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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 Rubber only Ten Years Old - Patches - Don't make this mistake. New Canaan CT
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

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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

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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

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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

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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?

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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

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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 Material need to be constantly patched due to Ultraviolet degradation

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How to find and repair leaks on float roofs Finding and repairing leaks on flat roofs. Choose from different categories what you want to learn about. Flat roof leaks can ...
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2 Comments

  1. Hi John
    There are many factors that will determine the installation of a rubber membrane. The type of rubber, the weather and also the experience of the crew.
    All in all, it takes about an hour per 100sq ft of roofing with 3 people.

  2. Hi John
    You are welcome. A rubber membrane should last over 40 years if it’s protected against ultraviolets

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. John Mansfield - Thanks for the information on Rubber membrane roof. How long does it take to install a Torch Down Rubber Membrane?

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