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Rubber Roofing – Commercial Flat Roofs

Rubber Roofing – Commercial Flat Roofs

This Video demonstrates how we installed a Two Ply Torch Down Rubber membrane over a tar and gravel roof.

Our Two Ply Rubber Roofing System

We specialize in the installation of 2 ply rubber roofing using the Modified Bitumen Torch Down System. A fiber asphalt sheet is anchored to a substrate, or an existing roof system (removal of an existing roof system is not necessary). A self-adhering single ply modified bitumen rubber membrane is attached to the fiber sheet. To that, a final layer of Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber, with embedded ceramic granules (protects against harmful UV rays), is heat-torched to the single ply membrane, creating our 2 ply system. We provide a 40 warranty for every 2 ply Modified Bitumen Torch Down System we install.

Commercial Rubber Roofing: Experience vs. Risk   

Posted on October 10, 2015 by Naas Ferreira

The roofing industry has gone through a major change since the late 1970s. Before this change, commercial flat roofs consisted of a Hot-Tar-and-Gravel Roofing System, which was the industry standard. This type of roofing was very labor intensive and the high costs associated with the tools and equipment kept the number of roofing companies at a minimum. Today, single ply rubber and synthetic membrane roofing systems have become the industry standard. There are three types of membranes that are commonly used on commercial roofs.

They are known as Modified Bitumen Torch Down or MB, Thermoplastic Polyolefin or TPO, and Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer or EPDM.

Since these membranes were first introduced to the roofing industry, the installation has become very timely and less labor intensive than in the “hot tar” days. Acquiring the equipment, materials, and labor to install rubber roofs had become very easy. This caused roofing companies to multiply, and this sudden growth created a pool of inexperienced labor, which passed the risk of poor workmanship to the customer. On the other hand, after several decades in the roofing industry and in the presence of the shift to rubber roofing, we have developed a roofing technique that warrants a 40 year life expectancy on all our installations.

Watch the video below which shows how we go a step further with a single ply rubber membrane to a 2 ply rubber membrane on a commercial flat roof. Our system will reach a life expectancy of over 40 years which makes it a system that is far superior to any other single ply system to date.

Free estimates for roofing quotes

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3D Video demonstrating the best drain and strainer system
Skylight flashing explained and corrected
Metal roof Repair - easy and permanently

We Install or Repair Commercial Flat Roof Components. 

Skylights – Rubber gaskets and flashing are sources of leaks.

Vents – The flashing around vents becomes separated from the rubber roofing material.

Gutters – We provide maintenance service on gutters.

Chimneys – Mortar, brick and stucco on chimneys can crack and cause leaks.

Drains –  We install, relocate, and lower drains to make them more efficient.

Roofing Contractor explaining about rubber roofs

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Advantages of Two Ply Torch Down Rubber Roofing – Watch Video

Advantages of Two Ply Torch Down Rubber Roofing – Watch Video

Advantages of Torch Down Rubber Roofs

The video below describes the advantages of a Modified Bitumen (MB) Torch Down Rubber Roof. It is the best roofing material and method that can be installed on commercial flat roofs, to date.  Like EPDM, MB has been used since the late 1960s. Unlike EPDM, the rubber roof material is made from modified asphalt and single-ply bitumen membranes can be combined to create a 2 ply system with which we offer a 40-year warranty.

Advantages of MB:

  •  Designed to be flexible in extreme weather conditions
  •  2-ply rubber roofing membrane is about 5 quarters in thickness (about 3/8″) and puncture resistant.
  •  Rubber roofing surface has embedded granular ceramics that protect against harmful UV degradation
  •  Seams are torch fused together to prevent seam separation
  •  Unlike EPDM and TPO, the 2 ply membrane can withstand a heavy amount of foot traffic
  •  Installation over any type of existing roof surface, with minimal preparation, results in 2 advantages in this case:
  1. Saves the cost of stripping and removing the existing roof
  2. Fusing an additional membrane, over an existing one, creates a 2 ply membrane, that will last beyond 40 years.

Disadvantages of MB:

  • Installation requires highly skilled roofing technicians.
  • Additional layer has an added cost for labor and materials.

This Video shows how fast EPDM can deteriorate

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Roofing Contractor explaining about Torch Down Rubber roofing.

