Should You Install an EPDM Roof? Benefits & How to

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a worker renewing a roof

Most commonly called rubber roofing, an EPDM roof makes use of rolled rubber roofing or rubber membrane roofing. The combination consists of recycled tires, slate dust, and sawdust. An EPDM roof stands out because of the cost—averaging $6,000, this makes this style of roofing one of the least expensive materials on the market today. Whether you take on the project yourself or hire the professionals, the costs remain much lower than a PVC roof where you can expect to pay around $8,000.

What Is an EPDM Roof?

An EPDM roof uses rubber to put on the roof, and the advantages lie in the exceptionally lightweight material. You do not have to reinforce the roof deck with this type of material. Installment involves stripping everything on the roof and applying an adhesive to roll it on the roofing. An EPDM roof boasts the advantage that because of the fewer seams in the roofing, leaks happen rarely.

Meanwhile, a well-made EPDM roof will last for around 20 years before it needs replacement. You also have more flexibility in how you install this style of roofing. Along with fasteners that anchor the rubber to the roof in difficult spots, the adhesive ensures it sticks. You can also ballast the roofing with stone to make the appearance look more attractive.

Looking at the durability, this roofing’s durability never gets called into question. It doesn’t scratch or scuff, and you can repair it with ease even if a leak does happen. For the maximum defense, you can install some types of rubber shingles to install over an EPDM roof. This material is black, and it does absorb heat, but the UV rays that can damage other materials will not cause harm to it. In other words, the materials will stand up well even in a sunny climate.

Pros and Cons of an EPDM Roof

large piles of EPDM roof membrane

Advantages of the EPDM Roof

Subzero temperatures will not shatter an EPDM roof. The material remains flexible, and it also accommodates for structural movements and resists shock and hail damage. After a storm with shingles, you often have to inspect the roof to make sure the hail didn’t damage the shingles. When you have been around for over 40 years, you have to be doing something right or a better construction material would replace you. In fact, EPDM accounts for around one billion square feet in new roofing every year within the United States. You can get EPDM membrane in sheets that reach 50 feet wide, and the material never deteriorates.

The location also doesn’t seem to affect this material. If you live in the southern region of the United States, EPDM materials lowers the cost of air conditioning costs. For the colder northern regions, you will want the black EPDM membrane for the best results, but it still works great. For example, it increases your underlying insulation, and as a result, you achieve a much higher R-value.

Even after the inspection of some roofs 30 years later, the EPDM Roofing Association discovered that the membrane still exhibited a high tensile strength to suggest it’s still new. If you want to maximize the lifetime of your EPDM roof, however, you will want qualified experts to install it. You will also want to maintain the roof. For example, reattaching a loose membrane section or restoring a displaced ballast can go a long way in extending the material’s lifetime.

Disadvantages of an EPDM Roof

What disadvantages should you know about before deciding on this material? The main disadvantages of an EPDM roof include:

  • HVAC units, stack lines, piping and chimneys all threaten your rubber roof.
  • Sometimes finding the exact location of a leak can be difficult.
  • A lot of roofers claim to have experience with this style of roof when, in fact, they don’t have any whatsoever.

While rubber can take a lot of abuse, it still faces easy damage from foot traffic, fallen tree branches and satellite dishes. You can repair it fairly easily, but as said before, finding the exact location is not easy.

You want the right roofing professional to install this form of roof because otherwise, the rubber roof can leak right from day one. The person should have experience in the field of flat roofs and rubber roofs. Be wary that sometimes the roofers who have the experience will charge more for it because they have a specialization.

What Can You Expect from an EPDM Roof?

Unlike built-up roofing, an EPDM roof does not have organic material to decay because of leaks or condensation. What factors should you consider when taking this roof into consideration? First, look beyond the price because that does not always make you the best candidate for this type of roof. The right person will have a flat roof. It makes a great choice for a rooftop garden because EPDM has a proven track record with waterproofing pond lining, but you still want to design it in such a way that allows for proper drainage.

You do not need to apply a special coating or surface treatment to this roof. Normally, general maintenance means occasionally removing the leaves and looking at the performance of the other components to ensure they work right. You may also like this choice because of the benefits to the environment. An EPDM roof remains the top choice for sustainable environmental materials of the construction industry.

Additional Facts

It makes a great choice for a rooftop garden because EPDM has a proven track record with waterproofing pond lining, but you still want to design it in such a way that allows for proper drainage. You do not need to apply a special coating or surface treatment to this roof.

Normally, general maintenance means occasionally removing the leaves and looking at the performance of the other components to ensure they work right. You may also like this choice because of the benefits to the environment. An EPDM roof remains the top choice for sustainable environmental materials of the construction industry.

You may also like this choice because of the benefits to the environment. An EPDM roof remains the top choice for sustainable environmental materials of the construction industry.

Bottom Line

An EPDM roof on all accounts makes sense under the right circumstances. Its low cost and a lighter burden on the environment makes it a solid choice for people looking for a sustainable roofing choice. Longevity also makes it a popular choice because the material degrades much slower than some of the other choices on the market. Its lifetime can be tough to predict, but how you install it is what makes the difference. You can apply an acrylic coating, but you should first make sure that doing so will not void your warranty.

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