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What is TPO Roofing?

Updated: Aug 13

TPO roofing is a roofing system often used for low-slope roofs and is favored for its durability and cost-effectiveness. Originally developed for pond liners and used extensively for roofing since 1989, TPO has become one the most popular products used for low-slope roofing in the Los Angeles and Orange County roofing sectors.



Short for thermoplastic polyolefin, TPO is a single-ply roofing membrane made from a polymerized combination of polypropylene and ethylene-propylene rubber that offers excellent performance at a reasonable price. Over 1 billion square feet are installed annually, making up over 50% of single-ply roofs installed today.



The exposed surface is usually a highly reflective white, which makes TPO especially suitable for hot, sunny climates such as southern California and can be attached to a roof with adhesive or with mechanical fasteners. To complete TPO roofing installation, it is heat-sealed to make it waterproof. A combination of long-term heat, UV, and natural fungal resistance as well as flexibility without need for plasticizers make this material a reliable low-slope roofing system.


The rapid rise in popularity can be associated with several of TPO’s benefits, including:

  • Great Value: Excellent performance at a cost-effective price.

  • Excellent Seam Strength: Heat-welded seams provide greater seam strength to taped and other seams.

  • Long-Term Weathering: Excellent long-term heat and UV resistance.

  • Energy-Saving: Highly reflective and emissive white surface helps reduce energy costs and the urban heat island effect (UHI).

  • Inherently Flexible: No need for plasticizers.

  • Naturally Fungal Resistant: Doesn’t require biocides.

  • Versatile Application Methods: For high-performance roofs requiring high wind uplift, increased puncture resistance, or quick economical systems.



While TPO is a roofing material that is ever-growing in popularity, there are some downfalls that come with this product. When weighing the pros and cons of TPO roofing, here are some things to consider.


Pros:

  • Cost: TPO generally falls between its two main competitors being more expensive than EPDM and less expensive than PVC. As a lightweight material, TPO is easy and inexpensive to install. It's also easy to clean with a power washer, keeping down the cost of maintenance.

  • Durability: TPO resists punctures and is flexible enough to stretch as the structure settles, as well as withstanding a wide range of thermal expansion and contraction.

  • Efficiency: White TPO and other light colors are reflective enough to reduce cooling costs during hot weather. High-quality products are Energy Star-rated for energy efficiency.

  • Environmental Impact: Adding to its status as a green roofing product, TPO is completely recyclable. Discarded TPO is ground up and incorporated into new composite material.


Cons

  • Quality: There is a large variance in quality between products. Less expensive materials can crack, craze, and delaminate, and the seam welds can fail, especially when exposed to severe temperature differences. As a rule of thumb, we suggest opting for better quality, more expensive materials to save you more in the long run.

  • Longevity: As a relatively new product in the market, TPO's longevity is largely untested. Manufacturers are also continually improving the technology to iron out any issues with the material.

  • Leaks: When a TPO roof does leak, the leak can be hard to find and even harder to repair. Repairs that require removal of part of the roof covering can be expensive.

  • Deterioration: Despite light-colored TPO's reflective nature, TPO can deteriorate under high thermal and solar loading and may not last as long as expected in hot southern climates.


While you consider what type of roof will work best for your property, contact us for a professional inspection and free TPO roofing estimate on any work or repairs that may be required. Call us today at (310) 903-0536 to schedule an inspection and determine the right materials and services for you.


Southland Roofing Inc. is committed to providing premier service at the right price. Serving Los Angeles and Orange County, we pride ourselves on safety, efficiency, and competitive pricing as we revolutionize the roofing industry. Contact us today to find out how we can serve all your roofing needs.


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