Waterproof Membranes for Flat Roofs | Blog

100% Satisfaction Guarantee

BBB Accredited & A+ Rated

Call us today

Home > Blog > Flat Roofing > Waterproof Membranes for Flat Roofs

Waterproof Membranes for Flat Roofs

by | May 3, 2023 | Flat Roofing

Flat roofs are commonly found in commercial buildings and some residential homes. They require specialized roofing materials and installation techniques to prevent leaks and other issues. One popular roofing material for flat roofs is waterproof membranes, which are designed to keep water out and protect the building from the elements. In this blog post, we’ll compare some of the most common waterproof membranes used for flat roofs, including modified bitumen, TPO, PVC, BUR, and EPDM.

Modified Bitumen vs. TPO

Modified bitumen and TPO are both popular waterproof membranes for flat roofs. Asphalt and rubber modifiers are used to create modified bitumen, whereas TPO is a single-ply roofing membrane composed of a mixture of rubber, plastic, and other materials.

Modified bitumen is a popular choice for flat roofs because it is durable and can withstand heavy foot traffic. Installation is relatively simple, and one can repair damaged areas by patching them with either a torch or cold adhesive.

TPO, on the other hand, is a newer material that is becoming more popular due to its energy efficiency and ease of installation. TPO roofs are usually white, which reflects sunlight and reduces cooling costs. Installers can use various methods to install TPO roofing, which boasts strong seams, including mechanical attachment, full adherence, and ballasting.

APP vs. SBS Modified Bitumen

You can divide modified bitumen into two categories: APP and SBS. APP stands for Atactic Polypropylene, while SBS stands for Styrene-Butadiene-Styrene.

APP modified bitumen is a more rigid material, and it is usually applied using a propane torch. It resists ultraviolet light excellently and can function in both hot and cold temperatures.

On the other hand, SBS modified bitumen is more flexible and applicators can use a variety of methods to apply it, including hot-mopping, cold-applying, and self-adhering. It is also more resistant to damage from foot traffic and hail.

TPO vs. EPDM Roof

EPDM, which stands for Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer, serves as a rubber roofing membrane frequently utilized for flat roofs. Manufactured from a synthetic rubber material, it possesses attributes of being lightweight, durable, and easy to install. EPDM roofs are typically black and can last up to 30 years with proper maintenance.

TPO and EPDM are similar in that they are both single-ply roofing membranes. However, TPO is a newer material that is becoming more popular due to its energy efficiency and ease of installation. TPO roofs are usually white, which reflects sunlight and reduces cooling costs. Additionally, TPO roofing boasts strong seams and contractors can install it using multiple methods, such as mechanical attachment, full adherence, and ballasting.


PVC, an abbreviation for Polyvinyl Chloride, represents another variety of single-ply roofing membrane frequently employed on flat roofs. It is known for its durability and resistance to chemicals and other harsh substances, is a thermoplastic material. PVC roofs are typically white, which helps to reflect sunlight and reduce cooling costs.

TPO and PVC are similar in many ways, but there are some key differences. In general, the consideration is that TPO is more environmentally friendly than PVC due to its lack of chlorine, a chemical that can be harmful to the environment. TPO is also easier to recycle than PVC, which can be difficult to dispose of once it reaches the end of its useful life.


Built-up roofing (BUR) is a traditional flat roofing system that has been used for over a century. It consists of alternating layers of bitumen and reinforcing fabrics that create a watertight seal. While people still widely use BUR today, TPO roofing is gaining more popularity because of its numerous advantages.

TPO roofing is that it is more energy-efficient and durable than BUR. It is resistant to punctures, tears, and UV radiation, which can cause BUR to degrade over time. TPO roofing is also less prone to leaks than BUR. BUR roofing systems rely on multiple layers of material and seams to create a watertight seal. These seams can fail over time, which can lead to leaks. On the other hand, TPO roofing installs a single-ply membrane in a single layer, eliminating the risk of seam failure.

Contact Texas Select Construction to Discuss Your Roofing Needs

As you can see, there are many options when it comes to waterproof membranes for flat roofs. Whether you are contemplating modified bitumen, TPO, PVC, or EPDM roofing, enlisting the expertise of a professional roofing contractor is crucial. They can assist you in navigating the selection process and guarantee the accurate installation of your new roof.

So if you’re in need of a new flat roof or just want to discuss your options, contact us today to schedule a consultation. We will collaborate with you to identify the optimal roofing solution for your requirements and budget, and we will guarantee the accurate and efficient installation of your new roof.

last Updated: 08-31-2023

Get a Free Inspection