PVC Versus TPO

Two of the hardest flat roof systems to tell apart is the PVC roof and the TPO roof. Both are white, heat welded systems that look virtually identical. However, while the face of both membranes and their installation are virtually identical, they are very different systems on the inside.

A PVC Versus TPO comparison chart is below.

PVC Roofing Systems
PVC TPO  Advantage
Years Used as Roofing Product Over 50 Years, but formula has changed dramatically over time Over 30 Years Neutral
Base Product Vinyl / Plastics Polyolefins (Polypropylene,Polyethylene) / Plastics Neutral
Color White, Gray, Tan White, Gray, Tan + Pallet of colors if over 100,000 Square Feet Neutral
Temperature Impact on Roof Cools Roof Cools Roof Neutral
Seaming technology Heat Welded Heat Welded Neutral
Thicknesses .036 to .090 .045 to .080 Neutral
Reinforced Always Reinforced (Older non-reinforced systems could shatter) Always Reinforced Neutral
Puncture Resistance OK to Good, depending on thickness and manufacturer Good to excellent, depending on thickness TPO
Chemical Resistance Excellent Good PVC
Environmental Impact Poor – is actually banned in some countries Excellent TPO
Slippery With Moisture Yes Yes Neutral
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. Effective welding requires experience. TPO, unless there is major grease and chemical output from rooftop units.