Category Archives: roofing materials

TPO vs. PVC Roofing Cost, Pros & Cons 2017-2018

If you are looking for a cost-effective and durable single-ply roofing system for your flat or low-slope roof, a TPO (thermoplastic olefin) membrane may be a solid, energy-efficient option.

TPO-roof-installation

Cost

A typical residential TPO roof will cost between $5.50 and $8.50 per sq. ft. installed. Thus, for an average-sized 1,200 sq. ft. flat roof, your total average cost to install a new TPO roof would range from $6,600 to $10,200.

The above cost assumes a low-slope roof on a single-story or two-story house, the cost of materials and supplies, removal and disposal of up-to one layer of existing material such as EPDM rubber, permitting, installation, and a 5 year workmanship warranty.

Note: the cost can be significantly higher in expensive metro areas and on complex flat roofs that involve additional work and/or are difficult to access.

Install Roof Shingles

$7,500
Average price
Install Metal Roof

$14,500
Average price
Install Flat Roof

$8,225
Average price

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Did you know? TPO membrane can provide combined benefits of both, EPDM rubber and PVC roofs, but at a more economical cost than PVC.

It’s therefore not surprising that TPO roofing systems are quickly growing in popularity and demand, in both residential and commercial flat roof markets.

TPO in a Nutshell

flat-roof

A TPO membrane is made from ethylene propylene rubber. Special technology is used to chemically bind together, rubber, ethylene ( an organic gaseous substance) and propylene (a byproduct of petroleum refining). At the end, numerous filler materials are added, such as talc, carbon filler and fiberglass. — These fillers reinforce the TPO membrane’s strength and durability.

Did you know? TPO roofing membrane has been specifically designed to have the advantages of a rubber roof, combined with hot air-weldable seams for extra durability. TPO membranes have been manufactured in the US since the early 1990’s and are now the fastest growing segment of the US single-ply roofing industry.

TPO Membrane Options

TPO roofs are manufactured to meet a variety of needs and design specifications. They are available in white, light gray, and black colors. White TPO roofs offer the best solar radiant heat reflection properties, hence they are the most popular choice thanks to their energy-saving potential.

Single Ply Membrane on a Residential Flat Roof

For most residential applications, TPO membranes come in two thicknesses options: 45 mils (.045″) or 60 mils (.060″). The width and length of the membrane can vary depending on the manufacturer, with a typical TPO membrane roll being 6 to 6.5 ft. wide and 100 ft. long.

Other membrane thicknesses and widths are also available depending on the manufacturer, including a 3 feet-wide rolls for the edges of the roof. Commercial grade TPO membranes may have a thicknesses of up to 80 mils (.080″) and may come in up to 12 feet-wide rolls.

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Flat Roof Materials & Installation Costs 2018: PVC vs. TPO, EPDM Rubber, BUR, Modified Bitumen, Spray-on Coating

When it comes to covering up a flat roof, your options are both limited and expansive. What that means in a nutshell is that your traditional roofing materials such as asphalt shingles, concrete tiles, and corrugated metal are out of the window. That being said, flat roof systems such as PVC, TPO, EPDM rubber, and others, each have their distinct pros and cons.

EPDM Rubber installed on a flat roof by GemTile

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So why can’t you put traditional roofing materials on a flat roof? Well, technically you can, but they are almost guaranteed to leak! 😉

Systems like asphalt shingles and concrete or clay tiles are installed by overlapping one row on top of another. They work cohesively with the pitch of the roof to shed rainwater and snow as it falls from the sky. Since flat roofs have little to no pitch, the water would work itself underneath the shingles or tiles, eventually rotting the substrate and causing leaks on your interior.

Covering a flat roof is a whole different animal than shingling a pitched one. On a flat roof, generally speaking, you want to avoid any types of seams, if at all possible.

The biggest threat is of course going to be water, which WILL find any access though any hole or inadequately-sealed seams in the roofing membrane.

Your main goal when covering a flat roof is to create a barrier that will be impenetrable to water.

How do you make an item (besides a roof) impenetrable to water? You can either apply something physical such as a tarp, or coat it with a material to create a barrier like you would via deck stain or lacquer. Roofs follow this same premise –- either physically cover it with something like a PVC membrane or apply a coating such as tar or spray on silicon.

Flat Roof Costs:

It’s easy to assume that a flat roof would be far less expensive to apply material to than a pitched one. For access reasons alone it would seem it’s a lot easier to roof a flat surface then one that is steep and requires harnesses and braces to move around.

Install Roof Shingles

$7,500
Average price
Install Metal Roof

$14,500
Average price
Install Flat Roof

$8,225
Average price

See costs in your area Start Here - Enter Your Zip Code

Many roofing contractors will tell you though that working on flat surfaces is actually harder on the back.

Take into account that flat roofs often require the application of adhesives and some types such as modified bitumen are installed with a torch that heats up the seal.

Installation costs can be just as high for a flat roof as they would be a 10/12 pitch.

Labor prices will vary depending on your area. You can get a good idea of the estimated cost to cover your flat roof based on the average material prices.

