Low Sloped Roof Options

TPO and EPDM are two roofing materials that are ideal for low-slope and flat roofs. Which one is best for your roofing project? Both provide reasonable cost roofing.

Let’s compare TPO vs EPDM in terms of the elements that important to you, like as cost, longevity, installation, the environment, and your climate, after we’ve explained what each roofing type is. Also, have a look at our TPO vs. PVC roofing comparison.

EPDM, or ethylene propylene diene monomer, is a durable rubber roofing material with a wide range of applications. It is available in thicknesses of 45, 60, 75, and 80 mils, although most roofing contractors would not work with anything less than 60 mils. EPDM roofing is available in a variety of widths, ranging from 7.5 feet to 50 feet. You can use a liquid adhesive or primer with seam tape if you require a seam for a large roofing project. EPDM is primarily used for flat roofs, however it can also be used for dome-shaped roofs and barrel roofs.

What is TPO Roofing and How Does it Work?

Thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) is another name for TPO roofing. It’s a single-ply membrane, which means it’s installed in only one layer. The membrane, on the other hand, is made up of TPO sheets bonded to a middle layer of fiberglass or polyester to add strength and resistance to shrinkage damage.

Even though the initial cost is more than EPDM, most professional roofing contractors suggest TPO when robustness is a top priority. TPO is available in a number of thicknesses, ranging from 45 mil to 90 mil. The longer the material lasts, the thicker it is.

TPO roofing is commonly used on flat roofs, but it is also becoming more popular as a residential sloped roof choice. Sure, it doesn’t look like asphalt shingles, metal panels, or wood shakes, but it reflects UV better than most other roofing materials and is more cost-effective. If your climate is sunny and warm, you might expect to see more TPO in your neighborhood.

Construction and Installation

TPO and EPDM roofing installation is fairly similar, so selecting a professional with a lot of experience with the materials you choose is a good idea. One significant difference is that most TPO roofs will have one or more seams. Because of the wider manufacturing widths, many EPDM roofs are seamless.

Yes, hiring an experienced contractor will cost more, but the quality and workmanship will be worth it when the material adheres to the roof and seams don’t break apart. On most roofs, TPO installation will take only a few days. It takes twice as long to install an EPDM roof on a similar roof, including prep work and seam sealing. In short, the cost of TPO roofing is determined by the material’s superior quality. EPDM’s price is mostly determined by rising labor costs.


TPO and EPDM roofing are both low-cost roofing options. Installing an EPDM roof will cost between $5.00 and $9.00 per square foot. As you’d expect, cost rises as material thickness climbs within the range. Cost is affected by site considerations such as the complexity of the roof, which is also true for TPO. TPO roofing is a little more expensive to install, with supplies ranging from $6.50 to $12.00 per square foot and labor averaging $7.50 to $9.00 per square foot.

What about the price of continuing maintenance? While an EPDM roof costs a few dollars less than a TPO roof, property owners will tell you that the maintenance costs are higher, pushing the EPDM roof’s lifetime cost above that of TPO. Don’t make a decision based just on the first expense if you’re thinking long-term. Learn more about the price of TPO roofing.

Lifespan and Durability

TPO and EPDM roofing have different lifespans based on the thickness of the material and where you reside. Harsher circumstances accelerate the aging of any roofing material, thus it’s time to replace it sooner. EPDM roofs are typically covered by a 20-year warranty.

Your EPDM roof can last up to 30 years with proper maintenance and care. The majority of the care entails resealing seams and mending cracks or punctures in the material. It should be inspected at least once every three months and after any storms that produce significant hail or wind-driven debris. These maintenance methods are what raise the TPO’s lifetime cost above the TPO’s.

The best TPO brands come with a warranty of at least 20 years. However, there is one potential issue: TPO is a very new roofing material, particularly in its new-and-improved formulations, and there isn’t much of a track record for durability. Homeowners should anticipate a TPO roof to last 18-25 years with the advancements in materials – and when the roof is properly maintained – before it has to be replaced, according to experienced contractors.

Considerations for the Environment

TPO and EPDM roofing are less damaging to the environment than asphalt roofing. EPDM roofing is constructed largely of recycled materials, which is one of the reasons it uses less energy to manufacture than other types of roofing. It’s also recyclable when it’s no longer needed on your roof. TPO is recyclable and contains variable proportions of recycled material according on the brand.

TPO’s reflecting quality is another claim to eco-friendliness. When compared to asphalt roofing, most TPO roofing is white or tan and has a high solar reflectivity rating, which is claimed to save 30% on energy spent directly due to heat penetration. Also, because EPDM roofing is usually black, it absorbs a lot of heat. This causes poorly insulated buildings to warm up, which may be beneficial in the winter but raises air conditioning expenditures in the summer.

Climate Factors

As previously stated, TPO is a superior choice in sunny areas. When EPDM roofing is exposed to the sun for long periods of time, the seams might separate and the material pulls away from the roof edge, resulting in leaks. TPO roofing is far superior to EPDM roofing when it comes to long-term sun exposure. However, it isn’t without flaws. TPO does not respond well to hot/cold cycles, which cause the material to expand and contract periodically. Small cracks in the roofing material may develop as a result of the cycles, resulting in leaks.

Which is better: EPDM or TPO?

If you need a new roof, you’re probably aware that EPDM and TPO are viable possibilities. Which is the superior option?

When making a decision, keep the following factors in mind.

In hot, bright places where huge hail and wind-driven debris are a component of the yearly weather, TPO is a superior choice. It is worthwhile to pay extra up front for a material that does not last as long in a calm and overcast climate. If you choose EPDM in a storm-prone area, the “30-year potential lifespan” may be reduced to 12-15 years.

As previously stated, EPDM will last 20-30 years in places with year-round freeze/thaw cycles and the contraction/expansion that ensues. Your increased upfront investment in a TPO roof will be wasted if it only lasts 15-18 years at the low end of its lifespan.