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Understanding The Differences Between EPDM, TPO and PVC Roofing

One of the things a commercial or industrial establishment must consider in the construction of its facilities is its roofing. The roofing material plays an integral role in the longevity of a business, especially since it is one of the components responsible for helping control the internal temperature of the structure.

When it comes to roofing, you have three choices: EPDM, TPO, and PVC. Each of these has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, which we will cover in the rest of this article based on knowledge from the best roofing contractors in Kentucky.


Ethylene propylene diene terpolymer (EDPM) roofing is a single-ply synthetic rubber membrane with excellent longevity. It is commonly used in low-slope buildings, and is derived from oil and natural gas. Generally, it is only available in black and white, and can be anywhere between 7.5 and 50 feet long. It also comes in two thicknesses: 45 and 60 mm. With proper maintenance, EPDM roofs can last up to 40 or even 50 years.

This type of roofing can be adhered, mechanically attached, or ballasted. The seams are sealed with liquid adhesives or specially formulated tape. The problem with this is that this is easier said than done, especially since not all roofs are the same. There might be added complications to your installation depending on the architecture of your structure.


Thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) is an incredibly low-cost roofing material that offers resistance to UV, ozone, and various chemicals. It costs far less than EPDM, and typically appears white. This allows it to better reflect light from the sun, helping keep heat at minimum indoors. It is also known to have a lifespan of anywhere between 22 and 30 years.

It can be attached using adhesives or attached directly to the roof deck. It can be heat-welded to make features like chimneys accessible, and is highly resistant to corrosion. However, it is not unheard of for TPO roofs to develop cracks in time. It also comes in smaller sheets, which creates the possibility of seams expanding and contracting with changing temperatures.


Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is a single-ply roofing that is also used in many other construction fixtures, such as pipes. One benefit of a PVC roofing is that it is strong, but a caveat is that it involves the complete removal of your old roof. Like the previous options, it is highly resistant to chemicals and other hazards, making it an excellent option for industrial facilities.

Repairs are also generally easy, as it can be replaced in sections. However, the older the roof gets, the more difficult it is to repair; you would need the skills of experienced roofing contractors to do the job well. In addition to that, cold climates of under 50 degrees might leave your PVC roof prone to shattering. In cases of high heat, however, PVC serves as a great insulator, capable of keeping much of that heat out.

In conclusion

If you are stuck wondering which material is best for you, then it is important to go back to your needs. Do you need chemical resistance? Good insulation? Would it matter to you to have a roof that lasts longer than twenty years? These are just some of the questions you have to ask when making this decision.

If you do need the help of a roofing contractor in Kentucky for this decision, send us at First Choice LEX a message. We are Lexington’s premier roofing professionals, and can reduce the stress of this process for you.



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