EPDM Roofing: The Most Popular Rubber-Based Roof


For more than half a century, EPDM roofing has existed and is considered quite a successful roof solution for the majority of people that have bet on it, either for big buildings and non-residential properties or also for houses across the world, as more affordable and reliable roof option in comparison to the almost unbearable BUR or bitumen and fabric-based ceiling.

This is due to many important characteristics EPDM rubber roofing has. Let´s see some of them, but before that it would be valuable to address the proper definition of EPDM, its features and use cases, benefits and disadvantages, a more than required comparison between EPDM and TPO roofs, costs related and service providers or roofers specialized in this material that is the preferred for many workers and people in general.

What is EPDM Roofing?

In details, EPDM stands for ethylene propylene diene monomer as the base material of the also known as “rubber roof” in many cases. In more technical terms, EPDM is a synthetic rubber membrane for ceilings, usually for those called flat roofs or low-slope.

This means that EPDM is the surface that covers roofs made of concrete, wood or any other material, having as great purpose to keep the exterior waterproofed and also resistant against the sun and weather conditions.

Usually, this material is utilized in flat or low-slope roofs as mentioned before, since this type of roofs is prone to suffer extreme temperature. However, EPDM is also used in pitched roofs in many cases to protect some insolation surfaces, due to its practicality at the moment of installing such EPDM roofing membrane for protection.

An EPDM rubber roof coating can be considered a plastic-rubbery coverage on the ceiling, and actually feels like it to the touch and from this feature is where the name “rubber roofs” comes from.

Characteristics of EPDM Roofs: Features

Among its characteristic, as mentioned before and as will be addressed again shortly regarding advantages, EPDM is a synthetic rubber membrane for roofing. This type of ceiling is smooth to the touch, very durable and with a long lifespan, despite the fact that its work is to endure probable extreme temperatures and water.

As incredible as it might look, EPDM sheet rolls and ply come in black and also in white, depending on the color the user requires them, and this color is provided by another layer of ethylene propylene. The width of every piece can start from 7.5 inches and reach 50 inches for a one-ply application, and thickness may differ as well starting at 1.1 mm all the way to 2.3 mm.

Every EPDM sheet is specifically made of three layers: EPDM in the bottom layer that is known as elastrometric layer and is glue to the surface, the second one is the AFR EPDM fire retardant layer, the third is the FRM EDPM as the top layer that is strenghted with materials as polyester and others. Optionally, white EPDM roofing material includes an EDPM FlexWhite layer that gives the color.

EDPM Roof: Benefits and Disadvantages

Is EPDM roofing any good? This is a question that many people ask themselves and according to the advantages of the material, in fact it is quite good in terms of quality and features. Let´s see, EPDM roof is:

  • Less expensive: EDPM is one of the most affordable roofs to install between those that are considered popular or more commercial. For example, this roof may cost less than a third if compared to TPO, PVC and others.

Also, EDPM being easier to install also compared to those mentioned before, this means that is also cheaper in this respect. In the same way, since EDPM is less prone to leaking and other issues, repairing budget is minor on its lifespan.

  • Durable and lasting: how long will an EDPM roof last? Out of TPO and PVC roofs, EDPM is the most durable and lasting. Actually, rubber roofs like these can last at least 40 years while well maintained and avoiding water ponding, blistering and breaking.
  • Lightweight: BUR and asphalt shingle-based roofs and other types of coverage for flat roofs are heavy, but EPDM is not. Only less than 1 kilogram weights each square foot on the ceiling, including installed membrane.
  • Miscellaneous: among other benefits, EDPM is fire rated, it helps with energy reduction since it absorbs heat, it is very resistant and is relatively fast and easy to install.

On the other hand, as any product EPDM also has its disadvantages:

  • Prone to puncture: non-ballasted EPDM roofing or too thin membrane can be prone to puncture.
  • Installation: Installation might be considered relatively simple, but by any means this translates to DIY. EPDM roof must be installed by professionals.
  • Appearance: by itself, EPDM is a simple layer of black rubber-based material on the roof for protection, so aesthetics is not its strong suit.

What is the difference between TPO and EPDM Roofing?

TPO and EPDM roofs are quite compared these days, but they are different. For starters, TPO has been less time in the market: 20 years only in comparison to 60 that EPDM has. Continuing, EPDM is better for cold zones since sun heat is absorbed and retained by the membrane, while TPO reflects direct sun light, which is better for hot areas.

Other differences are: TPO is adhered to the surface chemically, while EDPM is adhered mechanically. TPO is offered in a variety of colors and EPDM is only black and white, while in price they are quite similar about budget per square foot.

Costs of EPDM Roofs and Service Providers

Average costs for EPDM roofs in terms of complete replacement or for new houses differ, but according to different calculators and providers on average a 1.500 square feet property will require 7.500 dollars to be fully roofed with this material. This amount can go low to 5.000 and reach 15.000 dollars, depending vendor and other aspects.

In the United States there are a few specialized companies in rubber EPDM roofs to replace and fix damages, such as Carlisle Syntec, GenFlex, Firestone Building Products, Versico Roofing Systems and Viking Products Group.


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