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When not to repair a EPDM Rubber Membrane

When an EPDM Rubber Roof Membrane is beyond repairs

This article: Explain why it is not wise to repair an EPDM Rubber Membrane that was installed before 2015. See the images of EPDM Rubber that has been patched. That is a sign when to quit repairing

signs of repairs on a EPDM Rubber roof are all the patches - this becomes costly and not worth repairing

EPDM Rubber Roofs also have its limits and when to stop repairing

Most EPDM Rubber Roofs fail prematurely due to the adhesives that breakdown. Ultraviolet rays and the heat beating onto the black EPDM rubber roof causes the adhesives that bond the seams together to break down causing leaks. In most cases, an EPDM roof starts showing signs of failure between five and eight years. The repairs quickly escalate, and before you know it, you could have had a new roof for the price of all the repairs.

Repairing EPDM Rubber Roofs

All EPDM Rubber Roofs installed before 2015, are bound to fail prematurely. The reason is that the adhesive that was used to bond the seams together failed due to ultraviolet degradation.

Repairing these rubber seams became costly, and it was better to install a new roof. The revised method of installing an EPDM Rubber Roof is to use seam tape. Although it appears to be an improved system, it is too early to know if these seam tapes will withstand the ultraviolet.

Repairing Flat Roofs can end up being costly

There are many factors that must be taken into account whether a roof should be repaired or not. How can someone tell that the roof needs to be replaced?

Here is a list of things to look for that could help decide if the roof should be replaced

  • When many visible patches on the roof are found
  • When a silicone coating has been sprayed on the roof
  • When the rubber is curling and folding in some areas
  • When nails or screws are pushing up through the membrane
  • When numerous areas have a soft surface when walked on
  • When water ponding is in large areas
  • When seams are separating
  • When the particular rubber roof is at the end of its life expectancy
DIY Flat Roof Repair Videos and Instructions - determine type of flat roof

DIY Flat Roof Repair Videos and Instructions

Before making a Flat Roof Repair, determine what type of roof you have

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Rubber Roofs – Comparing EPDM with Torch Down -Video

Rubber Roofs – Modified Bitumen vs EPDM Rubber

This Article: Comparing Rubber Roofs “Modified Bitumen Torch Down” vs “EPDM Rubber Membrane”

Rubber roofs were introduced in the late 60’s in the United States. Both EPDM and Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber membranes were making their way into the roofing industry early on. These rubber roofs have evolved since their conception.

 

See the steps to take on Flat Roof Repairs for a Torch Down Rubber membrane. Most Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber membrane roofs can be repaired if it was protected against ultraviolet rays.

EPDM Rubber Roofs

EPDM Rubber Roofs have had its share of troubles. The biggest issue with an EPDM Roofing system is not the rubber membrane itself, but rather the adhesives used to bond seams together. A contact glue or cement was used for seaming and patches, but the extreme heat on a black EPDM roof quickly degraded or broke down the adhesion of the glue compromising the roof. Over the 40 years, EPDM manufacturers have introduced new formulations and fixes for this problem to no avail.

In 2015 a new adhesive or technique was introduced, but we have already seen some roof failures. It is safe to say that so far there is no cure for this problem in the near future.

EPDM Rubber Roofs also have a problem with ultraviolet rays. The rubber tends to get dry and shrink. In some cases, we have seen where the rubber has completely deteriorated.

Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Roofs

We still come across Torch Down Rubber roofs that were installed 30 years ago and longer that doesn’t show any sign of deterioration. We contribute this to the fact that the rubber membrane was protected against ultraviolet rays with silver or aluminum asphalt coating. Also, it appears that the roofing technicians knew how to weld the seams properly 30 years ago compared to today’s roof technicians.

Torch Down Rubber roofs will outlast any other roof system by 30 years and more if installed correctly. Due to marketing tactics, EPDM roofs became more popular than Torch Down roofs.

It is harder to find roofing contractors that know how to install Torch Down Roofs.

The video shows the installation of a Two Ply Torch Down Rubber Roof

This type of roofing system is what we recommend for any flat roof. If installed correctly this rubber roof will last 40 years and beyond with little maintenance. We have been in the roofing business for 25 years and the roofs we installed 20 years ago are still holding up and some appear if they were installed yesterday. There is no telling how long they will last.

EPDM Rubber Roof

Notice in the image how the ultraviolet rays have degraded the EPDM Rubber membrane. This EPDM rubber roof was only installed 12 years before the picture taken.

Most of the EPDM Rubber Membrane issues are at the seams. The adhesives “cover tape” used for bonding seams together do not last in the extreme heat generated on a roof due to the black membrane. The temperatures will rise to 160 degrees Fahrenheit during a summer day, and that glue will lose its bonding properties.

EPDM Rubber Roofs - see the degraded membrane from ultraviolet rays.

Modified Bitumen Rubber Roof

We installed this rubber roof over 20 years ago, and we had never been called back for any leaks or repairs. Notice that the roof has a white appearance. That is the ceramic granules embedded in it that have protected against ultraviolet rays. Without the UV protection, this roof would have only lasted between 12 – 15 years maximum.

It is of utmost importance to protect any rubber roof from ultraviolet exposure. When Torch Down Rubber Roofs came on the market, they did not manufacture it with the ceramic granules for protection, so an aluminum asphalt paint was required to give it the protection. A silver coating was needed every 3 – 5 years.

