Pros and Cons of TPO Roofing

If you are looking to install a single ply roofing membrane that will be energy efficient and are evaluating your options, consider TPO (thermoplastic olefin) roofing. TPO is touted to have the benefits of two of its direct competitors EPDM and PVC roofs, but without the drawbacks and extra costs.

This means that a TPO roof is as UV-resistant and as heat-resistant as EPDM, and as heat-weldable as PVC. As any roofing material, TPO also has its disadvantages and shortcomings that are primarily due to the fact that TPO is a fairly new roofing material on the market and research still continues to find the most durable and long lasting product formulation.

Before purchasing a TPO membrane for your home or commercial building, carefully consider all the pros and cons of TPO roofing.


Estimated 1500 s.f. Flat Roof Costs in US Average Flat Roof Costs in US
Rubber Roof
Rubber
$7065
TPO Roof
TPO
$7455
PVC Roof
PVC
$8055

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



We recommend that you read our overview of MRCA TPO Advisory (from 2010) which it has issued for commercial roofing contractors, and what it means for building owners.

What is TPO?

The TPO membrane was first introduced to the roofing market in the early 1990’s as a more economical and efficient alternative that was thought to replace PVC roofing products. TPO is a single ply roofing system that consisting of a thermoplastic polyolefin membrane. This membrane is composed of three layers:


1. TPO polymer base.

2. polyester-reinforced fabric center (scrim).

3. thermoplastic polyolefin compounded top ply.

Common fillers used in TPO manufacturing include but are not limited to: talc, fiberglass, carbon fiber, wollastonite, and Metal Oxy Sulfate. Popular rubbers used in TPO manufacturing include ethylene-propylene rubber and EPDM.



Benefits of TPO Roofing

Economical

One of the factors that makes TPO roofing attractive both in residential and commercial construction is its reasonable cost. TPO offers many of the same benefits as PVC roofing, such as hot-air weldable seams and energy efficiency, but at a lower cost.

Fits different home styles

Many homeowners appreciate the fact that TPO is manufactured to look great on many different types of homes. TPO is available in white, light grey and black reflective color options. Now you do not need to get a white roof to enjoy the energy saving and reflective properties. Latest technologies enable all colors of TPO roofing membranes to be UV resistant and “cool”.

Durable

In comparison to other thermoplastic membranes, TPO resists mold growth, dirt accumulation, tears impact and punctures. It is made to be flexible and can allow for a home’s or building’s movement or settling. Reinforced TPO membranes can handle a building’s thermal expansion and contraction more effectively than other single ply roofing products.

Ease of installation

In general TPO membranes are manufactured with wider sheets and are light weight. This means that the material is easier to install and there is less seams. Less work and time associated with the installation translates into direct savings for you for the cost of installation.


Estimated 1500 s.f. Flat Roof Costs in US Average Flat Roof Costs in US
Rubber Roof
Rubber
$7065
TPO Roof
TPO
$7455
PVC Roof
PVC
$8055

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



Energy Efficient

The energy efficiency of TPO roofing membranes makes them highly attractive to home owners who want to have the benefits of savings on their cooling costs as well as help the environment by reducing the carbon footprint. TPO’s membrane’s white reflective surface exceeds the EPAโ€™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 your home or building will keep the interior thermally comfortable on hot summer days while reducing your air conditioning costs.

Disadvantages Of TPO

Questionable longevity

One of the biggest disadvantages of TPO is that it is a really young roofing technology. It has been around only for about 10 years and manufactures are still trying to figure out the best chemical formula that will make the product durable and long lasting while maintaining a competitive price. Finding this right formula has been a challenge for many manufacturers and over the years there have been many documented instances of seam failures and material failures such as membrane curing and cracking. New and improved formulas continue to be tested, but it is not possible to tell at this point how long a new TPO roofing product will last. If you choose to purchase a TPO roofing membrane, it is advisable to get it from a manufacturer that has been around since the beginning of TPO production, as they will most likely have the most long lasting formulation available on the market today.

Does not stand up well to heat load

TPO roofing membranes have been noted to 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 throughout the year. The MRCA committee that issued the report based on their research, recommended the following to contractors: “If situations exist that may commonly elevate temperatures over 160 degrees or increase solar loads beyond โ€œnormalโ€ question the manufacturer as to the suitability of their product for the situation; consider changing the product to a material that will clearly withstand the loading.


