Types of Roof Membrane

Last updated on June 15, 2023

Discover the various types of roof membranes in this informative blog, as we dive into their unique characteristics and applications for your next roofing project.

Are you planning to replace your roof or build a new home? One of the essential decisions you’ll make is choosing the right type of roof membrane. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to determine which one is best for your needs.

But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! In this article, we’ll discuss the different types of roof membranes and their unique characteristics. By the end of this post, you’ll have a better understanding of which roofing material is suitable for your property and budget.

So let’s dive in!

Types of Roof Membranes

types of roof membrane

One of the oldest types of roof membranes is built-up roofing, also known as BUR. This type of membrane consists of multiple layers that are alternated between bitumen and reinforcing fabrics such as fiberglass or organic materials like felt.

The number and thicknesses of these layers depend on the desired level of protection against weather elements.

Modified Bituminous Membrane Roofing.

Another popular option for flat roofs is modified bituminous membrane roofing, which combines asphalt with rubber modifiers to create a more durable material than traditional asphalt-based products. Modified bitumen comes in two forms: SBS (styrene-butadiene-styrene) and APP (atactic polypropylene).

SBS-modified membranes offer greater flexibility in cold temperatures, while APP-modified membranes provide better resistance to high temperatures.

Single-Ply Roof Membrane: Thermoplastic and Thermoset.

Single-ply roof membranes are becoming increasingly popular due to their ease-of-installation, energy efficiency benefits, durability over time compared with other systems like BURs or metal roofs. There are two main types – thermoplastic olefin (TPO) single-ply roofing systems made from ethylene propylene rubber; thermoset EPDM single ply-roofing systems made from synthetic rubber.

Built-Up Roof Membranes (BUR)

They consist of multiple layers, including a base sheet, interply sheets, and a cap sheet. The base layer is usually made from asphalt-saturated organic or fiberglass felt that provides strength to the roof system.

Interply sheets are then added on top of the base layer to increase its durability and puncture resistance. These can be made from various materials such as polyester or glass fiber mats.

A cap sheet is installed on top to protect against weathering elements like UV rays and moisture infiltration. Cap sheets can be composed of different materials such as gravel or mineral granules embedded in hot asphalt.

One advantage BUR roofs have over other membrane systems is their ability to withstand foot traffic better than single-ply membranes like TPO or PVC roofs. However, they require more maintenance due to their multi-layered structure which makes it harder for contractors during repairs compared with single-ply membranes where only one layer needs attention.

Modified Bituminous Membrane Roofing

This modification gives the membrane greater flexibility and durability, making it an excellent choice for flat roofs. Modified bitumen membranes come in two types: SBS (styrene-butadiene-styrene) and APP (atactic polypropylene).

SBS-modified bitumen membranes are more flexible than their APP counterparts, which makes them ideal for areas with extreme temperature fluctuations. They can also be installed using different methods such as torch-applied, cold-applied adhesive or self-adhered.

APP-modified bitumen membranes have better resistance to UV rays compared to SBS ones but are less flexible at low temperatures.

Modified bituminous membrane roofing offers several benefits over traditional built-up roofs including improved durability and ease of installation. It’s important to consult with a professional roofer who can help you determine if this type of roof is right for your property based on factors like climate conditions and budget constraints.

SBS Roof Membrane – Modified Bitumen

This roofing material is made from asphalt and rubber polymers, which provide excellent flexibility and durability. The SBS membrane can be installed using different methods, including torch-applied, cold-applied adhesive or self-adhered.

The benefits of an SBS roof membrane include its ability to withstand extreme temperatures and weather conditions while remaining flexible enough to accommodate building movement without cracking or splitting. It has a longer lifespan than traditional built-up roofs due to its superior resistance against UV rays.

When choosing an SBS roof membrane for your property’s roofing needs, consider factors such as the slope of your roof and local climate conditions that may affect performance over time. It’s also essential to work with a professional roofer who can help you select the right type of material for your specific needs.

APP Roof Membrane – Modified Bitumen

This type of roofing material is made by blending asphalt with plastic or rubber polymers to create a durable and flexible sheet. The APP (Atactic Polypropylene) modifier enhances the performance characteristics, making it more resistant to UV rays, weathering, and punctures.

The APP roof membrane comes in various colors and thicknesses that can be customized according to your specific needs. It’s also easy to install using different methods such as torch-applied, cold-adhesive applied or self-adhered.

Single-Ply Roof Membrane: Thermoplastic and Thermoset

They offer excellent durability, energy efficiency, and easy installation. There are two types of single-ply roof membranes: thermoplastic and thermoset.