Modified Bitumen Rubber Roofs in Westport CT
DIY Flat Roof Repair Videos and Instructions - determine type of flat roof

DIY Flat Roof Repair Videos and Instructions

Before making a Flat Roof Repair, determine what type of roof you have

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Torch Down Rubber Roof in Stamford CT

This image is a torch down rubber roof that was installed over 30 years ago. The roof is still in good condition and has no need of replacement or repair. The aluminum asphalt paint (silver coating) has preserved the roof all these years. Notice all the A/C units and debris left by workers. With all this foot traffic and carelessness from workers, the roof withstood all that abuse.

A Rubber Roof left unprotected

This is a Torch Down Rubber Roof that was left unprotected for over 12 years. Notice the wrinkling and unevenness of the membrane. The owners did so little they even let the drain clog up and plants started to grow.

A roof is a very expensive part of a structure. If not treated properly, will cause damage to the substructure and eventually not only a roof replacement, but repairs that could have been avoided.

This Torch Down was unprotected from ultraviolet rays and need to be replaced

Unprotected Torch Down Rubber Roof lasted over 15 years

A Torch Down Rubber roof that is not protected against ultraviolets will easily last 15 years if correctly installed. This image shows of such a roof in Norwalk Connecticut. The only problem they had with the roof was the drains or scuppers. The scupper outlets were too high and water could not drain properly off from the roof.

In this case, this roof could still be preserved by coating it with an aluminum asphalt paint. As long as the membrane doesn’t have spider cracks and is not wrinkling, then a protective coat can extend the life expectancy.

Unprotected Torch Down rubber Roof lasted over 15 years

Unprotected Rubber Roof

Here is another example of an unprotected torch down rubber roof. In this case, was it not only not protected from ultraviolet rays, but the rubber membrane wasn’t installed correctly.

Notice the wrinkles and curling. That happens when a fiber base paper is not installed. This roofing contractor was not knowledgeable about the installation of a Torch Down Rubber Roof and the owner paid a dear price. This happens when someone trusts anyone that calls himself a roofer.

Unprotected Torch Down Rubber Roof Tyler TX

Products we recommend for Torch Down

When it comes to Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber membranes, we recommend the following brand names:

Firestone – they manufacture the best rubber membrane and best warranty

GAF – Rubberoid is their brand

Wikipedia – good reading about EPDM

Video – Repairing Torch Down Rubber Membrane Roof

Video - Repairing Torch Down Rubber Membrane Roof
Video - Repairing Torch Down Rubber Membrane Roof ...
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Video-How to Repair Torch Down Rubber Membrane Roof

Video-How to Repair Torch Down Rubber Membrane Roof
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Video Torch Down Rubber Roof Membrane – Flat Roof Repair – PA

Video Torch Down Rubber Roof Membrane - Flat Roof Repair - PA
Video Torch Down Rubber Roof Membrane - Flat Roof Repair - PA ...
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Commercial Rubber Roof Flat – Watch Video

Rubber Roof Repair - fix a roof New Canaan , CT
Commercial Rubber Roof Commercial Rubber Roof - The same roofing materials apply to a Commercial roof as on a Residential roof. It is a myth that there is a higher standard ...
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Flat Roof Rubber Membrane

Three Types of Rubber Membranes - Connecticut - Darien, Stamford
Three types of Flat Roof Rubber Membranes Flat Roof Rubber Membranes are divided into three types - EPDM, TPO, and Modified Bitumen Torch Down Although there are many types of roofing ...
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Rubber Roofs – Comparing EPDM with Torch Down -Video

Rubber Roofs -Comparing EPDM and Torch Down Rubber Membranes Video
Rubber Roofs - Modified Bitumen vs EPDM Rubber This Article: Comparing Rubber Roofs "Modified Bitumen Torch Down" vs "EPDM Rubber Membrane" Rubber roofs were introduced in the late 60's in the ...
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Con Artist Roofing Contractor

Con Artist Roofing Contractor
Dear Mr. Williams After investigating the roof we found the following:
  1. A Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber membrane was used with no ultra violet protection
  2. No coating was applied for ...
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Flat Roof Repairs and Flashing Greenwich

EPDM Roof and Flashing - Greenwich CT - Flat Roof Repair - Fix a leak
Flat Roof Repairs and Flashing in Greenwich Flat Roof Repairs and flashing is the most important part of a flat roof.  Most leaks stem from roofing materials loosening from flashing. Skylights, ...
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Which is the Best Roofing Material for a Flat Roof?

Which roofing system offers the Best Roofing Materials for a Flat Roof?
There are mainly three types of Roofing Materials commonly used for flat roofs. The three types of roofing materials are EPDM Rubber, TPO Vinyl, and Modified Bitumen Torch Down. These materials classified as "single ...
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Rubber Roof Systems – Watch Video

Rubber Roof Membrane System - Video - Flat Roof Repair - New Rochelle, NY
Rubber Roofs on flat roofs There are many types of roofing systems available. The most common rubber roof across the US today is EPDM. When EPDM came on the market in the ...
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EPDM Rubber Roofing Membrane – Ultraviolet Degradation – Watch Video

EPDM Rubber Roofing Membrane

EPDM Rubber Roofing membrane will shrink due to ultraviolet exposure. This, in turn, will put stress on the adhesives that bond the seams and eventually separate the material.

