The Advantages and Disadvantages of a TPO Roof

TPO roofing, a thin and light-reflective roof, is gaining in popularity with property owners. Known as thermoplastic polyolefin, TPO roofing is more economical than its two competitors, EPDM and PVC roofing. As with any type of roofing material, TPO roofs have their own unique set of drawbacks, as well. When deliberating upon a new roof, consider the advantages and disadvantages of a TPO roof.

TPO roofs feature a blend of various types of rubber, including polypropylene and ethylene-propylene, rather than plastic. The thermoplastic polyolefin membrane is made up of three layers: TPO polymer base, scrim (polyester-reinforced fabric center) and thermoplastic polyolefin compounded upper ply. The roofing membrane is single-ply and covers the entire surface of the roof. TPO roofs are new on the market, being introduced in the early 1990s, and current research is ongoing to discover ideal product formulations.


Depending on your needs and budget, a TPO roof can be a great option for your commercial building.


The most impactful advantage of TPO roofing is its inexpensive cost. In the US, the price of a 1500 square foot flat roof varies according to the type of material used: On the low end of the cost spectrum, a rubber roof averages $7065, while a TPO roof costs $7455; at the high end, a PVC roof will cost property owners on average $8055.

While TPO roofing compares to PVC roofing in terms of benefits, such as energy efficiency and being heat weldable, selecting a TPO roof is far more economically advantageous.


TPO roofing can be installed on both residential and commercial properties. Variations in color, such as white, black and light gray are available to meet the aesthetic preferences of property owners. While a white roof may seem to generate optimum heat-reflective and energy saving properties, TPO roofs are manufactured to be UV resistant no matter what color is opted.

Easy Maintenance

Mold growth, punctures and tears, and the accumulation of dirt are practically non-existent with TPO roofing membranes. TPO roofs are flexible and allow for shifting or settling in the building. Even thermal expansions and contractions are readily accommodated by TPO roofing systems. Since algae and mildew growth is an unlikely possibility with TPO roofs, pressure washing is not required.

Easy Installation

The lightweight sheets of TPO roofing membranes allow for ease during installation. The wider sheets also mean fewer seams require attention. Due to the quickness and ease of installation, property owners pay less when installing a TPO roof.

Building owners also have a choice in how the TPO roof is installed. Adhesives or direct fastening to the roof deck are dependable options. TPO roof membranes can be heat welded to areas such as those surrounding chimneys and similar roof protrusions.

Energy Savings

Building owners choose TPO roofs because of the reflective nature of the membranes. The white, reflective materials surpass the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR requirements, while the gray, white and tan colored TPO roofs are featured with the Cool Roof Rating Council. During summer weather, air conditioning costs are significantly reduced with TPO roofing systems, as the building stays comfortably cool. The TPO roof also prevents the buildup of heat within the structure.



Being so new on the market, TPO roofs have not undergone the test of time. Product research is still conducted today to develop long-lasting, durable TPO roofs that are also cost effective. Since TPO roofing’s introduction, seam failures and membrane curing and cracking have occurred in many instances.

Formula testing by researchers continues to produce differing TPO products. Customers are advised to select manufacturers that have sustained longevity in selling TPO roofs, since these manufacturers are more likely to offer a formula that ensures long lasting products.

Quality Variations

Different manufacturers produce widely varying qualities of TPO roofing membranes. One roofing manufacturer may produce a superior product, while for the same price, another manufacturer will construct a far lower quality product.

Thickness Disparities

Some buyers mistakenly believe that a thicker TPO roof will be long lasting. In reality, the thickness of a TPO roof has no impact on its quality or durability. Again, since TPO roofs are so new on the market, there is little evidence and research done to say how long this type of roofing membrane will last. Generally, roofing experts estimate a TPO roof will last 10 to 20 years.


The uppermost part of a TPO roof is laminated. The sheer presence of lamination on any material introduces weak points, spurring shrinkage, cracking, and general deterioration over the course of time. Less costly TPO roofs are known to develop surface cracks rather quickly.


TPO roofing membranes are sold in small-width rolls, meaning seams are present in every six to eight feet. Contractions and expansions occur in the membranes, and the seams are often areas where the membranes become loosened, leading to water leaks in the roof.

Choosing a TPO Roofing Contractor

When choosing a TPO roof, carefully research manufacturers that offer a warranty and that have a lengthy track record of producing high quality TPO roofing systems.

Building owners entertaining the possibility of a new roof should evaluate the many pros and cons of TPO roofs. Discuss your next roofing project with the dependable roofing contractors at Reliable Roofing. Our team at Reliable Roofing provides roofing services for commercial properties, such as churches, restaurants, hospitals, office buildings and schools.

Our Roofing Services

Reliable Roofing provides a number of commercial roofing services, including roof repair, replacement, installation, and more.

Included in the many services offered by Reliable Roofing are commercial roof repair, replacement, installation, construction, maintenance, and sheet metal roofing. Each roofing project receives a thorough inspection at completion to ensure the securest installation. We also offer a wide selection of roofing products. Given that we at Reliable Roofing work with top manufacturers, customers can depend on receiving quality roofing products.

Reliable Roofing is a member of the National Roofing Contractors Association. We are fully licensed, bonded and insured to offer maximum peace of mind to customers. Serving the Lake Zurich, IL and north Chicago suburban business communities, Reliable Roofing is dedicated to providing top-notch service and superior roofing materials.