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EPDM Roofing Systems – Advantages & Disadvantages

 EPDM Roofing – Advantages:

  • least expensive system to install per square foot
  • simple to install with the use of anchors, adhesives, and rollers
  • weighs less than the other single ply membranes
  • sold in wide rolls of 8-20 resulting in fewer seams
  • on the market for over 40 years

EPDM Roofing – Disadvantages:

  • harmful UV rays degrades adhesives used on seams and flashing causing them to separate
  • walk paths of protective mats are needed because the thin membrane is susceptible to punctures due to foot traffic on sharp objects left behind by maintenance crews.
  • repairs to seams and flashing is required long before the warranty of 15-20 years expires.
  • surface preparation; removing a system or installing over an existing one, can become an added labor cost.
  • all-black membrane absorbs ultraviolet light causing shrinkage and brittleness which decreases the life expectancy and   absorbs heat which leads to superheating of the structure below raising a/c costs

EPDM Roofing – Rubber Membrane

EPDM rubber roofing materials are produced in different thicknesses. They are .045, .060, and .090 thousandths of an inch.  Most contractors use the industry standard thickness of .060 thousandths of an inch, which is very near the thickness of a single quarter.

 EPDM Roofing - Disadvantage-constant repair due ultraviolet degradation of an EPDM roof
EPDM Roofing - Rubber is the thickness of a single quarter

EPDM Roofing –  Rubber Membrane:

EPDM is a thin synthetic rubber prone to punctures due to foot traffic from workman servicing units on a roof.

Although rubber mats are placed where foot traffic is likely to occur, they are seldom used consistently enough to prevent unnecessary wear and tear. The EPDM is compromised and small needed repairs can become structural leaks.

EPDM Roofing - Rubber membrane very thin and pierced by a nail
EPDM Roofing - The image shows ultraviolet light degrading an EPDM roof

Summary

Although EPDM has been a popular single ply roofing system for over 40 years, the adhesives used in their installation, fail prematurely.

We Provide the Following Services to:

Residential and Commercial Flat Roof

Free estimates for roofing quotes

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EPDM & Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Roofs – Which is the Best?

EPDM & Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Roofs After 10 Years

Below are images of EPDM rubber roofs and Modified Bitumen Torch Down rubber roofs that are about 10 years and older. Notice that Modified Bitumen rubber roofs outlast EPDM rubber roofs in terms durability and appearance.

Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Roof: A 2 Ply System

This image is a 2 Ply Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Roof which shows no signs of degradation after 14 years. Also, there are no patches to indicate that there was any need for repairs. When inspecting any roof, seeing numerous patches is a good indication that the rubber roof has been compromised with leaks.

EPDM Rubber and Torch Down Rubber - After 14 years, a Torch Down Rubber Roof shows no maintenance in terms of repairs.

EPDM Rubber Roofs Fail Prematurely

This EPDM rubber roof is 10 years old and has had many seam and roof repairs. The adhesive properties have deteriorated which caused the seams to separate and leaks to develop.

EPDM Rubber and Torch Down Rubber - The patches are an indication of an EPDM Rubber Roof failing prematurely.

EPDM Rubber or Modified Bitumen for Residential Roofs?

Residential roofs can have a combination of sloped and flat roofs. The flat roofs are normally used to access the sloped roofs for cleaning gutters, snow removal, or house painting, resulting in more foot traffic. As a result, the flat roof membrane becomes susceptible to punctures from these maintenance activities. Therefore, it is important to have a rubber membrane that can withstand excessive foot traffic and be resistant to punctures.

EPDM is not designed to withstand the repeated foot traffic that is necessary for home maintenance because it is too thin, and can be easily damaged. We highly recommend the 2 Ply Modified Bitumen Rubber Roof System because it is 5 times thicker, with a stronger rubber composition that will not erode with any kind of maintenance activities.

This EPDM Rubber roof shows that a repair was needed due to repeated foot traffic used to access the sloped roof.
All EPDM roofs are permanently repaired using patches that are secured with caulking, however, the caulking does not last more than 3 years.

