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TPO Roofing

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Save Money and Get the Benefits of EPDM and PVC

Thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) is said to have the benefits of EPDM and PVC roofs without extra costs and hassles. A TPO roof strives to be a happy medium in the membrane roofing world.

TPO is a single-ply roofing system consisting of a thermoplastic polyolefin membrane that is physically quite thick. This membrane is composed of three layers: a polymer base, polyester-reinforced fabric center (scrim), and a TPO-compounded top ply.

Manufacturers claim that these membrane roofs are as UV- and heat-resistant as EPDM, but as heat-weldable and easy to install as PVC. One of the factors that make TPO roofing attractive in residential and commercial construction is its upfront cheaper material cost.

This membrane roof was first introduced to the roofing market in the early 1990s as a more economical and efficient alternative to PVC roofing systems like Duro-Last.

Unproven, But With Great Potential

As with all roofing materials, TPO also has disadvantages. One of the biggest is that TPO is a young roofing technology. Companies are still trying to find the most durable and long-lasting product formulation without driving the cost up too far.

Finding the right formula has been a challenge for many manufacturers. There have been many documented cases over the years of seam failures and material failures, including membrane curling and cracking.

It's not possible to tell how long a new TPO roofing product will last; most TPO roofing warranties cap out at 10 years with pro-rating to 20 years and generally cover the cost of the (cheap) material only.

TPO roofing membranes have an issue of accelerated weathering when subjected to high thermal or solar loading. This problem has been specifically documented in the southern states that get a lot of heat and sun all year.

With the increased ultraviolet radiation prevalent in the mountains, we don't recommend the use of TPO roofing at elevation. The extreme heat and cold put undue pressure on welds, seams, and flashings.

In addition, the white color can inhibit melting of snow in a reasonable amount of time.

An Energy-Efficient Choice

TPO is available in white, light grey, and black reflective color options. This is one way to get a white roof and enjoy energy-saving and reflective properties. Manufacturers claim that the latest technologies enable all colors of TPO roofing membranes to be UV-resistant and "cool." This can be a big advantage in the sunny and hot Southern U.S.

The energy efficiency of TPO roofing membranes makes them attractive to property investors who want to save on their cooling costs and help the environment by reducing their carbon footprint. The TPO membrane's white reflective surface exceeds the EPA's ENERGY STAR requirements and white, tan, and gray are listed with the Cool Roof Rating Council. This means that having a TPO roof on the building can keep the interior thermally comfortable on hot summer days while reducing the costs of cooling.

However, we've noticed that the energy savings can be negated by the lack of durability of the materials in the southern states. And in northern climates, reflectivity may not be a primary consideration.

If you're looking for a highly environmentally friendly roof, a green roof might be a better option. EPDM may be a more realistic option for many, however.

Before deciding on a TPO membrane for your home or commercial building, carefully consider all the aspects of TPO roofing.

Find Out More About This New Roofing Technology

Interested in a TPO roof for your building? Not sure if it's a good choice for your particular application? Want to learn more about why many companies are starting to use TPO?

Give us a call at 303.332.3107 today for a free consultation!

And if you want to really increase the solar benefits to your roof, be sure to check out our solar roofing options, too.