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Flat Roofs – Features of Roofing Systems – Watch Videos

Single Ply and Two Ply Roofing Systems

There are 5 types of single ply roofing systems commonly used on flat roofs. They are EPDM, TPO, Modified Bitumen Cold Apply, Modified Bitumen Self-Adhering and Modified Bitumen Torch Down systems. Commercial Roof USA specializes in a 2 ply rubber roofing system which is the Modified Bitumen Torch Down membrane. The 2 ply system consists of a fiber base sheet with a self adhering modified base attached to it, which is considered the first layer. The second layer is the Modified Bitumen Torch Down membrane which includes embedded ceramic granules for protection against harmful ultraviolet light.

All single ply roofing systems come with warranties of between 15 and 20 years, however, the 2 ply rubber roofing system, we specialize in, comes with a 40 year warranty.

The video below shows the installation of a 2 ply Modified Bitumen Torch Down rubber roofing system over an existing Tar and Gravel Roof. This 2 ply system can be installed over any existing roof with minimal surface preparation.

Flat Roof Foot Traffic 

Many commercial roofs have a number of A/C and ventilation units, cell phone antennas, skylights, chimney stacks, drainage systems and other permanent structures on them. At some point, these structures will require maintenance or replacement. The servicing activity means that there will be a lot of foot traffic throughout the life of the roof.

During these service calls, nails, screws, wires, and tools may be unintentionally dropped, and many times, even left behind. Oddly enough, seashells are often found on commercial roofs near coastlines. These sharp objects become a potential problem for a single-ply rubber roof because they are repeatedly stepped on and create many punctures, however, a two-ply rubber roof system will withstand this kind of foot traffic.

Flat Roof Protection Options

There are two basic options for protecting a roof’s surface:

With Ceramic Granules – A Modified Bitumen Torch Down rubber membrane can have a built-in surface protection of ceramic granules. The ceramic granules protect the rubber membrane from harmful ultraviolet light.

Without Ceramic Granules – A Modified Bitumen Torch Down rubber membrane can come without the ceramic granules, however,  it is necessary to apply an aluminum asphalt coating every 3 to 5 years to maintain the integrity of the rubber membrane.

Issues with Single Ply Roofing Membranes  

Single-ply roofing systems start presenting issues within a short period of time after they have been installed. EPDM and TPO membranes are very thin and can be easily punctured with very minimal foot traffic. Also, these membranes cannot withstand direct sunlight without compromising the 15 year life expectancy; they become brittle. The adhesives break down and cause the seams to separate.

EPDM Rubber

EPDM rubber is the same material that is used in the inner tubes of tires. It is very thin and not UV protected.

Modified Bitumen: A 2 Ply System

To the left is an image of a Modified Bitumen Granular rubber membrane. The ceramic granules are embedded into the surface to protect it from harmful ultraviolet light

Once the fiber base is installed, the rubber with the ceramic surface get fused or melted to the base layer with a torch. When combined, the 2-ply membrane becomes approximately 7 mm thick.

 Roofing and Construction Contractors 

Not all roofing contractors are familiar with all types of roofing systems, therefore, they will only offer the one roofing system they are comfortable with.

It is common for construction contractors, to offer their roofing installation services, however, they do not specialize in flat roofs.

This image shows a 2 ply Modified Bitumen torch down roofing system.

What We Now Know Will Save You Money

Some 30 years ago, Commercial Roof USA was one of the first roofing companies to use the Modified Bitumen Torch Down Roofing System.  At first, we only installed a single-ply system. In 2005, a manufacturer developed a new product to improve the Modified Bitumen in the form of a self-stick base. After incorporating this base with the Modified Bitumen Torch Down rubber membrane, we realized that we had found the best flat roofing system, which has enabled us to provide a 40 year warranty with every roof installation.


Firestone Manufactures Quality Roofing Products  

In 2005, many manufacturing companies of roofing materials, were popping up to provide the Modified Bitumen Membranes; GAF, John Mansfield, Firestone, Polyglass, and many others. Through our experience, we have found that the Firestone APP Modified Bitumen roofing membrane has the best quality. We currently specialize in the installation and repairing of flat roofs using only roofing products from Firestone.

This 2 ply Modified Bitumen rubber can withstand heavy foot traffic and is impenetrable by sharp objects.
This single ply EPDM rubber cannot withstand heavy foot traffic and is penetrable by sharp objects.


The 2 ply Modified Bitumen Rubber Roof Membrane is by far the toughest roofing system. It can handle extreme weather conditions and be installed over almost any surface. Regardless of where it is installed, Commercial Roof USA, provides a 40 year warranty with every roof we install.

