A rubber roof is a term broadly applied to most single-ply membrane flat roofs. 99% of the time, rubber roofs are installed on commercial, low-slope structures but can also be utilized on home additions such as garages and sunrooms. We’re going to dive into the varying costs of installation for each type of rubber roof and the benefits of each.
Benefits of Rubber Roofs
Rubber roofs have many benefits, including creating an impenetrable seal that is easy to install, replace, and last longer than standard shingles. The upsides of installing a rubber roof on your home’s low slope roof include:
- It has a lifespan of 30 to 50 years
- Very low-maintenance
- Easy to fix leaks using latex sealant
- Won’t crack under extreme temperature changes
- Can withstand hail and heavy rains
- Complete waterproof seal
- Eco-friendly (made from recycled materials)
Types of Rubber Roofs
There are three main types of rubber roofs, all varying single-ply membranes: TPO (Thermoplastic Polyolefin), PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride), and EPDM ethylene propylene diene monomer. Each carries its own set of pros and cons depending on your roof’s needs.
Thermoplastic Polyolefin is the more expensive of these three types of rubber roofing and one of the most beneficial.
Pros of TPO:
- Lower cost installation
- Longer lasting than EPDM
- Reflective coating helps keep buildings cooler by deflecting the sun’s rays
- Very low maintenance
Cons of TPO:
- The top layer contains a laminate that often cannot be repaired, requiring a complete replacement.
- The sheets are narrow, creating more seams and taking more to cover the same amount of space.
Polyvinyl Chloride is also a thermoplastic membrane and is about half the price per sheet as TPO.
Pros of PVC:
- 50% higher breaking point than the industry standard
- Very durable and resistant to severe weather and temperatures
- The seams get heat welded for an even more watertight seal
Cons of PVC:
- It can shrink over time due to plastic materials leaching out, making it weak and breakable.
Ethylene propylene diene monomer is somewhere in the middle when it comes to price and is the most authentic rubber roof membrane. It’s been used for decades and decades and continues to prove its strength and ease of installation.
Pros of EPDM:
- Inexpensive materials
- Proved effectiveness since the 1960s
Cons of EPDM:
- Black color absorbs heat and can affect energy efficiency
- Seams are glued rather than heat welded and can eventually leak
Installing a Rubber Roof
To reiterate, although rubber roofs can be installed on a sloped roof, they are almost always utilized on low-slope and flat roofs for commercial buildings. They are most effective when used for commercial reasons or on residential additions with a low slope roof.
Many factors can affect how a rubber roof is installed and how much the labor will cost. Things that drive up that cost include how accessible the roof is, whether or not an old roof needs to be removed, and roof penetrations. Climate also plays a factor because some hotter climates require the more costly rubber roof (TPO) to properly reflect some of the sun’s heat.
Roof penetrations and changes in the roof’s slope make it more complex and extensive for contractors to install. Because the rubber membranes come in large rolls, roof penetrations such as skylights and chimneys require that the sheets get carefully cut to fit those varying objects. Custom flashing will be required in these areas to ensure the seal is watertight and you aren’t facing any critical leaks early on after your roof installation.
All of these things can drive up the cost; in fact, some contractors might even charge $5 to $50 per roof penetration because it can halt their installation process so much and requires so many additional steps. Always check with your contractor before installation to make sure this isn’t an added cost, or if it is, they can prepare an estimate including those areas.
Rubber Roof Installation Costs
Now let’s get to the real question: how much is this going to cost?
The average range of cost to install or replace a rubber roof is between $6,000 and $18,000, with the average being around $12,000. And as you know, all sorts of factors come into play that can affect that price, such as the materials, labor, obstructions, and customizations of the roof.
If you want to compare each of the three types of rubber roofs we talked about today, that cost breakdown looks like this:
|Membrane Type||Average Lifespan||Cost Per Sq. Ft.||Labor Per Sq. Ft.|
|TPO||10 to 30 years||$1.50 to $5||$2.50 to $9|
|PVC||10 to 15 years||$0.75 to $2.50||$4 to $11|
|EPDM||20 to 30 years||$1 to $4.50||$3.25 to $8|
If you are in the market for a new flat roof, definitely consider any of these rubber roof options. They will work great for your new or existing flat roof. For more information, check out our roof replacement services, and contact us right away to get you an estimate and work with you to get started!