Thermoplastic single-ply roofs include materials such as TPO (thermoplastic olefin) and PVC (polyvinyl chloride). These materials can be heat-welded together to create a seamless membrane that is resistant to UV rays, chemicals, punctures, tears, and other forms of damage.

Thermoplastics also have high reflectivity properties that help reduce the amount of heat absorbed by the building’s interior.

On the other hand, thermoset single-ply roofs use EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) rubber material which is highly durable against weathering effects like hailstorms or heavy rains. It has an excellent resistance against ozone degradation making it ideal for areas with high pollution levels or industrial environments where chemical exposure may occur frequently.

EPDM Roofs

This type of roofing membrane is made from synthetic rubber, which makes it highly durable and resistant to weathering, UV rays, ozone exposure, and extreme temperatures. EPDM roofs come in large sheets that can be easily installed over flat or low-sloped surfaces.

One of the significant advantages of EPDM roofing is its longevity; it can last up to 50 years with proper maintenance. This material requires minimal upkeep compared to other types of roof membranes.

Another benefit is its energy efficiency; EPDM reflects sunlight rather than absorbing it like traditional asphalt shingles do. As a result, your property will stay cooler during hot summer months without relying heavily on air conditioning systems.

PVC Roofs

PVC roofs are made of two layers of PVC membrane, reinforced with polyester or fiberglass. The top layer is UV-resistant and reflects sunlight, which helps to reduce the amount of heat absorbed by your roof.

One significant advantage of PVC roofs over other types of membranes is their durability. They can withstand harsh weather conditions such as hailstorms and high winds without getting damaged easily.

Another benefit is their energy efficiency; they have excellent insulation properties that help to keep your home cool in summer and warm in winter, reducing energy costs significantly.

If you’re looking for an eco-friendly option, then a PVC roof might be the right choice for you since it’s recyclable at the end-of-life stage.

TPO Roofs

TPO roofs are made of a single-ply membrane that consists of three layers: the top layer, which is exposed to the elements, contains UV-resistant materials; the middle layer provides reinforcement and stability; and the bottom layer ensures adhesion to other surfaces.

One advantage of TPO roofs over other types of membranes is their energy efficiency. The white surface reflects sunlight, reducing heat absorption into your building’s interior.

This can lead to lower cooling costs during hot summer months.

Another benefit is their durability. TPO roofs have excellent resistance against punctures, tears, impacts from hail or debris as well as chemical damage from pollutants in urban areas.

KEE Roofs

KEE roofs are known for their durability, flexibility, and resistance to chemicals and UV rays. They are also highly reflective, which can help reduce energy costs by keeping the building cooler.

One of the significant advantages of KEE roofs is their ability to withstand extreme weather conditions such as hailstorms and high winds. The material’s flexibility allows it to expand and contract with temperature changes without cracking or splitting.

Another benefit of KEE roofing membranes is that they require minimal maintenance compared to other types of roof systems. They have a long lifespan ranging from 20-30 years on average but can last up to 50 years with proper care.

Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF) Roof Systems

This type of roof membrane is a combination of two liquid components that are sprayed onto the roof surface. The foam expands and hardens, creating a seamless, durable layer that provides excellent insulation and waterproofing.

The SPF system has many advantages over traditional roofing materials. It can be applied to any shape or size roof, making it ideal for complex designs or irregular structures.

SPF roofs have high R-values which means they provide superior thermal insulation compared to other types of membranes.

Another benefit is its ability to resist water penetration due to its closed-cell structure which prevents moisture from seeping through cracks in the material. This feature makes it an excellent choice for areas with heavy rainfall or where there’s potential for standing water on flat roofs.

Fluid-Applied Liquid Membrane Roofing

This type of roofing material is applied as a liquid, which then cures into a seamless membrane that adheres to the roof surface. The fluid-applied liquid membrane can be made from various materials such as silicone, acrylics, or polyurethane.

One significant advantage of fluid-applied liquid membranes over other types of roofing materials is their ability to conform to any shape or size without seams. This feature makes them ideal for roofs with complex shapes and designs.

Another benefit of this type of roofing material is its durability and resistance against harsh weather conditions such as heavy rainfalls, hailstorms, high winds, and extreme temperatures.

However, it’s essential to note that proper installation by an experienced professional contractor ensures optimal performance from your fluid-applied liquid membrane roof system. Therefore it’s crucial you hire only certified professionals who have experience in installing this kind of system on commercial properties.

Fluid-Applied Liquid Membrane Roofing offers excellent protection against harsh weather conditions while providing flexibility in design options due to its seamless application process.

Factors for Choosing the Best Roof Membrane Type

One of the most important is the minimum slope for a membrane roof. The slope determines how well water will drain off your roof and prevent leaks from occurring.

