Here at Red Dog’s Roofing, it’s our goal to ensure that your property is protected with a strong, watertight roof.
We install, inspect, and repair commercial roofs, including those on low-slope and no-slope roofing structures. You can count on us whether you need to replace your roof, patch up a leak, or install a new roof system on your structure. We work with a variety of roofing materials, including rubber (EPDM) roofing, TPO roofing, PVC roofing, modified bitumen roofing (including torch down roofs), and roof coatings. You can learn more about these individual roofing solutions below, and if you’re deciding on a material for your next roofing project, we can help you decide.
Weighing Your Roofing Options
Rubber (EPDM) Roofing
EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) roofing — or rubber roofing — is one of the most popular roofing solutions for low-slope roofs, and it comprises more than a third of the commercial roofs in America. This solution is effective, easy to install, and difficult to damage. Here’s more information about this unique roofing material, as well as the pros and cons of choosing rubber roofing to top off your structure:
What It Is
EPDM is a highly durable man-made material that can absorb some impacts while remaining completely waterproof. EPDM is installed in large swaths, which are glued to your roofing surface. Each swath is then sealed to the adjacent swath with a specially designed liquid seam, which renders the whole structure waterproof. The EPDM Roofing Association gives us a more succinct description of this rubber roofing material:
“EPDM is an extremely durable synthetic rubber roofing membrane (ethylene propylene diene terpolymer) widely used in low-slope buildings in the United States and worldwide. Its two primary ingredients, ethylene and propylene, are derived from oil and natural gas. EPDM is available in both black and white, and is sold a broad variety of widths, ranging from 7.5 feet to fifty feet, and in two thicknesses, 45 and 60 mils. EPDM can be installed either fully adhered, mechanically attached or ballasted, with the seams of the roofing system sealed with liquid adhesives or specially formulated tape.”
The Pros of Rubber Roofing
EPDM roofing is durable and easy to repair. Most rubber roofs can last for decades without repair, and when repair is necessary, it won’t involve a complete overhaul of the roof. EPDM roofs can be even be washed as well as repaired, without hindering the flexibility and waterproof characteristic of the material. These rubber roofs are also resistant to damage caused by ultraviolet rays. Plus, rubber roofs perform well even with large swings in temperature (a fast drop in temperature won’t cause cracking or rigidity as it might with other materials). As such, rubber roofing also resists wear caused by cyclic fatigue (or constantly changing, cyclical temperatures). EPDM roofs resist damage caused by hail, nor do they turn brittle and crack at extremely low temperatures.
The benefits don’t stop there. EPDM roofing is highly efficient, which means lower energy bills when your furnace or air conditioner need to kick on. Rubber roofs can be painted with acrylic paint to provide added protection and to reflect heat in the summer months. Rubber roofs are also surprisingly fire-retardant. In fact, rubber roofs can help to put out flames, which could give you enough time to save your structure if it is partially on fire. Rubber roofs last between 10 and 15 years.
The Cons of Rubber Roofing
Rubber roofing does shrink and grow with temperature changes. This unfortunate truth means that your EPDM roof could have torn seams, and it can shrink away from the edges of your building. While this effect usually isn’t a major concern, it can result in leaks — and these leaks, if gone unchecked, can cause damage to your structure.
Simply have your EPDM roof assessed regularly to make sure that it remains intact. Again, repairs are easy, you simply have to stay ahead of the problem. It’s always a good idea to have your roof inspected before winter hits each year, since a winter problem can be especially costly and more difficult to repair. Have your rubber roof inspected ahead of every winter to ensure that it is entirely waterproof before the snow comes.
Take note, EPDM roofing should only be installed by trained professionals. Since it’s crucial to have perfect seams between EPDM swaths, as well as between the rubber material and other components on the roof (e.g. vents, pipes, chimneys), it’s best to trust a professional installer to avoid a minor leak that can turn into a major problem.
Thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) roofing is another excellent option for low-slope and flat roofs. This roofing system comes in a variety of installation options, each designed for different roof types. Here are a few more details about what TPO roofing is, as well as the pros and cons of this roofing material:
What It Is
Unlike rubber roofs, this polymer roofing material is applied with a number of layers. Depending on the roofing structure, a TPO roof can include any combination of the following: the TPO membrane (a thin sheet of thermoplastic polyolefin), glue (to adhere the TPO to the subsurface) and coverboard, asphalt, insulation, and a moisture barrier. While these systems may seem more complex, they’re actually quite quick to install.
The Pros of TPO Roofing
TPO roofing is inexpensive, and it can cost far less than a rubber roofing installation. TPO is also white, which makes it an excellent choice as a reflective material to improve energy costs in the summer. TPO can be installed very quickly, and it can be welded or screwed into place, depending on the application. TPO is highly resistant to algae growth and mildew growth, and it requires no cleaning care. TPO is also corrosion resistant, and it is unaffected by contact with most materials.
The Cons of TPO Roofing
TPO roofing isn’t the best option for longevity. While rubber roofs last for decades on end, TPO roofs may need to be replaced in seven to 20 years. On top of that, TPO roofs are liable to shrink, crack, and deteriorate as time goes on, and their seams may be particularly weak (especially if they’re not installed by a licensed professional). TPO material is also only available in smaller swaths than EPDM roofs, which means that they’re more liable to have a poor seam. Plus, installation can take longer since there will be more seams along the entire surface of the roof.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) roofing is similar to TPO roofing, and it looks and performs nearly the same. That said, there are some noticeable differences between TPO and PVC roofing. Let’s take a look at what PVC roofing is, and some of the pros and cons that you should weigh when selecting this roofing option.
What It Is
PVC roofing is manufactured in sheets of varying thickness, and it may contain a variety of chemicals, including resins, fiberglass, polyester, plasticizers, pigments, and other chemicals. Like TPO roofing, PVC roofing is traditionally white, although you can find tan, cream, and grey products on the market. PVC roofing is applied on top of the same roofing layers as TPO roofing.
The Pros of PVC Roofing
PVC roofing is very versatile, and like TPO and EPDM roofing, it can be cut to fit any roof size and shape. PVC performs very well in the heat of summer, since it is UV-resistant. Plus, if you opt for a lighter PVC roofing material, it will reflect much of the heat that the sun produces — and that means lower cooling costs in the summer. PVC can also be applied on textured and rough surfaces, since you can find PVC roofing materials that are constructed with a cushion underneath the surface. PVC roofs are considered environmentally friendly, in comparison with other man-made materials, since it can be recycled, and it has energy-saving features. Plus, PVC roofing is strong, and it can resist damage that might otherwise be caused by weight. PVC seams are also very reliable, since each seam is literally welded into the next, causing a totally watertight seal. High-quality PVC roofing materials can last two decades or more, sometimes up to 30 years, and they’re very low maintenance. PVC is also resistant to fire, wind, and chemical exposure (including chemicals from grease vents).
The Cons of PVC Roofing
PVC roofing doesn’t perform well in extreme colds. In extremely cold temperatures, PVC becomes brittle and may crack. That’s doubly true if the PVC roofing is poorly installed. That’s a major drawback here in Massachusetts, and it’s one reason why you may consider other roofing solutions. If you currently have a PVC roof on your building, consider having it inspected once per year to make sure that winter hasn’t negatively impacted the integrity of the material.
PVC is also difficult to repair, and it may require replacing more often than other materials on the market. PVC tends to underperform in comparison to TPO roofing, including in its heat aging, weathering, and tearing strength attributes; however, PVC roofing is more flexible than TPO roofing when it is first installed.
Modified bitumen roofs are, once again, applied in sheets. This roofing material is made of — you guessed it — bitumen, as well as polyester or fiberglass matting. Let’s take a more in depth look at this roofing option.
What It Is
Unlike our previous roofing material options, modified bitumen may be applied in single swaths or overlapping swaths, depending on the product used (SBS or APP modified bitumen). These swaths are adhered using a torch, asphalt, or adhesives.
