Roofing options for flat commercial roofs include TPO systems. TPO is thermoplastic polyolefin. This engineered membrane has significant advantages over other flat roofing options. It has longevity, energy efficiency, and lower costs related to ease of installation. TPO is UV-resistant, reflective, and can provide significant long-term energy savings, especially in a hot climate. The material is fully recyclable, so proponents of the circular economy look to TPO roofing systems as the green alternative for flat commercial roofs.
The first word of the material name, thermoplastic, describes one of the most significant materials advances for standard roofing materials. The engineered TPO membrane can contract and expand with extremes of both hot and cold weather. The top surface has UV protection, and a white or light-colored membrane reflects sunshine, rather than absorbing its energy, like dark-colored roofs.
The TPO is also resistant to many common accidents that can damage other roofing materials, such as chemical spills or grease, and has significant resistance to tears from falling or flying objects, such as rocks and branches. TPO is smooth, so many routine maintenance tasks such as cleaning are easier to perform. It resists mold growth, even in humid climates.
One of the most significant cost savings with a new TPO commercial roof is that it can be installed over the existing roof, if there are no structural defects or materials failures. This reduces the costs of tearing out an old roof and installing new sub-roofing materials. Use of intact roofing is dependent on a detailed inspection of the current structure to assess if it is adequate to support a new TPO membrane system. In addition, there are building code standards for re-roofing projects that roofing professionals follow. In most instances, TPO membrane systems are best suited for flat roofs or those without significant angles.
The TPO is usually manufactured in wide sheets that are overlapped, and the seams are welded together. This step is critical to the longevity of the roof, because improper welding at the seams can cause water incursion and leaking at those sites. An additional benefit of TPO, though, is that the seams can be rewelded at a later date if they are found to have separated. Because the material has a degree of flexibility, it can be carefully worked around areas of flashing, skylights, and plumbing fixtures. These areas are prone to problems of leaking with other, less elastic roofing materials.
The TPO membrane is attached to the underlying roof in several ways, depending on the probable stresses from local climate and weather conditions. The membrane can be glued to the substrate with strong adhesives, or it can be attached with a mechanical system of screws and plates. In some climates, the TPO membrane can be held down with a form of ballast, such as river rocks.
Wind can be an issue. Installation procedures can specifically address wind challenges with attachments designed to hold the membrane in place in high wind conditions. In areas that have significant storm risk, such as coastal communities, the roofing professional may recommend a specific attachment to counter wind.
TPO membrane roofing systems should be inspected at least annually, and always after a storm that brings significant wind and water, such as hurricanes. In addition, if there are blowing debris in a storm, the roof is inspected for damage from flying branches and other materials. If there is any wind or water damage to a TPO membrane roof, it will usually be at the welded seams, so these are inspected carefully and any areas that appear to be separating can be rewelded.
These roofs can be washed, and much of their UV resistance and energy efficiency will be maximized by keeping the roof clean. The membrane manufacturers offer warranties of the materials. We use a product with a 20 year warranty.
The challenges with TPO membrane systems are those that come from any new material being developed and used in building construction. The material science is only about fifteen years old, so professionals in the industry have limited experience with the material in real-world applications. What experience has shown so far is that TPO membrane roof systems are living up to their promise. Installation needs to be specific to the weather and climate of the region, and regular maintenance done to correct problems early.
Dan Tennis Roofing offers roof maintenance packages. As many building maintenance and facility management professionals understand, finding a problem early and fixing it quickly is the key to the long-term value of a commercial building. In a challenging weather environment such as Florida, wind and water stresses can impact any roof. The key to minimizing damage to roofing substrates is regular maintenance and storm safety inspections.
The Green Roofing Choice
For a construction material and process to be considered green, several factors need to be assessed. The material needs to be manufactured in such a way that hazardous waste is not produced, people are not harmed, and the energy required for manufacture needs to be offset through its estimated longevity. This last is the common metric of carbon footprint. In addition, it needs to be able to be transported and installed without danger to people or planet, and it needs to provide an efficient energy savings through the way it works. Lastly, it needs to be fully recyclable, so it does not enter the solid waste stream at the end of its useful life.
TPO roofing systems are one of the most green choices for commercial roofs. They are manufactured using safe materials and processes, they are lightweight and can be shipped without significant transportation costs, they can be installed economically, and they provide energy savings long-term for the building. Lastly, they are fully recyclable, so they don't end in landfills. TPO exceeds the EPA's Energy Star Code standards.
At Dan Tennis Roofing, we are experienced and knowledgeable in installing TPO membrane roofing systems on commercial buildings. We would be pleased to discuss your roofing needs. Please contact us or call 954-485-7778 for more information, or for an appointment.