Estimated 1500 s.f. Flat Roof Costs in US Average Flat Roof Costs in US
Rubber Roof
Rubber
$7065
TPO Roof
TPO
$7455
PVC Roof
PVC
$8055

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




Published date: May 14, 2012

82 thoughts on “Pros and Cons of TPO Roofing

  1. Michael K

    We’re building a new home with a near flat roof… What’s the best TPO brands available today? Is 6mil thick enough for a roof with a deck on top? 2/3’s of the flat roof will have a deck. Whats the best way to install a deck on top of a TPO? The roof itself is going to be 12” unvented… Should we use Closed or Open Cell foam insulation under a TPO? What are all of the materials used on top of the OSB roofing sheets? What short cuts should I be on the lookout for with the contractor? What questions do I ask to make sure I’m getting the Ferrari of products & installations? Thank You! MK

    Reply
    1. TPO Roofer Post author

      Michael K,

      Best TPO is PVC ๐Ÿ™‚

      I cant really answer what’s the best TPO, because manufacturers change their formulation too often.

      IB roofs formulation has been the same for 40 years, since they brought it over from Germany.

      TPO manufacturers change formulation to lower the manufacturing costs – so you never knownwhat you get.

      Good luck

      Reply
  2. douglas klotch

    how can one fasten a solar panel into a tpo roof without losing the integrity of the roof or make the warranty invalid.
    is there a special TPO fastener available or should fasteners be fixed to the roof with the tpo used to seal around the fastener???
    after my certified roofer installed a tpo system on my flat roof and he knew ahead of time that the preexisting solar panels (helico) were to be reinstalled. he then claims he has no idea how to do this safely. please advise
    thanks. I am in a bind since no one will take responsiblity for this reinstall and i am sure the solution is quite simple
    thanks

    Reply
    1. TPO Roofer Post author

      Douglas,

      There are a number of ways to do this.

      1) Ballasted solar mounts, are held in place by weight of the ballast. A little on the expensive side, and also adds a LOT of weight on the roof. So if you live in the snow country, is not really a viable solution.

      2) Weld on mounts:

      These are the best in my opinion, because they are easy to install, super water tight, and can be fastened into roof substrate for additional wind resistance without worrying about leaks.

      OMG sells a “generic” one, but I think it’s too weak. Anchor Products is a lot better, but is more expensive: https://www.anchorp.com/u-anchor-2400-single-ply/

      Anchor products’ mount can be used on PVC, TPO, EPDM, and most other flat roof types!

      I’m sure there are others, but I comparing AP’s and OMG’s mounts, I am definitely liking AP one better, and I did not encounter any other options so far. Also I know Joel Stanley (president of AP) personally. This “endorsement” is not because I know him, but because he has a better product.

      3) There are mounting posts that you screw into the roof deck, and then patch around it, with “any means possible” like this one: https://www.quickmountpv.com/products/low-slope-mount.html?cur=3

      However designers of this type of mounts did not think very well about the water tightness, and user has to rely on standard flashings of a given roof system.

      Cost wise this will be much more expensive that option 2, because you have to add a standard pipe flashing, which typically costs $20-30+ each.

      PS – your roofer is either an idiot, or doesn’t care, if he knew about the solar and did not have a solution. Regardless, I would not trust him to install solar mounts. I’d hold back on any remaining payments, and hire another contractor to do solar mounts …

      However this will (most likely) void your warranty from the first guy – so I’m nor really giving you an advice here – you have to decide this on your own.

      Lastly, solar mounts MAY void manufacturer’s warranty – so I’d investigate that part also. That said – most manufacturers will try to avoid covering any warranty claims at any cost, so it (manufacturer’s material warranty) is almost worthless!

      I have seen many cases of TPO and PVC manufacturers either playing the “let warranty expire” game by not replying to requests, and outright refusing warrantable claims!

      Good luck.

      Reply
    1. TPO Roofer Post author

      Michael, I assume you mean fiber-glass surface. If so, yes, TPO can be adhered to fiberglass surface such as that of Poly ISO insulation with fiberglass mat surface / DensDeck substrate, etc. You can attach say DensDeck to parapet wall, and glue TPO to it.

      Reply
  3. Don Morris Lyda

    Hello TPO roofer,
    I live in Sydney Australia, and I have purchased a very excentric home built in the mid 50’s. The flat (ish) roof is 1.2 m wide sheets of 2mm aluminum (No Insulation). The joints are overlapped + glued and an aluminum angle screwed down to secure the edges.
    During it’s last 50 years, there have been occasional leaks typically resulting from a falling tree limb (the house is surrounded by huge eucalyptus trees on every side).
    The substrate is in good condition (good oregon pine), but needs repair/replacement in some areas.
    We are headed into an extensive renovation, and The Architect feels the roof should be repalced.
    I agree, it does look tirerd, but as the aluminum has not deteroated, why would I remove it? I should be able to cover over it.
    TPO is probably not hot-climate enough for the area.
    Modified Bitumen would work, but I think there may be a weight problem with 2-layers + insulation.
    PVC would probably work, but I feel easily damaged when I am on the roof every 3 months sweeping tree debris off the roof.
    Looking at my choices, I was thinking spray-on would be a good replacement.
    What are your thoughts?

