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TPO vs EPDM Roofing

Homeowners today experience trepidation when selecting which material is best for their commercial roof. With several great options available, deciding which material you prefer presents a unique challenge. In order to minimize the stress of this decision-making process, we will be taking an in-depth look over the next several weeks at different material options and their pros and cons. Last week we reviewed Davinci Roofscapes vs Euroshield Rubber Roofing. Today, our experts compare two of the most popular single-ply membrane roofing options, TPO and EPDM.

TPO vs EPDM Single-Ply Membrane Roofing – What’s the Difference?

Has been used for about 20 years Has been used for about 60 years
Reflects Sunlight Retains Heat from Sunlight
Chemically Adhered Attached Mechanically or Chemically
Seems Are Fused with a Hot Air Gun Seems Are Fused with Seam Tape
Available in Multiple Colors Available in Black
Typically Lasts Between 15-20 years Typically Lasts Between 20-25 years

What Is Single-Ply Membrane Roofing?

Single-Ply roofing or Single-Ply Membrane Roofing refers to a wide-width sheeting material meant for roofs with very little slope. Traditionally, these types of roofs would hold water and create problems, but single-ply roofing material has fewer seems and when installed properly are almost completely waterproof. This makes single-ply membrane roofing the most popular choice for commercial roofing applications. Of the single-ply membrane roofing options available, Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO) and Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM) lead the pack as the most popular membrane options. Below, the experts at Hennessey Roofing compare and contrast the two across 7 key deciding elements for business owners in Colorado Springs and the surrounding areas.

Time On The Market

New materials in the roofing industry present a unique issue. It’s hard to test the durability of a particular system without time for the extreme elements of Colorado to properly test the material. In the case of TPO vs EPDM both materials have been on the market and have been thoroughly tested to provide coverage against the elements in Colorado Springs and the surrounding areas. EPDM arrived on the roofing scene in 1962 and became increasingly popular throughout the 70’s and 80’s around the United States. In comparison, TPO Roofing showed up in 1989. Since it’s invention and introduction to the roofing market, TPO Roofing has quickly grown to the most popular roofing material in commercial roofing across the United States, however, it may not be best for Colorado.

Effects of Sunlight and Radiant Heat

Colorado’s famous for beautiful mountain views and high elevations. Likewise, Coloradans are equally famous for bragging about elevations of towns and local hikes. Hennessey Roofing serves Colorado Springs and the surrounding areas. Basically, we regularly serve elevations over 6,000 feet above sea level. This becomes particularly important when considering a commercial roofing option. While EPDM roofing is known for retaining heat, TPO’s popularity came in large part due to its ability to reflect sunlight and radiant heat away from buildings. Commercial building owners must way their options for heating and cooling costs to determine which material serves their needs better. While EPDM can help with reducing heating costs in the cold winter months in Colorado, TPO can reflect Colorado’s brutal sunlight and lower cooling costs in the summers.

Adherence to Roofing Structure

Adherence for roofing materials is important to consider because it impacts cost and durability. TPO roofing is chemically adhered and provides a smooth, flat, and seamless installation. This creates a tight seal and water barrier to protect your facility. Roofing contractors attach EPDM in several different ways, but the two most popular are mechanically and chemically. Mechanically adhered EPDM roofs are a cheaper option that works for areas with moderate winds. High-wind areas create problems for mechanically installed EPDM roofs because the wind can pull the membrane away from the fasteners leaving gaps for water to exploit and heat to escape the facility. Mechanically adhered EPDM roofs typically cost between 3%-8% more in energy bills throughout the course of a year than their chemically adhered counterparts. A chemically adhered EPDM roof is better for higher elevations and high-wind areas including nearly all of Colorado.


Seams cause the most leaks on commercial roofs. Commercial roofs rely on seams that protect the roofing structure from moisture and leaks. Due to the nature of EPDM roofing, the seams expand and contract with the changing temperatures on the roof. This creates a problem if the seams are not installed properly to account for the changing gap between the individual membrane sheets. TPO roofing seams are 3-4 times stronger than those of EPDM roofing but they are known to crack and split in standing, pooling water. They also do not have a strong resistance to heat and solar overload. Another thing to consider is the maintenance on the seams. EPDM seams require minimal maintenance in the beginning and are typically easier to repair. TPO seams require more maintenance and are harder to repair as the roof ages because thermoplastics lose their elasticity and pliability with age.

Color Options

Many businesses are concerned with branding and especially showing off their brand colors to their consumers. TPO roofing shines in this area with many coloring options available. EPDM roofing does not have different coloring options. EPDM comes in black. This isn’t as big of a problem for many companies because black is used in many color schemes for companies, however, companies interested in more color options may consider TPO roofing instead.


Both TPO and EPDM roofs are similar in initial investment. Commercial property owners should keep in mind that a roof is a long-term investment. With this in mind, building owners appreciate the return on investment over time with the longer-lasting EPDM option.

Average Useful Life

The average useful life of roofing material is always important to consider. The length of time a roof will protect your business directly impacts the return on investment for these business owners. An average TPO roof typically lasts between 15 and 20 years while the EPDM roof proves more durable and typically lasts 20-25 years by comparison. The difference in the average useful life creates a clear positive for EPDM over TPO according to our roofing experts.


When choosing a material for your roof, it’s important to look at the pros and cons of the many options available to you. Our experts have extensively reviewed two of the most popular single-ply commercial roofing options above. While we believe that TPO offers a good product for some geographical locations, our experts whole-heartedly recommend EPDM over TPO for Colorado Springs and the surrounding areas. Hennessey Roofing recommends EPDM because it provides increased value and return on investment for business owners and has proven to withstand the harsh elements of Colorado while maintaining durability over time.

Learn more about our commercial roofing in Colorado Springs and contact us for any of your commercial roofing needs.