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What is A Single Ply Roofing System

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single ply roofing system with chimneys

What does single ply mean?

Typically, commercial buildings of large size have flat roofing, and here in Pennsylvania and surrounding areas, the material and system used needs to be able to handle ice and snow as well as other weather system. Single ply roofing is a popular choice, but there are different types of materials to choose from. 

Single ply flat roofing is wide sheeting installed with few seams for low slope roofs. There isn’t any danger with the installation process like with the roofing systems that require hot asphalt and torches. Because they arrive at the job site with prefabricated detailing accessories that are needed, single ply roofing installation is easy and fast in terms of commercial structure.

The installation of single ply roofing is one of these four methods depending on the location of the structure itself: 

  • Ballasted: An easy and fast installation takes less labor and time, making this single ply roofing material an economical choice.
  • Mechanically Attached: This single ply roofing is an upgrade from the aforementioned ballasted single ply roofing systems and is lightweight, requiring little maintenance.
  • Fully Adhered: This single ply roofing offers a high level of stability with uplift protection, ideal for commercial structures locate at a high elevation or in a windy area
  • Metal Retrofit: This single ply roofing system fully encapsulates an existing metal roof without having to remove the existing roof. 

There are three types of single ply roofing build up materials in the single ply roofing group: 

  • EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) is a durable, long-lasting membrane with strong weatherability. Ideal for structures that get abundance of snow because the black surface holds in heat from the sun and melts the snow melt while keeping the structure warm in the winter. It has a strong elasticity that is ideal for hailstones and freeze/thaw temperatures. 
  • PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is a highly flexible membrane that is chemical resistant and animal fat resistant making it a popular choice for building that house restaurants. The high reflectiveness is ideal for structures in the house because it reflects the UV ray outward, helping to easy the use of air conditioning.
  • TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin) is the most popular single ply roofing material because of its economical features. The heat-weldable membranes make easy detailing and seaming, and the high reflectiveness reduces the need for air conditioning.

What’s the best flat roof material?

Experienced commercial roofing contractors will recommend PVC single ply roofing material for most flat roof structures. It is on the higher end of cost for installation, but has a longer lasting record, making it cheaper in the long run.

What are the benefits of single ply roofing?

There are several single ply roofing pros and cons with the benefits far outweighing the cons. Some of the advantages of a single ply roofing that attract more building managers and building owners are:

  • Easy and fast installation lowers installation costs
  • Maintenance and repair costs are lower
  • Longer lifespan before replacement is needed
  • Removed single-ply flat roof membrane materials can be recycled
  • Easy access for maintenance and repairs
  • Can be easily converted to a green roof installation
  • Tear resistant so less damage from storms 
  • Provide flat surface for HVAC equipment
  • Energy efficient
  • Resists UV ray damage, thus less deterioration and repairs

What is single ply TPO roofing?

Thermoplastic Polyolefin is a fast growing single-ply roofing membrane for commercial structures with flat roofing. The layers of TPO consists of a single layer of synthetics with reinforcing scrim.

TPO single ply roofing membrane is manufactured in 10 foot, 12 foot or 20 foot wide sheets that are rolled up then delivered to the job site.  Because of its UV reflectiveness, the NRCA (National Roofing Contractors Association) has take notice and found that approximately 40% of all commercial structures today.

How long does an EPDM roof last?

EPDM single ply roofing membranes are made from natural gas and oil, creating a synthetic material that is durable and stable, with a lifespan of fifty years or longer. EPDM single ply roofing material is a cross-linked thermoset material, giving a strong stability dimensionally and can recover quickly to its original state with temperature flexing or weather events. EPDM is pliable and absorb impacts without fracturing.

Is TPO better than EPDM?

Both are excellent choices for single ply roofing material, but each has its highlights for the are it will be installed. For example, TPO single ply roofing has a better dimensional stability, but EPDM has better flexibility in temperature charges. 

When time to replace the flat roofing on your commercial structure, you want to get several quotes and compare them to each other. Check that the contractor is properly insured, licensed, and has current references you can follow up with. Call (610) 689-3737 today for your single ply roofing needs in Oley, PA.


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