    Reply
    1. TPO Roofer Post author

      Don Morris Lyda,

      In your case and for any flat metal roof, the best thing in my opinion is coating – so you are on the right path.

      In my experience, Urethane is best for coatings. Stay away from acrylic – it’s not really for waterproofing.

      I don’t know what choices you have in Australia, but there should be plenty of products available.

      Definitely not modified bitumen. PVC/TPO should be ok in your climate – i don’t think it’s any hotter than say Florida/Texas … but because you have falling tree limbs all the time, it’s not a good option. You don’t want to patch holes every 6 months.

      Good luck.

      Reply
      1. Don Morris Lyda

        Thanks for that. But I was surprised you didn’t mention rubber. Although I never considered rubber a high traffic membrane.

        So Urethane spray-on is a possibility here. You are right about the heat, and easily achieving Texas Summer heat, but not as cold as Texas winter. We never hit freezing. Therefore, white is good.
        Thanks again.

        Reply
          1. Linda

            TPO Roofer: Rubber is a great, long-lasting product, especially white EPDM for hot, sunny regions. However, for the amount of tree damage and foot traffic, any membrane system may be too tender. I would recommend against it, too. But for other applications, the company I used to work for used it all the time. They think EPDM is the Cadillac of flat roof materials. Considering its many positive features when fully adhered, I think they’re right. If I had a flat roof, I wouldn’t use anything other than a white EPDM.

  4. Darrel Armstrong

    I have a 5โ€™x5โ€™ roof , I have have TPO material but no adhesive . What can I use for adhesive that I can buy at Home Depot or Lowes ? Itโ€™s just a deer stand roof !

    Reply
    1. TPO Roofer Post author

      Darrel,

      Home Depot should have some rubber adhesive … probably. Each store is different. Also consider some local roofing suppliers – google them, call around. You should be able to buy a 1 gallon (hopefully) can. Otherwise it will be a 5 gallon pale, and you will have a lot of it left over.

      Also I think best is water-based adhesive … it’s wet-applied – no need to wait for glue to dry.

      Roofing suppliers should have no problem selling you just the glue.

      Reply
  5. Jack

    Building a deck and looking for best material to build rain collection system underneath decking to prevent rain from falling through deck. Been planning to use EPDM but then came across TPO recently. Would TPO work better than EPDM?

    Reply
    1. TPO Roofer Post author

      Jack,

      TPO would be way better than EPDM for deck waterproofing.

      I recommend you go with 80-mil product, because (i assume) you will have deck installed over membrane, and 80 mil is much more durable than 50 mil.

      Also you should do fully adhered installation over PolyISO or other rigid foam. I suggest you space our insulation fasteners so that deck framing is not directly over screws / plates – otherwise it may tear through membrane. Best to use 2-part adhesive foam to attach insulation to roof substrate, and then glue TPO over ISO… this way there are not screws under TPO, minimizing punctures from underneath.

      This “sandwich” will cost a bit more in short term, but it’s MUCH cheaper than tearing off new deck, to fix leaks.

      Finally, install separation strips of membrane between roof and deck framing – see this picture:

      Flat roof deck

      Also look at PVC… Good luck.

      Reply
      1. Salina

        I have a deck covered with TPO, and wanting to cover it, but having a difficult time finding how to cover it without compromising it’s integrity. Your pic looks like it will be a deck, if so how will you be covering it? We’re thinking of sleepers attached to bases around the bottom of the posts.

        Reply
        1. TPO Roofer Post author

          What do you mean “cover” it?

          Deck goes on top of roof. Usually there is a base board attached to wall of a house, and then sleepers are attached to base board with metal L brackets. Make sure you don’t penetrate TPO. Then just install deck boards over sleeper-rafters.

          Reply
    2. Salina

      If collecting rain for consumption you may want to consider the chemicals found in the material, if that’s important to you. I have a TPO roof deck & a raincatchment too! No currently collecting rain off of the TPO (first flush wasn’t drained & busted during a freeze). Good luck to you & your collection!

      Reply
  6. Jay Galloway

    I am a mechanical insulation contractor from PA. We have a trend up here of engineers specifying TPO as weatherproofing over our duct work insulation. In my experience in doing this it did not work well. The problem we faced is the TPO does not like to go around 90 deg bends. Do you have any helpful recommendations? Or can you provide a statement that I can give engineer’s that state that this product was not designed for this?

