Is TPO Roofing a Good Choice?

Close-up of TPO roofing during installation.

The Basics of TPO Roofing

TPO roofing is a popular choice for most types of commercial structures. Why? With its durability and long lifespan, you get more for your money in the long run. But what is a TPO roofing system? TPO is a shortened form of Thermoplastic Polyolefin, and TPO itself is a single-ply roof membrane composed of synthetic components with a fabric reinforcing scrim. 

These are just some of the TPO roofing details that explain why it has gained popularity in the commercial roofing industry, as this combination offers great stability and strength. Additionally, with natural reflectivity against ultraviolet rays, it is great for energy conservation, helping building owners save on utility costs in areas where the summers are hot and long. 

TPO roofing manufacturers fabricate these membranes in sheets that are 10 foot, 12, foot, and 20-foot sizes. They are cut, rolled, and then assembled at the factory before being distributed to the roofing facility.

The overall TPO roofing benefits are plentiful and can outweigh any TPO roofing issues. TPO roofing isn’t new to the roofing industry, but it has improved with the evolving chemical formula that is used to make it, becoming a more reliable choice. This ethylene-propylene rubber was designed with rubber roof advantages in mind. Combining this with hot air-weldable seams has only given it more durability.

The Pros of TPO Roofing

1. Cost Effective 

TPO roofing is a desirable option starting with the cost of installation when compared to other single-ply roofing membranes like PVC.  

2. Durability and Strength 

TPO roofing is known as a strong roofing product with its resistance to the buildup of dirt and mold, punctures, and tears. This flexible roofing material works with temperature changes by contracting and expanding as a building settles and shifts. The hot air welded seams are three times stronger than the tape systems of other conventional rubber roofs and are six times stronger than glued seams.  

3. Energy Efficiency

TPO is UV-resistant single-ply roofing, which eases the cost to cool structures during hot summers. TPO roofing exceeds EPA Energy Star requirements, keeping energy bills lower. This works simultaneously to help the environment as well.

4. Installation

TPO roofing is lighter than EPDM roofing, making it easier to install, which means less labor time, which in turn helps with installation costs. 

5. Adaptable 

TPO roofing comes in more colors now, including Black, Grey, and White, and all offer strong UV-resistance for more energy savings. This has brought it more attention from the residential side of the roofing industry. 

The Cons of TPO Roofing

1. Longevity

TPO roofing is considered the new kid in the roofing industry, so its longevity is only known to be as long as the product has been around – approximately 30 years. However, constant improvement of the chemical formula means the verdict is finalized.  

2. Does Not Do Well When Subjected To High Heat

TPO roofing can save on energy costs. However, extreme lengths of extreme heat have proven to be a concern. 

What is the difference between TPO and PVC roofing?

When comparing TPO roofing vs PVC roofing, the first difference is how long they’ve each been around in the roofing industry. PVC is the older of the two and has been around since the 1960s while TPO roofing appeared in the 1990s. 

PVC roofing is made with chlorine and ethylene, a vinyl material, and TPO roofing is made from ethylene propylene rubber and polypropylene. Both are thermoplastic materials that are heat-weldable, making them leak resistant with fewer seams. Both roofing materials are naturally white, offering a heat and UV-resistant reflective surface.

Both PVC and TPO roofing materials are chemical, grease, and oil-resistant as well, with PVC stronger against exposure, making it the preferred choice for structures that will see frequent grease and oil exposure, like restaurants. Both are flexible and can easily conform to a structure’s movement and shape.  

How do you clean a TPO roof?

A bonus to TPO roofing is the minimal maintenance needed. However, it should still be cleaned periodically to sustain the anti-reflective properties of the white color. The more accumulation of debris and dirt, the less effective it will be in offering reflectivity. To clean your TPO roofing, follow these steps: 

  1. Protect base flashing, low curbs, and other points where pressured water could enter. Protect any landscaping, shrubs or vegetation around the structure’s base
  2. With a 2,000 PSI or lower setting on a pressure washer, rinse the dirt and dust off. 
  3. Prepare a bucket of mild, non-abrasive cleaning solution.
  4. With a soft-bristle broom and long handle, brush the cleaning solution over the TPO roofing surface, taking care not to damage the top of the membrane.
  5. Rinse the solution off with a low-pressure setting and look for any damage like flashing, punctures, and rips. Make repairs immediately.  

Can you coat a TPO roof, and what can you use to seal a TPO roof? 

Acrylic and silicone coating systems are the ideal choices for restoring and extending the life of a TPO roofing system. Some facts to consider:  

  • A TPO roofing membrane should not need coating for five years after installation. The coating won’t adhere to a shiny, slick surface like TPO roofing. It needs time to age to get that matte finish that will more readily accept a roof coating. 
  • For TPO roofing that has ponding issues, a silicone coating is the best choice because it has low water absorption.  
  • When ponding isn’t an issue, an acrylic coating is ideal, especially for those with a tight budget.  
  • To ensure the coating and sealant have proper adhesion, the TPO roofing surface should be thoroughly cleaned, removing all debris and dirt. 

A Few Last Words

TPO can be a great choice for many reasons. If you are interested in learning more about TPO roofing in Arlington, TX or you’re ready to begin the installation of your new roofing, contact the team at Frazier Roofing & Guttering Co., Inc. by calling 817-277-3131 today.