EPDM Adhesive & Caulking Issues

EPDM rubber roof adhesives and caulkings fail because they cannot withstand the surface heat for extended periods of time.  An EPDM roof surface can reach temperatures upwards of 160° F.

In the image, there is a history of multiple repairs on this EPDM roof. The dark colored caulking is a sign of old repairs, while the lighter colored caulkings are signs of newer repairs. Neither the EPDM rubber patches, nor the caulking, are a permanent solution to a worry-free or leak-proof roof.

EPDM rubber roof adhesives and caulkings fail due to excessive heat.

Modified Bitumen 

Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Roofs are heat-welded at the seams. This roof was installed by Commercial Roof USA over 14 years ago, and as of this writing, there are no signs of repair patches.

This roof is located on 819 Westport rd East, Westport, Connecticut.

This 2 Ply Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber roof has not needed any repairs since its installation over 14 years ago.

Coated Modified Bitumen Rubber Roof

This 25 year-old 2 Ply Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Roof, coated with aluminum asphalt paint, which is meant to protect the surface against harmful UV rays. It has had many years of scattered debris, foot traffic from rooftop a/c and ventilation units being serviced, yet, there is no indication that repairs have ever been needed. This type of roof has withstood maintenance and service activities throughout its 25 years. Today Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Membranes are offered by manufacturers in both a plain surface and a surface coated with ceramic granules.

 

Aluminum Asphalt Coated Modified Bitumen Rubber Roof - 25 years of maintenance free service

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We Provide the Following Services to:

Residential and Commercial Flat Roof

Free estimates for roofing quotes

Request a Free Estimate

EPDM Rubber Roofs Fail Prematurely – Watch Video

EPDM Rubber Roofs Fail Prematurely

Prior to 2014, all EPDM Rubber Roofs have failed prematurely due to the break down of liquid adhesives used to bond seams. This single-ply rubber roofing system is predominately used on commercial flat roofs, but have failed to reach the life expectancy promised in the manufacturer’s warranty.  Manufacturers are still trying to develop an adhesive with properties that can withstand the extreme heat that is generated on the black surfaces of EPDM rubber.

Since 2014, a new system has been introduced and is referred to as a cover tape. Because this system is still in the field, it does not have a proven track record of performing as intended.

Watch this video to see how badly the EPDM was damaged by Ultraviolet rays.

EPDM and UV Protection

EPDM has no protection from harmful ultraviolet light so it becomes subjected to excessive heat for prolonged periods of time causing degradation to the single ply membrane.

We have been in the roofing business for over 30 years, and when called to replace a roof, more often than not, we see that EPDM rubber roofs have multiple repair patches due to the break down of the adhesives used to bond seams. As a consumer, it is important to be knowledgeable about which types of rubber membranes have the best ultraviolet light protection.

EPDM Rubber Roofs - Multiple repair patches on an EPDM rubber roof is a strong indication that the roof has failed.

EPDM Rubber Roof Failures

1. There is no protection against harmful UV rays.

EPDM rubber is a synthetic product that looks and feels much like the inner tube of a tire. It is thin, stretches, and is pliable. For the most part, this type of rubber is black in color. Even though the manufacturer claims that UV protection is built-in, we have yet to see an EPDM rubber membrane reach the life expectancy for which it was warranted. In the video below, you will see a relatively new EPDM rubber roof (around 8 years old) damaged by harmful ultraviolet rays.

2. EPDM can be pierced very easily.

Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer or EPDM rubber is very thin and can easily be punctured by nails, screws and other metal objects lying around on any flat roof, when stepped on. These objects are unintentionally left behind by A/C workers and other maintenance crews servicing rooftop units.

3. Seam adhesives fail to last.  

For the last 40 years, manufacturers of EPDM rubber have gone through, as many as, 4 trial and error stages, with seam adhesives. These adhesives have failed time and again, to withstand exposure to heat and harmful ultraviolet rays.

