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  1. #1
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    Default Commercial roofing materials

    Does anyone have/know of a magazine article or other paper reviewing and comparing various commercial roofing materials? Torch-down (bitumen), TPO, EPDM, etc.

    I need a reasonably well written paper that I can give a client to acquaint them with the various choices and their advantages/disadvantages. Preferably not brand-specific and free of sales hype.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Commercial roofing materials

    http://www.nrca.net/roofing/Roof-system-types-891

    I'd say 80% is either TPO or EPDM anymore. The new installers have little experience with the built ups and cold tar so costs are higher and more problematic. Just been my experience. Not sure it's a accurate nationwide blanket statement.
    Last edited by J.Buesking; 09-18-2013 at 12:23 PM.
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Commercial roofing materials

    Thanks. I had that link. Good descriptions. I'm looking for something that has some info along the lines of pluses and minuses, i.e. where/when/why one material would be preferable over another, relative cost, durability, etc.

    And yes, I'm mainly interested in TPO vs PVC vs EPDM

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Commercial roofing materials

    I don't think you will ever get a unbiased report on something like that.

    95% of existing roof conditions all 3 will perform identically so without knowing that any paper is going to be vague at best. The remaining 5% factors like chemical discharge, lay over or tear off, regional climate, and penetrations, might steer one to the preferred option.
    Louisville Exteriors
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Commercial roofing materials

    Well, here is a question my roofer couldn't answer and neither can I. The TPO brand he carries (GAF) comes with 15 or 20 yr warranty. The EPDM that he uses (and I actually have this on my own house) is 40 yr. Why? Is TPO that much worse?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Commercial roofing materials

    I'd be worried if my roofer couldn't explain that to me. :)

    I've never heard of a 40 year EPDM warranty.

    Normally it breaks down like this:

    45mil 15 year
    60mil 20 year

    Anything over a 60mil sheet is normally a 25year maybe 30.

    With any of them it's all in the installer. Normally they have to be certified for a manufacturer warranty to be issued and if he can't explain the year difference he might not be certified. It's a huge selling point.

    Personally if it's residential i'd go with EPDM.

    Commercial I'd recomend TPO. Mainly because the seams are mechanically welded as opposed to glued and taped like EPDM. TPO also doesn't shrink like EPDM. So on large roofs shrinking can be a huge issue when you start getting into curb and wall bridging. Something small like residential it's going to be minimal.

    Roofers are more experienced with EPDM in general as well. TPO takes a robot welder and some skill where your typical roofer doesn't do enough jobs in TPO to maintain that good skill set.
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Commercial roofing materials

    Quote Originally Posted by J.Buesking View Post
    I've never heard of a 40 year EPDM warranty.
    Here you go:
    http://www.roofingproductsint.com/im...anty_10_08.pdf

    I have this product on my house, warranty is nothing new, mine is more than 10 yrs old and had the same warranty back then.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Commercial roofing materials

    I forgot about the that one but royal jogged my memory.

    When I sold commercial roofing we offered a single source warranty and private labeled all of our own material. We offered our own 15 or 20 year labor and material warranty and basically blew the doors of any other competitor's warranty. None of the blame game. Our roof. We own the system. Material and Labor. All us.

    Because of that I know very little about manufacturer warranty's.

    Let's face it though. None of the manufacturer's warranty's are worth a hoot.

    the Royal Edge EPDM Membrane proves to have deteriorated to the point of failure within the warranty period as a result of ordinary exposure to the elements or
    any manufacturing defect R.P.I.’s liability and owner’s remedies are limited, at R.P.I.’s option, to R.P.I.’s providing repair material for the original Membrane to be applied towards the purchase of a new
    Membrane. The value of these remedies will be determined solely by R.P.I
    I think there's something else in there saying 1/8 ponding after 48 hours voids it.

    What's Tommy Boy say? " I can $hit in a box and mark it guaranteed".

