12 Pros And Cons Of TPO Roofing You Need To Know

After looking at the pros and cons of TPO roofing, you'd be able to tell if it's right for your home. TPO, or thermoplastic polyolefin, is relatively new to the roofing world.

It was first invented in 1986 and is a unique blend of various materials like fiberglass, Ethylene polypropylene rubber, and talc carbon filler. In recent years, TPO roofing has become increasingly popular.

This is due to its reasonable price, resistance to damage, durability, and energy efficiency. It's also easy to maintain and, though requiring expert labor, is quick and simple to install.

Plus, it has some versatility and comes in enough varieties to be attractive! With that being said, TPO roofing also has some downsides.

It's not resistant to very high heat conditions and its laminated layer is prone to cracking. It's also slippery in wet conditions and always requires technical expertise for installation and repair.

There's also the fact that it's new in the roofing world, so the quality differs across manufacturers, and there's little known about how well it truly holds up.

If you're considering TPO roofing for your home or building, you'll need to look at all sides of this material. Here are the pros and cons of TPO roofing.

12 Pros And Cons Of TPO Roofing You Need To Know

Pros Of TPO Roofing

1. It's durable and damage resistant

TPO is typically considered a durable, strong choice for roofing. It's very flexible, allowing it to handle contracting and expanding well without facing damage.

With the use of seams welded with heat, TPO roofing has seams that are much stronger than typical rubber roofs when compared to glued and taped seams.

Additional rooftop support just makes it even stronger! TPO is also resistant to punctures and tears, making it more durable than many other roofing systems with low slopes.

This allows it to stay protected against dirt and moisture, so it's resistant to mold and fungi growth from water. Better yet, it has an impact rating of Class 4, allowing it to withstand hale.

It's not entirely impervious to all impact – and no roofing is! – but it's good enough to hold its own in extreme weather conditions.

The jury is still out on exactly how long TPO roofing can last, as it's a relatively new material on the market. But it's estimated that TPO roofing when well-cared-for, can last you two or three decades.

Over time as the market develops, you can expert more TPO roofs to last even longer.

2. It has a reasonable cost

TPO roofing's most obvious advantage is its affordability. There's a large range of possible prices, with high-end varieties peaking at about $14 per square foot.

At its lowest cost, though, you can get TPO roofing for as little as $3.50 per square foot, which is a huge steal compared to alternatives like PVC!

3. It's versatile and has lots of varieties

TPO roofing is suitable for commercial and residential properties and is often used for both purposes. It can also be used for both low sloped roofs and flat roofs.

In terms of similar materials, TPO roofing probably has the most color options, even if they are somewhat limited: you can get black, white, gray, and tan variations.

This gives you some variety to play around with aesthetically. There are also a couple of manufacturers who can make other colors, though this tends to come at a higher price.

4. It's energy-efficient

TPO roofing has highly reflective membranes that enable a building to stay cool in the summer. You'll save a lot on air conditioning costs when you use it as a material!

This can be great for the comfort and wallets of those who aren't fans of the heat. TPO roofing has even earned the certification of ENERGY STAR requirements by the Environmental Protection Agency.

This applies to white reflective surfaces. Meanwhile, its gray, tan, and white roofs are represented in the Cool Roof Rating Council. Basically, its UV resistance is pretty impressive!

5. It's easy to maintain

Maintenance is virtually not required almost at all with TPO roofing. It's highly unlikely that dirt, mildew, algae, or mold will ever grow or gather on roofing of this material.

They also don't get tears and punctures where these substances might grow. Basically, you pretty much don't need to wash TPO roofing at all.

At the very most, you might need to inspect it now and then or repair it after extreme weather, but that's practically no effort at all in the grand scheme of things!

pros of tpo
Image: Insulfoam

6. It's easy to install

TPO roofing material is very lightweight, making it relatively easy to move and maneuver as needed.

This means less labor time and effort is necessary for its installation, especially when compared to other choices like EPDM. This saves you money in the long run.

