Thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) is a single-ply roofing membrane. It is engineered from heat-welded seams that provide superior strength. TPO offers exceptional long-term heat, UV, and natural fungal resistance. The membrane’s flexibility requires no plasticizers, making it a reliable low-slope roofing system, perfect for commercial or industrial buildings.
Over the last 20 years, TPO has become one of the most popular products used for low-slope roofing. Building owners, architects, and roofing contractors in Florida prefer TPO for its thermal resistance, energy efficiency, and low maintenance requirements. It is also easy to install and complements the design of nearly any commercial structure.
What Are the Characteristics of TPO Roofing?
There are several distinct characteristics of TPO roofing that separate it from other types of roofing material.
TPO roofing is a single-ply thermoplastic membrane. It is installed in a single membrane application without multiple layers.
Multiple Installation Methods
The membrane can be installed using several different methods, including mechanically attached, adhered, ballasted, and plate bonded. The membrane can also be installed using a plate bonded system. The plates are bonded to the underside of the membrane using an induction welder.
TPO membranes come in a variety of colors but are primarily available in white, grey, and tan. The membrane can be cut to form any roof layout. TPO is also versatile enough to be used in nearly any climate. It is ideal for the hot, humid climate in Florida.
TPO roofing membrane systems are typically used for commercial and industrial roofing applications. However, the membranes can be used in residential applications under certain circumstances. TPO roofing membranes are preferred for ultimate protection from the outside elements.
Types of TPO Insulation
There are three main types of insulation for TPO roofing systems.
- Polyisocyanurate (Polyiso)
Polyiso is a closed-cell, rigid foam board insulation bonded to facers on both sides, composed of various organic and inorganic materials. Polyiso is used in roof, wall, ceiling, and specialty applications within commercial and residential buildings of all types.
Polyiso offers a high R-value per inch compared to other insulation products used in commercial and residential construction. It performs exceptionally well in fire tests and carries third-party thermal performance certification. Polyiso has low density, good adhesion to facers, low water absorption, and low vapor transmission.
- Expanded Polystyrene (EPS)
Expanded Polystyrene insulation (EPS) is a lightweight, rigid, closed-cell insulation. It consists of small hollow spherical balls that are expanded through a molding process. EPS is available in several compressive strengths to withstand load and the outside elements. This closed-cell structure provides minimal water absorption and low vapor permanence, making it ideal in the Florida climate.
EPS is widely used in commercial roofing, specifically for TPO membranes. Its lightweight, strength, durability, thermal insulation, and shock absorption characteristics provide superior benefits over other materials. EPS is also non-toxic and recyclable. It is a versatile choice, helping to save on costs and leaving a lower carbon footprint.
- Extruded Polystyrene (XPS)
XPS foam is rigid roofing insulation that is formed with polystyrene polymer and manufactured using an extrusion process. It is also often manufactured with a distinctive color to identify the product brand. Polystyrene insulation is manufactured in a variety of board sizes – usually a minimum of 1-inch thick.
Tapered units are also manufactured for use in roofing assemblies, where the insulation is used to create a slope for positive drainage. One of the more common uses in roofing is the ballasted single-ply roof assembly, where a roof membrane is placed over the insulation and ballasted with rock, concrete pavers, or other material.
Advantages of TPO Roofing
There are several advantages of TPO roofing compared to other types of roofing.
TPO roofing can be installed on both residential and commercial properties. Variations in color, such as white, black, and light gray, are available to meet the property owner’s preferences. While a white roof may seem to generate optimum heat-reflective and energy-saving properties, TPO roofs are manufactured to be UV resistant no matter what color you choose.
Mold growth, punctures, and dirt accumulation are practically non-existent with TPO roofing membranes. TPO roofs are flexible and allow for shifting or settling in the building. TPO roofing systems readily accommodate even thermal expansions and contractions. Since algae and mildew growth is an unlikely possibility with TPO roofs, pressure washing is not required.
The lightweight sheets of TPO roofing membranes allow for ease during installation. The wider sheets also mean fewer seams require attention. Due to the quickness and ease of installation, property owners pay less when installing a TPO roof.
Building owners choose TPO roofs because of the reflective nature of the membranes. The white, reflective materials surpass the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR requirements, while the gray, white, and tan colored TPO roofs are featured with the Cool Roof Rating Council. During summer, air conditioning costs are significantly reduced with TPO roofing systems, as the building stays comfortably cool.
TPO Maintenance and Repair
Even the highest-quality TPO membranes require ongoing care. Debris and dirt can accumulate in the low-slope roof and lead to algae and plant growth. The debris can also be food sources for birds and pests. Chemical contaminants can settle in the roof and cause damage to the membrane and compromise its life span. To keep your TPO roof performing optimally through the years, you need to establish a routine maintenance schedule.
A professional roofing maintenance checklist may include the following items:
- Check for signs of leaks, staining, missing mortar, and cracks in the exterior wall.
- Look for signs of leaks on the interior walls and ceiling.
- Inspect the coping/fascia/metalwork.
- Look for signs of leaks, staining, or missing mortar.
- Clean the roof and look for any punctures, damage, or loose fasteners.
- Inspect seams on EPDM roofs, look for blisters and look for cold welds on TPO and PVC roofing systems.
- Make sure the roof drains are clear of debris and clean out all gutters, downspouts, and scuppers.
- Check counter flashing and inspect for signs of movement at all bass/curbs.
Professional TPO Roofing Installation
Do you need TPO roofing installation, repair, or maintenance? If so, contact Quality Roofing. We offer comprehensive roofing services in Florida. Call (850) 753-0041 to get a free estimate. We are your premier roof contractors in Florida.
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