Why Customers Prefer TPO
Inexpensive. Durable. Great warranty. Highly reflective, so it saves energy. It’s a cool roof, in more ways than one.
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TPO is the most popular single ply membrane installed on commercial flat roofs. Close to 1 billion square feet of TPO are installed annually. That’s more than 50% of single-ply roofs installed every year, according to the industry experts at GAF.
TPO is a reliable, flat roof system that offers excellent performance at a low cost, if your roof meets the criteria.
Keep reading to learn more about the strengths and weaknesses of this popular flat roof, our preferred brands and performance tests.
Project Highlight: Carlisle TPO, Republic Flooring, Antioch
This is a 100,000+ square foot TPO roof we did for Republic Flooring in Antioch using Carlisle TPO.
9 Reasons To Choose TPO for Your Flat Roof
Thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) single-ply roofing membranes have many distinct performance and installation advantages for commercial properties.
- Affordability – It is one of the most cost-effective roofing materials available. It’s easy install also keeps labor costs low.
- Eco Friendly – It’s made of 100% recyclable material, so it won’t end up in a landfill. Because it reflects heat from the sun, it greatly reduces energy costs associated with A/C.
- Clean Install – It has no obnoxious odors, making it suitable for install on sensitive buildings such as hospitals and skilled nursing facilities.
- Coating Compatibility – It is compatible with silicone and acrylic roof restoration systems that can greatly prolong its lifespan.
- Wide, Lightweight Sheets – It saves time and labor costs on installation. Fewer seams also mean fewer places to leak.
- Strong and Flexible – It is extremely resistant to tearing, mechanical shearing, natural elements, and punctures. Heat-welded seams provide great seam strength if installed properly. Because of its flexibility, it can accommodate movement that occurs as a building settles.
- Exceptional Warranty – Manufacturers offer 20 year warranties.
- Mold Resistant – The most important mold to resist is mildew, a black mold that can health issues in addition to smelling bad.
- Color Options – TPO comes in a variety of aesthetically pleasing colors such as those pictured below.
Sample Projects We’ve Done With Non Standard TPO Colors
This red TPO roof was chosen to approximate the existing tile roof for a winery in Livermore.
A creme colored Carlisle RapidLock TPO was chosen to complement the green of the hospital facade for Sutter Health’s Community Hospital in Novato.
Top 3 Reasons to NOT Choose TPO For Your Flat Roof
It’s Still a Relatively New Product – TPO entered the market in the 1990s. Ideal formulations are still being worked out by manufacturers, unlike PVC which has been around since the 1950’s.
Variability in Manufacturing Quality – Some manufacturers sell thickness as strength. This doesn’t guarantee durability if the material is non-uniform. There’s a lot of variance in the quality of material. See the following section for which brands we prefer.
Chemical Resistance – It has a low resistance to animal grease, acids and airplane fuel as seen below.
TPO was the wrong choice for this roof. We replaced it with a Tremco AlphaGuard Bio roof and gave them a 20 year warranty.
Which TPO Brand Performs Best
The budding popularity of TPO has led to much confusion, exaggerated claims, and misinformation. But which brand performs the best?
Not to confuse the issue, but GAF, a trusted industry leader in roofing materials has done a major study of top TPO brands. They engaged Structural Research Inc. (SRI), a well-known and highly respected laboratory, to perform the largest independent performance study of four major U.S. TPO brands.
Each brand performed similarly in tests for thickness above the scrim and weld strength. Where membranes differed most was in heat-aging, weathering, and weight-loss tests. These are more accurate indicators of long-term membrane performance.
GAF and Firestone were the two top-performing brands when subjected to accelerated weathering tests. Note they didn’t test Carlisle.
We installed this 66,000 sq ft Firestone TPO roof for a skilled nursing facility in Novato. See more installations »
Which Brand of TPO Brand Do We Recommend and Why
Our Recommendation: Customers prefer Carlisle TPO. It’s cost effective and has a good warranty.
TPO is the de facto choice for many commercial flat roofs because of its affordability, durability, ease of install and aesthetically pleasing colors.
Customers prefer Carlisle for its cost effectiveness and warranty. However, GAF is also worth consideration.
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