What Is the Difference Between EPDM and TPO Roofing?

Choosing between EPDM and TPO roofing is essential for your building. These common single-ply membrane options have unique characteristics that impact performance and energy efficiency.

Difference Between EPDM and TPO Roofing

CharacteristicEPDM RoofingTPO Roofing
Material CompositionSynthetic rubber (ethylene propylene diene monomer)Thermoplastic blend (thermoplastic olefin)
InstallationTypically glued down or mechanically fastenedTypically heat-welded seams
Color OptionsLimited color options (usually black)Reflective and available in various colors
FlexibilityHighly flexible and elasticFlexible, but may be less elastic than EPDM
Heat ResistanceGood heat resistanceExcellent heat-welding capabilities, heat-reflective
Weather ResistanceResistant to UV rays and weatheringResistant to UV rays, heat, and chemical exposure
Life Expectancy20-30 years15-20 years
MaintenanceLow maintenanceLow maintenance, but may require periodic cleaning
Seam StrengthMay have fewer seams, strong seam adhesivesStrong seams due to heat-welding process
Energy EfficiencyMay absorb heatHeat-reflective, contributing to energy efficiency
CostGenerally more cost-effectiveModerate cost, varies based on thickness and features
Environmental ImpactGenerally considered environmentally friendlyRecyclable and considered environmentally friendly
PopularityWidely used in commercial and industrial settingsIncreasing popularity in commercial and residential

TPO Roofing

Thermoplastic Polyolefin roofing, also known as TPO roofing, is one of the most popular choices for commercial roofs. According to industry insiders, TPO roofing currently takes up 40% of the market, which is impressive considering how new it is.

A single layer of synthetics and reinforcing scrim allows TPO roofing to provide an even, durable cover for flat roofs


  • Since TPO adheres directly to the roof, its durability is one of its biggest benefits. The attachment method protects it from wind damage, and it lasts between 15 and 20 years with little maintenance.
  • The installation process is much quicker and more affordable than comparable products. 


  • There are a few ways roofing contractors can install a TPO roof. The first is mechanical attachment, a method using plates and screws. Mechanical attachment is best suited for areas that experience high winds.
  • Roofing contractors can also install a TPO roof using a liquid adhesive, tar mopping, or a fleece-backed system with a two-part foam.

EPDM Roofing

Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer, also referred to as EPDM, is one of the longest-tenured roofing materials. EPDM roofing dates back to the 1960s, making it a tried-and-true material. It’s estimated that 60% of new commercial roofs are EPDM.

EPDM is popular due to its flexibility, thickness, and color choices. It’s available in 45, 60, and 90 mils (a measure of thickness). You can also choose between black and white when you opt for an EPDM roof.


  • Business owners look at their bottom line, which is why EPDM remains the most popular – it’s the cheapest option.
  • EPDM roofing is also durable, lasting between 20 and 25 years. In addition, EPDM roofing is both environmentally friendly and energy efficient. 


  • Roofing contractors can install EPDM roofs through the use of plates and screws or a liquid adhesive. Roofing contractors can also use a ballast installation method, such as the type used on tar and gravel roofs.
  • No matter which type of single-ply membrane roof you choose, the roofing contractor will use specialized tape to cover the seams.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

How much does TPO roofing cost?

TPO roofing costs between $3.50 and $9.50 per square foot. Based on national averages, TPO roofing costs between $7,000 and $11,500 to install.

How much does EPDM roofing cost?

Typical EPDM roofing costs between $4.50 and $5.50 per square foot. Based on national averages, installing EPDM roofing costs between $6,000 and $10,000.

Is it easy to repair an EPDM or TPO roof?

It is uncommon to experience roofing issues if your TPO or EPDM roof is less than 15 years old. After that point, it is possible for seams to disconnect. If you notice water damage in your commercial facility, contact a roofing contractor who can reapply seam tape to the roof, which should remedy the issue.

Both EPDM and TPO roofs are great choices for business owners. You should speak to a roofing contractor in your area about which type of single-ply membrane roof is the right choice for your commercial facility.
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