    Reply
    1. TPO Roofer Post author

      Jay,

      My recommendation is to use PVC – it’s much more pliable (softer) than TPO, and offers excellent flashings, that would work magically in duct application. Think inside and outside corners, round flashing of different sizes, all pre-fabricated, and easy to weld in. Look at IB line of flashing components. Also Sarnafil is very soft, which would work great for you.

      You can also look at FiberTite – their material is thinner than average, yet (supposedly) more puncture resistant due to fiberglass reinforcement.
      I can’t give you a statement though ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
    1. TPO Roofer Post author

      Yes there are issues. TPO will degrade if grease/fat gets on it. TPO is not chemicals resistant.

      I’d recommend a product like IB ChemGuard (PVC), or some other PVC with Elvaloy.

      However if you have VERY SMALL amount of grease, you can just add a 2nd layer of material around roof vent – say 3-5 fee radius, and you should be ok. Also, maybe double up on the vent flashing.

      Reply
      1. dave hill

        Hello, I was told by a roofing contractor to use an elastomeric coating, Henry’s enviro-white on the TPO roof. I put 3 coats on last summer and is holding up well. However, I talked to someone at Henry’s and they told me I should have used the tropic-cool, Silicone rubber based. Any thoughts? maybe I shouldn’t have used anything? I was told originally it is to minimize the amount of UV reaching the tarp. Thanks so much!

        Reply
        1. TPO Roofer Post author

          Dave, I’m very much against coating on single ply roofs, but at this point, you already have 3 coats, so there is nothing you can do, except hoping it doesn’t start to fail.

          TPO material SHOULD be UV stable (not saying all of them are, but most)… so this coating was a waste of money. Never hire that roofer again and do not recommend them to anyone you know.

          Reply
          1. dave hill

            Thank TPO! I am not even sure I have TPO. I am guessing the coating can eat away at the tarp? I bought the house a couple of years ago. The tarp is white with black on the bottom, and it spans over different roof materials. Over shingles one area and over a metal roof on other parts. the roof leaked at one point, and then they apparently just placed the tarp over all of it at that time. I am sliding around on my butt to do any work up there, fearing I will damage the tarp . I will just try to keep it functional until It fails or I can afford a new roof. Appreciate your help!

      2. Nancy

        Good afternoon. I live in Houston and have a flat roof. Actually, it is mostly flat and there are some areas that have shingles. The roofers have decided that we should replace with a TPO. I would very much like to hear your thoughts and thank you.

        Reply
  7. Shelby

    Can anyone provide any insight to a tpo roof on an apartment which caught fire and the insurance only wants to replace half of the tpo roof? I would like my whole building replaced as this seems the right way to repair the damage.

    Reply
    1. TPO Roofer Post author

      Shelby,

      In theory, they should replace the whole roof – in reality, you need a good public adjuster (PA) to work on your behalf. Insurance companies try to pay as little as possible, and many roofers don’t know how to get most money for you.

      Good luck

      Reply
  8. Marian Jacques

    Hi
    We live in Albuquerque, NM. Is a TPO roof appropriate for our weather conditions and altitude? How does this roof compare to a metal roof for our area? We are very concerned about environmental impact as well as longevity, recyclability, long-term cost savings, and energy benefits.
    We are also interested in a “sun tunnel” or other natural lighting solutions:
    http://www.veluxusa.com/products/sun-tunnels/ and how much that would add to cost or other considerations.
    Thank you so much for your advice.

    Reply
    1. TPO Roofer Post author

      Martin

      Let me start with sun tunnel – this product is not designed for flat roof, so if you do use it, there is a chance of leak. With that said, TPO should have a big-enough round flashing. It depends on manufacturer of course – many TPO makers only offer 6″ wide round flashing.

      Sun tunnel MAY NOT work with standing seam metal roof. The issue here is round shape and where you place it in regards to seams. Best to use it with “flat” metal roof profiles such as metal shingles. However, I assume that your roof is low slope, so metal shingles OR standing seam metal are not really and option for you.

      On the other hand IB roofs (pvc manufacturer) has flashings as big as 16″, and can definitely make larger ones as custom order.

      Now let’s jump int “environmental impact” … you need to look at it from several perspectives.

