The Difference Between PVC And TPO Commercial Roofing

We regularly get clients, both old and new, asking ‘what exactly is the difference between PVC and TPO commercial roofing?’

At Chaffee Roofing we like a good question and we like to give good answers too.

All part of the service.

On the surface TPO and PVC don’t look much different. They tend to be white and both are heat welded into place. There are some significant differences however, which may make an overall difference to you when deciding between the two.

Let’s take a closer look at these two flat roofing membranes to see which will best suit your project.

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Where Do They Stand On Durability?

The durability of any product should be an important factor in your decision making

PVC is good on puncture resistance, depending on the thickness of the membrane. Clients find TPO to be excellent and TPO does not need to be as thick to be as puncture resistant as PVC.

TPO does not shrink over time, but PVC can and this will cause many problems on a roofing job.

Both products are resistant to chemical spillages but PVC would be a lot more durable than its rival. If you have a chemical outlet near or on your roof, or any food grease byproducts, PVC may be the better option.

Any Differences In The Range Of Colors?

The two flat roofing membranes come in the same range of colors: white, gray and tan.

TPO has a wider range of colors for jobs of 100,000 square feet and more. Some manufacturers have lower square footage requirements for certain colors.

Color may make a difference if you want to match other buildings in your lot or if the overall look of the building is important to your business. For example, in same cases building owners like to install patina green TPO on sawteeth areas so that it looks similar to copper from a distance.

Both products have a cooling effect on a building, so color may not make too much of a difference in areas of high sunshine. However, like any product, the lighter the color, the less heat it will attract from the sun.

Chaffee Roofing

How About The Problems?

Neither product is without its problems but PVC has the more serious ones.

Standard PVC historically shatters in cold climates and shrinks over time. TPO is far better in dealing with the cold and will last for many years.

PVC is not as fire resistant as TPO and it emits toxic chemicals when burning, which is a major concern with PVC.

TPO needs an experienced hand for welding but this also applies to PVC.

For commercial roofing projects TPO is typically the a better option. PVC is more expensive, less fire and weather resistant and it can shrink over time. TPO is not as chemical resistant but it offers a wider variety of colors for large jobs and it is a more durable product.

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