Since 2014, manufacturers of EPDM adhesives made a complete change in the technique used to bond seams together. They have introduced a self-adhering cover tape. This new technique of bonding seams will take at least 20 years in the field, before knowing whether tape is a worthy remedy to EPDM seam failures.

 Patching an EPDM rubber membrane becomes endless due to the its deterioration from harmful UV rays.

This video shows the results of EPDM rubber failing to keep seams bonded. 

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EPDM Roofing problems stem from prolonged exposure to harmful UV rays.

EPDM roof failing prematurely

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EPDM Roofing Deteriorates from Harmful UV Rays – Watch Video

EPDM Roofing Deterioration Stems from UV Exposure

An EPDM roofing problem on a residence in Greenwich, Connecticut stemmed from the prolonged exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays. We found that the single ply EPDM rubber was shredded in a tight corner, next to a chimney, causing the roof to leak.

Over time, the combination of direct sunlight, and the reflection from the chimney, caused a concentration of extreme ultraviolet light exposure to that particular area of EPDM rubber. Even though this is an example in the extreme, we saw that the rest of the roof had been similarly affected, showing brittleness and shrinkage.

This will be a costly ongoing roofing repair problem if the homeowner continues to use EPDM as a repair solution. We recommend that this roof be replaced with a 2 ply Modified Bitumen Rubber Roof System that has embedded ceramic granules as protection against harmful UV rays.

Harmful UV Rays Deteriorate EPDM – Watch Video

EPDM Roofing Accounts for 1/3 of All Flat Roofs in the US

EPDM roofing accounts for 1/3 of all flat roofs installed in the US, despite inherent problems of the rubber since its inception in the 1960s. Most roofing contractors will install it and architects will specify it in their designs because it is easy to install and is dependable for the first 8-10 years.

Although EPDM roofing is widely used by professionals, it is important for their clients to know of what the rubber is comprised. An EPDM roofing system has inherent problems, however, most professionals use estimates and tactical salesmanship to promote EPDM as an acceptable roofing solution, even when there are other roofing systems that are more superior.

This doesn’t mean professionals are being dishonest about the products they use, rather, it is a roofing system that they are most familiar with since becoming the industry standard in the 1960s.

At Commercial Roof USA, we provide our clients with a 2 Ply Modified Bitumen Torch Down Roofing System that has built-in UV ray protection, and a 40 year warranty with every installation.

EPDM Roofing Problems in Climatic Conditions

EPDM roofing problems in climatic conditions prove to cause the biggest reason for multiple repairs and eventually a roof’s replacement. These membranes are manufactured in different thicknesses of 45, 60, and 90 Mil., however, 45 Mil. has been used as the industry standard. It is the thinnest rubber of the three options, and can succumb to the careless removal of snow and ice and the constant exposure to sun. This can increase the likelihood that the wear and tear will compromise the membrane with leaks.

We, at Commercial Roof USA, recommend the installation of the 2 Ply Modified Bitumen Torch Down Roofing System as a roofing solution. This membrane is 5 times thicker than an EPDM membrane, and has embedded ceramic granules that protect it from UV ray degradation.

EPDM Roofing - This area of the roof was destroyed by harmful UV exposure.

 EPDM Roofing: Flashing Problems 

With the use of EPDM roofing adhesives, flashing problems occur where walls and roofs intersect. Over time, these adhesives degrade from prolonged exposure to harmful UV rays, because the heat that penetrates the thin membrane, causes premature separation from the flashing.

With the use of the Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Roofing System, the thicker, 2 ply membrane itself, is stabilized with embedded ceramic granules, that are used to prevent UV ray degradation, which protects the transition to the flashing.

 

EPDM Rubber is Vulnerable

EPDM rubber membranes are vulnerable to the effects of foot traffic. Because work crews service rooftop units, for various reasons, protective mats are essential to protect the thin membrane from being punctured, however, the mats do not cover the work areas adequately. During services and repairs to units, screws, nails, and other sharp objects are unintentionally dropped and left behind. Over time, these sharp objects will be stepped on causing punctures to the thin membrane.

