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What is Membrane Roofing?

Membrane roofing is commonly used to install many types of roofs. While single-ply membrane roofing is one of the most well-known types of commercial roofing materials, there are several types to fit your budget and property needs.

Single Ply Membrane Roofing

These types of membranes are sheets of rubber and other synthetics that can be ballasted, mechanically fastened or chemically adhered to insulation creating a layer or protection.

Types of Single Ply Roofing

There are 2 main types of single-ply membrane commercial roofing: Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO) and Ethylene Propylene Diene Terpolymer (EPDM). Both types differ in their chemical makeup, how they are installed and their energy efficiency.


This type of membrane has quickly become popular for use on commercial properties and structures. TPO systems are made up of a single layer of synthetics and reinforcing scrim that can be used to cover flat roofs. It has also gained recognition because of its natural reflective surface to reflect UV rays.


This is a flexible type of roofing material because it consists of synthetic rubber. EPDM has been used on commercial roofing properties for years. Unlike TPO, EPDM doesn’t reflect UV rays due to its dark color, but it does retain heat and can be useful in colder climates.

How It’s Installed

The beginning of the installation process is similar for both materials. After the existing layer of the roof is prepared the insulation is installed.

There are a few types of insulation options that property owners or managers can choose from: Polyisocyanurate (Polyiso), Expanded Polystryene (EPS), Extruded Polystyrene (XPS). After the existing substrate is prepared, either by cleaning or removing the existing roof, the insulation layers are installed. Generally, a cover board is placed on top so the membrane can be adhered. The membrane is then attached to the cover board one of three ways: 1. Ballasted, 2. Mechanically Fastened, 3. Chemically Adhered.

Both TPO and EPDM membranes come in sheets that are manufactured in 10, 12 or 20 feet wide. As the contractors apply the membrane, sheets roll out overlapping on the sides.