TPO Single-Ply Membrane Roofing

What to Know About TPO Roofing

Is your commercial building’s roof older and beginning to leak? Have your heating and cooling bills steadily crept up in recent years and you suspect your aging flat or low-slope roof could be at least partially to blame?

As a building owner or operations manager, you realize it’s time to do something to address the problem, but you fear that something could mean an expensive and business-disrupting total tear-off and roof replacement.

Even if other commercial roofing contractors have suggested that you need to replace your roof, don’t sign up for such a massive project before you consider your restoration options. Newer roofing materials—like TPO single-ply membrane roofing—offer incredible benefits for restoring your old, tired roof. Single-ply roofing will give you strong, truly waterproof roofing with no tear-off and rebuilding process necessary!

What is TPO Roofing?

TPO, which is short for thermoplastic polyolefin, is a type of single-ply membrane roofing material that comes in rolls. It is similar to the perhaps more familiar PVC (polyvinyl chloride) roofing and was actually developed to be a more energy-efficient and cost-effective alternative to that other thermoplastic material.

TPO is typically installed by being rolled out over a perfectly flat and clean surface. In restoration scenarios, TPO roofing application involves laying out board stock and then installing the membrane in precise overlapping areas. For the best results, the board stock should face the direction of the water run-off. Seams are then welded with heat to make the material completely waterproof.

How is TPO Different from Other Single-Ply Membrane Options?

It’s true that TPO is not the only choice when it comes to single-ply membrane materials. PVC roofs are still newly installed, as well as used for roof restoration, depending on a building owner’s needs and budget. And EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) is a thermoset material that may also be ideal in many commercial roofing applications.


TPO and PVC are often lumped together under the general “thermoplastic” category heading. Both materials are commonly white in color, which makes them reflective of UV light.

The main difference between PVC and TPO is that the latter has some advantages in chemical resistance. So, if your business exhausts certain substances onto your rooftop through ventilation systems, you’ll likely want to choose TPO. However, working with an experienced roofing contractor to make your ultimate material choice is best in these situations.


As a thermoset material, EPDM is mostly unaffected by daily and seasonal shifts in temperature—it’s “set” against these changes and doesn’t expand and contract very much. Although it’s generally a black, non-reflective material, EPDM has been proven to stand strong against severe weather-related threats like hail and small windblown debris. In the end, EPDM is extremely durable, but it simply can’t match TPO’s energy efficiency.

TPO Roofing Systems’ Biggest Advantages as a Roofing Restoration Option

You’ve probably already guessed that single-ply membrane roofing systems—both thermoplastic and thermostat varieties—are excellent as either an original roof on a newly constructed commercial building or as a restoration option for existing roofing that’s beginning to fail due to age. And it’s this kind of high-tech flexibility that makes single-ply membranes a popular choice versus commercial roof coatings. Here are some additional reasons to choose a TPO roofing system specifically for roof restoration.

Energy Efficient

As we mentioned earlier, TPO roofing is white in color and reflective. The membranes we install here at Unlimited Commercial Roofing have been shown to considerably reduce overall energy costs for commercial buildings over time by reflecting 83 percent of UV rays. Restoring your roof with a single-ply TPO or PVC membrane is a lot like putting sunscreen on your building’s most exposed surface!


TPO roofing—and PVC as well—has excellent waterproofness due to its welded seams. TPO resists mold growth, dirt accumulation, the impact from falling or windblown debris, and punctures. As a thermoplastic material, TPO naturally expands and contracts with daily and seasonal temperature changes without weakening.

Quick to Install

As a single-ply membrane material, TPO goes on your roof quickly. In fact, the most labor-intensive part of installing single-ply roofing in restoration scenarios is the prep work on the existing roof material and laying down board stock. It’s a lightweight material, so it’s not difficult for roofers to physically get it up onto the roof even though the rolls are quite wide—which equals fewer seams.

Appropriate for a Wide Variety of Building Types

TPO and PVC roofing has won over so many commercial building owners and managers that you’ll even find it being used in residential applications now. Obviously, homes are constructed to different standards—and often with much different materials—than commercial buildings, but this just goes to show how flexible single-ply membranes are. So, whether you own a large distribution facility or a small restaurant, you’ll want to seriously consider TPO and PVC materials for your next roof.

Need a Reliable Roof System for Your Commercial Building?

Whether you’re considering single-ply membrane restoration options for your commercial building’s existing roofing, or you like the looks of roofing coatings, it’s time to give us a call here at Unlimited Commercial Roofing. Our experts will inspect your Eastern Pennsylvania commercial building’s existing roof and offer our best recommendations to ensure a leak-free future at no cost or obligation to you!