A debate that comes up is whether to install a PVC roofor an EPDM roof. Both flat roof systems have been around for a similar amount of time, and have unique attributes that are beneficial or detrimental, based on how your building is used.

A PVC Versus EPDM comparison chart is below.


PVC-Carlisle EPDM - Swansea
PVC EPDM  Advantage
Years Used as Roofing Product Over 50 Years, but formula has changed dramatically over time Over 40 Years EPDM, since formula has been more consistent.
Base Product Vinyl / Plastics Synthetic Rubber Neutral
Color White, Gray, Tan Black + White at price premium PVC
Temperature Impact on Roof Cools Roof Heats roof (Unless white) PVC if lots of HVAC and other rooftop equipment. EPDM if minimal rooftop units. *EPDM melts small amounts of snow if black EPDM is exposed. Once roof is completely snow covered, doesn’t help at all.)
Seaming technology Heat Welded After 1980, 3” or 6” Seam Tape.Before 1980, liquid adhesives PVC
Thicknesses .036 to .090 .045 to .090 Neutral
Reinforced Always Reinforced (Older non-reinforced systems could shatter) Reinforced or Non-Reinforced Neutral
Puncture Resistance OK to Good, depending on thickness and manufacturer Good to excellent, depending on thickness EPDM
Chemical Resistance Excellent Poor PVC
Environmental Impact Poor – is actually banned in some countries Moderate EPDM
Slippery With Moisture Yes Yes – Moderate EPDM
Known Problems
  • Shatters under colder conditions.
  • Shrinks over time causing numerous issues.
  • Expensive compared to other single ply products.
  • Many concerns with fire resistance and fumes emitted when burned.
  • Effective welding requires experience.
  • Seams come apart over time.
  • Grease and other chemicals deteriorate product.
  • Creates hot environments for rooftop equipment.
Depends on building!