  • PVC Membrane – aside from the membrane itself, an insulation board must first be installed to help with energy costs. The membrane is installed in rows (6-18′), each of which must be hot-air welded at the seams.

    Many contractors choose to mechanically fasten the edges to help prevent uplift, all of which contribute to labor costs.

    All in total, installation of a PVC membrane costs roughly $7.00 to $10.00 per square foot.

  • EPDM Rubber – manufacturers try to avoid seams with EPDM membrane sizes that can reach 50′ wide by 200′ long. These huge pieces are great for avoiding possible leaks at the seams, but these wide rolls are also very difficult to handle during the installation.

    EPDM membranes install like a giant sticker, but this must be done slowly and with precision to avoid air bubbles.

    Typically, EPDM rubber costs between $4.00 and $7.00 per square foot installed.

  • TPO – insulation boards are first fastened to the roof substrate. TPO also comes in rolls and can be mechanically fastened to the insulation boards or installed with the self-adhesive. Costs are approximately $5.00 to $8.50 per square foot installed.
  • Modified Bitumen – modified bitumen is installed in multiple layers, each of which is torched to the surface below at every ¼ turn of the roll. This is a very labor intensive process that absolutely must be performed by a professional. This type of roof does have cold-rolled technologies available now as well, but it involves a lot of application of roofing tar. Estimated costs are $3.00 to $6.00 per square foot installed.
  • Built Up Roof – installation includes applying multiple layers of ply sheets that are bonded together using hot asphalt. The top layer can be a reflective coating for energy efficiency or gravel for added durability. Costs range from $5.00 to $7.00 per square foot installed.
  • Spray-On Roof – applying a spray to a roof sounds easy. The material can be applied right over an existing roof so little to no prep work is needed besides cleaning. It’s still important to apply the spray evenly and delicately though.

    The material itself will also determine the cost as polyurethane foam can be applied for as little as $3.00 per square foot and acrylic $6.00 per square foot.

    Silicon is the agreed upon premier spray application, but the material costs can drive installation prices up to $6.00 to $10.00 per square foot or more.

Choosing an appropriate flat roofing material is a two-part process. On one hand you want a substance that has nice aesthetics while fitting within your budget. You also want to know the product will last:

Materials Life-Span

The life span of your flat roof depends on a lot of different factors starting with proper installation. If your climate has rapid changes that see Spring, Summer, and Winter in the same week, the material will be put under more stress which will reduce its life span. A roof that is accessed a lot will also wear down faster. Here is what you can expect from the popular materials in terms of longevity:

  • PVC – 15 to 30 years.
  • EPDM – 10 to 15 years.
  • TPO – 7 to 20 years.
  • Bitumen – 10 to 20 years.
  • Built Up Roof – 15 to 20 years.
  • Spray-On – up to 20 years.

Why Do Flat Roofs Exist?

Before we get into comparisons of different flat roofing materials, it’s important to know why they exist in the first place since they’re seemingly such a hassle and an almost-immanent leak threat. There are two main reasons behind why a contractor would call for a flat roof: 1) aesthetics and 2) convenience.

For example, when you’re adding on to a home (building an addition) with something like a three-seasons room, a flat roof simply looks nicer. Homes with unblended roof pitches can be an awkward eyesore.

In commercial buildings, flat roofs, outright, offer a more convenient place to install outdoor HVAC units rather than putting them in high-traffic ground areas.

Of course, any roof’s main job is to create a barrier of protection between the building below and the atmosphere above. Therein lies the conundrum associated with flat roofing. For all the aesthetics and convenience, the design doesn’t do a lot to avoid snow and water buildup.

To be fair, flat roofs aren’t completely ‘bubble-level’ flat. They work in much the same way as a gutter system, angled slightly or pitched a couple of degrees, so that water can flow into a downspout. Even so, flat roofing materials need to be able to absorb the brunt of the weather and to withstand ponding water or snow and ice until it melts.

Pros and Cons of Common Flat Roof Membranes

Whether you have a commercial or residential building, some type of roof covering is 100% mandatory. There are generally 5 to 6 different routes to take regarding the materials needed for roofing a flat surface:

1. PVC
2. EPDM
3. TPO
4. Modified Bitumen
5. BUR
6. Spray on Coating

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Best Roofing Materials for Homes 2017-2018: Roofing Material Costs, and Pros & Cons

This comprehensive guide to roofing materials is all the research you need to evaluate the top choices for residential re-roofing and new construction projects in 2018.

Traditional PV solar panels on a new asphalt shingle roof

What to Expect: In this guide we’ll covers the following roofing options: asphalt shingles, wood shingles and shakes, metal roofing, concrete, clay, and fiber-cement tiles, natural and faux slate, and the new Tesla solar tiles.

For each residential roof type we cover the following topics:

  • An overview including how the roofing is made
  • Pros and cons including maintenance, repair, durability, options, home styles they work with and more
  • Cost for materials and installation
  • Choosing your roofing material/The “bottom line” summaries of each type
  • How to save money on a new roof

Types of Roofing Materials

These most common options cover more than 95 percent of residential roofs in the United States, so unless you’ve got something unusual in mind like solar tiles – oh, wait, we’ve included those – or a vegetative green roof, the options you’re considering are likely discussed here.