We Provide the Following Services to:

Residential and Commercial Flat Roof

Free estimates for roofing quotes

Request a Free Estimate

Five Commercial Flat Roof Systems Explained
Brownstone Flat Roof and Chimney Leak Repair
How to repair roof leaks on a metal roof permanently

Roofing Contractor - Flat roof features explained

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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

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.
3D Video demonstrating the best drain and strainer system
Skylight flashing explained and corrected
Metal roof Repair - easy and permanently

Different flat roof systems explained

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Torch Down Roofing for Commercial Rubber Roofs

Torch Down Roofing with Modified Bitumen

Modified Bitumen (MB) Torch Down Roofing membranes were first developed in Europe in the mid-1960’s, introduced in the U.S. in the late 1970’s, and first manufactured in the U.S. in 1980. The membrane is composed of various types of modifiers, reinforcements, and surface treatments.

The 36 inch-wide membrane rolls can be purchased with or without embedded ceramic granules that protect against harmful UV rays. The unprotected MB membrane will need to be coated with an asphalt-aluminum coating, known as Silver Coating, for harmful UV protection.

Torch down roofing using MB can be installed as single ply, or a 2 ply membrane, on both commercial and residential buildings. When installed as a 2 ply system, we provide a 40-year warranty.

Torching Down an MB Two Ply Membrane 

Torching down a Modified Bitumen 2 ply membrane requires little surface preparation. A 2 ply torch down membrane can be installed over any existing roof or surface, to include a Hot-Tar-and-Gravel roof system. To install this 2 ply system, a fiber asphalt base is fastened with anchors and washer plates, to the existing roof, or to a substrate. This is followed by a self-adhering modified bitumen rubber base. Then a Modified Bitumen membrane, embedded with ceramic granules, is heat fused down to the base, completing the 2 ply system. The combination of these layers makes the membrane over 3/8″ thick. This roof system can withstand heavy foot traffic by work crews, snow shoveling, and because it has embedded ceramic granules on the surface, it will be protected from harmful UV rays.

MB Two Ply Rubber Membrane with Fiber Base Sheet.

Torch Down Roofing for Commercial Rubber Roofs - 2 rubber membranes with a fiber base.

MB Two Ply Rubber Membrane Thickness

This shows the thickness of a two ply system Modified Bitumen

Torch Down MB Over Surfaces

The 2 Ply MB Torch Down Roofing Membrane is 3/8″ thick and can be installed directly over an uneven stone surface without being compromised by punctures. In fact, the stone layer provides excellent insulation, when air is trapped between that layer and the new MB membrane. MB can also be installed over EPDM and TPO roofing systems that have degraded due to the lack of UV protection and the failures of bonding adhesives on seams. Because these existing roofing systems can be covered with the 2 Ply MB, stripping and removing the existing roof debris will not be an expense. 

Torch Down Roofing is Durable

Torch down 2 ply rubber roofs are durable in that, not only can they withstand at least 40 years of extreme weather conditions, they can remain unaffected with heavy foot traffic by service and repairmen, as well. Unlike the single ply roofing systems, as in TPO and EPDM, the 2 ply MB system will need little to no maintenance during its life.

Torching down or heat fusing a Modified Bitumen Rubber Membrane

Torch Down Roofing Materials

Installing the Torch Down Modified Bitumen 2 Ply Rubber Roofing requires a contractor to have the following:

  • Fiber base paper with anchors and plates
  • The Modified Bitumen self adhesive base
  • A Modified Bitumen single ply rubber membrane (known as a cap sheet) wth embedded ceramic granules that protect against harmful UV rays
  • Professional, well-experienced roof technicians, that are skilled with installing MB roofs

Torch Down Roofing Explained

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Commercial Roof Installation Over Tar & Gravel – Watch Video

This Video explains the method of installing a Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber roof over Tar and Gravel

Video Transcription - Commercial Roof Installation: 2 Ply Rubber over Hot-Tar-and-Gravel

Hi, My Name is Erik, with Commercial Roof USA

commercial roof installation

I’m here on a commercial roof that was a gravel, a pitch and gravel roof here. And they called us in to re-roof it and we’re we decided to go over because rather than strip all the gravel off and all the old tar, we saved them a lot of cost by going directly over and I started about an hour ago and this is our fiberglass liner that I am laying down right now. Um this is the first step.

Self Adhering Base

Next comes the self adhering base then our final layer of modified bitumen torch down. So, as you can see I’m going over gravel right now. I’ll finish it up and I’ll show you the progress as the roof gets completed.

Cost-Effective Roofing System

This is the most cost effective roof put on uh rather than stripping it down to the wood and removing all the gravel the debris all that labor and also the time that it takes. This is one of the most cost effective roofs that you can do. We go directly over and um it’s just as good as if we stripped it all the way down.