Watch this video I took with my iPhone about an EPDM roof. You will see what I mean about a good looking material, EPDM, but bad performance. So many times I am called to solve a leak that other roofers couldn’t seem to find. Even the contractor that installed the roof could not fix it.

EPDM Rubber Roofing membrane is appealing

EPDM rubber is very attractive. They are very smooth and easy to keep clean. I will not recommend this type of material on a commercial roof. When it comes to durability and roof repairs, then EPDM roofs are hard to fix. I recommend  Modified Bitumen Membranes for any commercial or residential application.

Watch this video and read about rubber roof installation

Appealing-EPDM-Rubber-roofing-membrane

EPDM Rubber Roofing Membrane not a lasting solution for Commercial Roofs

When it comes to commercial roofs, then EPDM rubber is not the way to go. It is a good rubber, but not something that would last as long as a Modified Bitumen rubber. EPDM rubbers cannot handle foot traffic very well.

When service people have to work on air conditioners, they bring up equipment. Often we would find screws around the AC units. When a person steps on any screw it will puncture the rubber.

Notice the thickness of the EPDM Rubber membrane versus the Modified Bitumen Rubber Membrane. This is to show that it can be easily punctured.

EPDM Rubber Roofing membrane the thickness of a quarter
Modified Bitumen Rubber Membrane four Quarters Thick

Twenty-five Years of Experience Repairing EPDM Rubber Membrane Roofs

Over the 25 years, our experience is that EPDM rubber is acceptable for a house if not much traffic is expected. Anytime someone walks on the roof to clean the gutters or do chimney maintenance; there is a chance that they could perish the roof. For some reason we always find nails, screws lying around on these rubber roofs, and if stepped on it will perish the roof.

The thickness of the EPDM Rubber and the Torch Down Rubber membrane measured. The Torch Down Rubber membrane is a much tougher membrane and will outlast any other roofing membrane.

EPDM Rubber roofing membrane Thickness
Modified Bitumen Membrane Thickness

Finding a tear on an EPDM Rubber

When you find a tear or a seam separating on an EPDM roof, then do not panic. The good news is you found it which sometimes could be hard. A tear is repairable with caulking. Do not use any TAR products or silicon. Go to a roofing supply company and buy the proper caulking or sealant.

EPDM rubber roofs are suitable for residential buildings but not for commercial buildings.

This image shows why a Torch Down membrane will not be pierced by nails lying on a roof.

EPDM Rubber Roofing Membrane pierced by nail
Modified bitumen Membrane not pierced by nail

When not to repair a EPDM Rubber Membrane

EPDM Roof Ten Years Old New Canaan CT Flat Roof Repair
When an EPDM Rubber Roof Membrane is beyond repairs This article: Explain why it is not wise to repair an EPDM Rubber Membrane that was installed before 2015. See the ...
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Rubber Roofs – Comparing EPDM with Torch Down -Video

Rubber Roofs -Comparing EPDM and Torch Down Rubber Membranes Video
Rubber Roofs - Modified Bitumen vs EPDM Rubber This Article: Comparing Rubber Roofs "Modified Bitumen Torch Down" vs "EPDM Rubber Membrane" Rubber roofs were introduced in the late 60's in the ...
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Why do Roofing Contractors Install EPDM Rubber-Watch Video

Why-do-Roofing-Contractors-install-EPDM-Rubber-
Flat Roof Problems with EPDM Rubber Membranes Hi, my name is Andre and today we are looking at an EPDM Rubber roof, one of the most popular roofs um to ...
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Pros and Cons of EPDM Rubber Roofs – Watch Video

Pros-and-Cons-of-EPDM-Rubber-Roofs
Harmful Ultraviolet rays have damaged an EPDM Rubber Roof - watch video Pros and Cons of EPDM Rubber Roofs - Video Transcription: Erik talks about the Pros and Cons of EPDM Rubber ...
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EPDM Rubber on Commercial Roofs – Watch Video

EPDM Rubber on Commercial Roofs
What is EPDM? And "Why EPDM Rubber on Commercial Roofs?" This article and others on this website along with videos will prove that it is not wise to install EPDM Rubber on ...
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EPDM Roofing Deteriorates from Harmful UV Rays – Watch Video

EPDM-Rubber-degradation-due-to-ultraviolet-light
EPDM Roofing Deterioration Stems from UV Exposure An EPDM roofing problem on a residence in Greenwich, Connecticut stemmed from the prolonged exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays. We found that the ...
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EPDM Rubber Roofs Issues – Fail Prematurely – Watch Video

EPDM Rubber Roofs
EPDM Rubber Roofs Issues - Fail Prematurely Before 2014, all EPDM Rubber Roofs Issues stems from the breakdown of liquid adhesives used to bond seams. This single-ply rubber roofing system is ...
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EPDM & Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Roofs – Which is the Best?

