Flat Roof Membranes: TPO vs EPDM
As the first structures built by humans were likely living quarters, sloped roofs were probably initially utilized for keeping them as dry as possible. It simply made the most sense to use the advantage of gravity on houses. As homes got bigger, roofs got bigger, but in certain parts of the world, those less affected by large amounts of precipitation, flat roofs began to be constructed for various reasons. For one, the light rainfalls meant less of a need to drain away water. Two, it was more important to create a barrier from the sun’s persistent heat and exposure as locales where flat roofs were employed were, and are, in primarily arid regions. Three, and maybe most important for many, they are cheaper to frame and construct initially. Regardless of which factor, flat roofs were understood to have numerous positive qualities that have made them the go-to roof for nearly every commercial building of any substantial size. Many homes also have flat roofs on a much smaller scale, and in conjunction with pitched roofs.
With the abundance of flat roofs, generally considered those roofs that have pitches of 3 inches in 12 or less, builders and roofers must decide between various systems when constructing. While several types of flat roofs exist, the predominantly used materials are thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) and ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM). Both systems utilize a single ply membrane, but they have distinct advantages and disadvantages that make each worth using depending on the situation.
EPDM roofs have existed for around 60 years. Like TPO, they are a rubberized material, but they can be either vulcanized, which means they are dried and cured, or non-vulcanized, which means they stay perpetually in a semi-solid state. The vulcanized product is used for the actual roofs while the non-vulcanized is primarily used for flashing and/or detailing. All EPDM roofs are black, although they can be given a white overlay, which has a great benefit: UV ray and heat deflection. Without the white overlay, EPDMs are susceptible to retaining heat, although the whitening process is not without its negatives. To make EPDMs white, a laminate mixed with titanium oxide is created; the mixture is somewhat unstable, and the laminate does tend to weaken and wear quickly. Due to this concern, most builders keep the black surface intact to maintain the higher strength level.
EPDM roofs are definitely strong. As long as they are properly seamed and maintained, the roofs have an average life of 20 to 25 years. Additionally, the sheets of EPDM tend to be larger than TPOs, which means they have fewer seams to join. This often lessens the chances of seepage over time. They are affected by various substances though. The sun, again, will greatly heat the materials. This causes shrinkage, which can mean that seams pull apart. Another concern, especially for certain industries such as food services or those that involve animal byproducts and/or oils like petroleum, is the distortion that occurs when such oils contact the rubber that is or will become very hot. Over a short amount of time, this distortion will damage the surface beyond repair.
TPO roofs have only existed for around two decades. While the initial materials to purchase are expensive, especially drying tools and installation equipment, these are one-time purchases that can be used multiple times. The actual product tends to be cheaper than EPDM, although the performance is as productive. One aspect that gives TPO an advantage over EPDM is that it is white without titanium oxide. A white overlay is laminated to the rubber surface, and this overlay has a much longer life than the whitened surface of EPDM. However, the laminate can be compromised if not maintained, and this will greatly weaken the TPO performance. If kept up, though, the life of a TPO roof rivals that of EPDM roofs.
TPO roofs do have great strength and lasting power. One reason for this is the installation. TPOs can be mechanically attached, using screws, or fully-adhered with glue. Additionally, the seams may also be glued or heat welded with a specialized tool. TPOs also tend to be more rigid than EPDMs, a trait that may make it more difficult to install but also may factor into its long-term strength. It is highly puncture resistant, and it has a huge advantage over EPDM regarding its resistance to animal fats, hydrocarbon and vegetable oils, and even microbial growth. Thus, it can be used in essentially any flat roof situation effectively.
EPDM roofs have been around for many years, but TPO roofs are emerging as the favorite for manufacturers with TPOs accounting for a larger market share than EPDM. Certainly, this is due in large part to the lower cost for making TPO as well as for the facilities required to do so. However, another factor must be the quality of the product. That stated, both roof styles continue to be heavily counted on to protect homes and businesses. Fortunately, as this type of roof is needed more and more in the growing Southwest Ohio region, Fusion Roofing and Restoration employees have made it a priority to hone their expertise in installing either system for their customers. Just as with sloped roofing, if you are in the market for a flat roof, Fusion Roofing will provide you with optimum results.
