Roofing contractors working on a flat roof project.

The three most popular types of roofing to use on non-metal roof, commercial buildings, that is, flat roof or low-slope roofing are TPO, EPDM and PVC respectively. Each single-ply roofing system has its own set of unique advantages and disadvantages for commercial roofing. Homeowners and commercial property owners alike use these to outfit their buildings searching for a high quality, cost-effective solution for the lifespan of their property. Here is a detailed list of what each one of the roofing materials or membranes do best on your company’s building.

TPO Roofing

TPO or thermoplastic polyolefin roofing membrane is one of the most popular single-ply roofing materials on the market today, taking on a lot of applications where EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) would have been used. TPO being used on a new roof has several advantages over the other two types of roofing, depending on the surface. Typically, TPO roofing will be installed at the lowest cost per square foot of all single-ply roofing membranes. TPO roofing systems are white so it will reflect the hot UV rays of the sun, so it won’t draw on the air conditioning as much in the summer months.


Another benefit of the TPO commercial roofing system is the durability against the elements, lasting 20 plus years. Its synthetic formulation is made to stand up against hot air weather conditions as well as threat of punctures, tears, accumulation of dirt and resists mold growth and algae build-up. Installed with a heat-welded seam and sometimes with adhesives, depending on the roofer. TPO membranes are the most energy efficient of all because of its white color and reflective properties, lowering utility costs in the summer months. One downside of the TPO system is that it’s more expensive to fix if damaged, due to the difficulty of repairing the surface once it’s installed. However, if the surface is not punctured, cleaned and a regular maintenance schedule is kept, TPO will last a long time.

EPDM Roofing

EPDM roofing systems have a long track record of service: over 60 years in the roofing industry.  EPDM membrane is known for its durability to stand up in the winter months to the cold and snow. EPDM’s thick rubber roof coating sheets are installed very similar to that of TPO roofing, but this can be put down with adhesive and fasteners. This secures it to the whole surface of the roof like TPO.


Roof installation comparisons of TPO vs EPDM are common because of the installation similarities and the only difference is that TPO is better suited for summer-time energy efficiency and EPDM is better for insulating during the winter months. This is due to the EPDM material absorbing the UV rays of the sun. Unfortunately during the winter months and beyond, EPDM’s synthetic rubber isn’t as durable in regards to water leaks. Because of this EPDM is also prone to mold and mildew buildup because of water’s ability to get in between the seams. EPDM is a great roofing product for most roofing applications, because of its ease of repair and long lasting track record. Warranty length of an EPDM rubber roof is generally around 20 years or more with regular maintenance and cleaning. Overall, TPO and EPDM are the two most popular of the three listed here, taking up more than half of the flat, low-slope roofing market.

PVC Roofing

PVC or polyvinyl chloride roofing systems take the winter insulation ability of EPDM and the reflective abilities of TPO and combine them into one uniquely premium product. PVC roofing membrane has a long lifespan as well, typically lasting longer than 20-30 years. Also the material formulation in PVC roofing is resistant to catching fire, slow burning and even can extinguish a fire if the source of the fire is removed. Not only is PVC resistant to fire, it is also resistant to chemicals, so it is commonly used in manufacturing, warehouses and other commercial facilities. However, if PVC is installed to an existing roof, the entire existing roof must be completely removed. For all of these reasons, PVC usually carries the highest safety rating in the industry of single-ply roofing products. Also, not surprisingly, PVC membrane carries a higher cost per square foot than the others and installation is much more labor intensive.


The most environmentally friendly roofing system, PVC membrane can be completely recycled, even after years of service. Although the eco-friendly PVC is generally considered the most premium of all three, it’s not without downsides besides the high cost. In many colder climates, it doesn’t perform as well as EPDM, because when temperatures go too low, PVC will plasticize and become brittle and even shatter in freezing conditions. But overall, if you can justify the cost, sometimes PVC can be the best option.

Allow Us To Help

The team at TEMA Roofing Services has experience with all types of these single-ply roofing systems, from installation to inspection, service and repair. They’re all considered to be a type of rubber roof and installation is much faster than that of a metal or shingle based roofing system. With over 112 years of experience in the roofing industry, the team of roofing professionals at TEMA can help you decide which single-ply system is best for your commercial building. And as far as installation goes, our Roof Asset Management client portal allows you to check progress of the entire job including photos of progress and potential problem areas. TEMA is committed to being your roofing contractor and partner in maintaining the roof for the lifespan of your commercial building. It’s difficult for a business owner to decide on all the above factors without professional guidance. With all the types of roofing out there, the best way to choose the ultimate roofing solution for your precise needs is by consulting a seasoned roofing contractor. At TEMA Roofing, we consider every factor as part of the bigger picture and help you make an informed, long-term decision about your next roof system. Get in touch with us for assistance with choosing the perfect roof material for your operation.