The Complete Guide to Rubber Roofing

By Angelina Zhuravleva  •  August 07  •  5 min
The Complete Guide to Rubber Roofing

So you're thinking about getting a new roof, and rubber roofing has caught your eye. Smart move.

In this complete guide to rubber roofing, you'll learn everything you need to know about the different types of rubber roofing, whether it's right for your roof's pitch and climate, how long it can last, costs, installation, and more. By the end, you'll be able to decide if rubber roofing is the right choice for your home and feel confident discussing options with contractors. Are you ready to learn about rubber roofing? Let's get started.

What Is Rubber Roofing Material?

Rubber roofing is a single-ply made from synthetic polymer materials like EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) or TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin), providing durable, weather-resistant coverage for flat or low-sloped roofs.

  • EPDM roofing is made from ethylene and propylene, creating a sturdy yet flexible membrane. It comes in rolls that are adhered or mechanically fastened to the roof deck. EPDM can last up to 30 years and resists UV radiation, ozone, and temperature extremes.
  • TPO roofing contains a reinforcing scrim or mesh between two layers of polypropylene plastic alloy. TPO membranes are heat-welded together and can be fully adhered, mechanically attached, or ballasted. TPO roofs typically last up to 25 years and have good puncture and chemical resistance.

Proper installation is key to its performance and longevity, regardless of which rubber roofing you choose. Seams and edges must be securely sealed to prevent leaks, and the roof membrane should have a slight slope to allow water to drain. Rubber roofing also requires occasional maintenance, like clearing drains and removing debris.

Rubber roofing could be an excellent choice if you want an affordable, durable solution for a flat or low-slope roof. Research the types available and whether any building codes or homeowner's association rules apply to your project. Then you can enjoy peace of mind with a quality rubber roof built to withstand the elements.

Types of Rubber Roofing: EPDM, TPO, PVC

When it comes to rubber roofing, you've got options. The most prevalent types are EPDM, TPO, and PVC. Let's break down the pros and cons of each so you can choose the best one for your needs.

EPDM (ethylene propylene diene terpolymer) is a popular and affordable choice. It's durable, weather-resistant, and energy efficient. The downside is that it can be difficult to install and repair. EPDM roofs also don't have the best curb appeal since the material is black.

TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin) is a high-performing hybrid material that offers the best of both worlds. It's energy efficient, environmentally friendly, and reflects sunlight well, so it helps lower cooling costs. The installation is also easier than EPDM. However, TPO roofs cost a bit more upfront.

If budget isn't a concern, PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is an excellent all-around option. It's highly durable, fire-resistant, and custom printable to achieve a more stylish appearance. PVC does require professional installation to ensure proper sealing and waterproofing. It also may have higher lifecycle costs due to more frequent maintenance needs.

As you can see, there are good reasons to consider any of these three rubber roofing types. Evaluate your priorities like cost, durability, appearance, and eco-friendliness. Then you can choose the solution to protect your home or building for decades.

Is Rubber Roofing Good for Flat or Steep Roofs?

Flat roofs are ideal for rubber roofing since the material can be easily rolled out and secured. Rubber roofing membranes are highly flexible and adept at conforming to flat surfaces without creasing or buckling. Additionally, they boast tight seams and edges that are highly resistant to water.

Pros and Cons of Rubber Roofing

Rubber roofing has some significant advantages over other roofing materials, but there are also a few downsides to consider before you decide it's the right choice for your building.


Rubber roofs can last 20-30 years or more with proper maintenance. TPO roofs, particularly, are resistant to weather, impacts, and UV radiation. They won't crack, split, or warp under extreme temperatures. This durability means lower long-term costs since you won't need to replace the roof as often.


Rubber roofing membranes are highly flexible and elastic. They can easily conform to the shape of your roof, even if it has curves, angles, or an irregular design. The flexibility also allows for expansion and contraction as temperatures change without damage.


Rubber roofs are budget-friendly, especially compared to roofing materials like metal, slate, or tile. Installation costs are typically lower since rubber roofs don't require intensive structural support or additional insulation. Maintenance and repair costs are also minimal, thanks to their durability.


Most rubber roofing is recyclable and energy efficient. EPDM and TPO, in particular, can be recycled at the end of their lifespan.

What You Need to Know Before Choosing Rubber Roofing

Rolls of PVC roofing membrane are placed on the roof

The main downsides of rubber roofing are a lack of esthetic appeal, limited color options, and susceptibility to punctures or tears if not properly maintained. However, a rubber roof can serve you well for decades with regular inspections, sealing, and patching. For an affordable, long-lasting, and eco-friendly roof, rubber is hard to beat.

Know Your Roof Type

First, you need to determine if rubber roofing is even suitable for your roof type. Rubber roofing can work on flat and sloped roofs, but it is most commonly used on flat or low-slope roofs with a pitch of 1/4:12 or less. Steeper roofs may require additional installation steps to ensure the rubber roofing is securely fastened.

Consider the Climate

Rubber roofing can withstand a range of temperatures, but some types are better suited to certain climates. For example, EPDM rubber roofing has the widest temperature range, from -65 to 300°F, making it ideal for both hot and cold environments. TPO and PVC roofing also work well in many climates but may have slightly narrower temperature ranges.

Think Long-Term

Rubber roofing materials are designed to last 20-30 years or more. So when choosing a rubber roof, consider how long you plan to own the building. EPDM rubber roofing tends to have the shortest lifespan; TPO and PVC roofing typically last 20-30 years. While rubber roofing requires little maintenance, it's a good idea to have it inspected regularly and re-coated or re-sealed every 5-10 years to maximize its lifespan.

Consider the Cost

Look at the average cost comparison between EPDM, TPO, and PVC roofing materials.

When it comes to roofing materials, EPDM prices can range between $4.50 to $8.50 per square foot. TPO prices are typically higher, falling from $5.50 to $10.50 per square foot. PVC is priced at $6.50 to $8 per square foot. These figures provide a general idea of the cost differences between the three roofing options.

Directorii: The Best Roofing Specialists in Your Area

You now have all the details on rubber roofing - what it is, the types available, whether it suits your roof pitch, and what you need to consider. Rubber roofing can be an excellent choice if you want an eco-friendly, durable option for flat or slightly sloped roofs. With minimal maintenance, rubber roofing gives you peace of mind that your roof will withstand harsh weather for decades.

If you're searching for a trustworthy roofing contractor, Directorii is your one-stop service. Contact one of our pre-screened roofing specialists and ask them about the suitability of rubber roofing for your home. They can inspect your existing roof, provide recommendations on the specific type of rubber roofing that will work best, and give you an accurate quote so you know exactly what to budget. You'll be well on your way to gaining a practically worry-free roof!