EPDM Roofing Problems - This image shows many repair patches where adhesives have failed due to harmful UV rays.

 EPDM Roofing: Inadequate Seam Caulking

When you watch the next video, you will notice that there is a lap sealer (caulking bead) applied to all seams. This is part of the initial installation process of EPDM roofing. The lap sealant is needed, because the adhesives used to bond the seams, do not provide a water-tight seal. Over time, this thin bead of lap sealer dries up and peels away, causing leaks and compromising the integrity of the entire roof. It’s important to replace the lap sealant every 4 -5 years to properly maintain a single ply EPDM roofing system.

Summary

Single Ply EPDM roofing has numerous problems. Once the membrane is compromised, it is subjected to multiple repairs and maintenance. A 2 Ply Modified Bitumen Torch Down Roofing System should be considered when evaluating a permanent solution to these problems.

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Harmfull UV rays damage EPDM Rubber

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Five Commercial Flat Roof Systems Explained – Watch Video

This Video Explains about the Three roofing systems – TPO. EPDM and Modified Bitumen Torch Down

Five Commonly Used Flat Roof Systems 

There are 5 types of commercial flat roofing systems commonly installed:

  • Built- Up Roof (BUR) also known as the “Hot-Tar-and-Gravel” Roof System
  • Metal Panel Roof System
  • *2 Ply Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Roof System
  • Single-ply membranes such as TPO, PVC and EPDM Systems
  • Spray polyurethane foam-based Roof System.

*Commercial Roof USA specializes in the installation of 2 Ply Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Roof System.

This is a BUR system also known as a Tar and Gravel roof.

Built-Up Roof Systems (BUR)

The BUR system has been in use in the U.S. for over a 100 years. It is commonly referred to as a “Hot-Tar-and-Gravel” Roof System. These roofs are composed of layers of saturated asphalt paper and moped down hot liquid coal tar or asphalt. Saturated paper is layered in a criss-cross pattern, and depending on the contractor, as many as 12 layers of paper and coal tar or asphalt can be used during the installation.

Coal tar or asphalt is heated in a kettle with propane gas and pumped up to the roof top. Hot tar is spread over the work surface with a mop or squeegee, and the felt paper is rolled out over it.

Asphalt is a petroleum product refined from crude oil and coal tar comes from the distillation of coal. Either way, the coal tar or asphalt is the adhesive, that when combined with many layers of felt paper, forms a thick membrane that becomes the roof.

After the membrane has been built-up, a thin layer of coal tar or asphalt is mopped over the entire roof and aggregate stone of 1/2” is spread over the entire membrane. This stone is used to protect the roof from harmful UV rays.

The “Build Up” has “Come Down”

The BUR roofing system can last many decades, but beyond that, there will be a certain amount of degradation. Petroleum based products will become dry and brittle and start to crack, due to evaporation, causing leaks.

The BUR roofing system is expensive to install, due to the labor and materials involved. These roofs have been known to last for over 50 years, because of the multiple layer “build up.”  Some of them have had as many as 15 -20 layers of paper and tar, however, we have also seen that some contractors would “come down” with the number of layers, to as many as 5 and to as few as 3.

Metal Panel Roof Systems

The Structural Metal Panel Roof System is a type of metal roof system used for a low slope application. It is common to see metal panel roofs over warehouses and factories. The metal panels can span up to 4 ft., from rafter to rafter and can support the weight of a person. A special sealant is used between seams and overlapping joints to prevent water from entering. Neoprene washers are used where bolts fasten the metal roof to the metal rafters. These metal panels are excellent water barriers and will prevent water from leaking through when correctly installed. This type of roof can last for 40 to 50 years, when properly maintained.

Metal roofs systems can be repaired.