Another factor is whether you should choose thermoset or thermoplastic membranes. Thermoset membranes like EPDM have been around for decades and offer excellent durability, while newer materials like TPO and PVC provide better energy efficiency.

Comparing different types of roofing membranes can also help in making an informed decision about which one suits your needs best. For example, EPDM roofs are known for their longevity but may not be as energy-efficient as TPO or PVC roofs.

Lastly, it’s essential to understand that membrane roofing has many advantages over traditional built-up-roofs (BUR). Membrane roofs require less maintenance than BURs because they don’t have seams that can leak over time due to weathering or foot traffic on top of them.

Minimum Slope for a Membrane Roof

The minimum slope required for a membrane roof depends on the type of material you choose. For example, EPDM roofs require a minimum slope of 1/4 inch per foot, while TPO and PVC roofs need at least 1/2 inch per foot.

It’s important to note that if your roofing system has inadequate drainage due to insufficient pitch or other factors such as clogged gutters or downspouts, water can accumulate on top of the membrane and cause damage over time. This can lead to leaks and costly repairs.

To ensure proper installation and avoid potential issues down the road, it’s best to consult with a professional roofing contractor who can assess your property’s specific needs based on its location, climate conditions, building structure design before recommending which type(s) would be most suitable for you.

Thermoset Membranes

The most common thermoset membrane used in commercial and residential roofing is Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM). EPDM roofs have been around for over 50 years, and they remain a popular choice due to their durability, affordability, and ease of installation.

One significant advantage of thermoset membranes like EPDM is their ability to withstand extreme temperatures without cracking or breaking down. They can also resist UV radiation damage better than other types of single-ply materials such as TPO or PVC.

When it comes to installation, thermosets are typically adhered using an adhesive or mechanically fastened with screws and plates. This makes them easy to install on flat roofs with minimal slope requirements.

Thermoplastic Membranes

These single-ply roofing systems are made from thermoplastic materials that can be repeatedly softened by heating and hardened by cooling, making them highly flexible and durable.

One of the most common types of thermoplastic membrane is TPO (thermoplastic olefin), which is known for its energy efficiency, UV resistance, and ease of installation. TPO roofs come in various colors to match your building’s aesthetic needs.

Another type of thermoplastics used in roofing is PVC (polyvinyl chloride). PVC roofs have been around since the 1960s but have gained popularity recently due to their durability, fire resistance properties as well as being environmentally friendly.

They also offer excellent reflectivity which helps reduce energy costs during hot summer months.

When choosing a roof membrane type for your property or project budget plays an important role along with other factors such as climate conditions or environmental concerns. It’s essential to consult with professional roofers who can guide you through the selection process based on your specific needs.

Comparison: EPDM, TPO, and PVC Membranes

Each of these materials has its unique characteristics that make them suitable for different roofing applications.

EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) is a synthetic rubber material that is highly durable and resistant to UV rays. It’s also easy to install and repair, making it an excellent choice for flat roofs.

TPO (thermoplastic olefin) is a newer type of membrane roofing material made from ethylene-propylene rubber combined with filler materials such as fiberglass or talc. TPO roofs are energy-efficient due to their reflective properties which help reduce cooling costs in hot climates.

PVC (polyvinyl chloride) membrane roofing systems have been around since the 1960s but have undergone significant improvements over time. They offer superior resistance against chemicals like oils and grease while being fire-resistant at the same time.

Choosing between these three types of single-ply roof membranes can be challenging without professional guidance from experienced contractors who specialize in commercial or residential installations.

Advantages of Membrane Roofing Over Built-Up-Roofs

However, membrane roofing has become increasingly popular over the years due to its numerous advantages over traditional built-up roofs (BUR). One of the most significant benefits of membrane roofing is that it’s lightweight and easy to install.

Unlike BURs, which require multiple layers of materials and can be time-consuming to install, a single-ply membrane roof can be installed quickly with minimal disruption.

Another advantage is that they’re highly durable and long-lasting. Membrane roofs are designed with high-quality materials that resist damage from UV rays, chemicals, punctures or tears caused by foot traffic or debris impact.

Additionally ,membrane roofs offer excellent energy efficiency compared to BURs because they reflect sunlight instead of absorbing heat like traditional asphalt shingles do. This means your home will stay cooler in summer months without relying on air conditioning as much as before – saving you money on energy bills!

Additional Information

There are plenty of resources available to help guide you through the decision-making process. For example, many roofing companies offer free estimates and consultations to assess your needs and recommend the most suitable materials.

It’s essential to understand what a membrane roof is before making any decisions. A membrane roof consists of a single layer or multiple layers that act as a barrier against water infiltration on flat or low-sloped roofs.