EPDM and Modified Bitumen Rubber roofs
EPDM & Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Roofs After 10 Years Below are images of EPDM rubber roofs and Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber roofs that are about ten years and ...
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EPDM Roofing Systems – Advantages & Disadvantages

EPDM Rubber Roof Membrane Tear - Flat Roof Repair - Alabama
EPDM Roofing - Rubber Membrane EPDM rubber roofing materials come in different thicknesses. They are .045, .060, and .090 thousandths of an inch.  Most contractors use the industry standard thickness of ...
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Why do Roofing Contractors Install EPDM Rubber-Watch Video

Video Transcription - Problems with EPDM Rubber Roofs

Flat Roof Problems with EPDM Rubber Membranes

Hi, my name is Andre and today we are looking at an EPDM Rubber roof, one of the most popular roofs um to ever be installed. They say there are fewer seams, but there are a lot of seams.

Some of them are factory seams like this one where you could almost not see it and there’s also this one that the contractor installs or the roofer installs, and these are glued down together with a primer and an adhesive. Um, this a little bit of an older style roof. I mean this one has probably put down maybe ten years ago, maybe eight years ago.

EPDM Roofing Techniques Changed often

The reason why I say this is because the roofing has changed so much in the last five years they don’t even put this roof down like this anymore. I mean it’s like you’re learning a new game every five years. Uh, there’s no cover tape which is a tape that goes over seams and uh, it’s supposed to last longer now that’s what the typical standard is. It is just glued to itself, which it works for five years, maybe six-seven years, but in the end,

if it’s not a factory seam, well, it’s not going to last. Let me show you an example over here, and it may help you better understand what’s going on. This is the reason why this roof is failing because the glue is going bad. You see the yellow paste is just coming right off.

5 Reasons Contractors Choose to Install EPDM Rubber Roofing:

  • EPDM Rubber install by someone who has had very little training.
  • The process for installation can be done relatively quickly, saving labor costs.
  • Although there is a more durable, two-ply system available, roofing contractors will install the EPDM, single-ply system because they know it well.
  • The sales appeal of EPDM is that it is flexible and it comes in 8′ to 20′ wide rolls which means fewer seams.
  • EPDM does not require expensive tools for installation.

Although contractors choose to install an EPDM Rubber Roofing system, there is a more durable, two-ply system at a comparable cost. However, this method involves more skilled technicians and tools but doubles the life expectancy of the roof.

EPDM Rubber need maintenance 3-10 Years After Installation

It has been our experience when contracted to repair a roof, which some leaks begin as soon as 3-10 years after first being installed. Some of these EPDM roofs had signs of wear and tear due to foot traffic. Others had areas that had become brittle from harmful UV ray exposure. Most showed. However, that seems failed when the EPDM adhesives lost bonding properties, which has been addressed by manufacturers at least five times over the last 40 years.

EPDM: Repair or Replace 

An EPDM rubber roof repairs are possible if the surface preparation is done carefully by experienced roofing technicians. Beware of suggestions that a replacement is needed, instead, find the qualified professional, who has the know-how, for finding the source of leaks and making the necessary repairs. Otherwise, you may incline to accept the sale of another, new EPDM single-ply rubber roofing system.

When should an EPDM roof be repaired or replaced?

The rule of thumb is two-fold: If the EPDM rubber roof was installed correctly and is less than ten years old, and when the cost of the repairs are less than 15% than the cost of replacement, a fix, rather than an alternative is the appropriate solution.

If you happen to have an EPDM single-ply rubber roof system that is leaking, we can evaluate whether it should be repaired or replaced.

Finding a Roofing Contractor

Finding a roofing contractor should begin with knowing what type of roof you have and what type you need. If your roof needs repairs, it is in your best interests to find the contractor that specializes in the system you currently have.

If you are considering replacing your roof, research different types of roofing systems and the life expectancy of each. Then locate a reputable contractor who specializes in the system that interests you. Develop a working relationship with the contractor, based on the information and advice you need, to make the best decision for your roofing needs.

Random Estimates

Whether your roof needs to be repaired or replaced, locating random roofing contractors to provide estimates, is not in your best interests. You may tend to compare the estimates and decide on the contractor who provides the “best” one. The “best” estimate may not take into consideration the reputation of the roofing company, the experience of the crew, but most importantly, the type of roofing system, in which they specialize.

EPDM Rubber Roof seams need patching

The image is about us repairing an EPDM Rubber roof in Westport Connecticut. This is a common thing to do. Once the seams starting to separate on an EPDM Rubber Roof, then there is no end to the repairs.

EPDM Rubber Repair on a commercial roof in Westport Connecticut

When not to repair a EPDM Rubber Membrane

EPDM Roof Ten Years Old New Canaan CT Flat Roof Repair
When an EPDM Rubber Roof Membrane is beyond repairs This article: Explain why it is not wise to repair an EPDM Rubber Membrane that was installed before 2015. See the ...
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Rubber Roofs – Comparing EPDM with Torch Down -Video

Rubber Roofs -Comparing EPDM and Torch Down Rubber Membranes Video
Rubber Roofs - Modified Bitumen vs EPDM Rubber This Article: Comparing Rubber Roofs "Modified Bitumen Torch Down" vs "EPDM Rubber Membrane" Rubber roofs were introduced in the late 60's in the ...
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EPDM Rubber Roofing Membrane – Ultraviolet Degradation – Watch Video

EPDM Rubber Roofing Membrane - Ultraviolet Degradation - Watch Video
EPDM Rubber Roofing Membrane EPDM Rubber Roofing membrane will shrink due to ultraviolet exposure. This, in turn, will put stress on the adhesives that bond the seams and eventually separate ...
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Pros and Cons of EPDM Rubber Roofs – Watch Video

