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What is Single Ply Roofing

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What Is Single Ply Roofing?

Types of single ply roofing

In Pennsylvania, the spring and summer are beautiful. The winters, although beautiful to look at, can be brutal on flat roofing of commercial and industrial structures. So getting the best single ply roofing is important. With the many different types of single ply roofing materials on the market though, how do know which is the best one? 

Single-ply roofing was introduced in North America in the early 1960s with the EPDM material. With the success that was experienced with that single ply roofing material, it became popular.  

As they have developed, they have become easier to install and have longer lifespans, a bonus for commercial structures with low-sloping roofs. What is a single ply roof membrane? Single-ply roofing has few seams compared to asphalted rolled roofing materials. They are installed without the use of hot asphalt or torches. Within the single ply roofing materials are two categories: 


This type is known as PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and TPO (thermoplastic). Both are excellent single ply roofing membranes, each with their own specific single ply roofing pros and cons: 

TPO Single Ply Roofing Systems: In the commercial roofing industry, TPO is fast-growing in popularity, especially in the southern states where cooling a commercial building is important. This light-colored single ply roofing membrane is ENERGY STAR® certified and qualifies as CRRC certified with its attributions of reducing energy consumption in large buildings. 

PVC Single Ply Roofing Systems: This has been a trusted membrane for decades in Europe and North America. Most of the single ply roofing in this category are also CCRC certified and ENERGY STAR qualified, providing building owners with lower cooling costs. PVC has strong acid, chemical, grease, and oil resistance, making this white-colored single ply roofing material popular for restaurants. 


Thermoset single ply roofing systems, an ethylene propylene diene monomer rubber (EPDM) material, is flexible upon installation to fit around protrusions in the roof and around corners. It has a strong resistance to abrasions, heat, ozone, and UV rays and is installed with pressure-sensitive tapes joining the seams together, making for a safer installation.

EPDM Single Ply Roofing Systems: EPDM is a basic rubber material with a low maintenance reputation. With a top rating for weather resistance and easy repairs, this is an ideal single ply roofing material for any type of weather. The standard color is black but can be ordered in white, making it a good choice for colder regions or hot regions.  

How long does single ply roofing last?

As with anything, the quality of the material used and an experienced, professional installation will make a difference in the lifespan of single ply roofing. If properly maintained after installation, a single-ply roofing membrane on a commercial structure can last thirty years or longer. Other benefits of a single ply roofing membrane are: 

A Proven Track Record – EPDM single ply roofing has been used for more than 60 years and is still popular today.

Insulation is Customer Choice – Because single ply roofing membranes are not insulated at the factor, the building owner can choose the type of insulation used. 

Class A Fire-Rated – EPDM and TPO single ply roofing membranes are UL rated as Class A fire resistance with fire retardant chemicals added during manufacturing.

Reflective or Retentive – EPDM single ply roofing, the black roof, is ideal to absorb and retain heat. The TPO single ply roofing, the white roof, is highly reflective to keep a building cooler.

What is the difference between TPO and PVC roofing?

Roofing contractors prefer working with PVC because of its flexibility over TPO single ply roofing material. However, TPO roofing material is more weather resistant and doesn’t break or tear easily like PVC does. Both are easily welded for ease of installation and repairs. 

How long does an EPDM roof last?

EPDM single ply roofing membranes are made from natural gas and oil products, ethylene, and propylene. It will remain a reliable and stable roofing material for more than 50 years. 

What is the best material for a flat roof?

When it comes to flat roofing, single ply roofing materials are the most popular and preferred. Whether it is the Thermoplastic or Thermoset, they are chosen because of their affordability, dependability, and reliability. 

When choosing a roofing material for your commercial structure, it is important to choose a roofing contractor with experience in single ply roofing, how to install and repair. Using the same contractor is always best so that they gain familiarity with your structure and what it entails in regard to climate and environment. 

If you don’t already have a roofing contractor, get estimates and inspections from 2 or 3 commercial roofing contractors. Compare their quotes and the products they recommend.  Doing your research before the roofing is installed can go a long way in customer satisfaction. Call (610) 689-3737 today for your single ply roof installation in Oley, PA.


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