If you have a predominantly flat roof, you need to know about TPO roofing. TPO is a chemical acronym for ThermoPlastic-Olefin. Basically, it’s a somewhat stiff, white plastic that is rubber-like. It’s been around longer than you think (roughly 20 years) and in the genre of roofing is known as “single-ply”. The first single-ply product was EPDM, and then PVC which came about several decades ago. For most applications, TPO became the go to product and most all single-ply installations are now constructed using TPO.
TPO is great because it comes in many colors. Especially white which is the most ultra-reflective surface you can really put on a roof. It’s easy to clean, durable, lasts 20-plus years when done right using a good product. Most homeowners can locate and possibly repair problems themselves temporarily. Because it is such an environmentally sound product, reflects the sun, often doesn’t require removal of the existing roofing. It is ultra-lightweight and costs about the same as most conventional flat roofing material installations. I predict that by 2025, this will be the predominant flat roof product.
Hot tar and torchdown are inherently messier, more dangerous (requiring special insurance, etc.) and more environmentally unfriendly. And because they are asphalt based (oil based) they are tied to the cost of oil. Asphalt is at the bottom of the chain of products that result when refining petroleum. As the process has increased in efficiency, there is less and less asphalt to be had.
While no conventional flat roofing product, including TPO, is covered by warranty under ponding water, most roofers agree that TPO is the best choice where ponding water is unavoidable or is deemed to not be practical or cost-effective to correct.
Most major institutions, corporations, and commercial entities, when specifying new roofs, will specify TPO. They are interested, usually, in long-term solutions so it’s notable that the pro’s consider TPO the way to go, and as a 3rd generation, Certified Master Installer, and of course licensed roofer, I tend to agree.
This article is contributed by Matt Glass, Vice President of J and J Roofing, servicing homes and businesses for all roofing needs in the greater Los Angeles area including Sherman Oaks, Pasadena, Studio City, Burbank, Encino, Woodland Hills and Glendale. J and J Roofing offers commercial TPO roofing providing expert installation with a veteran crew and top-of-the-line equipment.
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