A roof protects you from harsh weather and natural elements that can cause harm. Hence, your roof needs to be strong, durable, and offering protection from sun, water, and other harmful natural elements. There are a variety of roofing options available that can provide safety and durability. Among these options, single-ply roofing systems have recently become quite popular especially for commercial buildings, flat or low-sloped roofs. These roofing systems are flexible, lightweight, safe, eco-friendly, and very durable which makes them a better choice for your roofs.

What is Single-ply Roofing?

Single ply is a synthetic polymer based flat roofing material which can be adhered, mechanically fixed, or ballasted into flat, pitched, low-sloped, or green roof systems in a single sheet. Usually supplied in rolls, this material is either entirely homogeneous or contains a reinforcement layer. This material is lightweight, flexible, easy to install, waterproof, cost-effective, and durable. This eco-friendly polymer has almost zero impact on the environment and is also recyclable which makes it increasingly popular in more than commercial building projects.

Types of Single-ply Roofing Membranes

Single-ply membranes are generally categorized into two groups – thermosets and thermoplastics. Thermoset membranes are compounded from rubber polymers and when heated they change their shape. The most commonly used polymer is EPDM. As opposed to thermosets, when thermoplastic membranes cool, they return to their original material type. Thermoplastic membranes generally include a reinforcement layer like polyester or fiberglass that provides added strength and stability. The most common thermoplastic membranes are PVC and TPO.

1. Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM)

Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM) is an elastic synthetic rubber membrane which is commonly used in domestic projects. This cost-effective polymer is ballasted to receive a satisfactory fire rating. EDPM roofs can withstand extreme outdoor conditions like heavy rains, UV exposure, or harmful chemicals. This single ply remains stable and is thus a very popular roofing alternative. Traditionally black EDPM has added carbon black which increases UV protection. Similarly, titanium dioxide is also added to white EPDM to increase its reflection property. This allows the polymer to reflect heat and harmful UV rays and results in lower energy consumption.

2. Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC)

Composed of ethylene and chlorine, Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC) or vinyl is recyclable and fire-resistant. It also uses fewer petrochemicals that other roofing materials. A single PVC membrane is composed of two layers of PVC material which cover a reinforcement layer. The UV-resistant and flexible top layer can take on color through pigmentation nut the bottom layer is often grey or black. The reinforcement for PVC typically is polyester or fiberglass added to provide strength, longevity, and stability. PVC can resist damage through chemical exposure. It is also very durable and with proper installation and maintenance can last up to 20 years.

3. Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO)

Thermoplastic Polyolefin or TPO is composed of polypropylene and ethylene-propylene rubber to improve weld ability and durability. It is fire-resistant, UV resistant, waterproof, and safe from damage through external sources. This polymer is a popular choice for commercial roofs as it comes in varying degrees of thickness to meet the needs of your roof. It is also available in more colors than black and white. Generally manufactured in white, TPO is very reflective and can thus lower your energy consumption and keep your buildings cool. Like PVC, you can partially recycle TPO into other products such as walkway tiles. Hence, it has a low footprint on the environment. However, you should read more about this single-ply membrane before coming to any conclusions.

Benefits of Single-ply Roofing Systems

While there are many types of single-ply roofing systems, all the types share some common benefits. These polymers are quite popular not just in new builds but also in refurbishment projects. Let us look at some of these benefits of single-ply roofing systems.

Easy to Install and Repair

The single-ply membranes are very lightweight and flexible. The flexibility of the single-ply membranes allows contractors to accommodate unique roof designs. This flexibility also allows the roofing systems to stay intact with expanding and contracting buildings. Installation of these membranes is also quite clean and easy due to their lightweight nature whether contractors have to glue them, fasten, or use heat application. Moreover, these polymers are also recyclable. Similarly, any repairs or modifications on existing single-ply roofs are also easier in comparison.

Durable and Safe in Extreme Weather

Any roofing system is exposed to the harmful rays of the sun and other natural elements like heavy rains, winds, etc. These factors affect the structure of the roofs and speed up the process of their deterioration. However, single-ply membranes are very durable compared to other roofing systems. They are manufactures to be waterproof, UV-resistant, and able to withstand adverse conditions. Hence, they are pretty durable and can withstand rough winds; resist harmful UV rays, and heavy rains.


Single-ply membranes are more environment friendly than its other counterparts. Air conditioners release a lot of harmful gases in the atmosphere thereby harming the environment. These polymers can easily reflect heat and UV rays. This helps them to keep the interior of the building cooler compared to other options. This can help lower the energy bills and keep residents from turning on their AC. Moreover, these polymers can be easily recycled after they reach the end of their usefulness. This helps leave fewer waste materials in the environment. Hence, these single-ply roofs are quite effective in making a low impact on the nature.

Cost Effective

When you calculate the worth of any roof, you don’t consider only the price of the roof. You also consider other factors like the durability, ease of installation, lifespan of materials used, the level of comfort it provides, etc. The cost of single-ply membranes depends on its brands, range, material used, thickness, application, etc. Generally the cost of single-ply membrane roofs is considerably lower than other roofing options. However, in case you find the costs high to pay upfront, rest assured that its long-term advantages will surely outweigh the initial costs and make it affordable.