October 22, 2018

EPDM Roofing: What Is It & Why Should You Care

EPDM, a type of synthetic rubber and it is a great option for low-slope and flat roofs thanks to its superior durability and flexibility.

Time to read:
5 Minutes
Written by
Nicholas Capobianco

If you own a commercial or residential property with a low slope or flat roof, then ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) roofing is an option that you should definitely be aware of. Why? For starters, it is an extremely durable synthetic rubber roofing membrane that is especially useful in commercial instances.

But there’s more—the material has an average service life of about 25-30 years, a high resistance to environmental factors like excessive temperatures, wind and hail and is also cheaper than quite a few of the other popular roofing options. All of this makes it a great contender as top choice for your property’s roof.

Read on to find out more about the benefits of EPDM roofing, and discover why we recommend it to so many commercial customers.

rolls of epdm roofing material

What is EPDM?

As mentioned above, EPDM is a type of synthetic rubber that is widely used for commercial and residential roofing. It is a great option for low-slope and flat roofs, thanks to a unique rubber consistency which gives EPDM roofing superior durability and flexibility. It is much harder to damage than some other rooftop materials.

EPDM was invented and developed to fulfill the need for a better rubber-like material that is both UV-resistant and durable enough to be used outdoors for long periods of time. Many other forms of rubber and rubber-like materials degrade significantly when exposed to environmental factors, but EPDM was specifically designed to retain all of the positive aspects of natural rubber while also increasing its resistance to the harsh effects of environmental exposures.

In chemical terms, the material is an ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM). A monomer is simply a molecule that can be bonded with another molecule of a similar type to form an even larger molecule. EPDM rubber is a terpolymer (three monomers) that consists of three organic compounds and hydrocarbons—ethylene, propylene and a diene component.

Now that the science is out of the way, we are left with a unique, synthetic rubber material that is resistant to UV radiation and can last, outdoors, upwards of 30 years.

EPDM as a roofing material

The strength and longevity of EPDM synthetic rubber makes it a perfect option for roofing, because it protects buildings from the elements effectively and reliably. EPDM roofing material is manufactured in large sheets that can be rolled out on top of your roof for quick and easy installation.

epdm roof surface example

There are 3 ways that you can install your EPDM roof:

  1. Adhered: the rubber roofing is completely glued onto the roof sub-surface. This installation process is the most time-intensive, but the end result is also the highest-quality EPDM roofing solution. It is also a more expensive installation option than some faster methods.
  2. Attached mechanically: the EPDM roofing is attached to the roof surface through latches, fasteners, or screws. This is the most common installation method because it doesn’t take very long. It also leads to a high-quality result, although not quite to the level of adhered EPDM.
  3. Ballasted: these roofing systems are laid over the insulation, adhered with industrial adhesive, and weighted down by concrete pavers.
example of epdm roofing in european city

The overall cost to install EPDM roofing is based on a few different considerations, but you can expect it to stay within a range of $6 to $8 per square foot. Factors that affect the price are the method of installation, size of installation area and amount of work needed to remove any existing roof structures before laying the replacement material.

Here is how the cost of EPDM roofing compares with some other popular roofing options:

  • EPDM: $6 to $8 per square foot
  • Asphalt Shingles: $3.50 to $4 per square foot
  • Tile: $8 to $10 per square foot
  • Metal: $7 to $11 per square foot
  • Slate: $20 to $25 per square foot

As you can see, EPDM is one of the more cost effective options on the market.

Benefits of EPDM roofing

EPDM roofing brings tremendous value for property owners who are looking for functional and low-cost roofing solutions. Commercial properties are ideal candidates for rubber roofing for two reasons: because the rooftop is usually not seen by the public and EPDM does not need much maintenance or repair.

However, as with any material, every once in a while, your EPDM roofing may need some repairs on its seams and other sections where glue was applied (due to drying), but its resistance to UV radiation and extreme environmental conditions means that after installation, you only need to check on it once every few months for possible issues. Regular roof maintenance plans can help you keep track of your roof lifetime and needs.

Not only does EPDM offer great value, it also allows you to easily install all of the additional rooftop features that you may want, like a solar array, rooftop garden, or other components, with no extra fuss. Another thing to note about EPDM roofing is that while it normally appears black, it can be painted white to add a cooling effect to your property’s roof. White rooftops are not uncommon and can be found commonly in some areas of the US. Couple this with a solar energy system, and you can also save significantly on your commercial or residential property’s energy bill.

example of epdm roof mixed with traditional shingles

EPDM roofing: a serious roofing option to consider

The wide range of benefits and low cost offered by EPDM roofing make it a real contender for commercial properties—and while options like tar and gravel, TPO, and PVC are more traditional, we believe that EPDM is a fantastic and viable possibility for many buildings.

When considering whether or not this is the right roofing solution for you, it is important to remember that EPDM rubber is not the best material to use for every single roof out there. It is much more effective on low-slope and flat roofs and is widely used in commercial applications. You can also install it on a portion of your roof that is flat and not highly visible to passersby. For example, some homes only have tiles on the sloped portion(s) of their roof, while the rest of their property’s roof is flat and invisible to the street—making them perfect candidates for EPDM.

If you are looking for a unique roofing material for your low-slope or flat roof, you will want to consider EPDM. Do you have more questions about EPDM? A great experience you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @Roofrapp!)!)!

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