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

Comparison of an 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 older. Notice that Modified Bitumen rubber roofs outlast EPDM rubber roofs in terms of durability and appearance.

Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Roof: A 2 Ply System

This image is a 2 Ply Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Roof which shows no signs of degradation after 14 years. Also, there are no patches to indicate that there was any need for repairs. When inspecting any roof, seeing numerous patches is a good indication that the rubber roof has been compromised with leaks.

EPDM Rubber and Torch Down Rubber - After 14 years, a Torch Down Rubber Roof shows no maintenance in terms of repairs.
This is a Modified Bitumen Torch Rubber Roof after 10 years of installation. There is not one patch on the entire roof

EPDM Rubber Roofs Fail Prematurely

This EPDM rubber roof is 10 years old and has had many seam and roof repairs. The adhesive properties have deteriorated which caused the seams to separate and leaks to develop.

EPDM Rubber and Torch Down Rubber - The patches are an indication of an EPDM Rubber Roof failing prematurely.
This is a EPDM Rubber Roof after 10 years and you can see many patches

EPDM Rubber or Modified Bitumen for Residential Roofs?

Residential roofs can have a combination of sloped and flat roofs. The flat roofs are normally used to access the sloped roofs for cleaning gutters, snow removal, or house painting, resulting in more foot traffic. As a result, the flat roof membrane becomes susceptible to punctures from these maintenance activities. Therefore, it is important to have a rubber membrane that can withstand excessive foot traffic and be resistant to punctures.

EPDM is not designed to withstand the repeated foot traffic that is necessary for home maintenance because it is too thin, and can be easily damaged. We highly recommend the 2 Ply Modified Bitumen Rubber Roof System because it is 5 times thicker, with a stronger rubber composition that will not erode with any kind of maintenance activities.

This EPDM Rubber roof shows that a repair was needed due to repeated foot traffic used to access the sloped roof.
This EPDM Rubber roof failed just after 5 years of installation.
All EPDM roofs are permanently repaired using patches that are secured with caulking, however, the caulking does not last more than 3 years.
Notice the older roof and the new patch

EPDM Adhesive & Caulking Issues

EPDM rubber roof adhesives and caulkings fail because they cannot withstand the surface heat for extended periods of time.  An EPDM roof surface can reach temperatures upwards of 160° F.

In the image, there is a history of multiple repairs on this EPDM roof. The dark-colored caulking is a sign of old repairs, while the lighter colored caulkings are signs of newer repairs. Neither the EPDM rubber patches nor the caulking, are a permanent solution to a worry-free or leak-proof roof.

EPDM rubber roof adhesives and caulkings fail due to excessive heat.
Caulking is always used around patches. That means the patches isn’t secure enough by itself

Modified Bitumen 

Modified Bitumen Torch DownRubber Roofs are heat-welded at the seams. This roof was installed by Commercial Roof USA over 14 years ago, and as of this writing, there are no signs of repair patches.

This roof is located on 819 Westport Rd East, Westport, Connecticut.

This 2 Ply Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber roof has not needed any repairs since its installation over 14 years ago.

Coated Modified Bitumen Rubber Roof

This 25-year-old 2 Ply Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Roof, coated with aluminum asphalt paint, which is meant to protect the surface against harmful UV rays. It has had many years of scattered debris, foot traffic from a rooftop a/c and ventilation units being serviced, yet, there is no indication that repairs have ever been needed. This type of roof has withstood maintenance and service activities throughout its 25 years. Today Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Membranes are offered by manufacturers in both a plain surface and a surface coated with ceramic granules.

Aluminum Asphalt Coated Modified Bitumen Rubber Roof - 25 years of maintenance free service
This Torch Down roof was installed over 25 years ago and was in perfect condition at the time of this picture
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