TPO vs EPDM: How To Make The Right Choice?

Blog July 10, 2020

Have you been looking for a reliable, durable, and energy-efficient low-slope roof? Has your shingle roofing system been causing problems for you? Then you must know what TPO and EPDM are.

Ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) and thermoplastic olefin (TPO) are two of the most sought-after, single-ply membrane materials in America. While they both make reliable flat roofs, they have become popular for different reasons. Both have their own pros and cons, and you can only make the right choice when you know the real difference between them. 

What is the difference between EPDM and TPO roofing? Read on to find out.

What Is TPO Roofing?

TPO roofing has been rapidly gaining popularity. It is even expected to become a popular commercial roofing choice in the near future. TPO is actually in a broad family of rubber roofing materials.

There are several benefits of TPO vs rubber roof alternatives, which make it a very convenient choice for commercial roofing. For instance: 

  • Energy efficiency – TPO roofing efficiently reflects sunlight which keeps the room cooler and saves energy, and money by using less air conditioning.
  • Higher resistance to punctures – Punctures refer to leaks when the rain begins pouring down on a roof. TPO roofing provides nearly three times more protection against punctures. 
  • High durability – A TPO roofing system is always welded which makes the system extremely durable.

TPO rubber roofing also offers superior break resistance and weather resistance, which are two of the main selling points of TPO roofing. It has gained traction over the past few years due to its exceptional thermal properties. 

TPO GAF rubber roofing is relatively new, so improvements to its formulation are still ongoing. In other words, this material continues to get better with time, thanks to the commitment of manufacturers, and research and development efforts. 

What Is EPDM Roofing?

EPDM roofing is best for buildings which are located in an area like Florida that typically receive frequent hail storms. It has a synthetic rubber surface which causes the hail to bounce off, causing little to no damage at all to the roof surface or underlying structure. 

The best thing about GAF EPDM roofing is that it is economical. In fact, it is currently the most affordable solution on the market. 

Some other key benefits of EPDM roofing are:

  • Proven reputation for durability – Just because EPDM is cost-effective, it doesn’t mean it’s not of good quality. Some of the first single-ply membranes to hit the market were made of this material. Being around for decades, it has a solid track record for longevity.
  • Strong resistance – It owes its durability to its excellent resistance to membrane fatigue, heat and fire, ultraviolet (UV) radiation, hail, and many other structural threats. 
  • Easy installation – It is also painless to install and maintain as EPDM roofing membranes do not require special equipment for installation. This reduces the labor costs necessary to apply them, which also contributes to their affordability. 
  • Easy maintenance – Although they need maintenance more frequently as they age, the upkeep of EPDM roofing is not very demanding.

When EPDM roofing systems require repairs, it is easier to do so for the roofing specialists, as no electric source is required for welding. It is especially better to choose EPDM roofing when a building has solar panels installed or is planning to get them installed because it does not interfere with sunlight absorption.


Both TPO and EPDM have gained popularity over the years. While EPDM has been there for 60 years, TPO is relatively recent. So, what is the difference between TPO roofing vs EPDM

Here is a comparison table.  

Historical Usage 20 years 60 years
Sunlight Reflects sunlight Retains heat from sunlight
Attachment Chemically adhered Mechanically fastened
Fusion Seams fused with hot air-gun Seams fused with seam tape
Color Options White, grey, tan, others Black
Cost $1.90-$3.50/sqft $1.80-$3.50/sqft
Duration 15-20 years 25-30 years


The main difference between TPO and EPDM roofing is that the durability of EPDM is higher, while TPO has a better reflection of sunlight. In EPDM vs TPO comparison, the latter also has a wider variety of color options available.

TPO vs EPDM: Which One Is Best For You? 

TPO roofing vs EPDM roofing, which roofing system is best for your building? The fact of the matter is that both of these roofing systems work extremely well at protecting your commercial building, as well as the contents inside your house. Your choice is completely dependent upon your geographic location. You should take into account the amount of rain, hail, and heat that your area receives. 

Your choice may also depend on other external factors. For instance, your intent to get solar panels installed on the roof. Both of these systems can be mechanically fastened which may be an advantage in cold weather installation. They also have the ability to be fully-adhered systems, which is the best approach for the sake of warranty usage and durability.

If you are still unable to make up your mind regarding which roofing system would be best for your building, contact our team at JAE Construction. As Miami commercial roofing experts, we’ll be happy to provide you with an expert recommendation on the best roofing system for your circumstances.