Single Ply EPDM: The Best Replacement For Damaged Built-Up Roofing?
Built-up roofing (BUR) is renowned for its durability and relatively low maintenance requirements and is used by thousands of buildings with low-slope roofs across the country. Unfortunately, while built-up roofing is incredibly tough, it is not indestructible, and many buildings have aged and damaged roofs that need to be replaced.
If you own a commercial, residential, or industrial building with a damaged BUR roof, you might assume that reconstructing a new built-up roof is the easiest option. However, single-ply roofing membranes made from EPDM are a time-tested alternative that can have numerous advantages over BUR.
What Is Single-Ply EPDM Roofing?
Built-up roofing is made from multiple layers of roofing fabric and asphalt, which are melded into a solid roofing product using intense heat. Single-ply roofing is much simpler in construction and consists of a single layer of tough, synthetic rubber.
A number of different synthetic materials are used to create single-ply membranes, but ethylene propylene diene monomer, or EPDM, is among the most widely used. This synthetic rubber has a number of properties that make it an attractive alternative to BUR roofing.
Why Choose Single-Ply EPDM To Replace Damaged BUR?
Replacing a damaged built-up roof requires the removal of the entire roof — you cannot simply install new layers of BUR over the damaged remnants. Creating an entirely new built-up roof is an involved and time-consuming process, and requires a lot of labor and materials.
Installing an EPDM roof, or any other type of single-ply roofing, is much simpler and faster. The membrane(s) are stretched to size, and fastened to the roof's cover boards using adhesives or mechanical fasteners. Any seams between individual EPDM sheets are sealed and waterproofed using weather-resistant seam tape.
A damaged roof can be a liability for any building, and if your building's BUR roof is leaking or sagging, it must be replaced as quickly as possible to limit potential damage. Once the original BUR is removed, EPDM can be fitted in a matter of hours, getting your building back up and running as soon as possible. Rapid installation also limits labor costs and can help keep overall installation costs low.
EPDM also does not require ballast made from gravel or loose aggregates, making installation even faster. Ballast can be added to improve resistance to UV damage and high winds, but EPDM has excellent weather resistance properties in its own right.
Built-up roofing has a tendency to absorb heat, as it is darkly colored and made from thick layers of heat-absorbing materials. This absorbed heat can be transmitted into your building's interior, forcing you to rely on expensive air conditioning systems during periods of hot weather.
EPDM is less heat-absorbent, and reflects a greater proportion of heat from the sun, helping to keep your building's interior cool and comfortable. To maximize heat reflectivity, choose white EPDM — this can be more expensive than standard black EPDM but will pay for itself over time with lower air conditioning costs. Many EPDM membranes are also treated with reflective surface coatings to minimize heat retention even more.
If you have used a building with a built-up roof for some time, you may already know how difficult it can be to repair damages. Cracked and blistered sections of roofing must be cut out and replaced, which can be expensive and time-consuming. For commercial buildings, lengthy roof repairs can cause expensive downtime.
Repairing a damaged EPDM roof is a simpler process. Punctures and tears can be sealed quickly using sealant tapes and/or heat sealing, nipping leaks in the bud and preventing extensive water damage. Quick, inexpensive repairs can add up to substantial savings over the lifetime of your new roof.
To learn more, contact a roofing contractor in your area.