HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. — Members of Creative Times Construction prepare a roof for Thermal Plastic Polyolefin, Aug. 4, 2011, during the construction of Hangar 500. CTI Construction is replacing this roof with TPO, which provides resistance to ultraviolet, ozone and chemical exposure. Hangar 500 will provide additional maintenance and training space for the Remotely Piloted Aircraft units. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Turner/Released)

Like any other industry involved in construction, there has been a lot of change, growth, and evolution when you look at the roofing materials now available to home and business owners. These roofing materials have been able to evolve over time and meet the growing needs and demands of property owners. 

One of the materials quickly growing in popularity is the use of single-ply membrane materials for flat roofs. These include the use of materials such as TPO, EPDM, and PVC. These 3 materials will be discussed in this article to give you an overview of their uses, and what makes them different from other roofing materials and each other. 

Flat roofing materials such as PVC, TPO, and EPDM are beginning to gain a lot of momentum in the roofing industry in terms of popularity. These materials have a similar installation process and characteristics and are also offered at fair and competitive prices.

While most people are already aware of the fact that TPO and PVC are installed on top of a single membrane, typically for low-pitched and flat roofs, and are composed of seams that are welded together, there are still distinguishable features that make these 2 materials very different. It is essential to look at the differences between these 2 materials to help you make an informed decision for your commercial roof.


TPO or Thermoplastic Olefin was initially designed to be an upgrade from the use of PVC material for roofing. A key feature that you will easily notice when looking at TPO roofing is that the material has a laminated texture. Most of the time, the material which is often used As the top layer for TPO roofing can be very different from the type of material that will be used on the lower or bottom layer. This top layer material is also known as a wearing surface. The material used at the bottom of the roof is referred to as the filler.

TPO is made into multiple small rolls instead of a singular large sheet of material. Because of this construction, TPO roofing often has more seams than the other types of roofing, especially when compared to EPDM or PVC roofing which comes in larger sheets which require less seams between materials.

TPO is also a material that is relatively cheap and is often readily available at an affordable rate. If you want to go for the cheapest of the 3 different flat roofing materials, you should go for TPO as your flat roofing choice. 


PVC or Polyvinyl Chloride is another popular flat roofing material to discuss. Aside from being used in roofing, PVC is commonly used for pipes, gutters, and a number of other structures in the home.

However, the type of PVC that you can find in your pipes is different from the one used on rooftops. For one, roofing PVC is more pliable. Just like EPDM and any other materials, PVC membranes can be mechanically attached or even fully-adhered.

One of the main advantages of using PVC for your roofing is that it has a high level of heat resistance and is very durable against punctures, making it less prone to leakage. However, the material does not adhere to asphalt materials so if you are planning on installing PVC together with asphalt-based materials, it’s best to make sure that they do not come in physical contact. 


EPDM roofing or Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer is a synthetic rubber material that has great resistance and durability. EPDM is a material which is resistant against typical day-to-day temperature changes as well as seasonal temperature changes that often cause other types of roofing to wear out quickly. This benefit is due to the composition and characteristics of EPDM. EPDM does not change shape at the influence of heating or cooling so it remains quite flexible all thanks to its thermoset nature.

Like other single-ply roofing materials, EPDM comes in sheet rolls. This makes installation of the material easy and quick. The sheets are adhered with the proper high-strength tapes or adhesives. Once the sheets are in place, the roofing structure creates a strong waterproof barrier between the environment and your building’s interior.

When considering other flat or commercial roofing materials, it is not a matter of choosing which is the best since these materials are not inherently better than one another. Instead, it is a matter of choosing which among the given options better fits your property’s needs. Some materials are simply a better choice for your particular building and the business you conduct inside.


Here at New Covenant Construction, one of our primary goals in business is making sure your commercial building has the best and most protective roofing systems. 


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