      1) Energy savings during lifetime – both TPO and PVC are about equal in this regard. Metal is slightly worse, because you will probably choose color other than white. But in the end, they are all “cool roofs”

      2) Recyclability – metal is the clear winner. PVC can be recycled. TPO probably also can be recycled. Problem is – its hard to find recycling facility that will take either TPO or PVC near you! With that said, I think PVC will outlast TPO in Albuquerque by about 10 years. Especially that TPO is not great in hot climates.

      3) Long-term cost savings – as I mentioned above – you will likely get extra 10 years out of PVC roof such as IB, so need to compare upfront installation cost vs lifetime cost per year.

      Bottom line – any roof is as good as its installer. Installation in crucial, so find a good roofer that specialized in Flat/Low Slope applications.

      Good luck

      Reply
  9. Josiane Antonette

    I live on 300 Feet elevation and own a mobile home. I was considering covering the roof with TPO and I am a little concerned about snow load. The company that I contacted is offering me a 60mil TPO membrane white at a 3 years warranty only. Is this the usual warranty offered by any roofer? I live in a rural area and do not have a large choice on the matter, could you please help? Looking forward to your reply. Josiane Antonette

    Reply
    1. TPO Roofer Post author

      Josiane,

      That 3 year warranty most likely refers to LABOR warranty FROM roofing contractor.

      Material warranty should be at least 10 years… but I believe most TPO manufacturers have a minimum of 15 years material warranty. Now the thing is, most TPO warranties do not cover residential project, so you should find out which ones do. Call several TPO manufacturers and find out if they cover residential roofs. If they say yes, read their warranty, to be sure (phone reps often are clueless).

      Ok, now to your main question – TPO has no problem with snow loads or snow in general. What’s more important is that your framing can handle the weight of snow. Also, since most heat goes out through your roof, I’d recommend 3 inches of PolyISO insulation on your roof. This will be expensive, but I think is well worth it.

      Good luck – let me know if you have further question.
      Leo

      Reply
  10. Arthur

    Hi,

    I have a question concerning application of a TPO membrane over a 100,000 SF BUR that has leaking issues and is suspected of having high moisture content. In your opinion, can the overlying TPO roof be compromised as a result of the freeze/thaw cycles experienced by a water-logged BUR? Can these freeze/thaw cycles damage the critical seam connections of an overlying TPO Roof?

    Reply
    1. TPO Roofer Post author

      Arthur,

      In my opinion, moisture in BUR should not compromise seams (given they are welded properly). However, it most likely cause mold and rotting of the substrate AND is an increased snow load on your roof.

      So my strong recommendation is to remove BUR and repair and rotted / corroded substrate. I hope you don’t have light-weight concrete there … if that has water damage, you can’t install new roof over it, and need to do massive repairs …

      Good luck

      Reply
  11. Chanelle Diaz

    Hi, so our home has a really low pitch roof preventing us from using your standard asphalt shingles. When we purchased the home it already had white TPO roofing material. So when we went to pitch the roof on the back part of the house, we had the roof completely redone in white TPO. Now our house just looks like an ugly tent has been placed on top of it. Are there any options to making this look better? Can we paint it or add something on top of it (without puncturing it) to make it look less like a tent?

    Reply
    1. TPO Roofer Post author

      Chanelle,

      You can try painting with acrylic paint, but it WILL come off sooner rather than later.

      Unfortunately, the bad news is – you would have to get a new roof installed there. The good news is – there is a material that is a membrane (like TPO) but has asphalt shingles imprinted on it, and looks like real shingles roof.

      It’s a PVC roof called IB Traditions. To install it, the TPO would have to come off completely (but you can reuse old insulation).

      Reply
    1. TPO Roofer Post author

      Sean,

      Not really. Bitumen should not come in contact with TPO, so don’t apply ice and water shield OVER tpo. If ice and water is underneath, you should still use a separation layer – this is usually 1″ or more of ISO insulation, or a slip sheet.

      Reply
  12. Larry Goldman

    Interested in in your opinion about re-roofing with a TPO system over existing mod bit. I am wrestling with a roofing contractor that only wants to remove the “bad spots” — bubbles, blisters, cracks, etc. Wondering if it is better to remove all existing. This is a one story school building, approximately 50,000 SF. Structure is bar joist and metal deck with a 2″ lightweight concrete layer over the deck. It is 50 years old and has had chronic leaking and multiple fixes and band aids over the years.
    Thank you!

    Reply
    1. TPO Roofer Post author

      Larry,

      TPO can be installed over existing modified bitumen roof. It’s always better to remove old roof, but is not necessary, and is costly. If there is only onel layer (need to do core sample – cut a round hole in the roof down to the deck) and see how many layers you have.