By understanding different types of roofing membranes and their unique characteristics, you can make an informed decision about which material will work best for your project’s specific requirements.

Choosing the right type of roof membrane is crucial in ensuring long-lasting protection for your home or business.

What Is a Membrane Roof?

This layer is typically made from synthetic materials such as rubber, PVC, TPO or modified bitumen. The primary purpose of the membrane roof is to provide protection against water infiltration and weather damage.

Membrane roofs are commonly used in commercial and industrial buildings with flat or low-sloped roofs because they offer excellent waterproofing properties while being lightweight and easy to install. They also have the added benefit of reflecting sunlight which can help reduce energy costs by keeping your building cooler during hot summer months.

When it comes to choosing the right type of membrane for your roofing project, there are several factors you need to consider such as climate conditions in your area, budget constraints and maintenance requirements. It’s important to consult with a professional roofer who can guide you through this process so that you make an informed decision on what will work best for your property.

Understanding Different Types of Roofing Membranes

Each type has its unique characteristics and applications that make them suitable for specific projects. For instance, Built-Up Roof Membranes (BUR) are ideal for low-slope roofs and have been in use for over a century.

Modified Bituminous Membrane Roofing is another popular option that offers excellent durability and flexibility.

Single-Ply Roof Membranes are also gaining popularity due to their ease of installation, energy efficiency, and cost-effectiveness compared to traditional built-up roofs. They come in two categories: Thermoplastic Olefin (TPO) or Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC).

TPO Roofs offer superior resistance against UV rays while PVC Roofs provide better chemical resistance.

Another type of single-ply membrane roof system is Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM), which has been around since the 1960s but still remains a popular choice today due to its longevity.

Selecting the Right Flat Roof Membrane

One of the most important is your budget. Some roofing materials may be more expensive than others, but they also offer better durability and longevity.

Another factor is climate conditions in your area. If you live in an area with extreme temperatures or frequent storms, a more durable and weather-resistant material like TPO or PVC might be a better choice for your roof.

You should also consider the slope of your roof when choosing a membrane type. For low-slope roofs (less than 2:12), thermoplastic membranes like TPO and PVC are ideal because they can withstand ponding water without leaking.

Ultimately, selecting the right flat roof membrane depends on various factors unique to each property owner’s needs and preferences. Consulting with professional roofing services can help ensure that you make an informed decision based on expert advice tailored specifically for your situation.

Roofing Estimate and Professional Services

A reliable roofing contractor will assess your property’s needs and recommend the best type of roof membrane for your specific situation. They’ll also provide you with an accurate quote that includes all necessary materials and labor costs.

It’s essential to choose a reputable company with experience in installing the type of roof membrane you’ve selected. Look for contractors who are licensed, insured, and have positive reviews from previous customers.

In addition to installation services, many roofing companies offer maintenance plans that can help extend the life of your new roof membrane. Regular inspections can catch small issues before they become significant problems that require costly repairs or replacements.

Contact Information for Roofing Services

Look no further! We have compiled a list of reputable roofing companies that specialize in installing various types of roof membranes.

When selecting a contractor, it’s essential to choose someone with experience and expertise in your chosen membrane type. You can contact these companies for an estimate or professional advice on which material is best suited for your property.

Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or concerns regarding your roofing project. A qualified roofer will provide guidance throughout the process, ensuring that you make informed decisions every step of the way.

Remember: investing in high-quality materials and professional installation services will save you money down the line by preventing costly repairs due to leaks or other issues caused by poor workmanship. Understanding different types of roof membranes is crucial when planning any construction project involving roofs.


What is the most common roof membrane?

The most common roof membrane is Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM).

What is the longest lasting membrane roof?

The longest lasting membrane roof is an EPDM rubber roof, which can last up to 50 years if installed correctly.

How do I choose a roofing membrane?

To choose a roofing membrane, consider one with integral tape that can be used with other airtightness products to minimize energy loss and provide exceptional water tightness and wind protection.

What are the different materials used for roof membranes?

Different materials used for roof membranes include single-ply thermoset, thermoplastic, modified bitumen, built-up, and spray polyurethane foam.

What are the pros and cons of various roof membrane types?

Pros and cons of various roof membrane types include EPDM offering durability and low cost but being less resistant to punctures, PVC providing chemical resistance and flexibility but at a higher price, and TPO exhibiting energy efficiency and strong seams but with potential for seam failure and shorter lifespan.

How does climate impact the choice of roof membrane?

Climate impacts the choice of roof membrane by requiring consideration of factors such as temperature, precipitation, and local weather conditions to ensure optimal performance and durability.