The Pros of Modified Bitumen Roofing
Modified bitumen roofs are considered highly durable. They resist wear and tear caused by weathering, and they remain flexible for an extended period of time. Modified bitumen is available in two distinct types: styrene butadiene styrene, or SBS, and atactic polypropylene, or APP. The SBS option is more flexible and less prone to cracking, but APP modified bitumen roofing may last longer in the long run. We’ll delve deeper into APP modified bitumen roofing in our torch down roofing section below. In general, modified bitumen is often the best option for low-slope roofs that have adequate drainage. Modified bitumen roofs can last between 10 and 20 years.
The Cons of Modified Bitumen Roofing
Modified bitumen roofing should only be installed on low-slope roofs, since they do require adequate drainage. That said, modified bitumen performs very well on sloping roofs. If water does pool on the roof, it can cause damage, so have your roof inspected regularly to ensure that water continues to drain.
Modified bitumen is also susceptible to damage from foot traffic or heavy weight, and it can slowly lose the granules that help to shed water. If your modified bitumen roof loses enough granules, or if it loses its reflective coating, it could cause heat gain in the summer months, which could make your building inefficient.
Torch down roofing is a form of modified bitumen roofing that uses a torch down technique to adhere the bitumen surface to the roof.
What It Is
Torch down roofing is an asphalt material that is applied in swaths. Your roofer will use a torch to activate the adhesive chemicals on the subsurface of this material, and then press the material into your roof. These roof types are also called applied tar roofing. Let’s examine the pros and cons of torch down roofing.
The Pros of Torch Down Roofing
Torch down roofing is very inexpensive, and, when installed properly, it can last as long as other roofing materials on the market. That said, the cost of labor for torch down roofing is higher, since it takes time to apply each swath, and a propane torch is required for application.
The Cons of Torch Down Roofing
Torch down roofing is a bit different from all of our aforementioned roofing materials. Since torch down is applied by torching the adhesive chemicals of the material, giving it a strong adhesion to the subsurface, it can outlast other products. However, torch down roofing is flammable, and it may cost more to insure your building if you have a torch down roof.
With torch down roofing, it’s also especially important to ensure that flashing and wall tie-ins are installed properly. Torch down roofs often leak due to poor installation, or neglect when attaching the modified bitumen to any protrusions in the roof. Water can also be trapped underneath this roofing material if it’s not properly installed. Long story short — be sure to hire a trained professional if you’re considering a torch down roof. Often, folks opt to go with styrene butadiene styrene, or SBS roofing, another modified bitumen solution, due to the aforementioned problems.
Depending on the shape of your roof, we may be able to coat it with a waterproof surface. There are a number of roof coating materials which can be sprayed or painted onto roofs to help them resist the weather.
What It Is
As we just mentioned, roof coatings come in a multitude of materials, including acrylic, polyurethane, and silicone roofing. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses.
The Pros of Roof Coating Types
Acrylic roof coating offers a balance between performance and costs. These roofs are resistant to damage from UV rays, and they’re highly reflective — which means better building efficiency in summer. Acrylic is also easy to apply.
Polyurethane roof coating is highly damage resistant, and it can handle weight (for instance, if someone is walking across the surface of your roof). Poly coatings are available in aromatic and aliphatic options — the former is cheaper, but it decays with UV exposure, and the latter is more expensive but UV resistant.
Silicone roofing is extremely resistant and resilient, and it erodes very slowly.
Depending on the material, your roof coating can last up to 20 years.
The Cons of Roof Coating Types
Acrylic roof coating does slowly decay and erode, and it must be applied at temperatures higher than 50 degrees fahrenheit, otherwise it won’t fix properly.
Polyurethane coating is more expensive than acrylic, but it tends to last a bit longer.
Silicone coatings are difficult to repair, since few chemicals adhere to silicone.
Count on Red Dog’s Roofing
Regardless of the roofing material that you have, or the roofing material you’re installing, we’re the crew to call. We install all of the aforementioned roofs, and we can repair and replace them when your roof requires maintenance. Count on Red Dog’s Roofing for all of your commercial roofing needs — we provide roofing services throughout Fitchburg, Leominster, Gardner, and the surrounding area. Give us a call to schedule an appointment!
Get Started Today!
Well, what are you waiting for? Put a solid roof over your head with Red Dog’s Roofing. Get in touch with us today to schedule an appointment.