Single-ply membrane roofing is one of the most common types for commercial applications, and TPO is one of the most popular materials for single-ply roofs. If you’ve ever seen a bright white flat roof, then it was probably TPO. It is one of the fastest-growing roofing materials among building owners because of its many benefits. One of the biggest ones is energy savings, but there are many others. Let’s take a closer look at what TPO roofing is exactly, and some of the pros and cons of this material too.

What is TPO Roofing Exactly?

TPO stands for Thermoplastic Polyolefin and is a form of single-ply membrane roofing. It is mainly used on commercial buildings. These are made of a single layer of synthetic material that is reinforced with scrim.

TPO usually comes in 10″, 12″, and 20″ wide sheets. These are then rolled up and brought to the location where they need to be installed. The reflective properties of TPO are the main reason for its popularity, and it has taken up about 40% of the current market share of commercial roofing materials according to the National Roofing Contractors Association.

How is TPO Roofing Installed?

Another reason why so many people love TPO roofs is because of how easy they are to install. The first thing that will need to be done is cleaning the roof and applying the substrate. You will then need to choose an insulation material over which the layer of TPO will be applied. The type of insulation you choose will have a direct effect on how expensive it will cost and the kind of energy savings you can expect to make.

Here, you can choose between polyisocyanurate, expanded polystyrene, and extruded polystyrene. Polyisocyanurate, or polyiso as it is commonly called, is the most popular type of insulation used. It is more expensive than other options but has a better r-rating, which translates to greater savings in the long run.

Expanded polystyrene, on the other hand, has a greater R-value per dollar. It can be used for walls and floors, and to establish ground contact as well. It doesn’t retain water either. Extruded polystyrene is in the middle of the road when it comes to R-value and price. It is semi-permeable as well.

The TPO membrane can be applied using adhesive or it can be mechanically fastened. In any case, the seams will be heat treated to form a bond.

What Are the Pros and Cons of TPO Roofing?

TPO roofing has tons of things going for it, but it has a few disadvantages as well. One of the biggest issues about these roofs is that they are fairly new, and there are still many misconceptions about them. Manufacturers and contractors will try to use the general public’s ignorance to their advantage too.

The quality between different roofs can vary greatly depending on the manufacturer. This can make it difficult for people with less experience to know which one they should go with.

Since we don’t know much about these, we don’t know exactly how long the average TPO roof will last. There are major variations in terms of thickness with these, but you shouldn’t assume that a thicker membrane will last longer. It’s estimated that a TPO roof should last about 20 years on average, but that’s only a general estimate.

With that being said, they have many more pros than cons. The biggest benefit of TPO roofs is how affordable they are. You can get a TPO roof for as little as $7455. These are cheaper than PVC roofs but offer some of the same energy-saving benefits, so if you are thinking about getting a PVC roof, it would be wise to consider TPO as well.

Another benefit of TPO is how flexible it is. Contrary to what many people think, they don’t only work for commercial buildings. There is an increasing number of colors and finishes that make them a good option for residential units as well. No matter the color they come in, they still retain some of their energy-saving and UV protective properties.

TPO roofs are also incredibly easy to maintain. With TPO, you won’t have to worry about things like dirt accumulation, punctures and tears, or mold forming. You also won’t have to think about thermal contraction and expansion. TPO is highly inhospitable to mildew and algae, so you won’t have to pressure wash it either.

Then comes the energy savings. All white TPO roofs surpass energy star standards while gray and tan TPO roofs meet Cool Roof Rating Council standards. This means that you’ll not only be able to save for a long time with them, but you will also reduce your carbon footprint.

If you are looking for the perfect material for your facility, you should definitely give TPO a closer look. It’s one of the cheapest materials you’ll find, is low maintenance, and will allow you to save tons of money in energy costs.