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TPO Roofing Guide: Cost, Material, and Installation (2022)

TPO roofing is an increasingly popular choice for large-scale residential and commercial applications due to its simple installation process, cost-effectiveness, and workability in most climates. It is most commonly used on flat or low-slope roofing and is prized due to its relatively lightweight construction and durability.

If you’re considering installing this type of roofing membrane, you should continue reading for a comprehensive breakdown of TPO roofing costs, pros and cons, and more.

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What is TPO Roofing?

TPO roofing is a single-ply rubber-like roofing membrane that is made of three bound sheets. TPO itself stands for thermoplastic polyolefin, which comprises two of the three layers:

  • Thermoplastic polyolefin base layer
  • Polyester fabric center (scrim)
  • Thermoplastic polyolefin top layer

This roofing material is extremely thin, despite its three-layer construction. It is commonly sold in gauges of 45 mil, 60 mil, and 90 mil, which are .045”, .06”, and .09” thick, respectively. Rolls usually come in widths of six, eight, ten, and 12 feet, at varying lengths.

Water resistant tpo membrane positioned on the roof. PVC and rubber membrane. Sky Doralin Tunas/ Getty (via iStock)

Single-Ply Membrane Roofing: TPO Vs. EPDM

TPO and EPDM roofing are both forms of rubberized flat roof deck coverings with different positives and drawbacks. We’ve outlined a few leading differences here.

 EPDM

EPDM roofing has been in use for the last 60 years and typically has a far darker coloring than TPO roofing. Installation methods vary greatly, too, as fasteners are exclusively used to secure it to the roof decking. Adhesive is occasionally used for TPO roof installation.

 TPO Roofing

TPO roofing has been in use for 20 years and has a higher UV resistance rating than EPDM. The lighter colors reflect heat while keeping building interiors cooler. This makes it an ideal choice for commercial roofing systems, especially on buildings that house machinery or larger workplaces.

Pros and Cons of TPO Roofing

Pros

  • Fairly resistant to tearing and punctures
  • Resistant to mold
  • Lightweight and flexible compared to other roofing materials
  • Exceeds EnergyStar standards for energy efficiency
  • It can be installed at any time of year (although dry conditions are a must)
  • Highly resistant to UV rays and heating as a cool roofing material

Cons

  • It does not last as long as EPDM roofing
  • Not as flame resistant as PVC
  • Most major repairs require a professional roofing contractor.
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TPO Roofing Cost

This single-ply roofing membrane has been on the market for well over two decades but is still relatively new compared to other common roofing materials. It is commonly used for residential and commercial roofing applications; luckily, you can expect lower installation costs for a TPO roofing membrane than EPDM.

How Much Does it Cost to Install a TPO Roof?

Fully installed, you can expect to pay between $10,000 and $12,000 for a TPO roofing product. This considers all factors, including the potential removal of an existing roof, installation methods, and installation for homeowners and commercial buildings.

TPO Roofing Cost per Square Foot

Like any roofing option, TPO roofing costs can be divided into materials and labor.

  • Materials: $2.00 – $3.50 per square foot
  • Labor: $3.50 – $5.25 per square foot
  • Total: $5.50 – $8.75 per square foot

TPO Roofing Cost per Roll

TPO roofing is usually sold in bulk rolls that are 100 feet in length. Widths vary from ten to 20 feet, with varied roll sizes in between. A roll of Firestone 60 mil TPO roofing material currently costs $3,750 on Amazon, which comes to $1.88 per square foot. The low unit cost will go up as you purchase smaller bulk quantities. Common roll sizes include 10’x50’, 20’x50’, 10’100’, and 20’x100’.

You can purchase TPO roofing material from Amazon, Home Depot, Lowes, or any similar big-box hardware outlet. You can also purchase rolls from commercial and residential roofing companies.

Key Facts About TPO Roofing

If you’re looking to purchase a new roof for your home or a commercial building, we’ve put together an important list of discussion points to consider. Single-ply roofing systems such as TPO can provide many benefits, including energy savings, relatively affordable installation and maintenance, durability, and more.

