EPDM Rubber Roofing: Pros & Cons

Sep 20, 2023

WRITTEN BY:

Viking Contractors

CATEGORY:

Uncategorized

POSTED ON:

September 20, 2023

UPDATED ON:

May 10, 2024

Got Questions?

Are you planning to install a new roof, and EPDM rubber roofing is on the table? That’s no surprise, given it offers a lot of amazing properties at a fair price.

But before you make your decision, it’s important you learn more about this material’s pros and cons so you know exactly what to expect. And this is why we created this guide!

We also wanted you to know that, at Viking Contractors, our services extend beyond roofing, so make sure to check them out

 

What Exactly Is EPDM Rubber Roofing?

One of the most widely used materials in membrane roofing is EPDM. If you’ve never heard of a roof membrane, it’s a watertight, thin layer that’s installed on flat or low-sloped commercial buildings.

EPDM, short for Ethylene-Propylene-Diene-Monomer, is a highly durable synthetic rubber membrane. The benefits it carries make it not only a popular choice for commercial buildings but also residential ones; we’ll go over them in a moment. 

You’ll find this roofing material available in only two colors: black and white. This is deliberate, as both shades have a significant impact on the properties of this roofing system.

You see, the black membrane contains carbon, which allows it to convert UV light into heat, thus warming the interiors. On the other hand, a white EPDM roof has titanium dioxide that helps with reflecting UV rays so that your home feels cool on the inside.

 

Benefits of EPDM Roofing

Moving on to what makes EPDM roofing systems stand out. The following are the five main advantages you can expect from them:

1. Affordability

As you choose roof materials for your home, you’ll find that an EPDM roofing membrane falls into the mid to low-cost range. It’s even more affordable than other membrane types, such as TPO roofing. 

So you can see where EPDM roofs stand on the price spectrum, we’ll show you how they compare to other materials. EPDM membranes range from $3 to $12/ft², while metal shingles cost between $8 and $20/ft², and clay tiles are priced between $10 and $18/ft². 

2. Simple Installation and Upkeep

It’s no secret that roof installation costs can be a nightmare for many homeowners, but this won’t be the case with an EPDM rubber roof. 

Although this roofing material can be installed in three ways: ballasted, adhered, or mechanically attached, the general process is relatively easy. Your contractor will simply lay out the EPDM roll on the roof’s surface, and the real work goes into properly fitting it to prevent leaks. 

Overall, the installation doesn’t necessitate lots of labor or expensive specialty tools, which translates to lower charges.

Even better, you won’t have to worry about exerting effort or spending a fortune on its upkeep. When properly installed, your EPDM membrane will only require minimal maintenance three times per year. 

3. Weather Resistance

Water droplets on the rubber membrane. Waterproofing... Close-up selective focus area.

Do you know why we opt for rubber membranes for low-slope roofs? This is because this roof pitch, like flat roofs, is infamous for its poor drainage. 

So, after a rainy day, you’ll notice this roof type carrying multiple water puddles on its surface. That’s just a bad omen, as it can lead to water infiltration, which causes severe structural damage. 

When you install an EPDM membrane, it acts as a roof waterproofing barrier that protects it during downpours and other wet weather conditions. Not only that, but it’s also fire-resistant. 

That’s why this material is at the top of our recommendations list for homeowners in areas prone to heavy rains and wildfires.

4. Energy Efficiency

We find EPDM membranes an affordable alternative to other energy-efficient roofing types, such as solar. 

As we mentioned earlier, this roofing material comes in two colors, both of which help to regulate the temperature indoors. So, for example, if you live somewhere with a freezing climate, installing a black EPDM can help you save money on energy bills.

5. Long Life Expectancy

When we talk to clients about roofing membranes, they usually assume they have a short lifespan of 5-8 years, similar to rolled roofing. That’s far from the case.

EPDM, in particular, is chemically formulated to withstand harsh climates, so it’ll take a long time to show signs of deterioration. The thicker versions, such as 90 Mil or 60 Mil, are even more resilient. 

If you have good quality EPDM roofing installed by a reputable contractor, you can expect it to last up to 50 years. Believe it or not, that’s the same life expectancy as metal roofings, which can cost twice as much as this membrane!

 

Downsides of EPDM Roofs

Roofing Worker Installing EPDM Rubber Membrane on Top of Plywood Roof

To give you the full picture of this roofing, we’ve listed some of its common drawbacks below:

1. Subject to Shrinking

Shrinkage is a serious problem with EPDM that we frequently encounter because of more than one culprit. Poor installation comes in first, followed by prolonged direct sunlight exposure. We have to say, this material also tends to contract as it ages. 

If you ever see signs of this issue, you must call a roofing expert right away to have it fixed. Otherwise, water can collect beneath it and cause extensive damage to vulnerable roofing materials.

2. Possibility of Developing Punctures

Given the nature of this rubber material, punctures can occur for a variety of reasons. The most common is that the contractor doesn’t work this layer well around roof structures such as vents and HVAC units. 

If you leave it untreated, this issue can cause leaks, and the punctures can develop into tears, which will force you to replace it sooner than expected. 

3. Lacks Visual Appeal

We won’t lie: EPDM membranes won’t enhance your property’s curb appeal. It’s not like wooden roofing that comes with a natural rustic feel or metal roofs that have a great contemporary flair. Even the colors it’s available in are quite limited. 

 

Wrapping Up

Now that you have a thorough understanding of what EPDM rubber roofing is, you can decide if it’s a good fit for your property. 

Remember, the installation is one of the key aspects that impact the performance of this roofing; if it doesn’t go well, a slew of issues will follow. 

At Viking Contractors, our roofing professionals have years of experience in the business and can ensure a seamless installation process. You can schedule your free roof inspection with us today!

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