Thermoset Or Thermoplastic Roofing: What’s The Difference?


If you are a commercial property owner or a facility manager, you know how difficult it is to maintain a commercial roof. There are so many factors that can cause damage and reduce the life span of the roof.

The best solution is to find the perfect roofing material that fits the location and your building’s particular needs. For commercial properties, single-ply roofs are mostly preferred because of their strength and resistance to various types of damage.

What are single-ply membranes?

Referred as elastomeric roofing systems, these membranes are available in form of sheets. These systems are generally categorized as thermoset and thermoplastic membranes.

An example of thermoset membranes includes ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM), one of the most widely used roofing systems. On the other hand, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO), two other common roofing systems for commercial buildings, fall in the second category.

EPDM- An example of thermoset roofing membranes

These membranes are made from chemically inert substances, similar to materials that make up the tire rubber. These systems also use carbon black in order to block UV radiation.

Factory coating the EPDM membranes have not been attempted successfully. However, same benefits can be achieved if managers get the membrane coated with a white coating. This will ensure a longer life span of the roofing system.

TPO and PVC–Prominent examples of thermoplastic membranes

Both TPO and PVC membranes are smooth, highly resistant to chemicals and to water related damage. However, neither of these membranes is easy to coat.

Use of high amounts of liquid plasticizers can be a bigger problem for PVC membranes than their own somewhat slick surfaces. TPO membranes are thus a better option.

Higher chemical resistance may become a disadvantage, as it inhibits the suitable primer development. These systems thus require use of special primers for coating. However, application of these primers is not very common.

Another important thing to note is that the TPO and PVC membranes can be easily misidentified. Since both these membranes require different coatings and primers, it is necessary to test a patch first as a precaution.

Make sure the roofing contractor you hire, is well-acquainted with these systems. Note that they do perform the precautionary test before coating the roof with a white membrane.

Instead of going with novice roofers, choose our Richardson roofing company. Our roofers are experienced with a number of commercial roofing options and can get these installed and repaired in the right manner. Call today at (972) 895-7997 to request services!

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