Thinking of replacing, refurbing, or install a single-ply roof on a new build or commercial premises. Please take a look at the different options available to you.

What Is A Single Ply Roof?

Simply put, a single-ply membrane is a roofing product for flat roofs that is one layer of a waterproofing membrane—mostly supplied in rolls. There is a variety of different options available in the single-ply market, and each roof will require a different approach or product. In this blog, we would like to highlight some of the pros and cons of installing a single-ply membrane on your commercial roof.

Why Choose A Single Ply Roof?

Single-ply roofs have been on the market for nearly 60 years now, so have time served in the roofing industry. Some of the vital benefit’s include:-

  • Lightweight
  • Quick to install
  • Cost-effective
  • Safe
  • Great for new build and refurbs
  • Easy to repair

Single ply roofs are safer to install, compared to felt roofs. Felt roofs tend to be heated with a natural flame, however, single ply roofs are either mechanically fixed, adhered to the surface and sealed at the joints, with a hot air gun.  Felt roofs bring about apparent health and safety risks and while the industry manages them well, it’s still raising the cost of insurance, which makes projects more expensive.

Choosing The Right Single-ply Membrane.

  1. PVC (Poly Vinyl Chloride)

PVC is one of the most popular types of single-ply membranes and makes up over 70% of the market. PVC can be mechanically fixed or adhesive used to hold to the substrate. The joins are heat welded for a watertight seal.

There is a wide range of colours to choose from in the PVC market and with fixing bars that represent traditional lead mop rolls, it is quite favoured in designs by architects.

With a lot of choice on the market two of the most favourable are Armour Plan and Sarnafil. With extended warranties, they are often the go too choice on commercial properties.

However, one con of installing a PVC roof is that they are not the most cost effective once it comes to refurbishments. Without installing an isolating layer, it will not adhere to bitumen roofs.

  1. TPO (Thermoplastic Polyolefin)

TPO is environmentally friendly compared to most other single-ply systems and membranes can be recycled as they do not contain plasticizers.

TPO also is excellent at reflecting the sun’s heat and in warmer climates, this does lower the cost of keeping buildings cool. As with most single-ply roofs, it comes on rolls up to 3m wide so again is very quick to cover large roof areas.

One issue with TPO roofs is the joins can not be welded when dirty. A solvent is required to clean the membrane down as it very hard to keep it clean on any site.

  1. EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer)

EPDM is most commonly used in the domestic market, as it’s inexpensive, swift and easy to install. When it comes to complex detail roofs, this is when EDPM does struggle a bit more compared to some of the other single-ply roofs.  EPDM does come on wider rolls up to 6m, so it does need fewer joints. Joints are typically taped on most EPDM roofs. Very cost-effective but also only available in black.

  1. PIB (Polyols Butylene)

PIB is the oldest product in the single-ply market. Developed in the 1930s, it has time served in the roofing industry. It’s a synthetic rubber and is excellent for refurbishments as it can also be installed directly over bituminous roofs. It is often used in a new build application. The membrane has a self-sealing edge making it very easy to install.

  1. TPE – Thermoplastic Polyolefin Elastomer

TPE is an improvement on TPO (Thermoplastic Polyolefin) and is 100% recyclable.  TPE does not suffer from the dirt joint issue in the same way that TPO does. The TPE manufacturers discovered a work-around for this issue as the dust particles are absorbed straight into the membrane. Small punctures on TPE membranes can be heated and self-seal, unlike all other single-ply roofs that need to be patched. The cost, however, is higher on TPE single-ply membranes.

A Wide Range of Single Ply Membranes

As you can see, there is a wide range of single-ply membranes to choose from for new builds and roof refurbishments as each product serves a different purpose.

If you are employing an architect or building surveyor, they will often choose the right product for your premises. Knowledgeable roofing contractors will also know the right product for your commercial premises, so it’s always essential to source the correct contractor when looking to replace, refurb, or install a new single-ply membrane on your commercial building.

In Conclusion

The industry has made huge leaps in recent years.  Contractors, architects, and surveyors are increasingly opting for single-ply roofs over traditional felt roofs. While felt membranes still have their place, single-ply roofs are now becoming the new normal.

If you are looking to refurb, replace, or install a new build single-ply roof. Please feel free to get in touch.

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