Single Ply Sheet Membrane Roofing Systems

A Primer on Single Ply Sheet Membrane Roofing Systems

True enough, any contractor will recommend single ply sheet membrane roofing systems. It is durable, cost-effective, and long-lasting. Single-ply membranes do not corrode like metal roofs. As a matter of fact, it does not erode like commercial property shingles and asphalt membranes.

Single-ply membranes are not perfect. They have a shorter lifespan than reinforced metal roofs. However, the pros truly outweigh the cons especially for membrane-using commercial properties.

Types of Single-Ply Roofing Systems

Single ply sheet membrane roofing systems use three different types of materials. Here’s a list of them.

Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM)

Manufacturers use recycled materials to create ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) roofs. Commonly known as rubber roofs, these are the most affordable solutions for any commercial property in need of durable and long-lasting roofing. In fact, property owners find its per-square foot cost of $0.4 its most appealing characteristic.

However, it is lacking in terms of UV protection. EPDM roofs provide excellent insulation if installed by professional contractors effectively. EPDM roofs appear like black-colored glossy flooring and have no erodible granules.

Used tires combined with slate and sawdust allow manufacturers to drive down costs and improve the durability and lifespan of EPDM roofs.

Thermoplastic Olefin (TPO)

These single ply sheet membrane roofing systems come at thicknesses of 45-80 millimeters. Just like EPDM, it introduces excellent watertight seals around any property. In fact, it has an EPDM base combined with fiberglass filler, carbon fiber, and talc. While these ingredients make them more expensive than conventional EPDM roofs, they deliver better UV resistance because they come in different colors.

Unlike EPDM, TPO roofs come in different colors to suit different types of commercial properties. As a matter of fact, it is lighter than already-light EPDM material.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

Contractors install EPDM and TPO roofs through mechanical tools or roofing-grade nails and staples. PVC roofs are heat-welded at the seams giving them extra insulating qualities. Glued seams contractors use commonly with EPDM roofs require periodic maintenance. PVC roofs require less frequent maintenance because of the tightly-sealed seams.

PVC roofs come in different colors to complement any kind of commercial property. However, they are the most expensive single ply sheet membrane roofing systems making them an excellent and long-lasting investment of over 30-50 years.

Heat-welding is a common way to install PVC roofing membranes.

Advantages of Single-Ply Sheet Membrane Roofing Systems

There are many reasons why commercial roofing contractors highly recommend single ply sheet membrane roofing systems.

Guaranteed Excellent Insulation

All single-ply roofing membranes provide excellent insulation. Their airtight seal protects against leaks and lowers utility bills by 40-50% in addition.

Contractors install EPDM, TPO, and PVC membranes overlap their seals to provide excellent watertight proofing. As a matter of fact, the seams will cover ridges effectively for high-slope commercial properties. Whether taped, machine-installed, or heat-welded, they provide the best, seamless roofing seal for any property at a fraction of traditional roofing material costs.

Single ply membranes are unrolled on top of your property and are either caulked or welded to provide excellent insulation.


EPDM, TPO, and PVC are non-flammable. Unlike commercial property asphalt membranes and shingles made of petroleum, single ply sheet membrane roofing systems have moderate heat resistance. In case of fire, they will melt instead of catching fire.

However, if the property encounters only a minor fire handled quickly, single-ply membranes suffer only negligible damage requiring no possible repairs or redress.

Excellent Impact Resistance

Roofing organizations such as Active Standard require EPDM single ply sheet membrane roofing systems to comply with its ASTM D4637 specification. The standard requires rubber roofing sheets to have nominal impact resistance.

True enough, EPDM roofs will withstand several hailstorms before requiring repairs or replacement. Respectively, TPO roofs require compliance with ASTM D6878 and PVC with ASTM D221.


Single ply sheet membrane roofing systems weight 50% less than tar and gravel roofs. In fact, they’re lighter than asphalt shingles. However, unlike aluminum roofs, their machine-installed or heat-welded seams prevent strong winds from uprooting their foundations and damaging their properties immensely in the process.

Minimal Maintenance

Single-ply roofs require the least maintenance compared to tar and gravel and asphalt roofs. They do not corrode or erode due to strong winds or impact. Strong hailstorms will bruise membranes. However, single-ply membranes require less repairs and redress.

In addition, single ply sheet membrane roofing systems do not lock in moisture. While ponding can happen due to consistent rains, proper installation guarantees the low-sloped roofs will deliver the water towards gutters and downspouts on top of the property.

Are Single Ply Sheet Membrane Roofing Systems Suitable for Your Property?

There are a number of factors to look at before deciding on using single-ply membranes for your property.

Weather in Your Location

Single-ply membranes are heat-resistant and capable of introducing insulation. However, in areas with consistent hailstorms, you may need reinforced or multilayered roofing membranes to avoid continuous repair services. EPDM, PVC, and TPO will not corrode in high salt environments making them suitable to use with properties installed near the sea.

Installing single-ply membranes on properties along high-salt environments are the best choice because they do not corrode.

Property Aesthetics

EPDM membranes are probably the aesthetically-weakest among the three single-ply membranes. However, both TPO and PVC deliver excellent UV resistance, insulation, and compatibility with most properties. They come in different colors. In fact, some manufacturers introduce different types of unique patterns emulating traditional roofing patterns from the curb.

Insurance Culpabilities

Property insurers provide full insurance based on the initial appearance and parts making up your roof. Indeed, single ply sheet membrane roofing systems are compatible with almost every commercial property.

However, you will break some agreements with your insurer possibly rendering your guarantees useless. In addition, the manufacturer of your initial roofing will render your warranty void in the process. Consider carefully before installing a new single-ply membrane or any type of roof at all.


Roofing contractors choose single-ply roofing membranes because they are durable and cost-effective. True enough, EPDM, TPO, and PVC roofs are as capable as their traditional and metal counterparts. While they’re not completely perfect given their shorter lifespan compared to metal roofs, they are perfect for seaside properties and high-hailstorm locations.

Keep in mind: proper installation is important to maximize the benefits your single ply membrane will provide. Therefore, use only the help of professional contractors with trustworthy services.

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