MISSISSIPPI: Central (601) 647-3433 North (662) 339-8861 Coastal (228) 207-1398 ALABAMA: (251) 929-4538 LOUISIANA: (985) 590-6796

EPDM vs. TPO: Which Is Best For Your Commercial Roof?

Posted on January 11, 2024

EPDM vs. TPO: Which Is Best For Your Commercial Roof?

Choosing the right roofing material for a commercial property carries significant financial weight. If you select the wrong material, it could not only drain your budget but also lead to premature roof failure and disrupt your business operations. 

That’s why I’ve made this guide to walk you through this key decision in today’s article: EPDM vs. TPO. We’ll explore these two popular commercial roof options, helping you understand their main attributes and comparisons, ultimately determining which one best suits your individual needs.

Introduction to EPDM and TPO Roofing Membranes

Before beginning the comparison, it is important that you understand the basics of both the materials in question. We have already covered both EPDM and TPO, along with other materials in our guide on the top commercial roofing materials. You can check it out for more detail. 

What is an EPDM Roof?

EPDM, or ethylene propylene diene monomer, is one of the most common materials used on flat or commercial roofs. It is also known as a rubber roof due to its appearance and composition. This type of single-ply roofing membrane offers a mix of affordability and durability. With high resistance against UV rays and weather conditions, an EPDM roof can provide robust protection against the elements for years.

Due to its black color, it absorbs heat significantly during summer months, resulting in higher air conditioning costs. But this can be offset by using a lighter-coated version of the material, white EPDM, though this is a less common option.


What is TPO?

Let’s meet our other competitor for today: TPO or thermoplastic olefin. TPO has a different composition when compared to EPDM, it’s designed from a mix of polypropylene and ethylene-propylene rubber. These are bonded together with heat-welded seams, providing superb strength.

Offering energy efficiency due to its white reflective surface, plus its other advantages such as being more environmentally friendly and more versatile than an EPDM roof, gives building owners plenty of reasons to consider it.

Tpo Roof

Comparing TPO vs. EPDM Roofing Membranes

Let the showdown begin! If you are confused between these two materials, in the section below, we have taken up some crucial parameters and compared both TPO and EPDM to help you make a decision. So let’s get started. 

Cost Comparison Between TPO and EPDM Roofing Systems

When making a choice between EPDM vs. TPO, or any other flat roofing material for that matter, cost is a critical factor. Generally speaking, EPDM tends to be less expensive upfront than other materials such as PVC and TPO. This kind of EPDM rubber roof is more affordable because its materials and installation process don’t require as much technicality as compared to TPO.

To give you a context. The cost of EPDM is usually around $4 to $10 per square foot. On the other hand, a TPO roof will usually cost in the range of $5 to $12. 

But, keep in mind that both TPO and EPDM offer different characteristics that add value in the long run. The lighter color of most TPO roofs can reflect sun rays effectively, potentially reducing cooling expenses during hot months, whereas EPDM has a longer lifespan overall. Given these variations, it’s crucial that you don’t merely focus on initial costs but also consider potential long-term savings.

Durability and Weather-Resistance Comparison Between TPO and EPDM 

Both types of roofing membranes have excellent characteristics when it comes to durability and weather-resistance. These single ply roofing membranes withstand UV radiation relatively well with minimal breakdown over time. But yet again, their different properties make each suitable for varying conditions.

Temperature Resistance: 

EPDM thrives under extreme heat or cold. Its elasticity allows for expansion and contraction as temperature fluctuates without weakening structure integrity. EPDM has the capability to reach temperatures between 180 to 220 degrees. TPO has a lesser resistance, but it’s still suitable for areas with varying temperatures. 

Puncture Resistance: 

TPO is renowned for its puncture resistance capabilities. The thermoplastic component helps it give flexibility. In general, the composition of TPO makes it more resilient against punctures from various external factors, such as debris or foot traffic.

Leak Resistance: 

TPO is generally better equipped to resist water damage caused by leaks —a must-have trait especially for humid regions with high rainfall levels.

Longevity and Lifecycle Considerations for TPO and EPDM

An essential aspect of your commercial roof selection should also include considering longevity. After all, you don’t want a roofing material that needs to be replaced or repaired every few years. While both materials are durable options, there are some differences when it comes to how well they withstand various elements over time.

EPDM roofs have a reputation for durability with lifespans extending up to 30 years, while TPO roofs may last between 15-20 years. Ultimately, the lifespan of your roof depends on factors like maintenance routines, weather extremes, among others.

Maintenance Requirements for TPO vs. EPDM 

Next up is another crucial factor: maintenance. In terms of maintenance requirements for both types of roofs, many similarities exist. First, understand that regular roof inspections are vital to detect minor issues before they escalate into larger problems regardless of whether you’re dealing with TPO or an EPDM rubber roof. It is essential that you hire a contractor to inspect your roof at least once a year. 

Apart from regular inspections, you also need to clean your roof. Comparing the two materials, you will find that the black hue of an EPDM rubber roof can hide dirt and grime more easily than the white surface of a TPO roof.

Now let’s come to repairs. An EPDM roof is easier to repair due to the relatively simple process used to patch the membrane. In contrast, fixing a TPO roof can be more complicated, necessitating specialized hot-air welding kits to mend any flaws or punctures.

Energy Efficiency of TPO and EPDM Roofing Systems

For businesses interested in energy efficiency, both EPDM and TPO offer unique benefits. But this is an area where TPO has the edge. 

Thanks to their bright white roof color, TPO roofs excel at reflecting sunlight and keeping heat away from the building, reducing cooling costs during the summer months. Conversely, the darker color of an EPDM roof captures warmth – a feature that could be helpful if you’re looking to trim heating bills during colder months.

It’s clear that while both alternatives offer a variety of eco-friendly features, your local weather patterns should help you decide which option aligns best with your specific needs.

Installation Considerations for TPO vs. EPDM 

The last, but certainly not least, factor worth mentioning are installation aspects tied to either roofing type. Installing heat welded membranes, such as TPO, mandates precision due the use of specialized equipment and therefore incurs higher installation costs compared to conventional installation of EPDM.

Plus, the rolls of EPDM are larger than the rolls of TPO, subsequently requiring less labor. Generally, they’re widely regarded as simpler, quicker, and more cost-effective to install.

Ultimately your decision will hinge on estimates provided by local roofing contractors and other regional factors, such as labor rates and material costs. 

EPDM or TPO? We Can Help With Both

As we have seen in the debate of EPDM vs. TPO, both these materials are durable, and this is why they are amongst the best. While EPDM has an edge with its lifespan and installation cost, TPO is highly energy-efficient and resistant to punctures. Take into account their pros and cons when making a final decision. 

Be sure to not just follow along with popular opinion and consider what would work best in your unique situation. Deciding upon the perfect roofing system might seem daunting, but our team at Renova Roofing & Construction is here to help!  

We install all the major commercial roofing materials, including EPDM and TPO. From inspections to new roof installation, we do it all. Contact us today at (601) 647-3433 for more information.