      You see – the problem is that light weight concrete is likey in very poor shape, becuase of years of leaks. Metal deck is also likely rusted in many spots. Bottom line – you may end up redoing not just the roof, but the whole structure. It may be cheaper to demolish the school and start over … just kidding … but I don’t know waht to tell you. That is a descision you and the school need tot make.

      Definitely get more quotes from commercial roofers who don’t fight you on tear-off.

      Good luck.

      Reply
  13. john

    can TPO be painted? specifically where it comes up vertical parapet walls? i know- why would you paint it, but the owner of this property does not want white surfaces going up the wall 2 feet. they want the wall to all be same color as it was. ( as it is higher above the stucco stops) the walls go up another 6 feet there.

    Reply
    1. TPO Roofer Post author

      Yes – you can use acrylic paint.

      I highly advise against painting ROOF surface! If you do, you will never be able to install patches / do repairs, without scraping off the paint.

      Also paints are not effective as roof sealers.

      Good luck

      Reply
        1. TPO Roofer Post author

          Sure – many companies make coating that will work with TPO, PVC, Rubber, etc. I am still very much against coating of single ply membrane roofs. Once the coatings start to peel, you cannon fix repair the roof – your only option is to coat more (waste of money and will probably fail), or sit there for hours, trying to scrape off the coating.

          And why would you coat a white roof anyway? If there are leaks, most roofs can be repaired.

          Reply
  14. Nick

    Can white TPO be installed directly over en existing black rubber membrane coating? Or does the older black membrane need to be removed. The current roof does not leak and appears to be in good shape. I simply want to lower the heat that transfers into the house.

    Reply
    1. TPO Roofer Post author

      Nick

      Answer is NO, but there are ways ๐Ÿ™‚

      So ideally, you should remove rubber – it’s cheaper!

      If you want to leave rubber, you need:

      1) Make a lot of cuts – just slice into it with a razor blade knife all over the place. This is to let moisture from under the rubber go thought and vent out. Basically you can cut straight lines every 2 feet apart.

      2) You need a separation sheet between rubber and TPO to prevent rubber from damaging TPO membrane chemically.

      3) Install TPO on top, using mechanical fastening (screws and plates).

      But it would be better and cheaper to just remove rubber and reuse old insulation – glue or fasten TPO over old insulation or new.

      Good luck

      Reply
  15. Hannan Ahmad

    It’s easy to be confused when evaluating roofing material solutions for the flat or low slope roof. By understanding something about the source such like these pros and pros of TPO roofing you can make a better choice. However, being a roofer I would like to say the copper roofing would be a much better choice if you can afford it. It makes your roofing long lasting and eye-catching as well.

    Reply
    1. G

      Please note that the smallest amount of copper in a stream system can kill salmon and other fish. Copper is a wonderful metal for may things but using it on homes where water is coming in contact with it and going into runoff directly to streams can be very harmful. Many people do not realize this.

      Reply
      1. TPO Roofer Post author

        That is a great point Gretchen, I have not thought of that.

        Fortunately there aren’t many copper roofs along river fronts. Actually not many copper roofs around at all, because they are too damn expensive. So most fish is safe from rich folks who don’t know how to spend their money better than to install a $30/s.f. roof ๐Ÿ™‚

        Reply
  16. Carrie

    Curious about the ability of TPO to stand up to tremendous snow load. There has been discussion about UV, but not the opposite, cold and snow? We are talking about 3-4 feet of standing snow for 6-8 months.

    Reply
    1. Leo - Roofer

      Carrie, I believe most TPO brands should be find with standing snow, assuming the following:

      1) Seams are properly welded, so the roof would not leak under snow (there will be melting down below, between snow and roof.

      2) This is obvious, but roof structure must be able to support this type of snow load. I mention this because say in New Hampshire where lots of snow is common, roofs often collapse and roofers always have work in the winter, removing snow. Snow removal costs money and dumb roofers often damage roofs in the process … either by ignorance/stupidity or on purpose (to make work for later).

      Otherwise I don’t see big issues with gold weather… but you should research a specific brand that you are considering

      Good luck, Leo

      Reply
  17. Skip Slade

    Our roof deck covers two bedrooms below and serves as patio during warmer months with foot traffic and patio furniture atop. The current roof is a twenty to thirty year old modified bitumen that is starting to crack. There are two soft areas, one with water leaking down to the plywood substrate.

    Two roofers have submitted estimates. Each recommends installing one half inch insulation board (IsoGuard in one case, an unspecified brand in the other) over the existing roof with a single ply membrane (TPO for one, IB Roofing PVC for the other) as the final cover.