Counter Flashing Material Options: Pros and Cons
While one can safely assume that building materials such as brick, stone, and vinyl provide protection against water seepage that can fatally damage exterior and interior wood structures, another precaution that extends the life of wood structures is flashing. Flashing, a stripping usually formed from metal, is utilized oftentimes at joints or seam points where a crease occurs or where two objects intersect, such as a vent pipe protruding from a roof, in order to divert water away from the weak spot or opening. In the case of brick walls and in particular brick chimneys, counter flashing, using two pieces of flashing wherein one piece overlaps the other to bolster sealing, is introduced.
When attached to brick walls or brick chimneys, counter flashing’s role is to force water downwards to a roof, gutter, or other surface below. This entails that the flashing material come into constant contact with wind, precipitation, or fallen objects and debris that collect. Due to its position, the material to be used as flashing must be considered as such materials are not completely impervious to weathering as well. Three common metals formed into counter flashing are aluminum, copper, and galvanized steel. Though all three have value, each must be evaluated by their respective positives and negatives by homeowners and contractors.
The most commonly used material for counter flashing is aluminum. Aluminum holds a great deal of value for multiple reasons. First, aluminum, when taken care of, has a long life expectancy—upwards of 20 or more years. Next, the metal can be custom fitted and pieces easily slide together. Third, as it is often painted, which produces a nice weatherproofing layer, it can be relatively corrosion resistant. Finally, and most important for many homeowners, aluminum is the least expensive material. However, with these benefits come some detractions. While aluminum is highly rust-resistant, if improperly cared for or if damaged and neglected, oxidation or corrosion may occur from unpainted aluminum being in direct contact with mortar, and rust can ensue. As aluminum is lightweight and often thin, it is weaker and more easily damaged by fallen limbs or ladders placed against it. Another issue is that the material cannot be soldered. Although the pieces can be placed together easily, the joints can be weaker even when nailed together.
(Aluminum Chimney Counter Flashing, top, and Galvanized Steel Soldered Chimney Counter Flashing, left)
Galvanized steel is a second metal used for counter flashing. Steel blends strength and durability, especially when galvanized. When protected and properly maintained, galvanized steel has a life expectancy of around 40 years. The galvanization process results in rust resistance, extending its life. Adding to its strength, the joints between steel pieces can be soldered, thus creating in essence a single unit. The negatives for galvanized steel include a propensity to rust if not maintained. Worse, rust formations eventually lead to small holes in the metal, which then leads to water intrusion. Noticing a deterioration of the galvanized layer is not simple, which can make maintaining or repairing weak areas difficult. Another con is that the material is heavy. While the thickness and weight make steel strong, those same attributes make it unwieldy and tough to custom fit and install.
A third metal that can be used is copper. Copper is extremely durable, often lasting for decades. It is the most aesthetically beautiful of the metals, both in its early years when a burnished brown and when the green oxidation patina often sets in. Like galvanized steel, the joints can be soldered to create a strong piece, but unlike steel, copper is light and exceedingly malleable. These features make it easy to shape, mold, and install. While likely the best choice for flashing, copper is also the costliest of the three metals. The value placed on the metal also makes it a target for thievery, so homeowners with copper flashing or gutters must be vigilant. Another problem, like aluminum, is that copper can be damaged by fallen limbs or ladders.
Counter flashing delivers an indisputable protection for roofs and walls. With various options available, homeowners and builders should consider cost, durability, maintenance, and strength of materials before making a choice. The life of the home and the bank accounts of owners often depend heavily on such details and decisions.
Location Matters: The Roof Color Series
We’re here today speaking about a topic that you may only hear about a few times before, but if you own a home in any manner and you arrived on this page, then make sure to give this a listen.
Whether you’re installing a new roof for a restoration or housing flip project, or installing a new roof on your long-term investment, some basic knowledge about the color of your roof and how it relates to a few different factors could mean saving hassle and money both.
So, what kind of factors are we talking about here? We’ll be breaking this information down into a small mini-series of posts, so be sure and check back later this month for the other parts.