Modified Bitumen Membranes

The Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Roof System (MB) was developed by the Italians in the 1960s and made its way to the U.S. by the late 1970s. The rubber membrane is made of reinforced fabrics covered with asphalt, which consists of modifiers that give the asphalt its elastic properties on both sides. The modified asphalt is manufactured in widths of 36″. Because of the rubberized technology, these membranes are referred to as rubber roofs or rubber membranes.

There are 2 Types of MB Rubber Roof Membranes:

APP – is a Modified Bitumen membrane that is fully torched down to the fiber base, and the torch is also used on the seams, hence the name – Torch Down Membrane.

SBS – is a Modified Bitumen membrane that uses cold or hot mopping tar or asphalt adhesives. Some SBS membranes are self adhering; the backing is very sticky, and will adhere to the surface it is rolled onto.

The MB membranes have 3 types of surfaces: smooth surface, mineral surface, and a foil laminate surface. The minerals of the surface have been coated with a ceramic material that protect the rubber against harmful UV rays.

The MB roof system is typically installed as a single-ply system, however, we specialize in a 2-ply system to extend the roof life to 40 years or more. We have come to specialize in this roofing system for many reasons, but the most important one, is in terms of maintenance, because the Modified 2 Ply Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Roof System, needs minimal to none.

Single-Ply Membranes: EPM, TPO, and PVC

EPDM, TPO, and PVC are single ply synthetic membranes, and are manufactured in wide sheets. These membranes are very thin and come in rolls from 8 – 20 feet widths.

Adhesives are used to adhere these membranes to the properly cleaned substrate. If the substrate is not properly prepared; removal of dust and particles, according to manufacturer’s instructions, the adherence is compromised, and the life of the roof is reduced.

EPDM is made from 2 compounds that are derived from oil and natural gas and the seams are glued together with a liquid adhesive that has been reformulated 4 different times. Currently, as a remedy, a new self-adhering cover tape is placed over the seams. These membranes are not well protected from harmful UV rays and are prone to degradation.

The Image below is a Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Membrane with Embedded Ceramic Granules for UV Protection

The image is an example of a 2 Ply Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Roof System.

The Image Below is a White TPO Vinyl Roof with Little UV Protection.

A White TPO Vinyl Roof with Little UV Protection.
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EPDM Roofing: Installed on Commercial Roofs Despite Defects – Watch Video

EPDM Roofing: Harmful UV Rays Cause Shrinkage – Watch Video

EPDM Roofing: Installed on Commercial Roofs Despite Defects 

Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer, also known as EPDM, is a synthetic rubber with an elastic nature, and is the same type of rubber used to make inner tubes of tires. EPDM rubber has been installed on commercial roofs for decades, despite its defective performance, since the late1970s. The rubber membrane has a tendency to shrink and degrade prematurely from harmful UV rays, and the adhesive fails to maintain a bond at the seams. Since then, it has gone through several generations of “improvements.” Manufacturers claim that UV and ozone protection is inherent in its formulation.  Although the defects have been addressed and revised at least 4 times since first being manufactured, each revision has been ineffective to adequately extend the life of the rubber and adhesives.  

Its popularity is due to “Smart Marketing” strategies that pertain to cost-effectiveness. The wide width of the membrane, its elasticity, the ease in which it can be installed with little experience, and very few inexpensive tools needed, are just some claims. None of these strengths, however, address the defects of the still, inferior formulations, to date.

Advocates for EPDM often refer to it as an “Extremely durable synthetic rubber roofing membrane,”  but no other system is mentioned as as a comparison  When compared to the 2 Ply Modified Bitumen Torch Down Roofing System, EPDM is far from having a standard of durability, without continual problems with defective formulations.

EPDM Installed on Commercial Roofs: “Popular on the Surface”

  • EPDM has a smooth finish which looks and feels nice to walk on and to touch.
  • The smoothness of the rubber makes sweeping or leaf blowing easier.
  • It is manufactured in wide sheets of 8 – 20 feet which reduces the number of seams that need adhesion.
  • Installation is relatively inexpensive because it is not labor intensive to install, and few tools are needed.

