In commercial roofing today, PVC and TPO roof systems are among the most popular types available. Both options may appear and behave similarly in many ways but they are not identical. TPO and PVC each have their own pros and cons to consider. If you’re wondering what the difference is between TPO and PVC roofing, read on to learn more about these materials.

Main Differences Between TPO and PVC in Commercial Roofing

Although TPO roof systems are very similar to PVC in many respects, there are a variety of key differences. One main difference is PVC roof systems have been around for longer and have acquired a reputation for being reliable. PVC hit the market in the 1960’s and has proven itself to be a rugged material, making a long-time favorite for use in commercial roofing.

TPO roofs are continuing to gain popularity in spite of being relatively new, especially due to their reflective properties. This can work to lower energy costs, making it an attractive option for commercial businesses. New innovations in TPO roofing continue to improve its integrity. The main factor differentiating these two roof systems is the chemicals they are composed of. 

Composition of TPO and PVC

TPO and PVC share many physical qualities. Chemically, PVC differs from TPO as it contains plasticizers. Plasticizers are responsible for giving PVC its long-term flexibility. TPO does not contain any plasticizers. Instead, this material is made of ethylene propylene rubber mixed with a variety of filler ingredients like fiberglass.

PVC stands for polyvinyl chloride (also known as vinyl), and the PVC ‘membrane’ installed on a commercial rooftop contains polyester for additional support. Various additives are included in the chemical makeup of this material to accelerate curing and help resist UV rays. This material is known for its resiliency against inclement weather conditions and its resistance to chemicals or oils.

TPO and PVC Maintenance

A TPO membrane should be cleaned to help it maintain a reflective surface. For PVC rooftops, a diluted mixture containing water and detergent can be applied to the surface with a broom. Cleaning of either roof type requires great care and precision which is why it’s best to leave it to the pros. Regular inspections should be done for both systems at least once a year. 

Both TPO and PVC are susceptible to punctures. Hail storms are especially detrimental to these roofs because of the velocity which hail can hit the membranes. If left unrepaired, damage from previous hail storms will allow water to potentially get into the building when it rains.

Installation and Lifespan

The overall cost of installing a PVC or TPO roof system comes out to be about equal. While the labor on a TPO roof may be somewhat higher due to a slightly more involved installation process, PVC materials tend to be slightly more expensive. The installation process is similar for both roof systems. First, the material is put across the roof before being secured. A hot air gun is then used to seal the joints of the material together, creating an airtight bond. Installation methods may differ depending on the exact materials being used and the roofers doing the job.

Both materials come in large spools which are rolled out across the length of the commercial roof in overlapping rows. Typically, there are three main installation methods for these materials called fully-adhered, mechanically-attached or ballasted. For improved resistance to uplift, a fully-adhered PVC or TPO roof system is preferred. Both roof options have a similar lifespan of somewhere between 12 and 25 years protected under warranty, and another 10 years of life for each if proper roof maintenance is conducted on a regular basis.

Overall, businesses can expect to end up paying the same price for either option. It’s a good idea to check with several companies for quotes on installing a roof for your commercial business. The price of both roof systems will largely depend on the square footage of the roof. Roof penetrations like air exhaust vents, air conditioners, or skylights will also need to be assessed before an accurate quote can be provided. For superior service installing a PVC or TPO roof system on your Fremont commercial business, the experts at Damschroder Roofing Inc can help. Our team of seasoned professionals have considerable knowledge of both PVC and TPO roof systems along with their maintenance requirements. Call us today to schedule a consultation or get answers to your commercial roofing questions.