What Is the Best Flat Roof System?

PVC Single Ply Roofing Membrane.

What is the best flat roof system?

When it comes to commercial and industrial roofing, the majority of roofs are flat roofs. With flat roofing you have plenty of options to choose from traditional built-up roofing to several types of single ply roofing like EPDM and TPO. Metal roofing is also popular for flat roofs. What’s best for your roof will depend on many things from location and climate to the type of industry you’re in. If your roofing will be heavily exposed to chemicals, for instance, PVC is a good roofing choice. Many building managers today tend to prefer a single-ply membrane like PVC, TPO or EPDM. These roofing systems are durable and damage resistant, they are also often energy efficient. If you are interested in single ply roofing in Spartanburg, SC, Premier Roofing Solutions offers a full range of commercial roofing services. Find out more by calling 864-256-1227.

What is single ply membrane made of?

Single ply roofing material is made from various rubber and plastic polymer materials. Three of the most common single-ply membranes are TPO, PVC, and EPDM. TPO and PVC are similar membranes. PVC is just a flexible version of the material that is used for plumbing pipes. Both are tear- and puncture-resistant and generally white or light colored, whereas the rubber used in EPDM because carbon black is added for stability. These membranes may be reinforced with glass fiber or polyester materials.

How long does single ply roofing last?

Each of the different single ply roofing membranes have different lifespans. Generally, PVC roofing materials have one of the longest life expectancies at 30-plus years. TPO roofing and EPDM have a similar life expectancy of anywhere between 20-30 years. Of course, these lifespans are under ideal conditions and good maintenance. Most warranties for these roofs are set around 30 years. 

What is the best roofing membrane?

As with any type of roofing, what’s best in single ply roofing will vary with your building’s needs. EPDM is still high on many building and facility managers’ lists because it has been around the longest, almost 60 years. Because it’s darker than TPO or PVC it’s very good for cooler climates. The rubber material is durable and holds up in all kinds of weather conditions.

While EPDM is still highly popular, TPO and PVC are gaining ground, especially for their ability to protect from harsh UV radiation. These materials are lighter in color so heat transfer is better than with EPDM. Both are good for warmer climates. PVC also has been on the market a little longer than TPO so it has had a greater chance to build up its reputation. It’s also a good material for roofing that might be exposed to heavy concentrations of chemicals, as it is highly chemical resistant. 

Which is better EPDM or TPO?

As single ply roofing goes, both EPDM and TPO have good and bad qualities. Both are favored, however, for their durability, though TPO has a slight edge when it comes to puncture resistance, although if you are in an area that gets a lot of hail TPO can be compromised. TPO also has an advantage in warmer climates because it is lighter. EPDM does not reflect heat as well as TPO, so cooling systems will be strained a little more in very hot weather. This lower reflectivity can be an advantage, however, if your building has solar panels. The solar panels will be able to absorb the sun better.  

Single ply roofing pros and cons

If you are considering single ply roofing as your roofing system, you will of course want to weigh the pros and cons of these membranes


  • Proven for more than 60 years in roofing. EPDM in particular has been used reliably in roofing for years.
  • The materials are flexible and lightweight. They are easy and less expensive to install because of this.
  • Depending on your climate you can get EPDM which retains heat for cooler areas or TPO or PVC which reflect heat in warmer climates.


  • Leakage potential because of seams in the roofing. This, however, can often be remedied with a roof coating like acrylic or silicone.
  • Longtime exposure to sunlight can cause rapid deterioration in some cases. Of course sunlight weathers most roofing materials, and, again a roof coating can protect the roof against damaging sunlight.

Single ply roofing fire rating

All single ply roofing systems provide some fire resistance, although PVC membranes are naturally more fire resistant than EPDM or TPO. PVC has added flame retardants to make it even more fire resistant than the other types of membranes. This material in tests has self-extinguished in just a few seconds as compared to the few minutes it takes for EPDM and TPO to do so.

A Roofer Applies EPDM Single Ply Roofing

Single ply roofing near me

If you are looking for experts in single ply roofing in Spartanburg, SC, you can always rely on the professionals at Premier Roofing Solutions. We offer a full range of commercial roofing solutions and are always ready to help you get the right roofing system for your building. To get started working with us, all you need to do is call 864-256-1227.