Thickness of EPDM less than a quarter

EPDM: “Under the Surface”

  • EPDM rubber membranes are manufactured in .45 and .60 Mil., which is only about 1/16″.
  • The formulations of both the rubber and the adhesives are in their 5th generation of revisions because of a premature failure to perform; after about 10 years of UV exposure, the rubber shrinks and the adhesives fail to maintain a bond.
  • Constant maintenance is required throughout the life of the rubber membrane.
  • An additional lap sealer (a caulking) used on the seams for a water tight seal, needs to be reapplied every 3 – 5 years.
  • Uncured, more malleable rubber, is used for the detail flashing of skylights and vents, and does not last half as long as the cured EPDM rubber used on the roof itself.
  • Extreme heat, upwards of about 160°F, is absorbed by the black rubber membrane increasing a/c costs.
  • Punctures easily with foot traffic.
  • Repair materials must be compatible with EPDM rubber.

EPDM Rubber and Seam Repairs

In the image below, this single ply EPDM commercial rubber roof failed to withstand the exposure to harmful UV rays and has had multiple seam repairs.

The repairs and patches of any EPDM rubber roof is proof that there are problems with the roofing system

Conclusion

It has been our experience that single ply EPDM rubber roofs have their initial appeal, but over time, they are just unable to perform as promised. This roofing material has had the same inherent defects for many decades. We feel that a true resolution for these defects lies in change. A change to a thicker membrane with UV protection and a heat fused process that melts seams together. We specialize in such a roof system. Our 2 Ply Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Roof System, is, in fact, the best roofing system to date.

Defective Adhesives 

The image below shows multiple repair patches on an EPDM roof. In this case, the EPDM roof surface is in fair condition, however, the adhesives used on the seams, have failed to maintain a bond and have caused leaks.

Defective Adhesives - Patches on a EPDM rubber roof indicates a premature failure of a roofing system.

Foot Traffic Repair Patches on a EPDM Roof

The image below shows repair patches caused by foot traffic. Notice that the protective mats are not positioned in front of the door.

Foot Traffic Repair Patches on an EPDM Roof - the mats are not in the walk areas.

Below is an image of an EPDM single-ply flat roof system that was repaired many times due to faulty adhesives.

Below is an image of an EPDM single-ply flat roof system that was repaired many times due to faulty adhesives.

EPDM Rubber Roof being Installed

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Is EPDM Rubber a Good Commercial Flat Roofing System? – Watch Video

What is EPDM?

EPDM is derived from its inclusion of Ethylene, Propylene, Diene Monomer. EPDM is an elastomeric compound, which consists of oil-based by-products and other inclusions of modifiers and stabilizers. It was during the late 1960s that EPDM rubber roofing was first introduced as a roofing material. This formulation replaced the more labor intensive, Built-Up-Roofing (BUR) also known as Hot-Tar-and-Gravel Roofing.

The video below shows EPDM leaks due to adhesives failing to maintain bonding properties. Notice the ease with which the rubber cover tape is removed.

Thin EPDM Membranes on Commercial Flat Roofs

EPDM membranes are available in three thicknesses: 45 mil., 60 mil., and 90 mil. (the mil. refers to .001 or a thousandth of an inch). A membrane that’s 60 mil., would be 1/16th of an inch thick, and about equal to the thickness of a quarter. Most roofing contractors will install the 45 mil. membrane unbeknownst to their clients, however, a 45 mil. membrane is too thin and susceptible to tears and punctures.

Ultraviolet/Climate Degradation of EPDM

Regardless of its popularity, EPDM has a set of drawbacks as a roofing system. Field tests over 4 generations, have shown that no matter the thickness installed, the black color of the EPDM absorbs harmful UV rays. This causes adhesives to fail and the rubber to become brittle over time, providing only a 15 year time frame of protection.

EPDM is just over an 1/16th of an inch thick. This makes the rubber roof membrane susceptible to harmful UV rays.

