A Brief Comparison Of EPDM And PVC Roofing Materials

Both PVC and EPDM materials are suitable for use on flat roofs. EPDM, short for ethylene propylene diene monomer, is a synthetic rubber that is mostly comprised of oil-based by-products. On the other hand, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is a synthetic plastic with chlorine and ethylene as its major constituents. However, these are not the only differences of the products; as far as roofing is concerned, these two products have differences in areas such as:

Durability

PVC is one of the most durable flat roof materials; it can last more than three decades. This is very different from EPDM, which lasts only around 15 years or so. One of the reasons for this impressive PVC longevity is that it is flexible and isn't affected by thermal contraction or expansion.

Known Problems

All roofing materials have known problems that homeowners struggle with, and these two are no exception. For example, PVC:

  • Emits dangerous fumes when burning
  • Can shutter in extremely low temperatures
  • Usually shrinks after being on the roof for a long time

The common complaints people have with EPDM, on the other hand, are that:

  • It gets heated too much, which may not be good for rooftop equipment
  • It deteriorates fast when exposed to chemicals such as oil and grease
  • Its seams fail prematurely leading to water leaks

Environmental Concerns

It is not just enough to consider how the roof will affect you. You also need to be concerned with its effects on the environment. Since EPDM is a rubber (and rubber is derived from by-products of oil refining), it contributes a great deal to greenhouse emissions.

It used to be thought that EPDM could not be recycled, but matters have changed over the last few years, and different organizations are coming up with novel recycling programs. Help to reduce this effect by recycling your EPDM when the time comes for you to get a new roof.

The manufacture of PVC also involves the use of fossil fuel products, but not as much as the manufacture of EPDM.  Also, the recycling of PVC has been perfected since it has been going on for a long time. As you know, an industry always gets better with time as people learn new ways of doing things.

If you are planning to install a flat roof, use this comparison to help you choose the appropriate material. Which other factors do you consider when looking for materials for a flat roof? Consult your roofing contractor for other flat roof questions you may have.

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