    Will isoboard insulation almost certainly deform when subjected to the intended use described above? Can it successfully bridge twelve to eighteen inch soft areas? Can I expect either the TPO or PVC to perform at least as well as the modified bitumen? Does the slippery nature of both TPO and PVC when wet render them unsuitable for use as a recreational walking surface?

    Thanks in advance.

    Reply
    1. TPO Roofer Post author

      Skip, excellent questions … not most reefers ever think about these.

      So first – do not hire either of the roofers that gave you quotes already! Here is why:

      1) If you have soft spots, the Mod-Bit must be removed and substrate fixed. I know this means more $$, but if you live wet stuff there, it will only cost more money later, and you would have to remove new roof to fix the problems.

      2) ISO insulation WILL deform and should not be used if you have foot traffic. Also white TPO/PVC should not be used either! I will discuss this below.
      ISO will not “bridge” soft spots.

      What I recommend you do:

      1) Remove old roofing and repair rotted substrate.
      2) (OPTIONAL) If you need insulation, install 1-3″ of ISO Board. I recommend a minimum of 2″ to increase thermal resistance. ISO should be mechanically attached (screws and plates) OR fully adhered with special 2-part insulation adhesive (expanding adhesive foam).
      2a) Install 1/2″ or 5/8″ DENS DECK or other moisture resistant rigid substrate. This will be your “walking surface substrate”. DensDeck is very hard, and will not break when you walk on the roof later.
      3) Install special Deck Membrane. There is no TPO product for this, but there is an EXCELLENT IB PVC DeckShield product that we installed on many roof decks with great success! You may look for alternatives, but I believe that DeckShield is the best there is in US.

      DeckShield is made for foot traffic / grills / patio furniture and to provide excellent water tightness. Now the warranty on it is “only” 10 years, but it should last at least 30, with proper installation and if you don’t abuse it (meaning you don’t go out of your way to puncture it). Warranty is limited to 10 years because they know you will have foot traffic.

      Here is how deck-shield should be installed:


      DeckShield should only be installed over DensDeck or similar, and must be fully adhered (glued) – no screws, except for along the perimeter.

      Here is DensDeck installation – note joints are “plastered” so that membrane would be as smooth as possible:


      And here you can see it in HD quality – welding post flashing:



      Now I know you got a quote from an IB Installer, but because he specified 1/2″ ISO over leaking/rotter Mod-Bit, I would not use them. Instead contact IB roofs for other certified contractors in the area.

      PS – with many other membrane products (TPO/PVC/EPDM) your warranty is null and void if manufacturer finds out there is “foot traffic” …

      PS2 – ISO brand has no difference – it’s pretty much same product, no matter who manufactured it (unless you go for super high density). The only purpose of ISO is to provide thermal insulation and ability to fully adhere membrane to it (that’s what fiberglass mat is for). Brand does not matter here.

      Reply
    1. hunter

      We installed 60 mil white TPO over our old modified roll roof with a 2″ ISO board underlayment pver the modified.
      The results have been spectacular:
      No more leaks.
      The highest cooling bill, in Houston Texas, with a 2500 sq. ft. single story house has been $67 this yea.
      The roof has been easy to clean with Simple Green.
      It stood up to Harvey with no problem.

      Reply
  18. Dave

    I’m thinking of installing a TPO roof and i live at a high altitude (7000-ft) in New Mexico where the UV radiation is intense. Do anyone know if it has been used in New Mexico? How well does it perform?

    Reply
    1. Paul Sumner

      I noticed your question on TPO being used in New Mexico. We are in New Mexico as well, and wondering the same. If you have gotten any further information would you mind passing it along. We are going to have a sun room and shop done this January.
      Thanks in advance if you are able to pass along any information.

      Reply
      1. Dave

        The roofer uses Genflex TPO roofing. So, They may guarantee the TPO for say 20 yrs but what about the seams. It comes down to skilled labored. If the seam isn’t done correctly all bets are off. Then, who will pay for the possible mold remediation and other damage? So, I decided to pitch the roof and do asphalt shingles.

        Reply
  19. AJ scammler

    FR-10 is a fire sheet. It’s a gypsum impregnated fiberglass sheet. Comes in a 10 square roll by four feet tall. Is itchy but gives a class a rating to the roof.

    Reply
    1. TPO Roofer Post author

      Joye,

      You can have 1 layer or 10 – the difference is in cost, which goes by total THICKNESS of your insulation, which is converted to R-Value.

      In most cases roofers install POLY-ISO rigid foam insulation – it can go from 1/2″ per sheet to 3.3″

      1 inch of ISO is 6-R, 2″ = 12-R, and so on… 3.3″ is 20-R

      You can stack as many sheets as you want, as long as fasteners are long enough to hold it down properly.

