the seam is likely to fail quickly. Most of the durable TPO membranes you'll find tend to have high welding temperatures.

2. New product: Another drawback of TPO roofing systems is the fact that they are still relatively new on the market, especially when it comes to building and roofing materials.

3. Inferior formulas: TPO materials are not created equally, and you'll find that every manufacturer has unique features that they include in their TPO roofing products. With that, there are so many changes in the formulation of these materials. However, it is mainly with the aim of reducing costs. When buying TPO roof systems, you'll need to be as picky as possible.

4. Heat damage: Even though TPO roofing is designed to withstand so much heat, it's important to note that they are not entirely invincible to extreme temperature conditions. Many TPO products fail following prolonged exposure to heat.

How To Choose A TPO Roof

By now, you already know the basic things about TPO roofing; the next thing you may be wondering is how you can choose a good one. Here are some of the critical things that you should look out for when buying or installing a TPO roof on your property:

Thickness

When choosing a TPO roof, you should ensure that the thickness is ideal for its intended use, whether commercial or residential. Also, you need to ensure that the upper layer of the membrane has the highest thickness, and this is to guarantee longevity and performance.

Measurements and calculations

The next thing you'll need to ensure is that the measures and calculations are accurate. For this, you won't have to worry about it so much because your roofing contractor can handle this easily. They will take the exact measurements and help you install the TPO roof accurately. Also, the roofing contractor will ensure proper spacing of fasteners and the membrane width. This is mainly determined through calculations for the uplift load on your roof.

Weldability

An easy way to determine the quality of your TPO roofing materials is from the weldability. Basically, TPO roofing materials with the highest quality mostly have a wider window of weldability. This implies that there would be more consistency in joining the strips of TPO together, creating stronger seams, even at different temperatures.

Wide sheets

One of the reasons why many opt for TPO roofing materials is that they are available in different sheets or rolls. If your TPO has a greater width, it will only require fewer seams. This implies that your roofing will be more durable and more robust. Also, it will make the installation process a lot faster as they would be fewer joining processes and mechanical fasteners.

TPO Roof Installation: Hot Air Welding

The installation process for TPO roofing is a unique one, and it's a lot different from the methods used for other types of roofing materials. With TPO roofing, plates and mechanical fasteners are used in securing the TPO membrane to the roof deck. Also, the TPO membranes can be added to the layer of insulation material or deck with the aid of adhesives, but this is not a commonly used method.

During the installation process, additional sheets of TPO are installed such that they overlap the last one. This is to ensure that the mechanical fasteners are adequately sealed and for guaranteed waterproofing. The technique that is used in seaming the TPO membranes is the hot air welding technique.

One of the benefits of TPO is the ability to seam using hot air welding. With this technique, there won't be a need for open flame or other types of materials for installation. To achieve hot air welding, contractors mainly utilize the hot air welding gun, which is also known as the hot gas welder, or plastic welder.

They are used in softening the TPO membrane and facilitating the creation of a secure seam. It's also worth mentioning that hot air welded seams are more durable, waterproof, and highly flexible. They also offer very impressive resistance to strong wind effects.

Rubber Roofs: TPO Vs EPDM And PVC

As mentioned earlier, TPO roofing combines the advantages of PVC and EPDM roofing systems. If you're wondering how it compares to both alternates, here are the key differences to take note of:

TPO vs. EPDM

EPDM is short for ethylene propylene diene monomer, and it's a popular rubber roofing option that is widely applied to flat roofs for both residential and commercial roofs. When it comes to cost, EPDM is an affordable option, but it's important to note that this primarily applies to the primary color option, which is black. If you buy it in other colors, you're likely to spend more.

The white TPO roofing alternates are more economical and environmentally friendly as well. In terms of curb appeal, most people prefer TPO over EPDM. The lifespan of both roofing materials is 25 years.

TPO Vs. PVC

PVC is short for polyvinyl chloride, and it's also a rubber roof with some similarities to TPO since they are both manufactured from thermoplastic materials. They are both hot-air weldable and energy-efficient roofing materials, and their installation requires adhesives or mechanical fasteners. The main difference between the two is their chemical makeup.

PVC has chlorine salts and plasticizers, and these materials break down faster, unlike the materials found in TPO formulations. In terms of flexibility, PVC has a higher flexibility than TPO. PVC roofing materials have a longer lifespan compared to TPO, but TPO remains the best option in terms of energy efficiency.

Is TPO The Right Choice For You?

If you're planning a roof replacement or getting a new roof, you might be wondering which is the best option for you and whether TPO is the suitable material to opt for. The best thing for anybody looking to get new roofs or a replacement is to first educate themselves on the available options, the advantages and disadvantages of each of these options, and how you will benefit from them in the nearest future.

TPO roofing is a fantastic choice to opt for, especially for low-sloped and flat roofs on commercial and residential properties. Even though TPO remains a relatively new option compared to the other options like EPDM and PVC, it has grown to be a popular and more preferred option.

If you're planning to get TPO roofing soon, be sure to get it professionally installed. What's certain is that this type of roofing is sure to last you between 15 to 20 years, or even more, with proper maintenance.