Same Warranty

You get the same uh, you know warranty, um but this is one of the most cost effective ways to do it both with time labor and debris removal. This is why we advocate this because this is an excellent roof it’ll last you easily twenty thirty years and it is half the cost of the other roofs out there.

Process of Installing a 2 Ply Rubber Roof

Alright, I’ve already laid down my uh fiberglass liner and uh I’ve anchored it down. This gives the roof the strength and stiffness it needs and uh we have a two ply system we do. This is the first of those of the two ply. It’s a self-adhering base. You can see right here it’s already starting to it’s already starting to adhere and it’s gonna stay that way um and then after that we are gonna torch our modified membrane to this fusing it together.

The Best Rubber Roofs

This is why it’s one of the best roofs out there. Uh, you get a two layer membrane as well as the protection, the fiberglass liner. You can’t beat it. Uh, so we went with white on this roof to reflect the sun and to keep it cool and um here’s the granular that you see on top and these are made of ceramic these are ceramic granular and uh they protect against the UV rays which usually break up the roof.

Ending Prematurely

This makes it end prematurely and then uh we’re fusing this layer directly to our other two layers and I’ll show in a second just how thick it is but this is why this is a good system it makes it one unified membrane all across.

Thickness of the Layers

So uh, let me show you how thick it is here. Alright, you see? That’s how thick it is. You could see, I might be able to peel this open. There’s our first layer, the fiberglass liner, that gives that strength that’s anchored down to the to the roof with screws. And then I can’t separate the other two cause they’re fused together, but uh you can see how thick that is that and uh also the strength that fiberglass liner gives it; it’s not as pliable anymore.

What You See is What You Get

You see that? That’s the roof that you’re getting. This is what makes it one of the best systems out there especially over gravel or anything like that. Okay uh, we are ready to do the curb flashing around the chimneys and skylights and now we’re just rolling out the big the big rolls over here to finish up the roof. Look how they flow together.

Commercial Roof Installation: 2 Ply Rubber over Hot-Tar-and-Gravel

Our commercial roof installation of a 2 ply rubber roof, over hot-tar-and-gravel, has been tested and proven to withstand extreme weather, foot traffic and harmful UV rays, for many decades. The system consists of a reinforced fiberglass asphalt base sheet, placed directly over the gravel, and fastened down with plates and anchors, to the roof. Over this fiberglass base sheet, we install a self-adhering membrane; this combination becomes our first ply. Lastly, we fuse a cap sheet of Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber to it, which has embedded ceramic granules on the surface, for protection against harmful UV rays.

Commercial Roof Installation: New Modified Bitumen Rubber (MB) over Old MB Rubber 

When a roof has an existing MB membrane, there is no need to remove it, rather, fusing an additional MB Torch Down membrane to it, creates a 2-ply rubber membrane.  The installation of this type of roofing system will reduce labor costs and provide a life expectancy of 40 years, and beyond.

Although a 2 Ply MB roof is the best roofing system, it can be compromised if roofing technicians do not have the experience and skills to perform the necessary flash detailing around mechanical units, drains, and vents. Most importantly, however, the entire surface of the membrane must be skillfully heat fused with a torch.

This video explains the three roofing systems available: TPO, EPDM and Modified Bitumen Torch Down

Video Transcription - Flat Roof Installation Systems Compared

Explaining the 3 Roofing Systems 

I want to explain to you about the three different systems that are available on the market for redoing a roof over a commercial roof. First of all you get the TPO type of membrane which is a white membrane and it a vinyl or PVC type of material and it’s called a single ply membrane. Then you can get the EPDM. Let me show you the EPDM here at the bottom. Andre want to this is the EPDM membrane and it’s also a single ply membrane like the inner tube of a car.

Comparing Two Rubber Roofs

You can see it stretches like that and then you get another single ply membrane which is the modified bitumen membrane like this one. This is a modified asphalt and it becomes rubber. The three systems are all called single ply membranes and they all have a different technique of installation.

TPO is Heat-Welded

TPO needs to be heat welded on the seams and you need to have a surface that is fairly flat and smooth before you install it and the same with the EPDM. EPDM is very thin and hold that side Andre and also it’s a single ply membrane and it has to be installed over very smooth surface and it’s a glue down process.

That means contact cement. You add contact cement onto this side and the other side and you glue them together and that way that’s how the seams are done. Uh this is how easy you can penetrate through uh EPDM. I can hold it there. You see the knife? It goes just like that. Easy.

