You may have heard the term “TPO Roofing” if you are in the process of reroofing or installing a new roof onto your commercial building, but what is it exactly?
Let’s start with the basics. TPO stands for thermoplastic polyolefin. For roofing, TPO refers to the chemical makeup of a membrane layer that is more and more commonly used for commercial and industrial roofing. To put it in layman’s terms, TPO is simply a protective roofing layer that, despite the misnomer, is actually made from rubber. The rubber sheets and rolls that TPO comes in will usually have a laminated upper layer.
Why are People Using it?
One of the main reasons that people are opting for TPO roofing is the economic factor. TPO is typically a cheaper roofing material than say ethylene propylene diene monomer which is another favorite kind of roofing material. Your average price per square foot of TPO will be between 7 and 13 dollars with some manufacturers letting it go for as little as $6 per square foot.
Besides saving money, TPO roofing is white. Why is that important? Because when you put a white surface on top of a roof, it reflects the sun’s rays away from the building. This is why TPO roofing is often opted for when people want an energy efficient roofing solution. Less trapped heat on the roof (like when there is black tar paper that absorbs and traps heat installed) means a cooler building which translates to more savings on AC costs.
TPO roofing usually receives high wind uplift rating, which can be very appealing for building owners in areas where the wind is a significant risk factor. In regions like these, TPO roofing can actually lower the cost of property insurance, which is another reason why it can be so appealing.
It is also typical for manufacturers to extend their warranties for TPO roofing to up to 30 years.
TPO Roofing Performance
At this point, you may be asking yourself why you should choose TPO over other kinds of roofing materials. While it is true that different types of roofing are in the same price range as TPO and offer energy efficient and wind-resistant benefits, many of these kinds of roofing materials are susceptible to corrosion and other types of damage.
TPO is a rubber based material and is inherently resistant to corrosion so it can protect the vital under layer of your roofing system.
When a roof is situated in such a way that it gets little direct sunlight, but a fair amount of moisture, mold, and mildew becomes a problem. Mold can wreak havoc on your roof and your building at large. TPO roofing is typically mold-proof.
If you get your TPO roof heat welded, they tend to be exceptionally resilient. Heat welding is considered to be superior to flashing and seams made from adhesives, primers, and asphalt cement because unlike these methods, heat welding bonds the sheet together permanently. This means that you will not have to patch or repair TPO roofing for a long time like you would with flashing and seams. You can expect your TPO roofing to last you for up to 20 years if it has been professionally installed by a reliable roofing company.
Most Common TPO Roofing Uses
You will typically see TPO roofing installed on commercial or industrial buildings because these types of buildings usually need flat roofing. Flat roofing is subject to many pitfalls such as water damage and corrosion. To combat these risks, property managers often opt for PTO roofing since it eliminates some of these factors.
While you can install TPO on a residential home for the same reasons (heat resistance, low maintenance, resistance to mold and water damage), many homeowners shy away from it because it does not have much of an aesthetic appeal. Also, roofing manufacturers probably won’t offer a 30-year warranty when TPO is installed on a residential building.
Since TPO roofing is very protective of both environmental and material dangers, it is often chosen for buildings where the weather tends to be more extreme; precisely why it is common to see TPO roofing adorn restaurants and industrial buildings.
Types of TPO Installations
If you are considering installing a TPO roof, you should know that you have options. TPO roofing can be installed using a method known as mechanical attaching. This involves physically fastening the TPO rubber sheets to plates that are then nailed to the roofing structure. Mechanical attachment is useful for when you want to have your roof installed quickly as this method can take as little as 5 days.
Then there are adhesive installations which involve rolling the rubber flat onto the roof, then lifting the edges up so that an adhesive can be applied to but the underside of the rubber sheet and the cover board or insulation of the actual roof itself. This method tends to lend a smoother look to the roof; you will typically get a longer warranty.
TPO roofing can also feature heat welded seams which offer more protection for the vulnerable parts of a roof where vents, chimneys or other protrusions can compromise the seal of the roofing.
If you are thinking about a TPO roof, you should also know that the thickness of the material has little to do with how long your roofing will last. The laminated top layer of PTO rubber can also be damaged over time, causing the metal underneath to crack or deteriorate. For these reasons you should always look into the manufacturer, you are considering going with. See what kinds of warranties they offer and specify the type of installation you will choose.
As always, it is best to go with licensed and bonded roofing contractors to install any kind of roofing, including PTO roofs.