Rubber roofing: most likely the best choice for a flat roof

Rubber roofing might be probably the finest solution for any property with flat or almost flat (slope angle is 10 degree or less) roof surface. To start with, it is supposed to be quite cost-effective, really durable, easy to maintain and suitable for large area buildings.

That is why thousands of US private property owners are choosing this type of covering materials for their houses and outbuildings every year. Most offices and malls as well as medical institutions and industry facilities you see nowadays are covered with rubberized materials for the same reasons.  

Boston rubber roofs - top view
Boston rubber roofs – top view

Rubber roofs: main advantages for property owners

What do you think the perfect roof looks like? Definitely the one you can rely on. The one that protects the property from rain, wind and leaks. In addition, the one that is strong and durable. If the chosen roof is also fast to install and doesn’t hit your wallet, then we have a winner. Rubber roofing has all these benefits and even more.

Advantages of rubber roofs
  1. Professionally installed rubber coverings (especially glued to the surface) are truly long-lived. Many rubber roofs laid in the 70s are still in good trim.
  2. Rubber coverings guarantee maximum waterproofing. Heavy rains, melting snow and even standing water on the roofing surface will not harm your property.
  3. The less seams – the better. Modern single-ply rubber roofs are installed with a few seams that are securely sealed.
  4. Rubber roofs are easily and quickly repaired with patches or special kits. Minor repairs could be a DIY task (But don’t forget the safety precautions for working at heights.).
  5. Rubber roofing can be installed quickly even on large roofs. Modern materials are supplied in sheets or rolls and a team of professional roofers can install thousands of square feet of covering per shift.
  6. Membrane materials can be energy-efficient (white or grey membranes). They don’t get hot in summer. It means that you will save hundreds and thousands of dollars with such a roof.

Rubber or traditional roof: let’s compare both approaches

Let’s take a walk through the city streets. Here you will surely see houses with a variety of roofs – large and small, modern and worn-out, flat and pitched.

rubber vs traditional roofs

Old buildings built in the 40-50s are usually covered with modified bitumen roofs. In older areas, there are still houses with BUR roofs. In the suburbs, you are more likely to find mansions with wooden, copper, or even slate roofs. Long story short, rubber roofing gives a head start to most of them.

Rubber roofing is more watertight than any asphalt shingles or tiles. Average rubber roofing lasts 20-30 years and not a single drop passes through its surface. Corrosion, algae and moss are not the problem for synthetic rubber.

The weight of polymer membranes is much less than a copper or steel roof, and much less than BUR roof systems either. It means that the polymer materials will not exert unnecessary load on the building structure.

Finally, high-quality and certified synthetic rubber is believed to be more environmentally friendly than many other ‘dirty’ materials. Yes, rubber materials have their own limitations during installation and operation, but polymer roofing is much more environmentally ‘clean’ than modified bitumen or BUR roofs.

Rubber roofing estimate: average cost

It all depends on the pricing policy of the supplier and other individual factors as the brand you have chosen. To add, the materials differ in thickness, number of layers and color. It affects the price as well.

The average price (per square foot) in 2023 is:

  • TPO – $6-8
  • PVC – $6-7
  • EPDM – $6-12
  • Rubber shingles – $6-13

 TPO, PVC, EPDM: average installation costs

Factors that affect the final cost of installation:

  1. Pricing policy of the roofing company
  2. Roof area. The larger the area, the lower the installation cost for every foot.
  3. Types of rubber roofing (cold, warm, inverted, hybrid, tapered), as well as waterproofing and thermal insulation method
  4. Engineering and architectural features of the rubber roof
  5. Type of chosen material and laying method

The average cost of installing a synthetic membrane roof in the US in 2023 is between $3 and $7. If old roofing material needs to be dismantled before installation, you should add $1-2 per square foot to the final bill.

Variety of rubber roofing materials: time-tested and innovative

To get the full list of technology benefits you should consider the differences between mentioned rubber materials – TPO, polyvinyl chloride, TPO. Cost of installation and maintenance of different rubber membranes differs as well. 

EPDM

Most of the flat rubber roofs of commercial buildings built in the last 30-40 years in the US are covered with EPDM. This single-ply membrane material is synthesized from petroleum products. EPDM membranes vary in thickness, but even thin roofing membranes are durable. EPDM is practically resistant to all weather conditions.

EPDM membranes can be installed on new or existing roofs (with additional OSB layer between EPDM and existing roof). According to roofers, special attention must be paid to the tightness of the joints during the installation and operation of EPDM roofs.

PVC

PVC is one more common single-ply roofing membrane. Typically, PVC roofs are used in commercial construction, but recently PVC products have been increasingly chosen by homeowners in recent years.

PVC roofing material is even more durable than EPDM. In addition, the seams on the surface of the PVC coating retain full tightness longer. PVC membranes with better energy efficiency are delivered in white or light gray so they don’t get extra hot in the summer (compared to black EPDM). The only disadvantage of PVC materials is the higher price.

TPO

TPO is a material with a claimed lifespan of 20 years (30+ years according to some manufacturers). However, it is not proven, because TPO rubber roof material appeared on the market not so long ago.

TPO materials are more expensive than EPDM, but they are durable and more chemically stable. TPO membranes are highly resistant to UV-rays and mechanical damage such as puncturing.

Rubber shingles

Rubber shingles could be better choice for private property owners with flat, low-slope and pitched roofs (including roofs with chimneys and skylights). Rubber shingles are a much more affordable solution compared to clay tiles or slate shingles. They don’t need regular maintenance as asphalt shingles.

Variety of rubber roofing materials

If installed correctly, rubber shingles roof will last up to 45-50 years with simple maintenance without any leaking or cracking. Like other rubberized roofing materials, even low-priced shingles are quite resistant to any climate conditions. Moreover, shingled rubber roofing material is much easier to install. If damaged they can be replaced much easier than rolled materials.   

Rubber roofing is one call away

Rubber roofing is an excellent choice for both commercial projects and real estate property. Rubber roofing is believed to be an excellent solution not only for new buildings but also for re-roofing as well as complete renovation.

However, although rubber roofing is quite easy to install, compared to BUR or mod-bit roofing, we recommend that you seek the services of a skilled contractor.

Experienced roofing contractors will definitely help you find the best rubber roofing material for your budget – from affordable EPDM membranes and energy-efficient PVC single ply membranes to prime polymer shingles.

In addition, licensed rubber roofers will take care of delivery and roofing installation using special equipment. And what’s more, if you cooperate with professionals, you’ll most likely get multi-year warranty both on labor and materials.  

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