PVC Roof Options and Costs for Homes: PVC vs. TPO Roofs 2017

PVC, technically known as Polyvinyl Chloride is really vinyl roofing, though is routinely referenced as PVC roof. It directly competes with TPO and EPDM in the synthetic roof membrane arena, and indirectly with all other roofing materials including BUR, modified bitumen, and structural standing seam roofs designed for lower sloped roofs. The membrane roofs are usually applied to flat roofs, but using them on a sloped roof is possible. Why not just use traditional roofing materials (asphalt shingles or other tiles) on a flat roof? Because they are very likely to leak.

When used with a slope, the overlap of those materials are designed to shed water away from the roof deck. Whereas flat roofs have only a slight pitch, and any standing, or pooling water, could lead to immediate leaks and rotting soon thereafter. PVC membrane is a kind of roofing material that can withstand pooling or standing water — puddles of water that accumulate on roofs with low slopes.

Cost and Values of a PVC Roof

Of the three primary membrane roof types, PVC is the most expensive. EPDM the least, and TPO in the middle. TPO allegedly offers the benefits of both the other types, yet that material keeps undergoing formula changes, and so compared to PVC and EPDM is considered less reliable, particularly when it comes to warranties.

The primary factors that determine the cost of installing a PVC roof are:

  • total coverage area, measured in square feet. For flat roofs, this must include parapets walls and overhangs (which can add 200 to 300 sq.ft.)
  • quality of the installer, which is true with any roofing job, but PVC requires special skills and appropriate tools
  • thickness of the material (see Options below)
  • whether a tear off of previous roof material is needed
  • insulation material
  • slope or pitch of the roof
  • anything else about the roof’s features, like amount of drain pipes, items that penetrate the roof and need flashing or extra attention

Prices for residential installs can vary greatly. A roofer is likely to quote differently than a professional PVC installer, probably less, but also likely to not have the proper tools. A fair range, for 2017, is between $6.00 and $8.50 per sq. ft. if installed by a PVC expert. On the lower end if going with less thick material.

In terms of value, durability and ROI, PVC is arguably the best, or longest lasting of the three. EPDM will go 7 to 15 years before needing replacing or re-coating. TPO is thought to go as long as PVC, but that information is either suspect or unknown for sure just yet. PVC has been in the field for decades and unlike TPO isn’t constantly undergoing changes to the formula to address performance issues. Warranties are usually ‘lifetime’ and with proper installation, it ought to retain solid performance for 20 years or more.

Understanding the Options of a PVC Roof

PVC material is purchased in rolls that are anywhere from 6 to 12 feet wide. Usually when people first consider PVC roofing they think pipe, but those are not the rolls, nor the exact type of material used for roofing. When unrolled on a roof, it forms a membrane, that is single-ply, and is rather flexible. To obtain flexibility, the material has additives. Over time, these additives can break down due to UV rays, but that usually takes decades (20+ years). Whereas TPO is naturally flexible, PVC is not, but can be engineered to be just as flexible and light as TPO.

Between each sheet on the roof are seams, but like TPO, the seams are rectified via air or heat welding. And like TPO, this creates a monolithic roof, that makes it a waterproof barrier on the upper most layer of the home. See this YouTube video as an example of how heat welding works.

The weld is one piece of special equipment that a typical roofing contractor may find unnecessary to purchase if only doing a couple such jobs a year. So, they may forgo this process and overlap seams with glue as the way to obtain a tight seal, which leads to less than 20 years of solid performance.

Attaching PVC rolls to the roof occurs in one of three ways. Most common is mechanically attaching via special metal plates placed over the membrane (in between the seams — before they are welded together) and secured with manufacturer-approved screws. Second most common is via gluing or what is usually called the fully-adhered method. And finally is the ballasted option where river rocks or ballasts are strategically situated to hold it in place.

White is the most common color for vinyl roofing, but not the only. Manufacturers can blend any color in, and thus throughout, the material, so with PVC roofing there are numerous color options. The white and slick surface of PVC makes it fit in with a true cool roof that will reflect a high amount of UV rays, and lead to much cooler roof surface temperatures, and hence significantly less heat transferred indoors on hot summer days.