Pros-and-Cons-of-EPDM-Rubber-Roofs
Harmful Ultraviolet rays have damaged an EPDM Rubber Roof - watch video Pros and Cons of EPDM Rubber Roofs - Video Transcription: Erik talks about the Pros and Cons of EPDM Rubber ...
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EPDM Rubber on Commercial Roofs – Watch Video

EPDM Rubber on Commercial Roofs
What is EPDM? And "Why EPDM Rubber on Commercial Roofs?" This article and others on this website along with videos will prove that it is not wise to install EPDM Rubber on ...
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EPDM Roofing Deteriorates from Harmful UV Rays – Watch Video

EPDM-Rubber-degradation-due-to-ultraviolet-light
EPDM Roofing Deterioration Stems from UV Exposure An EPDM roofing problem on a residence in Greenwich, Connecticut stemmed from the prolonged exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays. We found that the ...
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EPDM Rubber Roofs Issues – Fail Prematurely – Watch Video

EPDM Rubber Roofs
EPDM Rubber Roofs Issues - Fail Prematurely Before 2014, all EPDM Rubber Roofs Issues stems from the breakdown of liquid adhesives used to bond seams. This single-ply rubber roofing system is ...
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EPDM & Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Roofs – Which is the Best?

EPDM and Modified Bitumen Rubber roofs
EPDM & Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Roofs After 10 Years Below are images of EPDM rubber roofs and Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber roofs that are about ten years and ...
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EPDM Roofing Systems – Advantages & Disadvantages

EPDM Rubber Roof Membrane Tear - Flat Roof Repair - Alabama
EPDM Roofing - Rubber Membrane EPDM rubber roofing materials come in different thicknesses. They are .045, .060, and .090 thousandths of an inch.  Most contractors use the industry standard thickness of ...
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Pros and Cons of EPDM Rubber Roofs – Watch Video

Harmful Ultraviolet rays have damaged an EPDM Rubber Roof – watch video

Video Transcription of EPDM's pros and cons

Pros and Cons of EPDM Rubber Roofs – Video Transcription:

Erik talks about the Pros and Cons of EPDM Rubber Roofs

Hi, I’m Erik from Commercial Roof USA, and this is a very good example of you know of an EPDM roof, and it looks very nice people like it because it has fewer seams and you know big sheets of material, so it looks very clean very nice, but the problem is as we say with everything.

First of all, it’s a thinner material and also no UV protection. Here’s the perfect example of that Right here uh over the years the EPDM has shrunk a little bit and thus stretched right here in the corner.

Then with the stretching and the UV rays pounding down on it starting eating it away. Right here in the corner where it was stretched the most this is where it got eaten away the most also and you can see it has gone straight through And this is what happens EPDM looks very nice but does not perform well especially with no UV protection.

Pros and Cons of EPDM Rubber Roofs: EPDM Rubber and Harmful UV Rays

EPDM rubber roofing is aesthetically pleasing with its smooth and clean surface. However, we have repaired many EPDM rubber roofs that have signs of degradation from harmful UV rays. We often see these signs in the form of shrinkage and brittleness in particular areas of a roof. Unfortunately, to make repairs to EPDM rubber, the same rubber material must be used. Therefore, the problem will persist time and again.

 Pros and Cons of EPDM Rubber Roofing

EPDM Pros

  • There are fewer seams than other roofing systems.
  • Roofing contractors can install EPDM quickly and at a cost that seems appealing.
  • EPDM is single-ply rubber and can last up to 15 years.
  • The rubber is flexible and installs easily around skylights and drains.

EPDM Cons

  • Seams separate due to the deterioration of adhesives.
  • The rubber fails prematurely; long before the expiration of the warranty.
  • Shortly after installation, caulking and lap sealants, which are used to prevent leaks, need to be reapplied.
  • EPDM degrades and shrinks causing leaks and creating a constant need for repairs.
  • Harmful UV rays are absorbed by the all-black rubber membrane and can raise a/c costs.

Five Roofing Systems 

Check out the article on Roofing Systems Explained. This information will be helpful in understanding the different types of roofing systems and how they are applied. There are five roofing systems roofing contractors install: the EPDM Rubber Single Ply System, the TPO-Vinyl Single Ply System, the Modified Bitumen Torch Down Two-Ply Membrane System, the Metal Panel Roof system, and the Spray Polyurethane Foam-Based Roof System.

It is important to know as much about the roofing system you want, or need before you attempt to locate a roofing contractor when replacing your roof. Most roofing contractors are only familiar with EPDM. Therefore, you may have to investigate a bit to find roofing contractors that specialize in the other types of roofing systems mentioned.

Pros and Cons of EPDM Rubber Roofs - This image reveals the degradation of ultraviolet rays and shrinkage of an EPDM single-ply roofing system.
Pros and Cons of EPDM Rubber Roofs -This EPDM single-ply installation shows damage from harmful UV rays.

