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EPDM vs TPO: Which Is The Better Commercial Roof Option?

Commercial flat roofing materials play a crucial role in the structural integrity and longevity of a building. Among the various options available, Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM) and Thermoplastic Olefin (TPO) stand out as popular choices.

Both materials offer distinct advantages, making the decision between them a significant one for building owners and managers. Today, we’re bringing you the ultimate showdown between EPDM vs. TPO, taking you through:

  • The unique characteristics of EPDM and TPO
  • A comparison them in terms of cost
  • Durability
  • Longevity
  • Maintenance requirements
  • Insights on how to decide between the two

What Makes Commercial Flat Roofing Materials Unique

Commercial flat roofing materials are designed specifically for structures with low-sloped or flat roofs commonly found in commercial and industrial buildings. Unlike traditional pitched roofs, flat roofs require materials that can withstand pooling water and exposure to the elements over a large surface area. Additionally, these materials need to be durable, cost-effective, and relatively low-maintenance to ensure the long-term performance of the roof.

All About EPDM

EPDM roofing

Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM) is a synthetic rubber roofing membrane known for its exceptional durability and weather resistance. EPDM membranes are manufactured in large sheets, making them ideal for covering expansive flat roof surfaces with minimal seams. One of the primary benefits of EPDM is its resistance to UV radiation, ozone, and weathering, which contribute to its long lifespan.

👍 Benefits of EPDM

  • Durability: EPDM roofs can withstand extreme weather conditions, including high winds, hail, and temperature fluctuations.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: EPDM is relatively affordable compared to other commercial roofing materials, making it an attractive option for budget-conscious building owners.
  • Easy Installation: EPDM membranes are lightweight and flexible, facilitating quick and straightforward installation, which can help reduce labor costs.
  • Low Maintenance: EPDM requires minimal maintenance over its lifespan, primarily consisting of periodic inspections and repairs of any damage or seam separations.

Understanding TPO


Thermoplastic Olefin (TPO) roofing membranes have gained popularity in recent years due to their versatility, energy efficiency, and ease of installation. TPO is a blend of polypropylene and ethylene-propylene rubber, reinforced with polyester or fiberglass for added strength. TPO membranes come in rolls and are heat-welded together during installation, creating a seamless barrier against moisture and other environmental factors.

👍 Benefits of TPO:

  • Energy Efficiency: TPO roofs are available in white or light-colored membranes, which reflect sunlight and reduce heat absorption, leading to lower cooling costs for the building.
  • Flexibility: TPO membranes remain flexible even in cold temperatures, allowing for easier installation and resistance to cracking or splitting.
  • Environmentally Friendly: TPO is recyclable and can be repurposed at the end of its lifespan, making it a sustainable roofing option.
  • Resistance to Chemicals: TPO is resistant to chemical exposure, including oils, greases, and pollutants, which can extend the lifespan of the roof in industrial environments.

Comparing The Two

One of the best ways to decide which material is right for you, is to do a direct comparison. Here are some of the key factors to keep in mind:


When comparing the cost of EPDM and TPO roofing systems, several factors come into play, including material prices, installation labor, and the size of the roof. Generally, EPDM tends to be slightly more affordable upfront compared to TPO. However, the total cost of ownership over the lifespan of the roof may vary depending on factors such as maintenance requirements and energy savings. It’s essential to consider both short-term and long-term costs when making a decision.


Both EPDM and TPO roofing systems are designed to withstand harsh weather conditions and provide long-lasting protection for commercial buildings. EPDM is known for its exceptional durability against UV radiation and ozone exposure, while TPO offers flexibility and resistance to temperature extremes. Ultimately, the durability of each material depends on proper installation, maintenance practices, and environmental factors specific to the building location.


EPDM roofs typically have a lifespan of 20 to 30 years or more with proper maintenance, making them a durable and long-term roofing solution. TPO roofs have a similar lifespan, although some manufacturers claim extended warranties of up to 30 or 40 years. Factors such as climate, maintenance, and installation quality can affect the longevity of both EPDM and TPO roofing systems.


Both EPDM and TPO roofs require minimal maintenance compared to traditional roofing materials like asphalt shingles or metal. Regular inspections for signs of damage, including punctures, tears, or seam separations, are recommended to prevent water infiltration and extend the lifespan of the roof. Additionally, keeping the roof clean and free of debris can help prevent mold, algae growth, and other issues that may compromise its integrity.

How to Decide Between EPDM and TPO

Choosing between EPDM and TPO depends on various factors, including budget, climate, building usage, and personal preferences. Here are some considerations to help you make an informed decision:

  • Climate: Consider the climate and weather conditions prevalent in your area. EPDM may be more suitable for regions with extreme temperature fluctuations and high UV exposure, while TPO’s reflective properties make it ideal for hot climates.
  • Energy Efficiency: If energy efficiency is a priority, TPO’s reflective surface can help reduce cooling costs by minimizing heat absorption. However, in colder climates, EPDM’s dark color may absorb heat and contribute to interior heating during the winter months.
  • Budget: Evaluate your budget for roofing installation and maintenance. While EPDM may offer lower upfront costs, TPO’s energy-saving benefits could result in long-term cost savings.
  • Building Usage: Consider the intended use of the building and any specific requirements for roofing materials. For example, if the building houses sensitive equipment or materials, chemical resistance may be a crucial factor to consider.

Signs That It’s Time for a Roof Replacement

Knowing when it’s time to replace your commercial flat roof is essential for maintaining the integrity of the building and preventing costly damage. Here are some signs that indicate the need for a roof replacement:

  • Leaks or Water Damage: Persistent leaks or water stains on interior ceilings and walls are signs of roof damage that may require replacement.
  • Cracks or Blisters: Visible cracks, blisters, or bubbles on the roof surface indicate underlying issues with the membrane and may necessitate replacement to prevent further damage.
  • Age: As commercial flat roofs age, they become more susceptible to deterioration and failure. If your roof is approaching the end of its expected lifespan, it’s wise to consider replacement before major problems arise.
  • Poor Drainage: Standing water or ponding on the roof surface can lead to structural damage and compromise the integrity of the roofing system. If drainage issues persist despite repairs, it may be time for a new roof.

How to Find a Great Roofing Contractor

Choosing the right roofing contractor is crucial for ensuring the quality and longevity of your commercial flat roof. Here are some tips for finding a reputable roofing contractor:

Research and Credentials:

Look for contractors with experience installing EPDM and TPO roofing systems and check their credentials, certifications, and licensing.

References and Reviews:

Ask for references from past clients and read online reviews to gauge the contractor’s reputation and customer satisfaction.

Written Estimates:

Obtain written estimates from multiple contractors and compare pricing, materials, and warranties before making a decision.

Communication and Transparency:

Choose a contractor who communicates clearly, answers your questions, and provides regular updates throughout the roofing project.

Professional Commercial Roofing Installation

EPDM and TPO are two popular choices for commercial flat roofing materials, each offering unique benefits and advantages. When deciding between EPDM and TPO, consider factors such as cost, durability, longevity, maintenance requirements, and energy efficiency.

Want to learn more about TPO and EPDM roofing systems? Contact Greentek Roofing today to get the inside scoop.


“GreenTek was awesome to work with. My rep James was easy to get in contact with and answered all my questions and made the process quick and smooth. The roof came out great and everything was finished on time and they handled everything with my insurance company so I didn’t have to. It made the process stress free for me.”

-Dylan O.

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