EPDM Roofing Systems – Advantages & Disadvantages

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 .060 thousandths of an inch, which is very near the thickness of a single quarter.

EPDM Roofing - Disadvantage-constant repair due ultraviolet degradation of an EPDM roof

 EPDM Roofing – Advantages:

  • The least expensive system to install per square foot
  • Simple to install with the use of anchors, adhesives, and rollers
  • Weighs less than the other single ply membranes
  • Sold in 8-20 feet wide rolls resulting in fewer seams
  • Has been on the market for over 40 years

EPDM Roofing – Disadvantages:

  • Harmful UV rays degrade adhesives used on seams and flashing causing them to separate
  • Walk paths of protective mats are needed because the thin membrane is susceptible to punctures due to foot traffic on sharp objects left behind by maintenance crews.
  • Repairs to seams and flashing are required long before the warranty of 15-20 years expires.
  • Surface preparation; removing a system or installing over an existing one, can become an added labor cost.
  • All-black membrane absorbs ultraviolet light causing shrinkage and brittleness which decreases the life expectancy and   absorbs heat which leads to superheating of the structure below raising a/c costs
EPDM Roofing - Rubber is the thickness of a single quarter

EPDM Roofing –  Rubber Membrane:

EPDM is a thin synthetic rubber prone to punctures due to foot traffic from workman servicing units on a roof.

Although the placing of rubber mats where foot traffic is likely to occur, they are seldom used to prevent unnecessary wear and tear. The EPDM is compromised, and small needed repairs can become structural leaks.

EPDM Roofing - Rubber membrane very thin and pierced by a nail
EPDM Roofing - The image shows ultraviolet light degrading an EPDM roof

Summary

Although EPDM has been a favorite single-ply roofing system for over 40 years, the adhesives used in their installation, fail prematurely.

Choosing a Roofing Company

There are many roofing companies to choose from. In your search for a flat roof contractor, you will find that EPDM and TPO quotes are quite appealing, but you will need to remember that those quotes are for single-ply rubber membranes that puncture easily, have adhesives that fail at the seams, and shrink and degrade from harmful ultraviolet light.

Comparing Roofing Systems

Modified Bitumen Membrane over gravel

Above is an image of a Two Ply Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Roof being installed over an old Hot Tar and Gravel commercial roof.

Modified Bitumen Rubber after 20 years Monroeville, PA.

Above is an image of a 2 Ply Modified Bitumen Rubber Roof we installed over 20 years ago. Notice that there have been repairs needed since it was first installed.

Modified Bitumen Rubber roof membrane Pittsburgh

The image above is another example of a Modified Bitumen 2-ply system that we installed. After 18 years, there are no signs of deterioration.

Two ply Modified Rubber system being installed. Stamford, greenwich

The image above was taken 15 years ago as I was when installing a 2 Ply Modified Bitumen Rubber Membrane. The black covering is the first layer called the Self-Adhering Base. The second layer is the Modified Bitumen Rubber Membrane-embedded with white ceramic granules.

Rubber mats not protecting the EPDM rubber as it suppose to do.

In the image above, notice all the patched repairs. These repairs have been done on an EPDM Rubber Roof System that was less than 10 years old. There were not enough rubber mats placed in appropriate traffic areas.

Unprotected Modified bitumen rubber roof

The image above shows a SINGLE PLY Modified Bitumen Rubber Roof. Notice that there are no ceramic granules or aluminum asphalt coating applied to the membrane to protect it from harmful ultraviolet light.

Modified Bitumen Rubber - cover with another rubber to fuse together. Greenwich, CT

In the image above, we show that there is no need to strip away old roofing before installing a 2 Ply Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Membrane.

Installing a Rubber roof over gravel - Wilton

The image above shows part of the process for installing a 2-ply Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Roof System over an existing Tar and Gravel roof.

Modified Bitumen Membrane over gravel

Above is an image of a Two Ply Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Roof being installed over an old Hot Tar and Gravel commercial roof.

