For those looking for a roofing material for their commercial, institutional, or industrial buildings, you most likely have heard of Thermoplastic Polyolefin or TPO. TPO is a single-ply thermoplastic membrane that is made from a combination of polypropylene and ethylene-propylene rubber.
This roofing material has become a popular option because of its high durability, UV resistance, and low cost. It is also best known for its ease of installation and signature bright-white finish. However, as with any roofing material, it is not without its disadvantages and shortcomings.
TPO can undoubtedly be an excellent material for any flat roof, but make sure to do your homework and learn about the prevalent issues with this type of material. This is to ensure that your roof can provide proper protection for a long time.
Easily Punctured Membrane
TPO is a lightweight and flexible material, but it also has the significant disadvantage of being easily punctured. Usually, this roof can be walked on. Still, it becomes a problem as commercial roofs experience a high volume of traffic. In addition, roof contractors could accidentally puncture the membrane, resulting in wearing down the durability of your roof.
Another common problem seen in this roofing material is that any tools pushed into the rubber membrane can break or tear it. This is because TPO doesn’t have a hard-top layer to protect itself from gravel, tools, and other gear. As a result, the roof is left vulnerable to tearing, ripping, and holes. If you want to ward off this problem, use a proper primer and add extra insulation layers.
Swift Adhesive Degradation
Roofs are constantly exposed to the elements 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The sun’s UV rays are the worst enemy of single-ply membranes like TPO, as the heat it releases can be harmful. In addition, it can degrade the roofing material’s adhesive quicker than you expect.
TPO uses adhesives to be attached to clean and smoothened membrane boards. Sealants are also used to create a waterproof seal to keep your roof safe in even the harshest weather conditions. When the adhesives degrade, your roof will become vulnerable and allow water to seep into and cause internal leaks.
During installation, make sure that the membrane sheets are overlapping each other. This will block the adhesives from exposure to the UV rays and prevent those TPO roofing problems from occurring, at least not consistently.
TPO roofing is a solid synthetic material that can withstand most of what mother nature throws at it, whether it’s UV rays, ozone exposure, or chemical exposure. However, the long-term durability of this roofing material is relatively unknown. Unlike asphalt shingle or metal roofs, TPO roofing has only been around for a few decades.
Roofing manufacturers are still trying to figure out the right formula with the perfect balance between affordability and durability. Over the years, many trials have ended with documented instances of seam failures and material failures like membrane curing and cracking. There have been improvements along the way, but it has a long way to go before it can be considered the perfect formula.
At this point, it is still not possible to tell how long a new TPO roofing product will last. However, some experts claim that a properly installed TPO roof can last about 15 to 20 years in its current state.
That is why you need to be careful when purchasing a TPO roofing membrane. First, make sure to get it from a manufacturer that has been around since the beginning of TPO production. Their products are most likely to have the longest-lasting formulation available on the market today.
Fahey Roofing Contractors has the experienced and skilled contractors you need to help you with any necessary roof repairs and roof replacement. We serve various areas in West Virginia and Ohio. If you have questions or concerns, visit our website or contracts us at (304) 826-1323 for West Virginia or (740) 523-0380 for Ohio.