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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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Commercial Roof USA

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