TPO vs. PVC Roofing: Which Is Right For Your Commercial Roof

Do you own a commercial building and are considering installing a new roof?

Deciding what material to use for your roof is extremely important, but unfortunately, that decision can be confusing if you’re not already familiar with the roofing industry. For instance, which product is better suited for your business: TPO or PVC? 

Of course, you likely have no clue! But, that’s why it’s important to work with a reliable, experienced commercial roofing company who can guide you through the pros and cons.

So, let’s take this opportunity to review the characteristics between the two choices mentioned above: TPO roofing and PVC roofing.

TPO vs. PVC Roofing: Which is Best for Your Commercial Building?

TPO and PVC are both single-ply, thermoplastic roofing materials. While PVC has been around as a roofing material since the 1960s, TPO is relatively newer, taking hold of some market share in the 1990s.

Thermoplastics contain polyester or fiberglass to make the roofing more durable and a great option for dealing with inclement weather. So, with the materials being fairly similar, how do you choose?

TPO vs PVC Roofing: Which to Choose?

When trying to choose the most efficient and effective roofing for your commercial building, you need to know some facts. Of course, if you hire an experienced and knowledgeable commercial roofing contractor, they will be able to make suggestions for what will work best.

But, knowledge is power, and the following information will help you compare the benefits and disadvantages of TPO and PVC roofing so you can make the most informed decision for your business.

What Is TPO Roofing?

TPO stands for Thermoplastic Polyolefin. It is a reflective single-ply roofing membrane that has been on the market for more than 30 years.

TPO is made of a combination of ethylene-propylene rubber and polypropylene. The two materials are then bonded through a process called polymerization. These membranes usually also include a reinforcement layer that provides additional strength.

TPO is typically installed in a few different ways, with two of the most popular being mechanically fastened or fully adhered.

What Is PVC Roofing?

PVC roofing stands for Polyvinyl Chloride. Used for commercial roofs since the early 1960s, PVC is a reliable single-ply roofing membrane, widely made as a synthetic plastic polymer. The sheets are comprised of two layers of PVC with polyester added in between for reinforcement. 

PVC roofing is popular for both low-sloping and flat roofs and utilizes a heat welding installation process that creates a permanent bond between sheets.


Now that we know the basics of PVC roofing and TPO, let’s talk about their differences in regard to weathering.

In terms of weathering, TPO performs slightly better than PVC roofing, thanks to numerous advancements over the past several years.

In addition to weathering qualities, TPO also offers slightly better tear and break resistance as compared to PVC roofing. However, PVC also weathers exceptionally well, which is why it has been a go-to in the commercial roofing industry for more than 60 years.

Chemical Resistance

When it comes to chemical resistance, PVC is more durable. PVC roofing systems are most popular with restaurants and businesses that emit fats or oils from their ventilation systems. It’s highly resistant to most chemicals, including oils, animal fats and bacteria, making it a better choice for buildings that have grease traps on their roofs (like restaurants). 


TPO is the more durable roofing material, popular for enduring algae and debris build-up while resisting bacteria and dirt.

Its flexible membrane is resistant to impact damage as well as punctures and tearing from blunt forces.

Which Is Better for the Environment?

TPO is a good environmental option thanks to its reflective quality that creates a cooling effect (essentially helping to provide additional insulation to the building). This type of cool roof can lower air conditioning costs and make your systems more energy-efficient. TPO polymer can also be recycled.

In contrast, PVC membranes can also come as a white, highly reflective material. PVC roofs do contain chlorine, though, making the product (POSSIBLY) less environmentally friendly than TPO. However, several studies by the EPA, FDA and other government agencies (in both the US and Europe) note that PVC roofing is safe for the environment during its production, lifespan and eventual recycling.


Regarding roofing waste, PVC roofing produces less waste on the job site because of the prefabrication steps taken during manufacturing.


When looking at price, PVC membranes may be more expensive, but ultimately, the final installed price ends up costing the same or slightly less than TPO roofing. In the end, there is no major cost advantage to choosing one option over the other.

Additional Tips on TPO vs. PVC Roofing 

  • When making your decision, keep your geographical location and budget in mind. 
  • If environmental friendliness and durability is a major concern, choose TPO roofing instead of PVC roofing
  • PVC roofing may be slightly more cost-effective
  • PVC is the more chemically resistant roofing option.

Be sure to think about the pros and cons of TPO and PVC roofing before you decide which material is right for your commercial building. And, when in doubt, ask your commercial roofing company which option they suggest.

The Takeaway on TPO and PVC Roofing

Now that you know the facts, hopefully you are more comfortable choosing a material for your commercial building.

After considering environmental impact, price, durability and the geographical climate where you do business, you should have a better idea of whether TOP or PVC roofing is the better option for your unique situation. 

Looking for ways to cut down your costs when you hire a roofing contractor?

Tema Roofing Services is a family-owned roofing company backed by more than 50 years of experience. Contact us today to learn what we can offer your commercial business.