PVC sheets are produced by spreading the vinyl material, which are typically are reinforced with polyester or glass-fiber mats. Overall, they achieve a thickness between 45 and 90 millimeters. 50 tends to be the norm for residential purpose, but is really a builder preference, or can be made higher by homeowner request and willing to pay for added thickness. PVC roofs have a minimum breaking point of 300 pounds per inch, which makes for above average durability.

One caveatPVC is incompatible with asphalt-based products. If installed anywhere near an asphalt product, a separator sheet must be in place to keep it away from the asphalt. — This is one instance where a TPO membrane would be a more suitable alternative.

Advantages of a PVC Roof

  • proven track record, longer warranties
  • achieves cool roof status, leading to energy efficiency
  • multiple color options
  • highly durable, puncture and tear resistant
  • resists water dampness, algae or fungi build up, and animal fats (from kitchen vents)
  • can withstand high winds / hurricanes
  • fire resistant, is non-combustible
  • little to no ongoing maintenance

Disadvantages of a PVC Roof

  • more expensive than TPO and EPDM roofing
  • takes special expertise to properly install and achieve solid performance
  • the additives that aid in flexibility can break down and pose problems after 20 or so years
  • less eco-friendly than TPO, more eco-friendly than EPDM, it can be recycled with other PVC materials

EPDM Rubber Roof Cost, Pros & Cons: Flat Roof Membrane 2017

Welcome to the default, or old school, material for flat roof installations. It’s technical name: Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer is a mouthful. While it is simply a rubber material, we’ll go with EPDM since everyone else does. This product competes directly with TPO and PVC as membrane type roofing material. This one though tends to only be used on flat roofs. Some might be wondering why not just use the more traditional roofing materials? Well, those usually come in tile form, and between each tile poses a chance for water to seep in, or pool up, which will lead to rot on the roofing deck. Thus, the membrane approach has been in place for nearly a half century to provide a waterproof barrier.

EPDM Pricing and Value

EPDM is the least expensive of the three primary membrane types, but it isn’t cheap. The material is very durable. Since the early 1960s, EPDM has been the material of choice in canals and other irrigation systems prior to becoming a successful material for waterproofing roofs. It’s estimated to have 1 billion square feet of it installed throughout the world’s roofs. This is partially due to its great durability, it’s ease of installation and it’s great price.

Average Cost Per Sq. Ft. Installed

On the low end, you can plan to spend around $3.00 to $4.00 per sq. ft. for the installation of EPDM rubber on a flat roof. — The low-end pricing, although not very common, would be on par with asphalt shingles pricing, which tells you how affordable it can be. $5.50 to $7.50 per sq. ft. would be the high end, and would likely be a thicker material, or reflective of having the job done by quality flat roof professionals.

What about DIY for EPDM?

The DIY approach is viable, because installation is not complicated. With TPO and PVC roofs, you need special skills and tools for proper installation. With EPDM, you need the sheets, which are sold in as large as 50 feet wide by 200 foot long pieces, some glue and preferably some experience in achieving a successful installation. Home Depot and Lowe’s sell rolls of 10 x 25 feet for around $170 and $205 respectively. Add another $80 for the glue, or bonding adhesive (sold in 3 gallon containers) and $25 for long armed roller and you’re set to go.

When it comes to value or return on investment, that’s another matter. Our Advantages and Disadvantages section below help identify the balance of lasting value vs. known issues. The reality is EPDM roofs last 7 to 15 years on average before needing replacement (less likely) or resealing (more likely). With EPDM liquid roof coating, repairs and resealing can extend the life of the roof and re-institute the waterproof barrier from original installation.

