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Flat Roof Systems Explained: TPO, Bitumen Membrane, EPDM, PVC

Flat roof replacement, although not fun, is sometimes necessary. When your current flat roof system is not offering your home the protection you are accustomed to, there are no two ways about it – that roof has got it to go. That is why it is extremely important to know what options are available to you. While shopping for your new flat roof, you will come across a variety of flat roof systems. Which one you pick will ultimately depend on your needs and budget. That is why we are going to explain the most common flat roof systems, so keep reading on.

TPO is a single-ply roofing system. It is made from a combination of propylene, ethylene and rubber. All these materials are chemically bonded together with other filler materials. Although it can be installed using a variety of methods, it is usually mechanically attached or adhered onto the roof.

TPO Waterproof Membrane

Its popularity has surged since the early 90s, when it was first introduced, thanks to its energy efficiency; a result of its reflective membrane. However, TPO is a fairly new system (15 years old) and is prone to seam and surface failures – it is constantly being improved and revised because of the latter reason.

Bitumen Membrane

This is another single-ply roofing system. These days bitumen membrane is easily installed since the material can just be peeled and rolled over the roof’s surface, making it stick in the process. However, older systems had to be heated using a blowtorch once they were rolled onto the roof, and soon enough, manufacturers realized that this method of installation wasn’t particularly safe.

Although bitumen membrane also reflects the sun, which brings down heating costs during the summer, it is not particularly strong. Once installed it can quickly wear down when subjected to foot traffic and is highly susceptible to tears and scuffs.

PVC Flat Roof

PVC is arguably the top choice for many roof replacement projects. Once installed correctly, PVC flat roof seams form a completely watertight seal once the membranes have been hot-welded together. Plus the membrane itself is known for its shear strength and durability. On top of that, its reflective properties make PVC highly energy efficient, and the roofs virtually maintenance-free. With that said, PVC flat roof system isn’t particularly cheap, but its high cost is offset by the fact that they usually come with a lifetime guarantee.With that said, this roofing system isn’t particularly cheap, but its high cost is offset by the fact that they usually come with a lifetime guarantee.


This is commonly just known as a rubber roof in the industry. EPDM can last a lifetime, which is why they come with a guarantee of up 25 years, and costs less than PVC. They are made from materials that can withstand wear (unlike Bitumen membrane, they can be stepped on a number of times without taking damage), as it is highly durable, while also being lightweight. However, unlike PVC, its hot-welded joints and seams aren’t as strong. Also, EPDM can potentially increase your energy bills in the summer since its very heat absorbent.


If you are ready for a flat roof replacement in Ottawa, give Wolfenburg Flat Roof Ottawa a call on 613-800-90-58 or email us at today.

We have decades of experience and knowledge, making us the best roofing contractors to recommend the perfect roofing system for your property.


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