It’s common knowledge that darker colors absorb heat, while lighter colors reflect. This simple fact also applies to the color of the roofing material used on your roof. This of course then opens up discussion about where you live.
If it’s Arizona or North Dakota, then the answer to this question will be easier to arrive at. I mean, some places are just hot….or cold. But, if you’re here in the Midwest, where temperatures widely vary, often times the discussion becomes more complex.
Instead of trying to wrap your head around what color of material to wrap your roof with, rely on our years of local experience here to recommend a roofing material with a color that will best suit the needs of your home….and your wallet, for many years come.
Look for the post in this series about how solar reflectance impacts your home.
For Four Big Factors That Determine A Roof’s Lifespan
Most think that the roof of your home will last as long as the house – you buy a home and the roof sits on top and it caps off the biggest investment you will ever make. In reality, your roof takes the brunt of all the damage that can happen to a home. Wind, rain, sleet, ice, snow, blazing sun, tree branches and leaf debris can all cause damage to your home’s roof and lessen the lifespan of the first barrier to your house. There are many factors that can affect your roof’s lifespan, and no matter how hard you try to avoid it, even the most durable and well-maintained roof will have to be replaced at some point. Here are some considerations to help you better understand the various factors that can impact the lifespan of your roof. Knowing what makes up a solid and dependable roof sets Fusion Roofing and Restoration apart from other Cincinnati area roofers. Experts in the industry, we know what it takes to keep your home in tip top shape!
- Roofing materials. Asphalt shingles provide an excellent combination of style, affordability, durability and energy efficiency, which is why they are the most popular choice among Cincinnati homeowners. If longevity is more important to you, metal or tile roofs are a better option. Recently, metal roofs have become a trendy and solid option for replacing your home’s roof.
- Installation methods. Installation mistakes are the leading cause of early roof failures. This is why choosing a proven, experienced roofing company like Fusion Roofing and Restoration is so important. No matter how good the quality of materials you use on your roof, if the roofing team you hire doesn’t know what they’re doing, you could end up with a failing roof that has to be replaced long before its time, regardless of the guarantee or warranty.
- Weather conditions. This is one factor that you simply can’t control. Well-installed roofing systems can take a beating from Mother Nature and still maintain their integrity, but over time the repeated barrage of wind, rain, hail and sun will wear down your roof. We all know Cincinnati is notorious for wild swings in the climate – one day it is 90 degrees and sunny and the next the night get into the 40’s and rain pounds for days. Having the best materials installed by the best professionals at Fusion is your #1 defense to all that nature can throw at your home.
- Ventilation. If the temperature in the attic is not well-regulated, your shingles could end up baking from the inside out in the sweltering summer sun. This effect is caused by inadequate ventilation and can lead to out-of-control utility bills. An under ventilated attic can also encourage moisture damage and mold growth. A free inspection from Fusion can determine if the attic or crawl space is properly ventilated. If it isn’t, Fusion’s roofing experts will walk you through how properly ventilating the space will cut utility bills, eliminate mold, and make your home a safe and secure space for your family to enjoy.
At Fusion Roofing and Restoration, our skilled installers have the experience necessary to ensure that your roof (and home!) will have a long, happy life. Get the most from your investment. Give us a call or fill out the form below for your FREE consultation and roofing estimate today!
Don’t Do It Yourself! Why DIY is not the best option for roof repairs.
If you enjoy working with your hands and doing weekend DIY projects, it can be tempting to try to save money by doing roof repairs on your own. But even if you consider yourself an accomplished DIY-er, roof repair takes skill and knowledge that only comes with years of experience. That is why repairing your roof is one project that should be left to professional roofing contractors like like Fusion Roofing and Restoration!
While we always encourage homeowners to be educated and involved in the replacement and repair of their home’s roofing and gutters, we always want homeowners to remain safe, avoiding additional repairs needed after the initial repairs we completed. Here are a few points to remember when mulling over a DIY roof repair of your own:
Roofing isn’t as straightforward as some other lines of work. The materials, tools, and installation techniques required in any given situation vary depending on what the problem is and where on the roof it is located. If you are trying to do a repair yourself and don’t get it exactly right, you’ll end up with leaks in the future that will cost you more to fix than if you had just hired a professional in the first place. Also, an experienced roofer will be able to identify weak spots and signs of leaks and other damage on your roof that your untrained eye can miss. Knowing what to look for up front will save you hundreds to thousands in the long run – and nobody likes spending more money than they need to on large projects!
