Flat roofs have been around for some time, but their popularity has slowly peaked with the growth of technology and improved roofing materials. This type of roofing is popular in commercial buildings due to its sheer space, making normal roofing impractical. TPO and EPDM are the two roofing materials that have been adopted into this flat roofing system not only for commercial buildings but also residential ones.

While many people are switching to this type of roofing, there is limited information on what these types of roofing materials can do. We have decided to put them to the test and find out which one is right for your building. This article will compare TPO vs EPDM, looking at their strengths and weaknesses to find out the best durability, comfort, and cost. Read on to find out more.

What is TPO?

TPO (Thermoplastic Polyolefin) is a single-ply membrane of synthetic rubber material and reinforcing scrim made into sheets measuring 10, 12, or 20 feet wide. Although it has been around for around 20 years, they have become popular and an industry favourite for both residential and commercial buildings.

Strengths of TPO

Energy saver - The colour of this membrane is white that reflects sunlight away from the building reducing heat buildup around the building. Its material is laminated, which helps prevent penetration of both air and heat inside the building.

Highly durable - TPO membranes come in three different thicknesses ranging from 5 mm, 60 mm, and 80 mm in thickness. This allows it to withstand years of exposure to wind, rain, dirt, and even animals without affecting its structure. It is resistant to UV rays which help prevent cracks and breakages, prolonging its years of service. It can typically last you 15 - 20 years.

It is eco-friendly - With the fight against climate change gaining traction each day, people are searching for a way to make an impact by using eco-friendly roofing material. TPO can easily be reused or disposed of safely after it’s dated and can no longer roof your building.

Weaknesses of TPO

Slightly overpriced - With it being in the market for a couple of decades, TPO roofs have become a hot sell due to their improved properties making these materials higher priced compared to EPDM.

Complicated installation - The process of installing this material onto your roof can be complicated and require skills in specialized equipment. TPO requires welding to be installed or repaired, which requires an electrical source.

What is EPDM?

Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM) is a single-ply membrane made of a synthetic rubber compound that has been around since the 1960s. It has been the staple for most commercial projects due to its cost and the durability of its material. Due to its material, it is easy to keep clean by power washing without the fear of distorting its material.

Strengths of EPDM

It’s long-lasting - Under favourable conditions, this material can serve you for up to 50 years before failure. It is flexible, making it easy to expand and contract with changing weather conditions, thereby increasing its service years.

Easy to maintain - Unlike TPO, this material is easy to repair as it does not require any specialized tools like an electrical source for welding. This allows the repair to be done quicker and at an affordable price.

Good for solar panels - This is the best material if you are looking to use solar to supplement or replace the grid power. This is because EPDM is the best material as it allows it to attract sunlight. This allows your panels to charge up quicker than when compared to TPO.

Weaknesses of EPDM

Increase your energy use - This material is coloured in black, which is a good conductor of sunlight. During the summer or in a hot climate, this material attracts sunlight causing heat to build up around the building. This forces your AC to overwork, maintaining the room temperature to normal.

Has poor resistance - EPDM material is susceptible to damage from overexposure to petroleum-based fuels, most oils, and non-polar solvents. This makes it not suitable for petrochemical applications.

Shrinkages - Over some time of use, EPDM material will begin to shrink mainly due to a lack of reinforcement like in TPO. This can lead to cracks and separation of seams, causing leakages inside the building.


Depending on where you are located, both of these materials can be suitable for your residential or commercial building. If you live in a hot area throughout the year, TPO is the most effective choice due to its UV-reflecting materials. If you are on a budget and in a cold area, you should choose EPDM over TPO.

While there are certain differences between these two materials, having either on your roof can significantly help reduce climate change as both are reusable. The cost of getting these materials, too, is what sets them apart from other types of roofing systems.