Modified Bitumen Rubber after 20 years Monroeville, PA.

Above is an image of a 2 Ply Modified Bitumen Rubber Roof we installed over 20 years ago. Notice that there have been repairs needed since it was first installed.

Modified Bitumen Rubber roof membrane Pittsburgh

The image above is another example of a Modified Bitumen 2-ply system that we installed. After 18 years, there are no signs of deterioration.

Two ply Modified Rubber system being installed. Stamford, greenwich

The image above was taken 15 years ago as I was when installing a 2 Ply Modified Bitumen Rubber Membrane. The black covering is the first layer called the Self-Adhering Base. The second layer is the Modified Bitumen Rubber Membrane-embedded with white ceramic granules.

Rubber mats not protecting the EPDM rubber as it suppose to do.

In the image above, notice all the patched repairs. These repairs have been done on an EPDM Rubber Roof System that was less than 10 years old. There were not enough rubber mats placed in appropriate traffic areas.

Unprotected Modified bitumen rubber roof

The image above shows a SINGLE PLY Modified Bitumen Rubber Roof. Notice that there are no ceramic granules or aluminum asphalt coating applied to the membrane to protect it from harmful ultraviolet light.

Modified Bitumen Rubber - cover with another rubber to fuse together. Greenwich, CT

In the image above, we show that there is no need to strip away old roofing before installing a 2 Ply Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Membrane.

Installing a Rubber roof over gravel - Wilton

The image above shows part of the process for installing a 2-ply Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Roof System over an existing Tar and Gravel roof.

About The Author

2 thoughts on “EPDM Roofing Systems – Advantages & Disadvantages”

  1. Avatar

    There are many advantages of EPDM roofing. The least expensive system to install per square foot. Simple to install with the use of anchors, adhesives, and rollers Weighs. It cost less than the other single ply membranes and a lot of others you may experience after having it.

    1. Naas Ferreira

      Hi William
      You are absolutely correct in your comment. This is why most roofers chose to install EPDM Rubber Roofs. So I will list the reasons you have mentioned again in a list:

    2. Least expensive roofing system per square foot compared to others
    3. Relatively easy to install
    4. The rubber membrane cost less than other roofing membranes
    5. You can find many experienced roofers to install EPDM Rubber membrane
    6. All these are valid points and I agree with it. But, this confirms also the disadvantages of EPDM Roofing Rubber. The saying is “you get what you pay for” and that is why being less expensive is also a less of a roof. Here is an answer to each point on your list:

    7. 1. Less expensive is also less material, meaning it is very thin. This puncture easily. No UV protection also causes the membrane to degrade faster
    8. 2. Easy to install – that is a fact. But because it appears so easy to install, everyone is becoming a roofer and all they know is EPDM. Their lack of experience in all aspects of flat roof installation causes most of these EPDM Roofing systems to fail. Yes, using adhesives and paint rollers to seam an EPDM roof together is easy, but there are other parts of roofing as in flashing, draining, traffic that has to be taken into account. Most of these fly by night roofers, (mostly EPDM Roofers) have given the roofing industry a bad name due to the eas of the installation but lack of experience.
    9. 3. Less cost – the reason it cost less is that it is so thin. Logically this means a weaker material that cannot handle foot traffic, ultraviolet, and heat. Also, the cost of the roofing material is reduced because it doesn’t come with ultraviolet protection. Another reason for costing less is that the EPDM Rubber is made from synthetic rubber and not natural products.
    10. 4. Finding experienced roofers in EPDM Rubber roofing installation: How do you qualify someone as “experienced”? What is the level of experience needed to be a proper roofer? I think most roofers are inexperienced and get away with murder because it appears to be relatively easy to install EPDM.
    11. Anyway, I thank you for writing a comment on my site. I understand that you really did it to get a link to your website. Because you took the time to comment, I will allow this link. http://www.epdmroofers.com/blog/

      I hope to hear from you again and “Happy EPDM Roofing” to you.

      Naas

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.