The Cost-Effectiveness of TPO Roofing

When most people think about commercial flat roofing, many images may come to mind. One might think of the iconic roof scene from The Shawshank Redemption when Andy and Red finish up a hard day’s work and enjoy a cold beer as they reflect on the work they’ve completed and the sunshine they are experiencing. But the work they performed was grueling and exposed them to severe dangers. The roofing system depicted in the film was Built-up roofing or BUR. This system was the most common flat roofing product for much of the 20thcentury. BUR is composed of multiple layers of organic felt embedded with coats of hot tar which is done on site using a hot kettle and mops. The work is not only dangerous to the crew; it is also very time consuming and therefore costly. Technology upgrades in the industry, like TPO roofing, have changed the game for installers as well as building owners.

The First Single-Ply

BUR was the go-to system for decades because it performed its job well but also because there were very few options. As in any industry, time moves forward, and innovations come to the marketplace. By the 1970s a new product began to take a foothold in the market. EPDM commonly thought of as “rubber roofing” made its debut. EPDM was the first widely available flat roofing system that moved away from the multiple layers of tar and felt and to a single ply material that was manufactured in a factory. Large rolls of the membrane are laid out on the roof deck and rolled out to cover the surface. Seams and penetrations rely on primers, adhesives and seam tapes to create a watertight system. Not only is the installation process much quicker than BUR, but it doesn’t expose workers to the high temperatures and dangerous fumes associated with the BUR installation process. Since the 1970s EPDM has held a large share of the market and like BUR, it remains in use today although it’s market share continues to dwindle.

A New Generation

In the late-1980’s TPO roofing was introduced to the marketplace. Initially viewed with skepticism by contractor’s that were comfortable with their existing systems it would be more than a decade before TPO’s momentum began to build. Today TPO is the fastest growing segment in the roofing industry with hundreds of millions of square feet installed annually. Like EPDM, TPO roofing is a single ply membrane that is rolled out onto the roof deck. However, TPO relies on hot air welders to secure the seams and flashing details. Unlike EPDM’s adhesives and tapes, properly welded TPO seams are the strongest point in the system and are not susceptible to the delamination that is prevalent in aging EPDM systems. Because the installation process of TPO eliminates the need for such accessories, both material and labor costs are reduced.

The Benefits of a Factory-Trained Installer

As with many projects, the installer doing the work is just as important as the product that is selected. Commercial roofing projects have many variables. Therefore it is imperative to choose a roofing contractor with the proper knowledge base and experience. Qualified contractors should be factory trained and certified by the roofing manufacturer. This certification allows factory trained contractors to offer material and labor warranties backed by the manufacturer. These manufacturer-backed NDL warranties (No Dollar Limit) are available to ensure your investment is protected for up to 20 or more years. Upon completion, a field inspector is sent by the manufacturer to evaluate the installation.  The NDL warranty and third-party inspection provide the building owner with the peace of mind that the work was performed correctly and that both the contractor and manufacturer are standing behind the work performed.

Brass Tacks

While the history of materials and technical details may be of interest, the primary question building owners and property managers need to answer is what product should I choose to provide the best solution at the lowest cost. The marketplace has spoken. For most applications, TPO provides building owners with the most cost-effective solution to achieve 20 years of guaranteed success backed by both your chosen contractor and the multi-billion dollar manufacturer.

TPO Roofing Experts

Parsons roofing employs expert team members and high-quality products that ensure customer satisfaction. Contact us today for a free estimate on your roofing or building needs.