EPDM Adhesives Fail

When any EPDM rubber membrane is fastened to a substrate, like plywood or insulation board, adhesives are applied with a roller. EPDM adhesives are also used for flashing rooftop units, such as, skylights, vents, drains, a/c units, extractor fans, stove pipes, and chimneys. These adhesives fail to maintain their bonding properties due to harmful UV rays. Adhesives are such an integral component of the entire roof system, yet, have failed time and again, even though new formulations have been introduced 5 times since the early 1970s. To date, there are no proven remedies.

Traffic on EPDM Flat Roofs

It is inevitable that flat roofs will have foot traffic for snow removal and from maintenance workers servicing air conditioners, vents, skylights and the like. Snow shovels can pierce the EPDM rubber and create gouges and gashes which may become leaks. Also, service workers drop and unintentionally leave behind screws, nails, and other sharp objects.  When these sharp objects are stepped on, they will pierce the membrane and eventually cause leaks.

EPDM is not a Viable Commercial Roofing System 

Many roofers believe in the overall practicality of an EPDM single-ply roof, but faulty installations and materials’ failures have resulted in damage causing the need for long-term, intermittent repairs. Installing a 2 Ply Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Membrane on a commercial roof will offer a more durable, low maintenance, long-lasting solution.

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Pros and Cons of EPDM Rubber Roofs – Watch Video

Harmful Ultraviolet rays have damaged an EPDM Rubber Roof – watch video

Video Transcription of EPDM's pros and cons

Pros and Cons of EPDM Rubber Roof – Video Transcription:

Hi I’m Erik from Commercial Roof USA and this is a very good example of you know of an EPDM roof and it looks very nice people like it because it has less seams and you know big sheets of material so it looks very clean very nice but the problem is as we say with everything.

First of all its a thinner material and also no UV protection Here’s the perfect example of that Right here uh over the years the EPDM has shrunk a little bit and thus stretched right here in the corner and then with the stretching and the UV rays pounding down on it it starting eating it away and right here in the corner where it was stretched the most this is where it got eaten away the most also and you can see it has gone straight through And this is what happens EPDM looks very nice but does not perform well especially with no UV protection

EPDM Rubber and Harmful UV Rays

EPDM rubber roofing is aesthetically pleasing with its smooth and clean surface. However, we have repaired many EPDM rubber roofs that have signs of degradation from harmful UV rays. We often see these signs in the form of shrinkage and brittleness in certain areas of a roof. Unfortunately, to make repairs to EPDM rubber, the same rubber material must be used, therefore, the problem will persist time and again.

 Pros and Cons of EPDM Rubber Roofing

EPDM Pros

  • There are fewer seams than other roofing systems.
  • Roofing contractors can install EPDM quickly and at a cost that seems appealing.
  • EPDM is single-ply rubber and can last up to 15 years.
  • The rubber is flexible and installs easily around skylights and drains.

EPDM Cons

  • Seams separate due to the deterioration of adhesives.
  • The rubber fails prematurely; long before the expiration of the warranty.
  • Shortly after installation, caulking and lap sealants, that are used to prevent leaks, need to be reapplied.
  • EPDM degrades and shrinks causing leaks and creating a constant need for repairs.
  • Harmful UV rays are absorbed by the all-black rubber membrane and can raise a/c costs.

Pros and Cons of EPDM Rubber Roofs - This image reveals the degradation of ultraviolet rays and shrinkage of an EPDM single-ply roofing system.

Five Roofing Systems 

Check out the article on Roofing Systems Explained. This information will be helpful in understanding the different types of roofing systems and how they are applied. There are 5 different roofing systems that can be installed by roofing contractors: the EPDM Rubber Single Ply System, the TPO-Vinyl Single Ply System, the Modified Bitumen Torch Down Two-Ply Membrane System, the Metal Panel Roof system, and the Spray Polyurethane Foam-Based Roof System.

It is important to know as much about the roofing system you want, or need, before you attempt to locate a roofing contractor, when replacing your roof. Most roofing contractors are only familiar with EPDM, therefore, you may have to investigate a bit to find roofing contractors that specialize in the other types of roofing systems mentioned.

