IS TPO STILL A COMPETITIVE ROOFING MATERIAL?
There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with TPO, but the advantages it once held have been mimicked and improved upon by other materials. TPO manufacturers have improved the formula over the years and that has led to an overall better product, but their improvements have not been as significant as those of the competition. So, is there still a reason to install TPO today?
A Product Left in the Past
While TPO used to boast that it was the cheapest roofing material and it was white and therefore reflective, those are no longer distinctive characteristics in the single ply roofing market. TPO is no longer the cheapest, as all single ply material engineers have worked to lower the cost of their materials. TPO is also no longer the only white option, as PVC and EPDM are both now available in white and are reflective.
The cheapness of a system is never what should make the decision for building owners anyways, as you typically get what you pay for. TPO roofs are known to split at the seams, age faster where foot traffic occurs, and they are often extremely susceptible to the sun’s heat and UV rays. It is not good for a roofing material to deteriorate under the sun. Despite constant reformulation by manufacturers, TPO is still not as resistant to UV rays as it should be.
Other System Weaknesses
Like other single-ply systems, TPO is roll applied, and therefore it has a great number of seams on the surface. These seams are potential failing points, potential leaks, and potential areas where adhesion is lost and the roof begins to pull back. Seams are never something building owners want on their roof, and TPO has a lot of them.
On top of the seams, because the system is not extremely water resistant, many manufacturers have simply started selling thicker materials, up to 90 mils thick. This masks the problem of water resistance, but only drives the cost of the material up. This increased cost in material removes the claim TPO once held as the cheapest single ply material.
TPO is a material that has been around a while, but it hasn’t improved much over the years, while other materials have been researched and improved rapidly. TPO isn’t going away yet, but it seems there may be grounds for it to be done away with in the near future.