Updated on January 12th, 2021
PVC, technically known as Polyvinyl Chloride is really vinyl roofing, though is routinely referenced as PVC roof.
PVC 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.
Membrane roofs are usually applied to flat or low-slope roofs but using a single-ply membrane on a sloped roof is also possible and common on roofs with slopes between 1:12 and 3:12.
Why not just use traditional roofing materials (asphalt shingles or other tiles) on a low sloped roof? Because they are very likely to leak unless a minimum specified slope for shingles or tiles has been met.
When used with a slope, the overlap of those materials is 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.
Of the three primary membrane roof types, PVC is the most expensive. EPDM is the least costly option, and TPO is somewhere 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.
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 is between $6.50 and $12.50 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 for 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.