If you are looking to do some roofing on your home or building, you’ve come to the right place. That said, there are a few different types of roofing materials to consider, and there can be some pretty big differences between them.
Today, we are here to compare TPO and PVC roofing. Both are very popular and commonly used, but to choose the right one, you need to know what sets them apart, which is exactly what we are about to discuss today.
What Is TPO Roofing?
TPO stands for thermoplastic polyolefin, and this is one of the fastest-growing types of commercial roofing systems in the world. The name is, however, fairly misleading, because this roofing method does not use plastic, but actually uses a type of rubber. Specifically, a blend of ethylene propylene and polypropylene rubber is used here.
This type of roofing method uses a single layer of synthetic materials, in this case, rubber, as well as reinforcing scrim, that is used to cover semi-flat and flat roofs.
Interestingly, TPO roofing was first designed as the better solution to PVC roofing, although which one of these is better is now questionable. One of the biggest advantages of TPO roofing is that the cost is generally quite low. It tends to be much more affordable than most other types of roofing.
Many people also like TPO roofing because it tends to be white on top, which helps reflect sunlight away from a building, therefore reducing energy costs, specifically in relation to cooling. Furthermore, another benefit of this method is that it can be fastened directly to a roof deck or it can be attached with adhesives.
You can even heat weld into various places such as around chimneys. TPO is also a great option to consider because it resists breaking down and corrosion upon contact with various corrosive chemicals.
It’s also quite resistant to algae growth and mildew, and it doesn’t even need to be pressure washed. The only real issue with TPO roofing is that it is fairly new, so it doesn’t have the best track record yet.
What Is PVC Roofing?
We then have PVC roofing, otherwise known as polyvinyl chloride roofing. Here, you get another single-ply membrane roofing system that is used on semi-flat and flat commercial buildings.
What is interesting is that PVC is made with a much lower quantity of petroleum and oil than both TPO and other types of roofing systems. What is also nice is that it carries Energy Star and cool roof ratings, because it is a cool type of membrane.
Furthermore, PVC roofing is also very strong, with excellent impact resistance. Because of this strength, it can be heat welded into place at the seams, unlike other membranes that often require adhesion. One of the biggest benefits of PVC is that it is so strong, and generally lasts over 20 years, plus it’s very resistant to fire and chemicals.
Even better is that PVC is relatively eco-friendly and recyclable. The downside, however, is that this type of roofing is fairly expensive, and it doesn’t perform well in cold conditions, as PVC becomes quite brittle and fragile in the cold.
TPO Roofing vs. PVC Roofing: What Are the Differences?
Now that we know what TPO roofing and PVC roofing are, let’s figure out what the main differences between them are.
Durability & Longevity
Although TPO roofing does have certain advantages, the simple reality is that PVC is much more durable. PVC is much more resistant to heat, chemicals, and impact than TPO roofing.
This means that on average, you can expect PVC roofing to last somewhere around 20 years, if not longer, while TPO roofing often won’t make it to 10 years.
What is interesting to note is that in general, TPO roofing is a bit stronger than PVC roofing, specifically in terms of the tear strength and break strength.
To compare, your average PVC roofing features a tear strength of 45 lbf and a break strength of 200 lbf, whereas TPO roofing features a tear strength of 55 lbf and a break strength of 220 lbf. Therefore, when it comes to ripping and tearing, TPO has the advantage in terms of durability.
Furthermore, TPO roofing has decent reactivity, but it may react with oil and grease exhaust, which may damage the overall integrity of the material.
On the other hand, PVC is extremely resistant and nonreactive to most chemicals. PVC roofing is far less chemically reactive than TPO roofing, which in turn means that it should be more durable on this front.
With all of that in mind, TPO features fairly poor fire resistance, whereas PVC is very fire-resistant, making it the much better choice of the two.
What also needs to be considered here is the installation method, with TPO often being a bit easier. With TPO roofing, you can attach it directly to a roof, you can use adhesives, and in certain areas, you can use seam welding.
However, what is convenient about PVC roofing is that it is strong and fire-resistant enough that you can heat weld it across the board. TPO features more choices in terms of installation, whereas PVC is generally just easier to install.
The other big difference here is the cost. On average, TPO roofing is a bit cheaper than PVC roofing, although it depends on where you live and what manufacturers you go with.
There are places where TPO roofing may cost just as much as PVC, although the going trend is that the latter is significantly more expensive.
TPO roofing ranges from $11 to $14 per square foot, whereas PVC roofing ranges from $12 to $15 per square foot.
TPO Roofing vs. PVC Roofing: Which One Should You Use?
First and foremost, if you want something more cost-effective and affordable, then TPO roofing is best. Furthermore, if you live in a very cold or windy environment, you might also want to consider TPO roofing.
TPO tends to have a slightly higher tear resistance and it’s also more resistant to frigid weather. PVC roofing is not very resistant to cold weather, but it performs exceptionally well in all other conditions.
PVC roofing tends to be easier to install, it is much more fire-resistant, it’s not nearly as chemically reactive, and has better impact resistance.
In the grand scheme of things, if what you are going for are quality and longevity, you’ll get about 20 good years out of PVC roofing, whereas you’ll only get around 10 years out of a TPO roof. Therefore, the choice between the two seems to be quite obvious.
As you can see, both PVC roofing and TPO roofing come with their advantages and disadvantages that you need to consider.
Now that you know what the main differences between the two are, you can make and informed decision as to which type of roofing you want to use for your next project.