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If your old roof needs to be replaced and you’re in the market for new roof systems, you might as well explore what alternate home roofing options you have other than the traditional asphalt shingles. Rubber roofs are among the most durable and beneficial roofing materials in the market today. Here is a short read about the types, benefits, costs, and everything else you need to know about rubber roofing.

Types of roofing

rubber roof types
Photo by Crownbuild, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There are three types of rubber roofing:

EPDM

EPDM stands for ethylene propylene diene terpolymer and is a very popular roofing option for flat roofs. It is considered far superior to felt for a variety of reasons, including the ease with which it can be installed, its durable nature, considering it does not blister, rot or tear, and its waterproof properties. It is also the most affordable rubber roofing option.

On the downside, EPDM is naturally black, because of which it offers less heat protection. You can, however, order EPDM in grey or white at an additional cost.

EPDM is also prone to weak seams, since it is sealed with tape or adhesive, unlike hot-air welded seams.

PVC

Polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, is made of thermoplastic materials. It is the most flexible among the three rubber roofing types. It is also resilient and resistant to building settling.

One of the main reasons PVC is a favorite in the roofing industry is because it has been around for more than 50 years and is a tried and tested alternative. It is also energy efficient, meaning a PVC roof guarantees a lower cooling bill in the summers.

However, because PVC is made of plasticizers and other chemical components, it is liable to succumb to a chemical breakdown faster than other rubber roofing materials. The presence of chlorine in its composition also makes it less environmentally friendly than other options.

TPO

The newest among rubber roofing materials, TPO stands for thermoplastic polyolefin. While it is a newer material, its affordability and energy efficiency is making it a popular rubber roofing choice. In fact, TPO is UV resistant, and you even get ENERGY STAR-rated TPO.

TPO is extremely flexible as a material and is capable of withstanding severe impact. It is also environmentally more friendly than PVC is. Since it is hot-air welded, the material is extremely durable and stronger than EPDM is. 

Aesthetically, you can choose TPO in white, grey, or black.

However, being new and untested, manufacturers are still experimenting with variants and are yet to achieve a consistent product.

Rubber roofs vs traditional roofs

rubber roof shingles
  1. Rubber roofs are mostly made from recycled materials, such as sawdust, old tires, and slate dust. This makes them a more eco-friendly choice as a roofing material.
  2. The single-ply roofing membrane is strong and waterproof. It is also very flexible and easy to install in hard-to-reach places, unlike traditional shingles.
  3. It is also extremely durable. Installed correctly, rubber roofing lasts anywhere between a minimum of 30 to 50 years with easy maintenance, which is much longer than traditional roofing.
  4. Rubber roofs are a lot more weather resistant than asphalt shingles are. They are also a much better option for flat roofs and for low-pitch roofs, which are otherwise more prone to water damage. Asphalt shingles fail on flat roofs due to the lack of gravitational pull.
  5. However, asphalt roofing is a lot more affordable than rubber roofing is. While asphalt shingles may cost between $1 and $2 per square foot, rubber roofing can cost as much as $4.25 to $8.25 a square foot. 
    That being said, the increased energy efficiency and durability of rubber roofing materials more than makeup for the difference in cost.

Rubber roofing installation

Installing a rubber roof is a lot easier than installing other traditional roofing systems, such as slate or asphalt. In fact, you may not even need to hire roofing contractors. We’d suggest you invest in a seamless roll of rubber roofing since it is the most energy-efficient and cost-effective alternative. 

Because these rolls are seamless, they are less likely to crack or leak. To install this roofing system, strip off your old roof to the plywood base. Measure and trim the roof to fit your roof. Make sure you cut spaces out for vents and chimneys if any. 

Next, get rid of any dirt and debris you may have on the roof. Once it is clean, apply a layer of adhesive on the surface. Place the roll to fit your roof and attach it accordingly. Make sure you do not have any rubber bubbles underneath.

If you are using rubber shingles, they will need to be nailed to the roofing frame the same way you would nail asphalt shingles. Rubber shingles are, however, a lot lighter in comparison, making them easier to transport and to place.

Other than a roof replacement choice, rubber roofing is also a great choice for roofing repairs, acting as a waterproof membrane. For this purpose, you can install rubber roofing on top of your old shingles with a layer of foam insulation in-between. However, because you will not be stripping your roof down to do this, manufacturers may not recognize your warranty.

Rubber roofing options was last modified: August 26th, 2021 by Narayan Shrouthy

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