You are probably wondering what TPO stands for. TPO is thermoplastic polyolefin which is a layer of white material that is found in almost all types of roofing. TPO roofing is actually pretty common among both residential and commercial buildings, yet not many people know about it.
This article will be all about TPO roofing and its pros, cons, pricing, and more.
Who would need TPO roofing?
TPO roofing is commonly used on roofs that have rather low slopes to them. A low slope roof is often considered one with a steepness level lower than 2.12. Roofs that have a low slope or are flat do not allow water to run off nearly as easily as roofs with an average or higher slope.
The rate of water runoff may not seem like a big deal, but it is. Roofs with a low slope essentially need to be waterproof which is where TPO roofing comes into play. Roofs with low slopes often have sitting water pooling on the roof after storms or snow melts. It is for that reason that Asphalt shingles cannot be used on low slope roofs since they are not meant to withstand long-term water exposure or pooling water. In fact, asphalt shingles are not allowed to be installed on these low slope roofs because it becomes a safety concern.
TPO Roofing is the solution to this issue and has no issue withstanding water for an extended period of time. TPO roofing is also nice because it reflects any heat from the sun instead of absorbing it resulting in a cooler home. One con about TPO roofing is its coloring. White is the only option and if curb appeal is of high importance to you then this may not be the best choice especially if it is visible from the street as white TPO roofing can get dirty.
TPO Roofing Lifespan and Costs
When installed correctly, your TPO roofing can last roughly 25 years before needing to be replaced. Sometimes the weather in your region can impact the lifespan of TPO roofing so keep that in mind especially if you are hit with some severe weather.
Now let’s get into pricing, an important factor for many people. TPO roofing is not crazy expensive but not very cheap either. Homeowners can expect to pay anywhere between $5.00 to $9.00 per square foot depending on how much TPO roofing is needed. We’ve talked about this on here before, but like other roofing materials, it’s hard to give a set price as each project is different. There are several factors that go into determining the price for installation such as what insulation is used and how big the roof is that’s being replaced.
Other roofing options for flat roofs
While we recommend TPO roofing and it is one of the more commonly used roofing options for low slope or flat roofs, there are a few other roofing types to keep in mind.
The first alternative roofing option we want to cover is EPDM or ethylene propylene diene terpolymer roofs. EPDM is an artificial black rubber roofing material that is occasionally used in residential roofing but is much more common in commercial buildings. The main reason for that is due to the amount of heat it absorbs making a building warmer. While the price is the same as a TPO roof, you could potentially get an additional 5 years out of this type of roofing material.
EPDM is not always recommended for entire residential homes, but they do work well over a garage or a patio where heat will not be as much of a concern.
PVC or Polyvinyl Chloride roofing is very similar to TPO roofing. The only main differences are the chemicals used to make the material and PVC is more flexible. There isn’t too much to say about this roofing type as the price and the lifespan are pretty much the same as TPO. It’s just one more option to consider when roof shopping.
Metal roofing is another great option for low slope or flat roofs. We have several other articles about metal roofing that can be found on our Learning Hub. A standing seam metal roof would be the best metal roof option for a flat roof. This type of roof is made up of metal panels that interlock with each other at their seams. What’s nice about standing seam metal roofs is that they can expand and contract easily and without warping.
Unlike TPO roofing standing seam metal roofs come with a lot of color options boosting your home’s curb appeal more and allowing you to customize your home. Standing seam metal roofs also can last up to double the lifespan of a TPO roof when properly installed. However, the downside to this option is the cost making it the most expensive of all of the options we’ve covered. Metal roofing is more of an investment and if getting more years out of your roof and a strong curb appeal is important to you, then the standing seam metal roof is definitely worth considering.
Wrapping it Up
While having a flat roof or a roof with a low slope limits your options a bit, there are still some unique options that come with their own benefits. We suggest having a professional licensed and insured roofing company come and perform an inspection on your roof to give you a better idea of what your options are. If a roofer ever offers to install asphalt shingles on your low slope or flat roof that is a major red flag and you should avoid working with that company. As always, be sure to get multiple quotes and opinions before working with a company, and always be sure to read the reviews they have.
We hope you now have a better understanding of what TPO roofing is as well as other low slope roof options. There really is a roofing solution for every roof type!
We are here to help!
At Liberty Roofworks we have over 20 years of professional roofing experience. Whether it’s a replacement, repair, cleaning, or inspection, we got you covered! We are no strangers to TPO roofing and accommodating flat roofs or roofs with lower slopes.
If you are interested in getting a new roof installed or want to know more about your flat roofing options, please contact us. We will be more than happy to send out one of our professional roofers to perform an inspection and go over your options with you as well as answer any questions you may have.
If you enjoyed this article you may also want to check out our Learning Hub where we post new roofing content weekly. It’s a great source to learn more about roofing and to reference when planning your next roof replacement.
Frequently Asked TPO Questions
Since TPO and other flat roofing options are not as commonly talked about, it’s normal to have some questions about them. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions we receive along with our answers. If your question is not answered here please contact us and we will personally answer it for you.
Q: Which roof is better, TPO or EPDM?
A: While both are good, there is better stability in a TPO roof making it the preferred roofing choice. EPDM roofs tend to cause more problems than a TPO roof would.
Q: Why are membrane roof systems used on flat roofs?
A: Membrane systems are waterproof and allow for gathered rainwater to sit or run off slowly without causing damage to the building or other roofing elements.
Q: Am I able to walk on my TPO roof?
A: The way that most TPO roofs are installed allows for people to be able to walk on them, but be sure to always ask your contractor first so that no damage or safety issues occur. Fair warning, TPO roofing can be very slippery when wet so always proceed with caution.
Q: What type of maintenance is required for a TPO roof?
A: The main type of maintenance needed for a TPO roof is routine cleaning. This means keeping any debris, leaves, or branches off of your roof. This can be done by using a low power wash setting or a soft-bristled brush to avoid damaging the room. Like with all other types of roofing, we recommended having at least 1 routine inspection a year done by a roofing professional to prevent any damage from occurring.
Q: Can a TPO roof be painted?
A: While it’s not as common, yes, TPO roofs can be painted. This would require a primer and a paint color, but please note that there is a special type of paint coatings used for TPO roofs. If you do plan on painting your TPO roof we suggest hiring a professional roofing company who has dealt with TPO roofs before to do so.