    I'm not saying that the royal is bad membrane but all the main players are going to hold up today. You being in Michigan 60mil epdm from Versico or firestone is gonna do the job fine.
    Last edited by J.Buesking; 09-18-2013 at 06:41 PM.
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Commercial roofing materials

    I've put them all down personally and have had all installed by roofers on big jobs. In my opinion I would (and did) use TPO on my own house. For a small job you can use a hand held heat gun to do the seams for TPO. It's really not too difficult as long as they're clean and you practice a little.
    My first EPDM roof was on a church I attended in Pa in the mid 70's. The EPDM held up fine but the adhered seams started to fail in about 12-15 years. We refurbished the seams with Carlisle tape as I recall. It lasted several more years and then they started leaking again. The roof was last replaced in the late 90's with TPO and has held up ever since. In my experience the weakness of the EPDM was always the adhered seams, not the EPDM itself. Three years ago we refurbished the seams of an EPDM church roof here in SC. We redid the seams with Mule Hide tape and then recoated the entire roof with a white silicone product. It's holding up well. The installation details mean everything. Must be cleaned and properly prepared before applying tape & overcoat. The original EPDM roof was installed in 92

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Commercial roofing materials

    I used to work in a company that had RRCs (Registered Roof Consultants) and everything here sounds consistent with what they would say. Except they all preferred modified bitumen systems, like SAS two ply. I think they would go for a 4 ply built-up if they could get it but those are pretty much long gone in my area. If they did spec a monolithic singly ply it was PVC by Sarnafil. I don't think they liked TPO because they would talk about some problems they had with them. If I could find an old report I know it had the exact section your are looking for DG, and unbiased pros and cons of the systems.
    Last edited by Ted S.; 09-18-2013 at 07:37 PM.
    "First we finish the game, then we’ll deal with the Armada!"

    Sir Frances Drake

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Commercial roofing materials

    You are right Ted. Either modified or PVC every time. Why? :)

    Modified is a damn good roof and takes a beating. No doubt but the cost is through the roof. Pardon the pun.

    Carlisle makes a SAT (Self Adhering Technology) sheet that I really liked. Like peal and stick and you just weld the seams. Looked like it got painted on and labor was fast.
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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Commercial roofing materials

    You know those consultant types, it's not their money so they go all out...

    I got out of that business just as the peel and stick technology was coming out, I sure would have like to see more of that. Pretty cool stuff.
    "First we finish the game, then we’ll deal with the Armada!"

    Sir Frances Drake

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Commercial roofing materials

    Quote Originally Posted by J.Buesking View Post
    I'm not saying that the royal is bad membrane but all the main players are going to hold up today. You being in Michigan 60mil epdm from Versico or firestone is gonna do the job fine.
    I believe the Royal is actually a Firestone sourced material. Not sure. I've had it on my own roof for about 15 years and I've done some measurements, it has eroded a negligible amount over that period (60 mil product). So I know it's good for well over 40 years as far as material loss, the rest is installation. The TPO and PVC I don't have any data of my own so that's why I'm looking for expertise.

    My experience is that a properly done glued seam on EPDM lasts indefinitely but yes, continuously submerged seams eventually pull apart here because of freeze thaw cycle (water freezes and expands right at the glue line. All of our seams are overlaid with a strip that becomes sacrificial and protects the real seam. You just redo the overlay every 10-15 years if necessary.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Commercial roofing materials

    Sounds like you are set on the royal sheet?

    As you can see 10 roofers will argue which is better all night.

    My experience comes from roofing factory's and stuff that's 100's of squares and we held the warranty. So it was all about pennies on the sq. ft.
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  15. #15
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    Default Re: Commercial roofing materials

    How wide is the roof in its narrowest dimension? Is this a smaller residential job? Maybe you could get a 20' wide EPDM membrane to cover with no seams? I'd go that way of I could.
    "First we finish the game, then we’ll deal with the Armada!"

    Sir Frances Drake

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