When it comes down to it, roofing is just plain dangerous. roofs have slopes and turns that unless you’ve done it a thousand times like the trained specialists at Fusion have, it can be a exhausting and scary project. What is meant to be a quick roof patch can quickly turn into a serious or even fatal injury when an inexperienced homeowner falls off of a ladder or the roof itself. An experienced roofing company knows all the precautions to take and has the safety equipment necessary to keep their roofers safe – and even then, accidents can still happen. Other dangers of working on roofs include stings from wasps or hornets, whose nests can be hidden in chimneys, nearby trees, and various points on your roof. The weather can affect safety too, with moisture from dew or storms making the roof slick and gusts of wind that can cause you to lose your balance.
If you’re not yet convinced that a roof repair should be left to the professionals, consider that by doing it on your own, you could be voiding the warranty on your roof. Manufacturers of roofing material know that if their product isn’t installed correctly, problems can happen down the road that have nothing to do with the quality of their materials. This is why many manufacturers require their products to be installed and repaired by a professional roofing company. Fusion Roofing and Restoration is Cincinnati’s best local roofing company, proudly serving the tristate with expert roofing installations, repairs, estimates and more. We love our customers and want to see them safe – give Fusion a call today to schedule a free inspection and let us do the dirty work!
Is Your Roof Winter Ready? How To Tell And How To Winterize Your Roof This Year!
Preventing Potential Problems By Inspections With Integrity
After the whirlwind summer we had in the Cincinnati area, many tri-state homes took quite a beating. This spring gave us high velocity winds that ripped shingles from roofs all over town. Hail the size of golf balls pummeled siding and gutters, and left craters in some homeowners roofing. Couple that with blistering heat that weakens the strength of your roofing materials, and you have the perfect combination for roof repairs and replacements before winter.
Even though you may not have a noticeable leak or visible missing shingles, your roof may not be ready for autumn and the frigid cold winter. Ohio, Northern Kentucky, and Eastern Indiana is known for wide swings in weather as the seasons change. One day you’re in shorts and the next in a parka – this temperature change will exacerbate any existing problems with your roof.
Cracks in asphalt roofing, nail pops, and missing shingles will all give themselves away and you’ll be left with materials that are not meant to be exposed to the elements. Leaving this vulnerable will create more damage and potentially make larger issues if left untreated. But how do you know you have issues before it’s too late?
During our roof inspection, our trained roofing specialists will identify small issues that can lead to much costlier problems. Eliminate these costly repairs with preventative inspections from Fusion. We provide a full report on any issues, the potential long term damage they may cause, and a price quote to mend any needed weaknesses.
Winter is right around the corner – don’t get caught out in the cold! Call Fusion at 513-715-1306 to schedule your inspection and get ready for the impending winter months. You can also fill out our contact form and Jessy will be in touch with you soon.
Barrel Roof Replacement
A customer from Hyde Park in Cincinnati called us to inspect a galvanized barrel roof over his front porch. The roof had holes in it from rust and was beginning to rot the adjacent wood framing. He wanted a permanent and aesthetically pleasing solution, so Fusion installed a copper barrel roof to accommodate.
Flat Lock Copper Roof
This flat roof in North Avondale had met the end of its useful life. The owner of the home wanted a permanent solution, so they elected to add a flat lock copper roof. Fusion completed this project in one week. Can’t wait to check it out later and see the patina, as it ages.
Designer Roof Replacement
Fusion removed old three tab asphalt shingles on this roof in the Northside neighborhood of Cincinnati. Our customer wanted the look of slate on the home due to its age, so he chose Certainteed Highland Slate shingles. To dress the project up, we added copper ridge roll and valleys. The box gutters were also replaced with 16 ounce copper at the same time by our full time box gutter technicians.