When not to repair a EPDM Rubber Membrane

EPDM Roof Ten Years Old New Canaan CT Flat Roof Repair
When an EPDM Rubber Roof Membrane is beyond repairs This article: Explain why it is not wise to repair an EPDM Rubber Membrane that was installed before 2015. See the ...
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Rubber Roofs – Comparing EPDM with Torch Down -Video

Rubber Roofs -Comparing EPDM and Torch Down Rubber Membranes Video
Rubber Roofs - Modified Bitumen vs EPDM Rubber This Article: Comparing Rubber Roofs "Modified Bitumen Torch Down" vs "EPDM Rubber Membrane" Rubber roofs were introduced in the late 60's in the ...
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EPDM Rubber Roofing Membrane – Ultraviolet Degradation – Watch Video

EPDM Rubber Roofing Membrane - Ultraviolet Degradation - Watch Video
EPDM Rubber Roofing Membrane EPDM Rubber Roofing membrane will shrink due to ultraviolet exposure. This, in turn, will put stress on the adhesives that bond the seams and eventually separate ...
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Why do Roofing Contractors Install EPDM Rubber-Watch Video

Why-do-Roofing-Contractors-install-EPDM-Rubber-
Flat Roof Problems with EPDM Rubber Membranes Hi, my name is Andre and today we are looking at an EPDM Rubber roof, one of the most popular roofs um to ...
Read More

EPDM Rubber on Commercial Roofs – Watch Video

EPDM Rubber on Commercial Roofs
What is EPDM? And "Why EPDM Rubber on Commercial Roofs?" This article and others on this website along with videos will prove that it is not wise to install EPDM Rubber on ...
Read More

EPDM Roofing Deteriorates from Harmful UV Rays – Watch Video

EPDM-Rubber-degradation-due-to-ultraviolet-light
EPDM Roofing Deterioration Stems from UV Exposure An EPDM roofing problem on a residence in Greenwich, Connecticut stemmed from the prolonged exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays. We found that the ...
Read More

EPDM Rubber Roofs Issues – Fail Prematurely – Watch Video

EPDM Rubber Roofs
EPDM Rubber Roofs Issues - Fail Prematurely Before 2014, all EPDM Rubber Roofs Issues stems from the breakdown of liquid adhesives used to bond seams. This single-ply rubber roofing system is ...
Read More

EPDM & Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Roofs – Which is the Best?

EPDM and Modified Bitumen Rubber roofs
EPDM & Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Roofs After 10 Years Below are images of EPDM rubber roofs and Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber roofs that are about ten years and ...
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EPDM Roofing Systems – Advantages & Disadvantages

EPDM Rubber Roof Membrane Tear - Flat Roof Repair - Alabama
EPDM Roofing - Rubber Membrane EPDM rubber roofing materials come in different thicknesses. They are .045, .060, and .090 thousandths of an inch.  Most contractors use the industry standard thickness of ...
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EPDM Rubber on Commercial Roofs – Watch Video

What is EPDM? And “Why EPDM Rubber on Commercial Roofs?”

This article and others on this website along with videos will prove that it is not wise to install EPDM Rubber on Commercial Roofs

EPDM comes from its inclusion of Ethylene, Propylene, Diene Monomer. EPDM is an elastomeric compound, which consists of oil-based by-products and other compositions of modifiers and stabilizers.

It was during the late 1960s that using EPDM rubber roofing as a roofing material. This formulation replaced the more labor-intensive, Built-Up-Roofing (BUR) also known as Hot-Tar-and-Gravel Roofing.

EPDM Rubber on Commercial Roofs

The question is “Why anyone would think to install EPDM Rubber on Commercial Roofs” This and other articles will paint a clearer picture as to why EPDM Rubber on Commercial Roofs is not a wise decision.

The video below shows EPDM leaks due to adhesives failing to maintain bonding properties. Notice the ease he is removing the rubber cover tape on the edge of the roof.

Thin EPDM Membranes on Commercial Flat Roofs

EPDM membranes are available in three thicknesses: 45 mil., 60 mil., and 90 mils. (the mils. refers to .001 or a thousandth of an inch). A membrane that’s 60 mils, would be 1/16th of an inch thick, and about equal to the thickness of a quarter.

Most roofing contractors will install the 45 mils. Membrane unbeknownst to their clients, however, a 45 mil. The membrane is too thin and susceptible to tears and punctures.

Ultraviolet/Climate Degradation of EPDM

Regardless of its popularity, EPDM has a set of drawbacks as a roofing system. Field tests over four generations have shown that no matter the thickness installed, the black color of the EPDM absorbs harmful UV rays. The UV’s cause adhesives to fail and the rubber to become brittle over time, providing only a 15-year period of protection.

EPDM Rubber on Commercial Roofs - EPDM is just over an 1/16th of an inch thick. This makes the rubber roof membrane susceptible to harmful UV rays.

EPDM Adhesives Fail

When fastening EPDM rubber membrane to a substrate, like plywood or insulation board, is by applying adhesives with a paint roller.  Using EPDM adhesives to flash rooftop units, such as skylights, vents, drains, a/c units, extractor fans, stovepipes, and chimneys.

These adhesives fail to maintain their bonding properties due to harmful UV rays. Adhesives are such an integral component of the entire roof system, yet, have failed time and again, even though new formulations have been introduced five times since the early 1970s. To date, there are no proven remedies.

Traffic on EPDM Flat Roofs

It is inevitable that flat roofs will have foot traffic for snow removal and from maintenance workers servicing air conditioners, vents, skylights and the like. Snow shovels can pierce the EPDM rubber and create gouges and gashes which may become leaks.

