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What is an EPDM Roofing System?

What is EPDM?

EPDM roofing is made from a synthetic rubber called Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer. These roofing systems are a popular choice for low-slope/flat roofs. EPDM roofing systems are highly durable and can last up to 50 years or more with proper maintenance. Because of their makeup, they are very resistant to UV radiation, weathering, ozone, and other environmental factors that can cause damage to other roofing materials, such as asphalt shingles

EPDM roofing systems are relatively easy to install and require minimal maintenance, making them an extremely cost-practical choice for your flat roof system. It can be used on various roofs, including flat and low slopes, and is available in multiple thicknesses and colors to suit different design requirements. 

Because EPDM roofing systems are highly reflective, they can help keep buildings cooler in hot weather and reduce energy costs. This type of roofing system is also a recyclable material and does not release harmful chemicals into the environment during installation or use. 

How is EPDM made?

The manufacturing process for Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer, or EPDM, involves blending the EPDM rubber with other materials such as carbon black, oil, and curing agents to create a compound. The EPDM rubber is a high-density, durable material resistant to ozone, UV radiation, and weathering. 

The compound is then shaped into sheets, passing the material through a series of rollers to create a uniform thickness. The sheets are then cured and vulcanized to make them more durable and resistant to tearing. 

Upon completing this process, the final EPDM roofing material will be available in different thicknesses, widths, and lengths to suit various roofing applications. 

Types of EPDM Roof Systems

Mechanically Fastened EPDM Roofs

This type of EPDM roof system is installed by mechanically fastening the EPDM membrane to the roof deck using special fasteners and plates. This application is handy in locations with high wind or uplift conditions, providing a secure attachment. 

The roof deck must first be cleaned and any existing roofing materials removed. A layer of insulation is then installed on top of the roof deck. This provides thermal resistance but also improves energy efficiency. The EPDM membrane is then rolled onto the roof deck and cut to size. Mechanical fasteners are placed along the edges of the membrane and in the field at specific intervals to ensure the membrane is securely attached. 

Once the EPDM membrane is attached, the seams are sealed by your adhesive or specialized tape to prevent water from penetrating the roof system. Lastly, flashing is installed around roof penetrations, including vents, pipes, and skylights.  

Fully Adhered EPDM Roofs

In this EPDM roof system, the EPDM membrane is adhered to the roof substrate using a specially formulated adhesive. It provides a strong bond between the EPDM and the substrate, making it ideal for roofs with complex shapes or curved surfaces. Fully adhered EPDM roofs can be more expensive to install than Mechanically Fastened or Ballasted EPDM roofs.

Again the roof deck must be cleaned and have existing roofing material removed. After this, a specially formulated adhesive is applied to the roof substrate using a trowel or sprayer. The EPDM membrane is then rolled out onto the roof deck and carefully positioned to overlap the adhesive layer. The membrane is then smoothed out to ensure good contact with the adhesive. 

Once the EPDM membrane is attached to the deck, the seams are sealed using adhesive or specialized tape, preventing water intrusion. Lastly, flashing around all roof penetrations prevents water from entering the building. 

Ballasted EPDM Roofs

Ballasted EPDM roofs use a ballast layer to hold the SPDM membrane in place. This is the most economical and straightforward method of installation. It is ideal for roofs with low slopes or no slope conditions. 

Unfortunately, ballasted EPDM roofs can be more challenging to repair if damage occurs. The ballast layer must be removed prior to repair, which can be time-consuming and labor-intensive. 

Once the roof deck is thoroughly cleaned, a layer of insulation is installed on top of the roof deck. The EPDM membrane is rolled onto the deck and cut to size. After it has been positioned, a ballast layer is applied on top of the EPDM membrane to hold it in place. This ballast can be gravel or pavers and typically ranges from 1.5 to 3 inches thick. Like the other systems, seams must be sealed, and penetrations flashed to prevent water intrusion. The ballast can also protect against hail damage and other effects of extreme weather. 

Pros and Cons

Mechanically Fastened EPDM Roof System

Fully Adhered EPDM Roof System

Ballasted EPDM Roof System

Pros

Cons

Pros

Cons

Pros

Cons

EPDM Roofing Systems For Your Flat Roof

EPDM Roof system

In summary, EPDM roofing system offers a range of benefits. They are highly durable and can last up to 50 years with proper installation and maintenance. EPDM roofs are highly flexible and can adapt to changes in temperature and weather conditions without cracking or deteriorating. Because of this, they are not prone to water leakage. 

EPDM roofing systems are highly reflective, making them exceptionally energy efficient. They are made from a recyclable synthetic rubber material, so they are also an environmentally friendly choice. 

The installation process for mechanically fastened, fully adhered, and ballasted roofing systems are relatively straightforward. Because of this, property owners can save both time and money! Additionally, once installed, they require minimal long-term maintenance. Occasional inspections and repairs are required to keep them in good condition. 

To learn more about EPDM roofing systems, the ERA provides more detailed information. To discuss roof replacement using an EPDM roofing system, contact us today!

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