      I’m not sure what FR-10 is

      Good luck

      Reply
    1. TPO Roofer Post author

      Christopher,

      It’s hard to say, because TPO material (for cars for example) has been around very long time. I’d say most big name TPO manufacturers today, started at about the same time… but the problem is – not when they started making TPO, but what formulation / generation you actually buy – because it’s pretty much impossible to determine this by reading labels on material rolls, and not a single manufacturer publishes this data.

      Basically it’s often a gamble – some roof suppliers still sit on inventory of 1 or even 2 generations old product.

      As many have pointed out, because of all these reformulations, many products can only be installed OR are recommended to be installed with seam tape and primer / adhesive. This pretty much negates ANY advantage that TPO may have vs PVC, and makes it BETTER to use WHITE EPDM RUBBER instead of TPO, since white EPDM is still cheaper, and seams will hold better!

      Hope this helps – Leo

      Reply
      1. Jon

        We had the Versico /carlisle 60 mjl too installed early this year. Of course, after 1 year its still great but I’m hoping it’ll last 15 years minimum. It has a 20 year warranty.

        Am I supposed to go up and check seams all the time?? Anybody know how this brand is? Is it considered one of the better manufacturers?

        Reply
  20. cant say

    Just a few years ago (about 5) a study was performed in los vegas I believe, where the weather is dry and hot. they adhered TPO membranes from several different man. and found that they weather very badly in short amount of time. only like one man. came out with a decent report. within like 7-10 years. I cant remember who it was done by (one of the roofing organizations). If things change since then, then you are probably safe but for me it is still too early to take a chance with that type of membrane cause repairs are not very cheap and easy. I still see today a lot of seams curling up and even though their are tapes and such, even those fail as well.

    Reply
    1. Jonyc

      I have been a roofer for many years have installed all types of roofing from built up to EP DM to TPO and PVC .EP DM in hot weather cracks in splits have replaced many roofs In Florida. My first TPO roof was installed in 1996 and the material is still intact .new stripping an calk were required only maintenance done .versico roof I have personally oversee installations on Walmarts targets airports schools in the millions of square feet so I get a kick out of this TPO bashing

      Reply
  21. Rob

    GAF Manufacturer’s Extreme TPO will stand up to the heat. TPO has actually been around for over 20 years now. There were some bad TPO’s that came out initially, but today most manufacturer’s TPO is of better quality than the first formula’s that came out.

    Reply
  22. corrugated plastic roofing

    To repair little splits and blisters in felted roofs,
    open up the top layer of the felt with two knife cuts
    at right angles. Built-up roofs are built flat and as one so
    when a leak occurs it can be difficult to place the location of it, causing one to have to dismantle the entire roof.
    Understand of course that these kinds of costs are for
    new contemporary homes and simply supply you with a limited capacity of
    electric power.

    Reply
  23. todd stroud

    Would TPO work as a roof and deck combo? The upper floor of a duplex is using a roof over the lower porch as a deck. I would like to put down a good roof and then put outdoor carpet on top to protect it from puncture. There is also the issue of trying to waterproof the handrail posts, which attach to the roof.

    Reply
  24. Dave Heimer

    I have a passive solar home in Sacramento CA. It is a flat roof tar and paper. I also have 4-8 inches of dirt that helps with the insulation of the house. Roughly 2000 sf of the roof is covered with dirt and plants. The house was built in 1978 and I purchased the home in 1997.
    When I exposed the tar roof to cut in some solatubes a couple years later, the roofer who did the job remarked how the tar had barely crystalized because it was covered with dirt. He thought that that roof would last forever.

    I’m familiar with TPO because of my previous job where we re-roofed commu ication shelters and I was impressed with the warranty that the roofer and manufacturer gave us. Now I’m wondering if TPO would be right for me at my home but I would like to know how it stands up or if it would break down from being in constant contact with dirt. Hey, do you guys need a test home? Thanks, Dave

    Reply
  25. brandon

    I would highly recomend using walkways not only to protect your roof as well as the look. most iinspectors require them as well

    Reply
  26. FRANK

    WOULD 1′ POLYISOCYNURATE BOARD BE A SUITABLE UNDERLAY FOY 0.06 TPO ROOF AND WOULD YOU RECOMMEND MECHANICAL FASTENING OR IS THERE A SUITABLE ADHESIVE.

    Reply
    1. leva

      Hi Bill,

      Walkways might be required – this will depend on manufacturer and architect. It should be installed around HVAC units and in areas of foot traffic.

      Most cost effective way is to purchase and install them – there is no other way.

      Reply

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