How Long Do TPO Roofs Last?

A TPO rubber roofing system is one of the best options for flat roofs and can last between 20 and 30 years. Regular maintenance will push this life expectancy towards the higher end of this range and beyond. Professional roofers can conduct maintenance fairly easily. Beyond this, each roofer will offer warranties to cover varying periods.

TPO roofing has now been in use for the last 20 years. This makes it a relative newcomer among other roofing materials. With each subsequent iteration, clients will see improvements and longer expected lifespans for their TPO roofs.

 Can You Paint a TPO Roof?

Like many metal roofing materials, TPO roofs come in many colors to match the building they’re being applied to, with the most common choice being white. That said, single-coat elastomeric paint for TPO roofing is the best option available for such applications. You’ll have to ask your professional roofing company about your choices in this area.

 Is TPO Roofing Flammable?

TPO roofing is somewhat flame-resistant, but the solvents and adhesives used in the installation process can cause issues if exposed directly to fire. A thick insulation layer between your TPO roofing and substrate will make your roof effectively flame resistant.

How Much Does a Roll of TPO Weigh?

TPO rolls are extremely heavy. This is one of the many reasons why professional installation is recommended, aside from the specialty tools you’ll need to get the job done. Given the areas each roll is able to cover, the total weight isn’t egregious but definitely makes getting TPO rolls into position a multi-person job.

Expect a 10’ by 100’ roll of 80 mil TPO to weigh between 400 and 430 pounds.

How Do You Clean TPO Roofing?

A standard low-power pressure washer (under 2,000 PSI) can be used to get the majority of dirt and grime off of your TPO roofing. Use a gentle household cleaner with a soft-bristle broom to scrub and get your roof’s bright color back to its original shine. Cleaning semi-regularly will help to maintain the reflective properties that make it a great insulator from ultraviolet rays and the sun’s heat.

TPO Roofing Installation Process

TPO roofing systems give clients a few options for installation. Depending on your exact roofing needs or preferences, you’ll be able to secure your roofing sheets via fasteners, adhesive, or ballast. Here is a basic step-by-step guide to installing TPO roofs.

  1. Prepare your roof: You’ll have to clean and ensure your existing roof is totally dry before applying any propylene underlayment or insulation to your roof. Moisture can cause mold and degradation of your roof over time. You can leave old shingles or roofing materials in place if not damaged.
  2. Lay down insulation: A half-inch to an inch of rigid polyiso foam will suffice for most applications. Cut all insulation to fit around vents, pipes, or other protruding structures on the rooftop.
  3. Set TPO: Working with one strip at a time, you’ll want to set your TPO roll perfectly square to one of your roof corners before beginning to roll it over the insulation. Each subsequent edge should be overlapped by about a foot of material. Trailing edges should be screwed into the roof decking with fasteners every eight inches to a foot apart.
  4. Heat weld all seams: This step requires a specialized heat welding tool and is the main reason why a roofer should install most TPO roofs. Heat welding any seams will effectively join adjacent panels together, creating a watertight seal. Along with this step, be sure to seal up any vent edges on your rooftop.
Worker welding pvc  membrane by heater with welder machine Doralin Tunas/ Getty (also via iStock)
  1. Apply TPO to all side walls: If your roof edges have walls that protrude a few feet above the roof decking, then you should apply TPO to these as well. Resin-based adhesive will be needed for this step. Applying it to all side walls with a roller prior to laying down your TPO roof coating will make for a secure seal. Once you’ve done this, seal all remaining panel overlaps with your heat welder.

Here is a great visual step-by-step guide for TPO roofing installation:

(T&G Roofing – Los Angeles)

Should I Hire a Pro?

We advise hiring a professional roofing contractor to install or repair TPO roofing. TPO itself is not a difficult roofing material to install, but the tools needed — such as a heat welder — will make it difficult for the average DIYer to complete easily. Commercial-grade hot air welders typically sell for $2,000 to $3,000 at the low end. While you can find these tools available to rent, it is better to leave it to someone with the needed expertise.

How to Repair TPO Roofing?