Also, service workers drop and unintentionally leave behind screws, nails, and other sharp objects.  When someone steps on these sharp objects, they will pierce the membrane and eventually cause leaks.

EPDM is not a Viable Commercial Roofing System 

Many roofers believe in the overall practicality of an EPDM single-ply roof, but faulty installations and materials’ failures have resulted in damage causing the need for long-term, intermittent repairs.

Installing a 2 Ply Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Membrane on a commercial roof will offer a more durable, low maintenance, long-lasting solution.

When not to repair a EPDM Rubber Membrane

EPDM Roof Ten Years Old New Canaan CT Flat Roof Repair
When an EPDM Rubber Roof Membrane is beyond repairs This article: Explain why it is not wise to repair an EPDM Rubber Membrane that was installed before 2015. See the ...
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Rubber Roofs – Comparing EPDM with Torch Down -Video

Rubber Roofs -Comparing EPDM and Torch Down Rubber Membranes Video
Rubber Roofs - Modified Bitumen vs EPDM Rubber This Article: Comparing Rubber Roofs "Modified Bitumen Torch Down" vs "EPDM Rubber Membrane" Rubber roofs were introduced in the late 60's in the ...
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EPDM Rubber Roofing Membrane – Ultraviolet Degradation – Watch Video

EPDM Rubber Roofing Membrane - Ultraviolet Degradation - Watch Video
EPDM Rubber Roofing Membrane EPDM Rubber Roofing membrane will shrink due to ultraviolet exposure. This, in turn, will put stress on the adhesives that bond the seams and eventually separate ...
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Why do Roofing Contractors Install EPDM Rubber-Watch Video

Why-do-Roofing-Contractors-install-EPDM-Rubber-
Flat Roof Problems with EPDM Rubber Membranes Hi, my name is Andre and today we are looking at an EPDM Rubber roof, one of the most popular roofs um to ...
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Pros and Cons of EPDM Rubber Roofs – Watch Video

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Harmful Ultraviolet rays have damaged an EPDM Rubber Roof - watch video Pros and Cons of EPDM Rubber Roofs - Video Transcription: Erik talks about the Pros and Cons of EPDM Rubber ...
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EPDM Roofing Deteriorates from Harmful UV Rays – Watch Video

EPDM-Rubber-degradation-due-to-ultraviolet-light
EPDM Roofing Deterioration Stems from UV Exposure An EPDM roofing problem on a residence in Greenwich, Connecticut stemmed from the prolonged exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays. We found that the ...
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EPDM Rubber Roofs Issues – Fail Prematurely – Watch Video

EPDM Rubber Roofs
EPDM Rubber Roofs Issues - Fail Prematurely Before 2014, all EPDM Rubber Roofs Issues stems from the breakdown of liquid adhesives used to bond seams. This single-ply rubber roofing system is ...
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EPDM & Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Roofs – Which is the Best?

EPDM and Modified Bitumen Rubber roofs
EPDM & Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Roofs After 10 Years Below are images of EPDM rubber roofs and Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber roofs that are about ten years and ...
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EPDM Roofing Systems – Advantages & Disadvantages

EPDM Rubber Roof Membrane Tear - Flat Roof Repair - Alabama
EPDM Roofing - Rubber Membrane EPDM rubber roofing materials come in different thicknesses. They are .045, .060, and .090 thousandths of an inch.  Most contractors use the industry standard thickness of ...
Read More

EPDM Roofing Deteriorates from Harmful UV Rays – Watch Video

EPDM Roofing Deterioration Stems from UV Exposure

An EPDM roofing problem on a residence in Greenwich, Connecticut stemmed from the prolonged exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays. We found that the single ply EPDM rubber was shredded in a tight corner, next to a chimney, causing the roof to leak.

Over time, the combination of direct sunlight, and the reflection from the chimney caused a concentration of extreme ultraviolet light exposure to that particular area of EPDM rubber. Even though this is an example in the extreme, we saw that the rest of the roof had been similarly affected, showing brittleness and shrinkage.

A costly ongoing roofing repair problem if the homeowner continues to use EPDM as a repair solution. We recommend replacing it with a two-ply Modified Bitumen Rubber Roof System that has embedded ceramic granules as protection against harmful UV rays.

Harmful UV Rays Deteriorate EPDM – Watch Video

EPDM Roofing Accounts for 1/3 of All Flat Roofs in the US

EPDM roofing accounts for 1/3 of all flat roofs installed in the US, despite inherent problems of the rubber since its inception in the 1960s. Most roofing contractors will install it, and architects will specify it in their designs because it is easy to install and is dependable for the first 8-10 years.

Professionals widely use EPDM roofing.  An EPDM roofing system has inherent problems. However, most professionals use estimates and tactical salesmanship to promote EPDM as an acceptable roofing solution, even when other roofing systems are more superior.

This doesn’t mean professionals are dishonest about the products they use. Instead, it is a roofing system that they are most familiar with since becoming the industry standard in the 1960s.

At Commercial Roof USA, we provide our clients with a 2 Ply Modified Bitumen Torch Down Roofing System that has built-in UV-ray protection, and a 40-year warranty on every installation.

