The Complete Guide to Rubber Roofing Materials for Flat Roofs

rubber membrane roof life expectancy

Ask any new property owner who spent a modest budget for a high-quality property and they’ll tell you that using rubber roofing materials for flat roofs was the best choice he or she had made.

Even roofing contractors will tell you that EPDM roofs are the best, cost-effective solutions for any new or existing property. However, what makes them the best choice against PVC, TPO, or traditional roofing materials such as asphalt and tar and gravel?

EPDM roofs are durable and have a lengthy lifespan on par with other synthetic roofing materials. In addition, they reflect UV rays and improve the overall insulation of a property. Read more to find out everything you need to know about rubber roofing materials.

EPDM: Rubber Roofing Materials for Flat Roofs

Ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) is a synthesized material made from recycled materials including sawdust, slate dust, and recycled rubber elements from tires, worn-down insulation, and other materials. This is the reason for its low price yet high yield in terms of usability and material lifespan.

The synthesis has high resistance against UV rays, weathering, abrasion, and has sufficient pound per inches (PPI). In addition, the combined properties of the materials create huge resistance against dangerous corrosive materials including acid, alkaline, ketones, esters, and alcohol-based substances.

Rubber Roofing Materials for Flat Roofs

EPDM’s durability is exceptional, but physical damage resulting from sharp, weighted materials such as ladder feets or metal-edged equipment will pierce through the material and permanently damage the material. However it is quick and easy to repair and replace.


EPDM has a smooth surface similar to a well-polished, black-colored flooring inside properties. Unlike asphalt and tar and gravel materials, it does not have erodible surface granules that need replacement or repair over time. Contractors apply rubber roofing materials for flat roofs in seams. Each seam overlaps each other by 15 inches. Doing so helps create an impenetrable, airtight seal on the roof of any property.

Affordable EPDM have a black color limiting its UV and heat-resisting capabilities. Some property owners pay a little more to have EPDM-roof color variants to add better curb appeal and aesthetics to their properties. However, if you’re looking for insulated garage or shed roofs, then conventional EPDM roof is the right material for your property.

How Does It Perform Against Other Synthetic Roofs?

Property owners are split when choosing between thermoplastic olefin (TPO) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC).The two other synthetic materials are durable, provide excellent UV resistance, insulation, and even have higher PPI and less prone to piercing compared to EPDM roofs.

However, they are quite expensive. EPDM roofs cost about $0.4 per square feet. Meanwhile, TPO roofs cost $5-$9 per square feet and PVC costs about $7-$10 per square feet. If maintained well, EPDM roofs can last 15-30 years, the same lifespan as both TPO and PVC. Colored EPDM roofs can cost about $0.8-$1.00 per square feet, which are still not a bad deal for added UV resistance and thermal shock.

EPDM roofs are capable of resisting hail damage, cyclic fatigue, and they will not fold against low-temperature flexibility, which affects asphalt shingles and modified bitumen.

What Are Its Maximum Dimensions?

Most contractors cut EPDM sheets at a maximum of 50 feet, the typical size of mechanical fastening used for commercial and industrial properties. They cut smaller sheet widths are used for both sloped and flat-roofed properties to offer better flexibility.

EPDM sheets

The length of EPDM roofs can have thicknesses as wide as 0.045 to 0.090 inches. Some EPDM manufacturers raise the price of the roof with reinforcement or if it has a fleece layer.

Vulcanized membranes have consistent behavior compared to non-vulcanized (but greatly affordable) EPDM membranes. These membranes have permanent physical properties. The vulcanized EPDM will stretch and remain in shape unlike their non-vulcanized counterparts, allowing for maximum airtight insulation, better durability, and malleability during the construction phase.

How Much Maintenance and Extra Coating Do EPDM Roofs Need

Unlike metal roofs, which require regular maintenance and re-coating to ensure airtight insulation and improved longevity, EPDM roofs do not require any similar surface treatment. However, property owners must ensure no fragments, sediments, and sharp objects remain on its surface.

Property owners with roofs far away from trees, electric poles, or residential water towers, maximize the lifespan of EPDM roofs because these structures are likely to pierce the membrane during a storm or any disaster of any sort.

However, property owners in areas with extreme temperature changes from cold to hot need not to worry. EPDM membranes undergo severe heat and cold-aging tests. Manufacturers only produce membranes that outlast all possible weather situations anywhere in the world.

Is Owning an EPDM Roof Contributing to Environmental Wellness?

Using recyclable materials for property development does not only help you save money. You contribute to environmental wellness. Manufacturers collect usable rubber material and additional sources of ethylene and propylene to create their roofs.

In addition, manufacturing EPDM membranes requires less energy than it is to produce other roofing materials. This includes the process of material extraction and synthetic procedures to create the membranes. Laboratory testing only requires a small EPDM sample. This allows manufacturers to consume less energy to reproduce extreme hot and cold temperatures

What Regulatory Standards Exist for EPDM?


All rubber roofing materials for flat roofs must comply with ASTM D 3083. The code standard requires all EPDM materials to resist soil burial for underground applications. EPDM membranes manufactured specifically for pipe covers are flexible and create an airtight seal. Given EPDM’s moisture resistance, the material guarantees no water leaks. The reason for this is the moisture has no effect on the EPDM membrane.

All EPDM material must also comply with the Factory Mutual 4470 testing procedure. The test subjects the material to simulated hailstorm damage. EPDM materials must never show any fatigue against any 1-2 inch diameter hail.

Why is EPDM The Best Roof for My Property?

EPDM roofs are subject to extreme resistance tests, are environmentally-friendly, and greatly affordable. In some cases, rubber roofing materials for flat roofs might have little color variety. However, their durability, lifespan, and UV, heat, and hailstorm resistance are evidence enough that they are excellent investments worthy for any property.