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EPDM Roofing: What It Is, What It Costs, and More

While the average person may not spend much time thinking about a roof, most of us have some frame of reference when it comes to a traditional asphalt shingles roof. We know what it is supposed to look like and when a problem arises.

The same cannot be said for flat roofing. Most of us have seen commercial roofing systems from a distance but haven’t gotten a chance to experience them up close. If you have recently found yourself the owner of a flat roof that needs replacement, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed. Don’t panic, though, because we are here to make the process as painless as possible.

Today, we’re going to be focusing on one of the most popular types of flat roofs on the market, known as EPDM roofing. We’ll help you understand:

  • What it is
  • What it costs
  • Why it might be right for you

Don’t tackle the flat roof replacement process alone. Let us help you each step of the way!

Understanding Your Roof

Before we get into the nitty gritty details of EPDM roofing, it is important that you understand the differences between roof styles and why people choose EPDM roofing in the first place.

Residential Roofing ????

Residential roofing refers to the type of roofing material and projects you would see in residential homes around your neighborhood. These roofs typically have a distinct slope to them and often use asphalt shingles, cedar shakes, or composite shingles.

That being said, residential flat roofs are not unheard of. You might see these in more modern architecture or for extra structures like garages. If you live in a big city like Chicago, though, you may see more residential properties sporting flat roofs than usual!

using a measuring tape to measure epdm roofing materials

Commercial Roofing ????

You are most likely to find EPDM roofing systems or other types of flat roofs on commercial buildings. The term ‘flat roof’ is a bit of a misnomer, though. Flat roofs actually do have a slight slope to them! This allows them to properly drain water and avoid water damage.

Commercial roofing systems have many benefits, including:

  • Energy Efficiency – Flat roofs offer great energy efficiency, which is particularly useful when it comes to keeping costs low for a large building.
  • Easy Access – If your commercial property contains businesses, it can be a real pain to have to let maintenance workers come into spaces where people are trying to work. Because both the roofing and HVAC systems are easily accessible, flat roofing allows your tenants to keep working, as usual, with minimal disruptions.
  • Extra Storage – In commercial properties, every little bit of space is valuable. By having a flat roof, you provide a place to store your HVAC system and free up inside space for your business!

4 Types of Flat Roofing Materials

While our post today focuses on EPDM roofing material, you’ll likely come across many different terms while researching flat roofing material. Here are some of the most common types of flat roofing that you will hear about.

1) EPDM Roofing

We couldn’t start this list without shouting out an EPDM roof! An EPDM rubber roof (also known as ethylene propylene diene terpolymer) is a type of single-ply flat roofing material that is versatile and durable. It is a newer form of flat roofing material that was only developed in the past fifty years and addresses some of the problems faced with older flat roofing systems.

An EPDM roofing membrane can be purchased in a wide range of colors and can last for years!

2) Built-Up Roof

While EPDM may be one of the newer materials, built-up roofing (BUR), is one of the oldest forms of flat roofing materials. BUR roofs are created by layering tar and gravel onto your roof in order to create a moisture barrier. Not only is it less effective at protecting your property from severe weather damage than some other methods, but it is also one of the more expensive forms of flat roofing and only lasts around 15 years.

That being said, you will find that it does a very good job of keeping water out and is very easy to maintain.

3) TPO Roofing

TPO is another type of roofing membrane that has grown in popularity. However, it isn’t chosen as often as an EPDM roof simply because it is more expensive. That being said, it can be a good choice if you live in a cold region, as it resists shrinking when the temperatures drop.

4) Spray Foam Roofing

A spray-on roof isn’t the prettiest option, but it is pretty effective at keeping out water. If you’re just looking to get the job done and not have to worry about it, spray roofing may be right for you!

commercial flat roof layered with epdm roofing material

Pros and Cons of EPDM Roofing

So, what makes EPDM roofing the top choice in our eyes? Lots of things! Here are a few of the pros and cons that we think property owners should consider before taking the plunge.

✅ Pros

  • Cost Effectiveness – Price is one of the most important considerations for property owners. Luckily, EPDM roofing is one of the most affordable options on our list! In addition to low upfront costs, an EPDM roof lasts for decades, helping you get the most bang for your buck!
  • Aesthetics – Many people don’t like flat roofing materials because, well….they aren’t exactly beautiful. However, EPDM roofs can be purchased in a variety of colors to help them blend in with the overall look of your building.
  • Energy Efficiency – Because an EPDM roof can be purchased in white rubber instead of the standard black, it can more effectively insulate your building by defecting UV rays. This allows you to save on your cooling bills in the long run.

❌ Cons

  • Installation – Installing EPDM roofing requires a specific installation method. This means that you will need to hire a professional roof replacement specialist. Be sure to factor labor costs into your budget before purchasing your roof.
  • Ages Poorly – Just like us, EPDM roofs become weaker with age. The EPDM roofing membrane is prone to shrinking as it ages, meaning that your roof is more vulnerable to punctures and holes.

How Much Does EPDM Roofing Cost?

The big question! How much can you expect to pay for an EPDM roof?

The EPDM roofing product itself typically costs between $3-$10 per square foot. This means that for the average commercial roof, you can expect to pay anywhere between $6,000-$18,000 for a full roof replacement.

How Long Does EPDM Rubber Roofing Last?

If the idea of shelling out thousands of dollars to replace your entire roof has you shaking in your boots, don’t worry! For all of that money, you are getting decades of use! The durable EPDM membrane can last 30 years, with many reporting up to 50 years of use, with good maintenance!

black flat roof covered with epdm roofing

Maintenance Tips for EPDM Roofing Systems

Want your roof to last for a long time? You need to take good care of it!

Because of their limited slope, a flat roofing system requires a bit more maintenance than a residential roof would. If you want to keep your roof in tip-top shape for years to come, then you need to follow these simple maintenance instructions.

Annual Roof Inspections

Most of us only think to schedule a roof inspection when a problem occurs. The truth, though, is that an annual roof inspection can help you spot problems before they start. A professional roofer will know how to identify weak or damaged areas of your roof and can help you fix them before the problem spreads.

Clear Debris

One of the biggest challenges for flat roofs is dealing with debris build-up. It is easy for things like leaves, twigs, and even garbage to blow onto your roof and accumulate, which makes barriers that prevent water from properly draining.

By regularly clearing debris from your roof, you can keep everything functioning properly.

Check for Pooling Water

It’s natural for a puddle to form on your roof after a rainstorm. However, if that puddle doesn’t dry within 24 hours, you may be dealing with a roofing system that isn’t functioning properly. Keep an eye out for pooling water on your rooftop, and contact a roofer if it becomes a reoccurring problem.

Trim Trees

One of the hazards that comes with an EPDM roof is that it is susceptible to punctures. If you have trees near your roof, you might be at risk of tree branches falling and breaking the EPDM roofing membrane. By regularly trimming your tree branches, you can reduce the risk and rest easily.

Consult With a Professional Roofing Contractor

Ready to start your EPDM roof replacement? Anchor Point Roofing is here to help! As both the top residential and commercial roofers in our area, we have the experience and know-how to help you get the roof your business deserves. Contact us today to get a free quote on your roofing project!

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