Sure, installation is quite technical, but it's relatively quick and simple, with wide sheets and large rolls for quick spreading. The big sheets mean less time is spent applying seams and connections.

TPO roofing installation is also somewhat varied. While heat welding is widely considered the best option, direct roof fastenings or adhesives are also available for those who prefer it.

If you have pipes, flashing, and other features on the exterior of your home, TPO roofing can wrap around them. Its flexibility means that it can be heated into an impressively malleable state!

Finally, to add to all of that, TPO is one of the few roofing materials that can be installed in winter with ease.

The attachment and heat welding can be done as long as the material can be brought up in temperature. If this is possible, it'll effortlessly seal as it should with no issues!

Cons Of TPO Roofing

1. Its lamination poses weakness

The topmost layer of TPO roofing is laminated, and that in itself already raises some concerns. Having lamination at all can worsen the risk of shrinkage, deterioration, and cracking.

Poor quality TPO can develop these cracks very quickly, which completely negates any benefits from its usually low-maintenance, durable, and resistant features.

pros of tpo
Image: Insulfoam

2. It's not high heat resistant

TPO roofing may be good at managing hot weather, but when subjected to high heat conditions, it tends to suffer.

This is especially true in warmer locations when temperatures can really soar to intimidating highs during the summer.

To put it bluntly, regular high heat exposure or high solar load can cause TPO roofing to suffer damage. This material simply might not be able to hold up well to it, causing accelerated aging and weathering.

If temperatures commonly elevate to 160 degrees or above where you plan to install your roofing, this might be the best choice for you. It's also worth noting that TPO roofing is not fire-resistant.

Unlike PVC, TPO does not have natural self-extinguishing abilities. Even TPO roofing with a class A fire rating isn't going to be able to withstand burning.

The use of additional fire-retardant layers or Ballasted roof systems can help to mitigate this issue.

3. It's slippery

When frosted or wet, TPO can quickly become slippery. On one hand, that means it repels water very well.

On the other, it makes it dangerous to walk on. As long as you stay off your roof, you'll be fine – but if you plan to climb onto it for any reason, check its conditions first!

pros and cons of tpo roofing
Image: Insulfoam

4. It's very new in the industry

TPO roofing has only been around for about 30 years, and it's only been getting popular in the last decade.

While the material has been tested and experts have weighed in on its qualities, the truth is that it hasn't had enough time out in the field to truly be understood.

There's no way for TPO roofing to have undergone any time testing just yet and product research is ongoing. There have been signs of seam cracks and failures due to the lack of understanding surrounding TPO's true nature.

The exact formula of TPO roofing will probably see many changes and alterations in the upcoming decades. It will be a while before a truly durable, genuinely reliable form of this material is decided upon.

Certain manufacturers will be able to offer a better guarantee of longevity, so it's best to seek those out in the meantime!

5. Brands and manufacturers determine quality

To some degree, all roofing materials are only as good as their manufacturers.

But because of how new TPO roofing is, this is exaggerated with this material. There is a lot of room for growth and improvement, and not all manufacturers are paying attention.

You'll have to be careful when shopping for TPO roofing! The brand you choose to opt for can largely determine if you get a good product or something of poor quality.

When you hire contractors, you'll also need to ensure that they have the necessary TPO experience to properly install your roofing.

6. Its whole process is technical

Installing and repairing TPO both require specialized tools and decent levels of expertise. This can lead to increased costs, even with the decreased labor required due to how lightweight TPO is.

For the most part, you'll pretty much always need to hire a professional to take care of any issues and concerns you have with your TPO roofing.

If you're a particularly handy person, you may not be a fan of that!

Final Thoughts

TPO roofing is a great new player in the industry.

While its newness means it's still unpredictable and has poor industry quality control, it's energy-efficient and reasonably priced in a great, modern way. Still, it has its downsides.

  • It may be easy to install and maintain, but that always requires technical work.
  • And while it is durable, strong, and damage resistant, its lamination can count against it and it fares poorly in hot temperatures.
  • But even though it's slippery in wet conditions, few can deny that it's attractive in terms of variation and versatility!