Waterproofing Your Home: A Guide to Roof Membrane

Mar 21, 2023

WRITTEN BY:

Viking Contractors

CATEGORY:

Uncategorized

POSTED ON:

March 21, 2023

UPDATED ON:

May 10, 2024

Got Questions?

A roof membrane is a hero that doesn’t get much credit. It protects your home from water damage. But how can you get one? If you’re unsure whom to ask, don’t worry; here at Viking Contractors LLC, we specialize in roofing services and can help you. 

In this article, we dive deep into roof membranes. We’ll also walk you through how our experts can ensure your home stays a fortress against the elements, step by step.

What Is a Roof Membrane?

A roof membrane protects your home from the damage that weather can do, keeping your living space comfortable, dry, and structurally sound. The best modern roofing systems protect against water, wind, and UV rays, making a seal that is both weatherproof and watertight.

What Is Membrane Roofing Made Of?

Most roof membranes are made of synthetic materials like thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO), ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM), or polyvinyl chloride (PVC). These materials are resistant to damage and weathering, making them the best choice for roof protection that will last for a long time. 

Before you begin the installation process, you need to know the differences between the different types of membranes and choose the one that works best for your needs and climate.

Types of Membrane Roofing

When choosing a roofing membrane, an expert can help you consider the building’s specific needs and the roof’s expected lifespan. Consulting with a roofing professional can also help ensure you select the right membrane. Let’s take a closer look at the three most popular types:

1. TPO

Thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) is a single-ply roofing membrane made of a blend of ethylene-propylene rubber and polypropylene.

Pros:

  • It saves money on cooling costs by reflecting sunlight and conserving energy.
  • It can’t be torn, ripped, or damaged by chemicals.
  • It can be recycled.
  • It comes in different colors and thicknesses.

Cons:

  • It can get smaller and crack over time.
  • It can be hard to fix or replace because TPO seams need to be welded with hot air.
  • It may not work well in high or low temperatures or bad weather.
  • Some TPO products may have chemicals like plasticizers or stabilizers that could be harmful.

2. EPDM

Ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) is also a single-ply roofing membrane made of rubber.

Pros:

  • It’s strong and flexible and can last up to 50 years.
  • It has UV radiation and weathering resistance.
  • It’s easy to put together.
  • It’s recyclable.

Cons:

  • It absorbs heat rather than reflecting it.
  • It may perform poorly in extreme temperatures or harsh weather conditions.
  • It’s prone to punctures or tears, especially during installation or maintenance.

3. PVC

Details of waterproofing at construction site.

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is a single-ply roofing membrane made of plastic.

Pros:

  • It can last up to 30 years.
  • It’s a strong material.
  • It has chemical and high-temperature resistance.
  • It’s energy-efficient, reflecting sunlight and cutting the costs of cooling.
  • It’s easy to put together and fix.

Cons:

  • It may not work well in high or low temperatures or bad weather.
  • It’s not recyclable, which makes it less eco-friendly than TPO or EPDM.
  • It can shrink or break down over time.

Fixing Common Roof Membrane Problems

Even if a roofing specialist installed your membrane, problems could still arise. Let’s talk about common problems with roof membranes, such as membrane shrinkage, holes, and seam failure, and we’ll explain how our experts find, fix, and prevent them: 

1. Membrane Shrinkage

Membrane shrinkage happens when the roof material gets smaller because of things like age, changes in temperature, or exposure to chemicals. This can cause the membrane to pull at its edges or where it goes through the roof, which could cause leaks, seam failures, or damage to the roof’s structure.

Roofing specialists will look for signs of pulling or tension, especially at corners, holes, and edges. You should hire them to fix the problem if they find shrinkage. 

Depending on the problem, a professional roofer may suggest adding more membrane material to relieve tension, fixing broken seams, or replacing the whole membrane.

2. Holes in Membranes

Membrane punctures are holes or tears in the roof material that usually happens when people walk on it, things fall on it, or it’s poorly installed. Water can get through holes, damaging the insulation, roof structure, and rooms inside.

Roofing specialists can do regular visual inspections to find holes in the membrane, especially after bad weather or work on the roof. They would look for any obvious signs of damage or puddles of water, which could be signs of a hole. They might also use infrared thermography to find water on the roof, which could indicate a leak.

Roofing experts will dry the damaged area, then apply a patch material that sticks well and keeps water out. This also applies to larger holes.

3. Seam Failure

When the connection between two sheets of roofing membrane weakens or comes apart, this is called seam failure. It lets water get into the roofing system. Some factors that can cause seams to break include bad installation age, weather, or stress from the building moving.

Roofing inspectors will look for signs of separation or damage at the seams and places where water pools or gets in. Regular inspections can help find seam problems early on so they can be fixed quickly.

Roofing specialists will clean and dry the area, then use a compatible glue, hot-air welding, or solvent welding, depending on the membrane type, to reseal the seam. When seams fail in many places, a professional roofer may suggest replacing parts of the membrane or the whole roof.

Installing Membrane Roofing

Roof membrane waterproofing. Two workers are working on installation of waterproofing layer.

Now let’s look into what you can expect our roofing specialist to do once you decide to install roof membranes.

Step 1: Getting the Roof Surface Ready

Preparing the roof’s surface is the first step in installing a roof membrane. The roofing specialist will clean the roof deck well, removing the trash and ensuring the surface is dry and free of anything that could stop the membrane from sticking. 

Step 2: Putting Insulation and Vapor Barrier in Place 

After the surface is ready, the roof expert implements insulation and a vapor barrier. The insulation helps keep your house comfortable, and the vapor barrier stops water from getting into the roof materials. 

The roofer will put these parts together, lay down sheets of insulation board, and glue, screw, or nail them together. 

Step 3: Setting Up the Roofing Membrane

Once you’ve chosen the membrane, you can unroll it on the roof to let it get used to the temperature and humidity. 

The roofer will ensure the membrane goes at least six inches past the roof’s edge. This will make it easier to trim and attach the membrane later. It’s important to keep the membrane from getting wrinkles or bubbles, which can reduce how well it works and how long it lasts.

Step 4: Putting on the Membrane Accessories

Installing flashings and terminations at roof penetrations, edges, and transitions is important to ensure the installation is watertight and lasts long. These parts help keep water from getting into weak spots and stop leaks. 

Your roofer will advise you that the flashings and the ends of the membrane should be made of materials that work well with it and put in place according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Step 5: Maintaining Your Roof Membrane

A well-installed roof membrane can last decades with the right care and maintenance. Regular inspections, at least twice a year or after storms and other significant weather conditions, are important for finding and fixing problems before they worsen. 

If you see signs of damage, like holes, blisters, or cracks, contact our specialists at Viking Contractor LLC to fix them immediately and make your roof membrane last longer.

If you’re interested in more roofing tips and tricks, check out our blog posts to learn how long a roof can last, what’s a drip edge roof setup, and more.

Final Thoughts

Installing a roof membrane is one of the most important things a roofing specialist can do for you to protect your home from the weather and extend its life. 

Remember that proper maintenance is the key to getting the most out of your roof membrane and extending its life, so keep an eye out for problems. If you spot any, don’t hesitate to call us at Viking Contractor LLC to fix them immediately to continue enjoying a durable and reliable roofing system.

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