EPDM Roofing Membrane:
Characteristics & Lifespan
EPDM Roofing Membrane is a roofing membrane made out of synthetic rubber. According to Hometown Roofing Contractors, it is extremely common in the United States and is often used on low-sloping and flat roofs. EPDM roofing membrane is durable, affordable and easy to install. It is an ideal roofing membrane for both residential and commercial roofing. According to Righteous Rubber Roofing, EPDM roofing membrane has an extremely long lifespan and is able to stand up against years of inclement weather, thermal cycling, and extreme UV exposure. It can also stay flexible at hot or cold temperatures. It will also withstand high winds and do not easily “separate at the seams.”
EPDM is a synthetic type of rubber. According to the EPDM Roofing Association, it is made out of ethylene and propylene. EPDM roofing membrane is available in either black or white. Black EPDM has a smooth surface and looks “similar to natural gray slate.” White EPDM is also smooth, but it’s bright, light color makes it more reflective reducing air conditioning costs.
EPDM roofing membrane is available in a variety of widths ranging from 7.5 to fifty feet. According to Righteous Rubber Roofing, there are three thickness options: 45 Mil, 60 Mil, and 90 Mil. A Mil is a unit of measurement denoting a thousandth of an inch. A 45 Mil EPDM roofing membrane is about as thick as a dime.
A roof built with EPDM roofing membrane is durable regardless of the weather. According to Hometown Roofing Contractors, since EPDM naturally expands and contracts, it will not crack or tear in extreme cold or heat. In extreme heat, white EPDM will lower the surface temperature of your roof by 80 degrees. If you have a black EPDM roof, you can paint it white using water-based acrylic paint and achieve many of the same benefits.
EPDM is also extremely durable in wind, hail or snow, but it can be severely damaged by prolonged exposure to standing water. It is important to ensure you have proper drainage if your roof is made of the EPDM roofing membrane. If your roof doesn’t have any pitch, you can use a roof squeegee to minimize water accumulation. It is also advisable to keep tree limbs “trimmed back to allow sunlight to reach the roof and help speed up evaporation.”
The lifespan of your roof will depend on its thickness and its exposure to extreme weather conditions. An EPDM roof with a thickness of 45 Mils should last around twelve years. If your roof is 90 Mils thick, it might last more than twenty-five years.
However, continued exposure to hot humid weather or sub-zero freezing temperatures may negatively impact the life of your roof. Also, exposure to extreme weather such as rain, wind, snow or hail may affect the lifespan of your roof. Exposure to oils, fats, solvents or acids can eat away at the rubber causing damage to your roof. Likewise, continued exposure to standing water for more than forty-eight hours will damage your roof thereby decreasing its lifespan. It’s also very important to ensure your roof is installed correctly. Ninety-five percent of roof failures can be directly attributed to improper installation of the membrane. When properly installed and maintained, a 90 Mil EPDM roofing membrane may last as long as fifty years.
Like any roof, EPDM roofing membrane may require repairs from time to time. EPDM is vulcanized rubber. Because of this, you won’t be able to “heat the rubber to a melting point to repair small holes or cracks.” Fortunately, patch and repair kits are available which are specifically designed for use on EPDM roofs. Repairs to EPDM roofs are inexpensive, and regular maintenance will significantly increase the life of your roof.
If you’d like to learn more about fixing ponding water issues on an EPDM roof, contact us.