Small repairs are doable on your own. Small hot air welders are available on Amazon for under $200 and could be worth a purchase if you’ve had a TPO roof installed. For small holes and patch jobs, you’ll have to wait for a dry day to begin.

After cleaning a hole or tear in your TPO membrane, you can apply a rounded patch over the affected area. Rounded rather than squared patching will help to ensure that edges don’t peel over time. Using your heat welder, fuse the edges of your TPO patch to the existing layer. If you don’t have a heat gun and would rather not purchase one, then patching with specialized adhesive and silicone caulk is a secondary option, as shown in this video.

Find Local Roofing Services

  • Free estimates based on your roof, no phone call required
  • Typically costs between $1–$25 per square foot
  • Get your quote in 30 seconds

TPO Roofing FAQ

Can I walk on my TPO roof?

You can walk on your TPO roof for maintenance and repairs. That said, it is not suited to regular heavy foot traffic. You should try to keep your rooftop excursions to a minimum once you’ve installed TPO.

Is TPO slippery?

It’s relatively safe to walk on, but TPO can be slippery in wet or rainy conditions. Maintenance techniques aside, this is another reason why you should stay off of your TPO roof unless it’s totally dry.

Should I do regular maintenance on my TPO roof?

TPO roofing’s light color is a big part of why it is such an energy-efficient roofing solution. Cleaning debris and regularly washing it with a typical household detergent or soap can help to preserve the heat insulation properties that make this a great roofing option.

House Method’s Roofing Methodology

Arranging for a home repair of this scale is going to be a fairly involved project. If you haven’t conducted renovations like this – either via a contractor or on your own – then it can be a bit overwhelming. At House Method, we pride ourselves on being able to take all of the guesswork out of the equation for you.

We’ve thoroughly evaluated each roofing type to make your selection process easier. Through exhaustive research into hundreds of different roofing providers throughout the United States and analyses of thousands of individual homeowner experiences, we’ve broken our roof rating system down into the following categories.

All roofs receive an aggregate rating between (0.0) and (1.0). This rating is comprised of six key evaluation criteria, which we’ve outlined below. The rating between (0.0) and (1.0) will correspond to a secondary rating out of five stars, which is displayed more visibly in our articles across this category.

  • Durability (.40): With roofs being constantly exposed to the elements, different materials’ relative durability is a key metric that must be considered. If you’re planning on conducting such an extensive upgrade to your home, then your roof’s expected lifespan should be among your primary concerns. We’ve weighed the relative effectiveness of all roofing materials, from asphalt shingles to corrugated metal roofing from different manufacturers in order to determine the most long-lasting options.
  • Cost (.25):The nationwide average cost for replacing a 1,500-square-foot roof falls between $6,500 and $16,000. Across the board, you should expect to pay between $4 and $11 per square foot of roofing material. This range will account for your location, material choice and availability, ease of access to and installation of your roof, and far more.
  • Contractor Availability (.13): Different roofing contractors in different locales will have varied service offerings. For example, not all roofers are equipped with the requisite skillset and knowledge to install metal roofing. Depending on the kind of roof you want to have installed, your contractor options may be somewhat limited.
  • Warranty Offerings (.12): Aside from workmanship warranties, many roofing manufacturers will offer warranties for the panels themselves. Structural failure should be covered by any manufacturing firm for at least 10 years after the installation has been completed, at the panel or shingle’s full value. We grade each roofing type by standard warranty offerings to ensure that you’re covered in this case.
  • Ease of Future Maintenance and Upgrades (.05): You should always have contingency plans after any home upgrade. Maintenance is inevitable, no matter the material you use. Whether you’re installing solar panels on a functional existing roof, or are simply replacing a defective panel or shingle, certain materials will be easier to work with than others. Typically, less durable materials will score higher in this category due to their better pliability and workability.
  • Customization Options (.05): Any exterior and visible home upgrade is going to have an aesthetic element, aside from functionality. A roof replacement should be an upgrade to the curb appeal of your home. Different types of roofing materials will have varying numbers of style and color options, which factor into our rating.

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