EPDM Roofing Problems in Climatic Conditions

EPDM roofing problems in climatic conditions prove to cause the biggest reason for multiple repairs and eventually a roof’s replacement. These membranes come in different thicknesses of 45, 60, and 90 Mil., however, 45 Mil. has been used as the industry standard. It is the thinnest rubber of the three options and can succumb to the careless removal of snow and ice and the constant exposure to the sun. This can increase the likelihood that the wear and tear will compromise the membrane with leaks.

We, at Commercial Roof USA, recommend the installation of the 2 Ply Modified Bitumen Torch Down Roofing System as a roofing solution. This membrane is five times thicker than an EPDM membrane and has embedded ceramic granules that protect it from UV ray degradation.

EPDM Rubber is Vulnerable

EPDM rubber membranes are vulnerable to the effects of foot traffic. Because of work crews service rooftop units, for various reasons, protective mats are essential to protect the thin membrane from being punctured. However, the mats do not cover the work areas adequately. During services and repairs to units, screws, nails, and other sharp objects are unintentionally dropped and left behind. These objects are stepped on causing punctures to the thin membrane.

EPDM Roofing - This area of the roof was destroyed by harmful UV exposure.

 EPDM Roofing: Flashing Problems 

With the use of EPDM roofing adhesives, flashing problems occur where walls and roofs intersect. Over time, these adhesives degrade from prolonged exposure to harmful UV rays, because the heat that penetrates the thin membrane, causes premature separation from the flashing.

With the use of the Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Roofing System, the thicker, two-ply membrane itself, is stabilized with embedded ceramic granules, which are used to prevent UV ray degradation, which protects the transition to the flashing.

 

EPDM Roofing Problems - This image shows many repair patches where adhesives have failed due to harmful UV rays.

 EPDM Roofing: Inadequate Seam Caulking

When you watch the next video, you will notice that there is a lap sealer (caulking bead) applied to all seams. This is part of the initial installation process of EPDM roofing. The lap sealant is needed, because the adhesives used to bond the seams, do not provide a water-tight seal. Over time, this thin bead of lap sealer dries up and peels away, causing leaks and compromising the integrity of the entire roof. It’s essential to replace the lap sealant every 4 -5 years to properly maintain a single ply EPDM roofing system.

Summary

Single Ply EPDM roofing has numerous problems. Once the membrane is compromised, it is subjected to multiple repairs and maintenance. A 2 Ply Modified Bitumen Torch Down Roofing System should be considered when evaluating a permanent solution to these problems.

When not to repair a EPDM Rubber Membrane

EPDM Roof Ten Years Old New Canaan CT Flat Roof Repair
When an EPDM Rubber Roof Membrane is beyond repairs This article: Explain why it is not wise to repair an EPDM Rubber Membrane that was installed before 2015. See the ...
Read More

Rubber Roofs – Comparing EPDM with Torch Down -Video

Rubber Roofs -Comparing EPDM and Torch Down Rubber Membranes Video
Rubber Roofs - Modified Bitumen vs EPDM Rubber This Article: Comparing Rubber Roofs "Modified Bitumen Torch Down" vs "EPDM Rubber Membrane" Rubber roofs were introduced in the late 60's in the ...
Read More

EPDM Rubber Roofing Membrane – Ultraviolet Degradation – Watch Video

EPDM Rubber Roofing Membrane - Ultraviolet Degradation - Watch Video
EPDM Rubber Roofing Membrane EPDM Rubber Roofing membrane will shrink due to ultraviolet exposure. This, in turn, will put stress on the adhesives that bond the seams and eventually separate ...
Read More

Why do Roofing Contractors Install EPDM Rubber-Watch Video

Why-do-Roofing-Contractors-install-EPDM-Rubber-
Flat Roof Problems with EPDM Rubber Membranes Hi, my name is Andre and today we are looking at an EPDM Rubber roof, one of the most popular roofs um to ...
Read More

Pros and Cons of EPDM Rubber Roofs – Watch Video

Pros-and-Cons-of-EPDM-Rubber-Roofs
Harmful Ultraviolet rays have damaged an EPDM Rubber Roof - watch video Pros and Cons of EPDM Rubber Roofs - Video Transcription: Erik talks about the Pros and Cons of EPDM Rubber ...
Read More

EPDM Rubber on Commercial Roofs – Watch Video

EPDM Rubber on Commercial Roofs
What is EPDM? And "Why EPDM Rubber on Commercial Roofs?" This article and others on this website along with videos will prove that it is not wise to install EPDM Rubber on ...
Read More

EPDM Rubber Roofs Issues – Fail Prematurely – Watch Video

EPDM Rubber Roofs
EPDM Rubber Roofs Issues - Fail Prematurely Before 2014, all EPDM Rubber Roofs Issues stems from the breakdown of liquid adhesives used to bond seams. This single-ply rubber roofing system is ...
Read More

EPDM & Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Roofs – Which is the Best?

EPDM and Modified Bitumen Rubber roofs
EPDM & Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Roofs After 10 Years Below are images of EPDM rubber roofs and Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber roofs that are about ten years and ...
Read More

EPDM Roofing Systems – Advantages & Disadvantages

EPDM Rubber Roof Membrane Tear - Flat Roof Repair - Alabama
EPDM Roofing - Rubber Membrane EPDM rubber roofing materials come in different thicknesses. They are .045, .060, and .090 thousandths of an inch.  Most contractors use the industry standard thickness of ...
Read More