Single-Ply Membrane Roofing

When it comes to flat roofs, single-ply membrane roofing can be an excellent option for commercial buildings. They offer several advantages over other flat roofing systems. First, let’s go over the basics of what consists of single-ply membrane roofing. Then, we’ll cover what you need to know about these roofing systems.

Types of Single-Ply Membrane Roofing


There are two main types of these roofing systems. First, there is the Thermoplastic Polyolefin, also known as TPO, which is a relatively newer roofing system. Although this is a newer technology for roofing, it is one of the more popular choices and has a large portion of the market share. These roofs also have the nickname of white roofs as the material they are made out of is a reflective white. It also comes in a few other colors: gray, green, red, blue, and tan.


The other is Ethylene Propylene Diene Terpolymer, also known as EPDM, which has been on the market for over 60 years. It has an excellent track record in the field and offers a high-performance roof that’s reliable. EPDM has the nickname of a black roof as the surface is a dark color due to the rubber compound. It features excellent heat retention and weathers well.

Don’t Forget the Insulation


One thing to keep in mind with single-ply membrane roofing systems is that they don’t have insulation added to them. The nice thing about this is that you can have more options for picking the proper insulation for your needs and budget.


Both TPO and EPDM are installed similarly, and it’s a relatively simple installation compared to other roofing systems. This simplified installation can often mean that it’s less expensive to have installed. First, the roof surface is prepared either by cleaning or removing the old roof. Then the insulation is installed. Once that’s in place, a cover board is added. The cover board then has the single-ply membrane attached to it. This action typically requires it to be glued or fastened down. The critical difference between the installation of TPO and EPDM is the way that the seams are handled. TPO has the seams melted together using a hot-air gun. EPDM uses seam tape that joins the pieces together. These materials are relatively lightweight and flexible compared to other roofing systems, which makes them a good choice for commercial flat roof systems.

Negatives of Single-Ply Membranes

While there are many positives to single-ply membranes, such as cost, durability, and simple installation, a few potential negatives come from using a single-ply membrane. They can be more easily punctured compared to other thicker systems, the seams are vulnerable to leaking, UV rays can degrade the roof over time, and it can be hard to incorporate items such as A/C units or air vents into the system as they have to be cut around.

Are you considering a single-ply membrane roofing system for your commercial building? Both of these materials can be a good choice for your roofing needs. Our staff would be happy to discuss your options and help you to pick the perfect roofing system for your low-slope roof. Contact us today to learn more.