Modified Bitumen is a Thicker Membrane

Modified Bitumen is a thicker membrane and it can be installed over almost any surface, a rough surface. It’s not necessary has to be smooth. What makes this such a better system, or a better membrane is you can hardly get through the membrane. That’s how hard it is to get through this membrane. I can barely get my knife through there.

Install a Modified Bitumen Membrane

I have to put a lot of pressure in it. Now the way you, what we do is we have gone a step further. We install the modified bitumen membrane over another membrane on top of a base paper. Now, I’m going to explain this to you, but we call it a two ply system. A two ply system is by far the best roofing system out there.

Life Span of a Roof

There’s nothing that can come close to it. All these single ply membranes even the modified by itself, they give a guarantee of twelve to fifteen years. That’s what the life expectancy is. That’s not enough for a commercial roof. If you have a commercial building, you don’t want to replace the roof every twelve fifteen years. The system what we have is a two-ply system. Let me I’m gonna just explain to you. Here we’re busy doing a roof over the stone here and you can see the stone. We smooth out the stone like this then we add a fiber liner.

A Fiberglass Liner for a Rubber Roof

This is a fiberglass liner that can go over the stone. You can see the stones doesn’t come through. It doesn’t penetrate through. That is to give it the stiffness to the roof and make it like a rigid roof. After we install the fiber uh, uh liner, then we install a single ply self-adhering membrane. You can see this is sticking to this base.

Installing a Base

It’s starting to stick there. You see there? This is sticking to the base and after we install that fiber liner and then this base, we then torch down our membrane, the final layer on top of this self-adhering base. By the time you’re done, it becomes a very thick roof and this system can be installed over any type of roof any surface without having to strip the cost of stripping an entire roof and it will last you guaranteed thirty to forty years easily no questions about it.

The Thickness of a Roof

This is what it looks like. Look how thick it is. I don’t know if you can see it. Can you zoom in onto this Erik? Let me get the EPDM. Can you see the two difference there? This is the difference in thickness. Can you see it? And this two ply system, you can do modified a single ply system we don’t recommend that.

It’s still a single ply roof, but once you go to a two ply system with a modified, you cannot do it with EPDM you cannot do it with TPO, that white uh, uh, vinyl type of roof, but you can do it with a modified, you can do two ply system with the modified and you’ll have the best system out there. Nothing can beat it. So, I explained to you about the two ply system. So we went over an original built up roof.

Old Hot Tar Built Up Roof

This is the old hot tar built up roof hot tar and paper and it started cracking and the owners of this building wanted to reroof and so we went over the hot tar. This is a two ply system. There’s the first membrane and there’s the second membrane. I cannot get it apart. It’s stuck to it.

The first membrane is sticks to the hot tar and the next one we torch to this it sticks to this. It’s indestructible! Then you can look, pan over this this is how it looks like we went over here. This area has stone underneath here. We went over the stone area and you can see we still in the process. We almost done.

Torch Down Membrane

This is the membrane the torch down, and this is the second base here; the self adhering base and then we have the liner the fiberglass liner and this is the stone here. We almost complete with this roof and this roof will outlast any other system out there. I don’t care which one you bring to me.

TPO Not Lasting Long

The TPO, the EPDM, they cannot last as long as this roof would last. This will last thirty to and I’m sure it’s gonna go to fifty years. This is how good this type of roof is and leaks? No way! It can never leak even if they don’t the whole thing about single ply membranes is technique.

Installing TPO

TPO has a certain technique the heat weld and so has EPDM has certain techniques, but the glue on EPDMs do fail after three or five years or ten years. That contact cement, it fails in the heat. Both of the TPO and EPDM are not UV protected. They don’t have the protection. With the modified it has the granular surface that has UV protection, it’s double the thickness then we added another layer it makes it three or four times thicker than any other single ply membrane. No UV can destroy it, and that’s the best system out there. Bar none!

Modified Bitumen: Four Reasons to Install an MB 2 Ply Roofing System 

  • Embedded ceramic granules protect the membrane against harmful UV rays.
  • The membrane becomes five times thicker than a single-ply membrane (EPDM and TPO).
  • Seams are fused together with a propane torch creating a monolithic membrane.
  • It will withstand more frequent foot traffic and snow shoveling, than EPDM or TPO systems.

Commercial Roof Installation: A 2 Ply MB Roofing over any other Roof, is Cost-Effective

When an existing commercial roof needs to be replaced, the best system to install is a 2 Ply Modified Bitumen Torch Down Membrane. Not only can this 2 ply system be installed over a Hot-Tar-and-Gravel Roof system, it can also be installed over an existing EPDM Rubber Membrane, and a TPO Membrane,  making it cost effective.

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