Flat roofs have been a long-running sore point in the construction industry. Finding a product that lasts the course and doesn’t deteriorate due to accumulated water can be challenging.
However, flat roof systems have improved significantly over the years as technology offers better materials that are more durable, sustainable, and economical.
Different roofing materials suit specific properties, and in the last twenty years, TPO has rocketed in popularity and is responsible for an increasing share of the commercial market.
Discover more about this durable and cost-effective solution for flat roofs.
What Is TPO?
TPO is a revolutionary flat roofing system hugely popular for commercial buildings and domestic properties. It first appeared in the 1990s, and its appeal now extends into the residential buildings sector.
TPO roofing has grown exponentially since its introduction and already accounts for nearly half of the commercial roofing market, according to a report by the National Roofing Contractors Association.
This product is mainly made from recycled rubber, so it is eco-friendly and 100% recyclable at the end of its life. The acronym TPO stands for Thermoplastic Polyolefin, the main chemical composition that makes up this single-ply smooth white roofing membrane.
The membrane comprises three layers: a TPO polymer base, a polyester scrim, and a composite top ply. It’s designed to accommodate standing water, making it an ideal choice for flat or very low-slope roofs.
TPO roof membranes are typically available in 1.1 mm or 1.5 mm thicknesses with differing sheet widths.
How Are TPO Roofing Systems Installed?
First, the existing roof must be removed and disposed of.
Next, the contractor will install insulation. Different options will depend on the building type and the customer’s budget.
The membrane is supplied in rolls and laid in lines joined together by seams. It’s usually attached to the cover board using a mechanical fixing process or a special bonding glue. However, another option is to weigh the material down with pavers or ballast.
Once in place, the overlapped membrane layers are welded with a hot-air gun to produce a more robust seal than the sheet itself. This same technique is used to secure the material around roof details where you would typically put flashing.
What Are the Benefits of TPO Roofing?
TPO Roofing is relatively simple to install. It’s a wide material, which means fewer seams and lower costs due to reduced labor time.
However, we recommend always using a professional contractor to install your roofing. Otherwise, this may affect its longevity, and a botched installation might impact the warranty.
TPO is lightweight and well-suited to buildings without foundation depth or inherent strength in their construction to support heavier roofing materials.
Flexible and Durable
TPO withstands puncturing and is resistant to dirt and grime, so it stays looking good for longer. Because it’s flexible, it accommodates natural movement in the roof structure and regular thermal expansion, so it won’t crack and keeps its integrity.
Low or Zero Maintenance
Forget regular maintenance and repairs; TPO Roofing takes care of itself if professionally installed.
Likewise, it’s a good idea to try and remove detritus or debris at regular intervals. The surface can benefit from a wash with water and household detergent from time to time if it’s accessible.
Also, don’t overlook the importance of roof checks to assess the condition of the roofing by an expert, particularly as the roof ages.
Defects or wear between the seams won’t always be visible from the ground. You can extend the life of the membrane if you deal with damage or wear and tear at an early stage.
TPO is Non-Insulated
TPO roofing is manufactured without an insulating layer, so customers can choose an appropriate insulation product to suit their property and personal budget.
Eco-Friendly and Energy Efficient
TPO Roofing is made from recycled materials and is environmentally friendly and energy efficient, and when you’ve finished with a TPO roof, it’s 100% recyclable.
TPO roofing is fire resistant; manufacturers add fire retardant chemicals, so it’s Class A fire-rated.
TPO is available in a brilliant white finish, which is highly effective at reflecting UV rays into the atmosphere, keeping the building cooler during the hot summer months in Colorado. This is one of the most significant advantages of this particular roof product.
This thermal regulation also translates into more cost-saving as occupants rely less on air-conditioning to cool the building’s interior.
If installed correctly and well cared for, TPO roofing can last around thirty years, representing an excellent long-term solution for a flat roof on a domestic or commercial property.
TPO has one of the lowest price points among comparable roofing materials and is more economical than rubber or PVC alternatives. Easy installation also means low costs for the customer.
Are There Any Drawbacks Associated With TPO Roofing?
TPO Roofing is not the most attractive roofing material out there. It’s okay for commercial buildings, but it gets dirty quite quickly because of the brilliant white color, so this is something to consider for domestic properties.
TPO Roofing must be installed in dry conditions due to the heat treatment process used on the seams to join together the different lines of material. It’s also a product with a very widely varying price band among manufacturers.
How Long Will a TPO Roof Last?
The average TPO roof lasts 15-20 years, but some have a longer life and can hit 25 years if they are well looked after.
A quality installation is vital for longevity, but other factors that impact lifespan and are more challenging to manage are climate and the amount of direct sunlight.
How Much Does TPO Roofing Cost?
Most roofing materials price in squares, and TPO roofing is no exception, even though it’s sold in rolls.
In the construction trade, a square of roofing materials means 100 square feet. Comparing roofing costs across different products is much easier on this standardized basis.
One square of TPO Roofing averages in price from $350-$1,400. That’s a wide price range! The variation reflects the fact that the membrane comes in lots of different thickness options and varies significantly from one manufacturer to another.
Don’t forget TPO Roofing is not insulated, so you’ll need to add insulation to the bill at anywhere from $1.50 to $3.50 per square foot. Insulation is essential as a protective underlayer and assists in regulating the temperature of the building.
You’ll also need flashing along the seams between the different roofing material lines and on the corners to prevent water from leaking into the property.
Flashing directs the water away from vulnerable areas. If there are dormers or chimneys, these will also require flashing.
TPO roofing requires an attachment system, and there are two or three different ways to do this – each with its own price tag. TPO roofing is installed using screws, glue, or a ballasted attachment using pavers to weigh down the material.
These material prices are all quoted without the installation charge. However, it’s not complicated to fit, and most contractors charge between $75-$90 per hour.
Don’t forget the time taken to remove the old roof; costs may be attached to its disposal.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a TPO Roof a Good Roof?
TPO Roof is a good roofing material if you need to renew a flat roof or a roof with a very slight pitch – it’s durable and economical. However, it’s not a suitable material for other styles of roofs.
Professional installation is vital to ensure a good result, but it’s not complicated to fit.
Is TPO Roofing Worth It?
TPO roofing is worth it with a competitive price point and good long-term value, durability, and thermal performance.
TPO roofing is cost-effective and economical and offers an excellent medium to long-term solution for flat roofs on various buildings.
Need Roofing Services in Colorado? Contact Scott’s Roofing!
People perceive TPO roofing as a flat roof solution for commercial buildings. However, it’s equally appropriate for domestic properties with a flat roof extension or low-pitched sloped roofs like dormer windows, and it’s economical to buy.
Don’t let flat roofs go over your head. Get in touch with Scott’s Roofing and let our experts explain all about TPO and how it works.