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Cedar Shingles & Shakes Roofing Costs, Plus Pros & Cons 2017

$7,000 to $12,000. — That’s the low end price you can expect to pay for a Cedar Shake roof, fully installed in 2017. Which of course depends on a number of factors, so let’s get into that.

via Inspirational Village

What A Cedar Shake and Shingle Roof Entails

First, let’s differentiate between the two. Shake means split with an axe, Shingle means cut with a saw. It’s that simple. Obviously shake came first historically. Both are used today, while shake is generally considered the premium product between the two. Shake tends to be thicker (up to 3/4th an inch thick) than shingles (up to 1/2 inch thick). With the advent of shingle mills in the early 19th century, came the ability to mass produce the wood material, along with possibility to access it in several locations.

Besides thickness, there is also variation in shape, width, texture and eventually treatment and color. Royalty and Perfection. These terms refer to length, with Perfection referencing an 18 inch wide shingle and Royalty attributed to 24 inch wide shingles. Shape tends to be rectangular, especially as it relates to material for roofing. As cedar shakes are also used for siding, the shape may vary, with how the butt-end (lower side) appears, as in whether it is rounded, straight or even a bit wavy. Being that these shingles are on the upper portion of the home, the need or even purpose for anything uniquely shaped is less necessary.

Did you know? That shake material of higher quality is often used for roofing, whereas cedar siding projects tend to use lower quality shakes.

The material itself is routinely synonymous with cedar shakes, though that’s not the only grain of wood used. There’s white and red cedar, along with California redwood which are the primary wood choices in North America. Outside of the U.S., pine may be the primary choice for shake.

Color options are essentially without limit as any paint or stain can be applied, but typically a clear stain is used due to the natural beauty associated with the material. What is more common is how the wood is treated. Chemically treated wood will last longer than if it is not treated. Often it is laced with fire retardants to overcome an inherent, albeit, natural design flaw. Or treated to prevent algae and insect infestation. Such treatments can have the material last a good 30 years, or longer.

Value and Cost Further Explored

The rustic charm of wood shake is arguably its most alluring value. While there are metallic, and stone tile products that can come close in matching it’s appearance, none really compare to the authentic beauty of natural wood.

Added thickness in the material means better insulation of the home’s uppermost layer. But the real value is in how it holds up to wind. Asphalt shingles top out at 130 mph for wind uplift resistance, whereas cedar shakes can withstand speeds up to 245 mph. It is also impact resistant, or more so than most other materials with exception of stone.

While the product isn’t requiring special tools or skills to install, it can be labor intensive due to the multi-layering, general thickness and moderate heaviness of the material. For a 1200 sq. ft. roof (which is equal to a small home), the total installation cost averages $7,000 to $12,000. If using premium materials, or a licensed and insured contractor, or having a complex roof with multiple slope angles, then the price goes up. Unless the home is unusually large, you can expect to not exceed $20,000 for a cedar shake roof, but a fair average is $7,000 to $12,000.

via ASCH Roofing

By the square, which equals 100 sq. ft. the price for wood shingles installed is $400 to $700 or $4.00 to $7.00 per sq. ft. of wood shingles installed.

If going with cedar shakes instead, the price rises up to $600 to $900 per square or $6.00 to 9.00 per sq. ft. installed.

If going with bargain priced material, the costs can come significantly down, but the value or how long it lasts will also go down. Home Depot sells bundles at about $50, where 4 bundles are enough to cover a square, thus $200. This doesn’t take into account the other materials that go into a roofing job, such as fasteners, underlayment, etc. but does let you know that if you go the DIY route, costs could be cut nearly in half.

A roof in general will see a recoup value of 70%, though that is based on the popular asphalt shingle. It goes up from there, and given that cedar shake has allure and better than average durability, it is likely closer to 75% or even 80% ROI.

This assumes they are in good condition, and that they are well maintained. Which brings us to the significant drawback. If not paying for premium, read as treated, material then the product will probably last 20 years, or less if in area with heavy precipitation or much moisture. If properly cared for, and inspected annually, a cedar shake roof could last as long as 50 or even 60 years.

Continue reading “Cedar Shingles & Shakes Roofing Costs, Plus Pros & Cons 2017”