What is a TPO Roof?
TPO stands for thermoplastic polyolefin, a single-ply roofing membrane that covers the surface of a roof. While it has plastic in the name, it’s actually a blend of polypropylene and ethylene-propylene rubber, which has more flexible rubber-like qualities. It is a bonded three-layer system consisting of:
- Thermoplastic polyolefin base layer
- Polyester-reinforced fabric center (“scrim”)
- Thermoplastic polyolefin top layer
This bonded layer system is what gives TPO its superior strength and flexibility.
Why Choose a TPO Roof?
There are several reasons why homeowners and businesses choose a TPO roof for their flat roof.
- Cost. TPO roof materials are comparatively lower than other options.
- Heat Reflection. Because TPO is white, it reflects more heat and UV rays as compared to other options. This leads to less demand on the cooling system in the summer time.
- Installation flexibility. It can be installed with adhesive, fasteners, and heat welding. These options provide for a solid installation that will last decades.
- Durability. TPO roofs will not corrode or break down. The hot-welded seams are also stronger than seams in other roofing systems.
- Environmentally Friendly. TPO does not contain chlorine that some other roofing materials have.
Ever since its introduction, TPO roofing systems are becoming a more popular choice.
Other Considerations for a TPO Roof
- Seams. TPO roofing material is generally available from 3 foot to 12 foot widths, meaning covering a large surface may have many seams, which are more potential points of failure.
- Consistency. TPO manufacturers vary widely in quality and thickness. You’ll want assurance from your roofing contractor that you’re getting the best TPO material for your project. Check into warranty and longevity of the material your contractor offers.
- History. TPO is a newer technology than EPDM or PVC, and there isn’t as much history of installations to demonstrate its longevity.
Can You Walk on a TPO Roof?
One of the key benefits of a flat roof in a commercial building is the ability to put HVAC systems on the roof. For this reason alone, being able to walk on a flat roof is an important requirement. And the short answer is yes, a properly installed TPO roof will support foot traffic for maintenance and repairs.
How Long Should a TPO Roof Last?
TPO roofs installed professionally with high-quality materials should last 20-30 years.