Commercial Membrane Roofing Types

A professional roofer working on a commercial roofing project
December 1, 2022

Commercial roofing systems have evolved over the last couple of years. Today, business owners have various roofing products to choose from. Membrane roofing systems are preferred by many due to their durability, minimal maintenance, and environmental friendliness. Membranes are also fast to install. However, there are different types of commercial membrane roofs. Understanding the pros and cons of each application can help you choose the right membrane roof for your unique situation.

Let’s discuss the types of commercial membrane roofs, including their pros and cons.

✅PVC Roofs

PVC roofs or polyvinyl chloride roofs are single-ply roofing applications commonly used on commercial and industrial roofs. Many business owners prefer it due to its durability and exceptional strength.

As is the case with other membrane roofs, PVC seams are also heat welded together.

A roofer installing PVC roofing of a commercial building

PVC Roof Pros

  • Available in a variety of colors from white to tan
  • Offers exceptional UV resistance
  • More fire resistant than TPO
  • It comes in a range of thickness sizes from 40 mils to 80 mil
  • Very resistant to punctures and tears, and chemicals
  • Its welded seams offer excellent leak protection
  • Can withstand up to 300 pounds per inch

PVC Cons

  • Installation can be tedious since the old roof must be removed
  • It struggles in frigid environments and can quickly shutter when walked on
  • It tends to emit toxic chemicals during manufacturing and when burned

✅EPDM

EPDM, also known as ethylene propylene diene terpolymer, is a synthetic rubber membrane widely used in industrial and commercial buildings with a low-slope or flat roof. It is made up of propylene, ethylene, and other materials. EPDM is available in white and black colors. It also comes in different widths from 7.5 to 50. Additionally, it is sold in thicknesses ranging from 45 mils to 90 mils. It can either be fully adhered, ballasted, or mechanically attached using tape or special adhesives.

EPDM Pros

  • Less expensive than PVC and TPO
  • Easy to repair
  • Exceptional lifespan
  • Lighter than asphalt shingles
  • Easy to install
  • Has an ozone-resistant rating of A
  • Available in a range of thicknesses
  • White EPDM provides great energy efficiency
  • Offers great fire resistance

EPDM Cons

  • It tends to puncture easily
  • Offers petroleum resistance
  • Black EPDM membranes are less energy efficient

✅Modified Bitumen

Another common type of commercial roofing membrane is modified bitumen. Modified bitumen membranes are widely installed on commercial buildings. It combines plastic or polymerized rubber reinforced with fiberglass to create one of the most waterproof roofing systems.

It comprises five layers of protection, which means it’s one of the most reliable commercial roofing membranes. The first layer provides insulation, while the two middle layers offer reinforcement. It also has a waterproofing material to offer leak protection and a surfacing layer that provides weathering resistance and UV protection. In the right conditions, modified bitumen roofing systems last anywhere from 15 to 30 years.

Modified Bitumen Roofing System

Modified Bitumen Pros

  • Exceptional waterproofing properties
  • High tensile strength
  • Superior insulation characteristics
  • A wide range of top-surfacing
  • Greater thickness than other commercial membrane roofs
  • Outstanding tensile strength, which means it offers remarkable longevity
  • Easy to install, repair, and maintain
  • Offers outstanding flexibility
  • Some types of modified bitumen roofs provide excellent UV resistance

Modified Bitumen Cons

  • Dark-modified bitumen membranes tend to absorb heat, especially in the summer
  • Can be quite expensive than other membrane types
  • Vulnerable to ponding

✅TPO

Thermoplastic Polyolefin is a single-ply roofing membrane made up of ethylene-propylene and propylene. TPO is probably the fastest-growing commercial roofing membrane due to its low cost and superior lifespan. Like PVC, TPO’s seams are also hot welded together. Roofers can also fasten the membrane mechanically. Additionally, TPO is best suited to low-slope buildings and flat roofs. Manufacturers roll it in sheets 10, 12, or 20 feet wide. After that, it is transported to the site. During installation, you can choose between the different types of insulations, including extruded polystyrene, polyisocyanurate, and expanded polystyrene.

TPO Roofing Pros

  • Class A fire-rated
  • A range of insulation options to choose from
  • It is highly reflective because it is white
  • Easy to install, repair, and maintain
  • Lightweight
  • Eco-friendly because it is recyclable

TPO Roofing Cons

  • Not as attractive as other roofing systems
  • Should be installed in dry conditions
  • Some manufacturers sell poor-quality materials

✅Spray-Applied

Technological advancements have enabled roofing manufacturers to develop innovative products that are cost-effective and simple to install. Spray-applied roofing membranes are an excellent example of these recent innovations. As the name suggests, spray-applied membranes are fluid-applied coatings. Different types of coatings are available in the market today. These include:

  • Silicone-based
  • Acrylic-based
  • Polyurethane based
  • Styrene ethylene butylene styrene (SEBS)

It’s hands down the easiest membrane to install because it requires no tear-off before installation. Usually, business owners spray it on top of other roofing membranes to create a more water-tight and energy-efficient product.

Spray-Applied Pros

  • Simple to install, maintain, and repair
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Requires no seams
  • Offers great leak protection

Spray-Applied Cons

  • Over spraying can cause issues
  • Requires at least 50 degrees to install
  • May shrink with time

Choose the Right Commercial Roofing Membrane Today

Whether you have an upcoming commercial roofing project or are just curious, contact one of our licensed Fort Wayne commercial roofing company today to learn more about commercial roofing materials.