Pros and Cons of EPDM Rubber Roofs -This EPDM single-ply installation shows damage from harmful UV rays.

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Five Reasons Contractors Choose to Install EPDM Roofing -Watch Video

Video Transcription - Problems with EPDM Rubber Roofs

Flat Roof Problems with EPDM Rubber Membranes

Hi, my name is Andre and today we are looking at an EPDM roof, one of the most popular roofs um to ever be installed. They say there are less seams, but there are a lot of seams.

Some of them are factory seams like this one here you could almost not see it and there’s also this one that the contractor installs or the roofer installs, and these are glued down together with a primer and an adhesive. Um this a little bit of an older style roof. I mean this one was probably put down maybe ten years ago, maybe eight years ago.

EPDM Roofing Techniques Changed often

The reason why I say this is because the roofing has changed so much in the last five years they don’t even put this roof down like this anymore. I mean it’s like you’re learning a new game every 5 years. Uh, there’s no cover tape which is a tape that goes over seams and uh, it’s supposed to last longer now that’s what the common standard is. It is just glued to itself, which it works for five years, maybe six seven years, but in the end,

if it’s not a factory seam, well, it’s not gonna last. Let me show you an example over here and it may help you better understand what’s going on. This is the reason why this roof is failing because the glue is going bad. You see the yellow glue is actually just coming right off.

5 Reasons Contractors Choose to Install EPDM Roofing:

  • EPDM can be installed by someone who has had very little training.
  • The process for installation can be done relatively quickly, saving labor costs.
  • Although there is a more durable, 2 ply system available, roofing contractors will install the EPDM, single ply system, because they know it well.
  • The sales appeal of EPDM is that it is flexible and it comes in wide rolls which means fewer seams.
  • EPDM does not require expensive tools for installation.

Although contractors choose to install an EPDM roofing system, there is a more durable, 2 ply system at a comparable cost, however, this system involves more skilled technicians and tools, but doubles the life expectancy of the roof.

EPDM: 3-10 Years After Installation, Repairs are Needed

It has been our experience, when contracted to repair a roof, that some leaks begin as soon as 3-10 years after first being installed. Some of these EPDM roofs had signs of wear and tear due to foot traffic. Others had areas that had become brittle from harmful UV ray exposure. Most showed, however, that seams failed when the EPDM adhesives lost bonding properties, which has been addressed by manufacturers at least 5 times over the last 40 years.

EPDM: Repair or Replace 

An EPDM rubber roof stands a chance of being repaired, if the surface preparation is done carefully by experienced roofing technicians. Beware of suggestions that a replacement is needed, rather, find the experienced professional, who has the know-how, for finding the source of leaks and making the necessary repairs. Otherwise, you may inclined to accept the sale of another, new EPDM single-ply rubber roofing system.

When should an EPDM roof be repaired or replaced?  The rule of thumb is two-fold: If the EPDM rubber roof was properly installed and is less than 10 years old, and when the cost of the repairs are less than 15% than the cost of replacement, a repair, rather than a replacement is the appropriate solution.

If you happen to have an EPDM single-ply rubber roof system that is leaking, we can evaluate whether it should be repaired or replaced.

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Finding a Roofing Contractor

Finding a roofing contractor should begin with knowing what type of roof you have and what type you need. If your roof needs repairs, it is in your best interests to find the contractor that specializes in the system you currently have. If you are considering replacing your roof, research different types of roofing systems and the life expectancy of each. Then locate a reputable contractor who specializes in the system that interests you. Develop a working relationship with the contractor, based on the information and advice you need, to make the best decision for your roofing needs.

Random Estimates

Whether your roof needs to be repaired or replaced, locating random roofing contractors to provide estimates, is not in your best interests. You may have a tendency to compare the estimates and decide on the contractor who provides the “best” one. The “best” estimate may not take into consideration the reputation of the roofing company, the experience of the crew, but most importantly, the type of roofing system, in which they specialize.

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