Flat Roofs Guide
Flat roofs tend to go in and out of style. Here in the Southwest, they’re much more than that. Flat roofs have been an integral part of homebuilding for centuries, going all the way back to the Ancestral Puebloans. For our climate it’s cheaper, easier to repair and, with the proper maintenance, can last a good 25 years.
Today, flat roofs come in many different types and are usually recognized by acronyms, such as BUR (Built-up Roof), EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer, better known as Rubber Membrane), MBR (Modified Bitumen Roof, also known as Brai), TPO (Thermoplastic Polyolefin), PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride), CSPE (Chlorosulfonated Polyethylene), PIP (Polyisobutylene) and KEE (Ketone Ethylene Ester). Most of these acronyms refer to the chemically designed manufacturing process to create membranes. McPartlon Roofing uses all these and more, but here, we’ll discuss the two most commonly used processes.
Modified Bitumen (MBR)
EPDM is a single-ply synthetic rubber created from oil and natural gas which, when combined with diene, creates a flexible membrane. It can be either fully adhered, mechanically attached or ballasted with sealed seams, using either liquid adhesives or special tape. It is available in both black and white and sold in a variety of widths and thicknesses. The superior durability and cost effectiveness of EPDM is what makes it one of the most popular flat roof systems used in the country today. The average life of EPDM is 25 to 30 years, providing high resistance to wind, hail, UV radiation and extreme temperatures.
Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO)
TPO is another single-ply synthetic membrane and one of the fastest growing commercial roofing systems on the market. There are two ways to apply TPO: fully adhered or fastened at the corners and heat-welded along the seams. At McPartlon Roofing, we prefer fully adhered, so there’s something behind the membrane. If it’s not glued on, it can be highly susceptible to puncture by hail or other flying debris. TPO is bright white to reflect UV rays, is fire retardant and can last up to 30 years.