Asphalt shingles

More than 70 percent of all single-family homes in the US are roofed with asphalt shingles, though that number is slowly shrinking thanks to more energy-efficient and durable metal roofing.

Asphalt (composition) shingles dominate the market because they are affordable, offer a variety of attractive options and do a good job protecting homes from the elements.

There are two types of asphalt shingles:

  • Fiberglass shingles start with a fiberglass mesh mat that is covered in asphalt and topped with granules that provide color and reflect some of the sunlight. Shingles made with fiberglass are lightweight and resist tearing.
  • Organic asphalt shingles begin with paper, often recycled, that is saturated in asphalt and covered with granules. The shingles are heavier and harder to work with than fiberglass, but they generally offer better stability in high winds.

    Although you can still see them on many roofs, organic shingles have been mostly phased out or discontinued over the course of last decade. Why? Manufactures have stopped making organic shingles due to their tendency to dry out, become less-waterproof and more prone to excess moisture absorption.

Pros and Cons of Asphalt Shingles

The reasons to choose asphalt shingles are:

  • Fiberglass shingles offer good fire protection
  • Look good on most any style home
  • Shingles are often the most affordable roofing option, especially in good/better ranges
  • The best asphalt shingles are a 30-year roof solution installed on homes located in moderate climates
  • The cheapest 3-tab shingles are an affordable way to dress up a home before putting on the market
  • Broad selection of colors and styles including affordable three-tab and architectural shingles that mimic shakes and slate
  • DIY asphalt shingle installation is possible for those with good skills, experience and equipment
  • No support beyond standard roof sheathing is required for shingles
  • 3-tab shingles are rated for 60-70 MPH wind uplift, while standard architectural shingles are rated for 110 MPH winds; high-wind shingles are rated for 130 MPH
  • High-impact shingles such as the ones manufactured by GAF should be used for heavily-wooded locations and areas where large hail is possible
  • Some shingle repairs are easy and cost-effective

A few words of caution about asphalt shingles:

  • The lifetime cost of shingles is higher than metal, tile or slate, because composition shingles must be replaced more frequently
  • Cheap asphalt shingles last as little as 10-12 years in hot, sunny climates
  • Rapid temperature changes can cause asphalt shingles to crack
  • A poorly vented attic will trap heat and significantly shorten asphalt shingle lifespan by cupping or cracking them
  • While the asphalt shingle industry boasts that its products can be recycled for paving, few recycling facilities take asphalt shingles, and they are among the least eco-friendly roofing options
  • After a second layer of shingles needs replacing, all layers must be torn off the roof, creating extra expense and a lot of potential landfill waste
  • Mold or algae can be a problem on shingles in shady areas, unless treated with anti-algae/anti-stain treatments
  • Organic/felt shingles are heavy; getting them to the roof in bundles can be a challenge
Install Roof Shingles

$7,500
Average price
Install Metal Roof

$14,500
Average price
Install Flat Roof

$8,225
Average price

See costs in your area Start Here - Enter Your Zip Code

Wood shingles and shakes

Wood delivers a natural dose of beauty to any roof. Cedar, redwood, cypress and pressure-treated pine shingles and shakes are available.

How are wood shingles and shakes different?

  • Wood shingles are machine-cut and feature cleaner edges and a smooth surface to produce a more uniform appearance.
  • Wood shakes are hand-cut from blocks of wood, so have a more rustic appearance. They’re thicker too, so slightly more expensive than wood shingles.

Pros and Cons of Wood Shingles and Shakes

The advantages of wood shingles and shakes are:

  • Wood has natural beauty that ranges from rustic shakes to handsome, neat shingles
  • Cedar and redwood contain oils that make them naturally resistant to moisture and insects
  • Treated wood shingles have a Class A fire rating
  • They can last 5 to 10 years longer than asphalt, which makes them competitively priced with asphalt over their lifespan
  • Wood has an insulation value twice that of asphalt shingles (but your home’s insulation levels are far more important than the R-value of the roofing)
  • Many shakes and shingles are made from salvaged trees – those that have fallen over from age or toppled by storm
  • Wood is recyclable into wood chips, mulch or compost
  • They enhance a range of architectural styles including Tudor, Victorian, Cape Cod, bungalow and cabin/cottage

Keep these disadvantages in mind when deciding on wood shingles and shakes:

  • Non-treated materials have a Class C fire rating, but wood can cedar shingles and shakes are also available as a more-costly treated option
  • Wood roofing is prohibited in some areas prone to wildfire, so be sure to check with your building department first
  • Untreated wood shakes and shingles are high maintenance – they need to be cleaned consistently to prevent the growth of algae or moss, and debris needs to be cleared to allow the wood to breathe
  • While DIY installation is possible if you have good experience, faults in the installation can lead to quick deterioration of the roof which often includes serious leaks
  • Staining of the shingles and shakes might occur as natural factors cause tannins to be released from the wood
  • While wood is quite durable, but repairs will be expensive if they are required

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