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EPDM roofing – why is it a good choice?

There are two types of EPDM roofing – vulcanized and non-vulcanized. First is solid and is used as roof membranes, the second is semi-solid – for flashing of the cured material.

The main characteristic of this synthetic rubber is black color, and only market can argue about its being good or bad. But recently it is condsidered to be bad, as white roofing membranes have been just pushed at every stage – from the federal government to local businesses. The black EPDM is said to be bad by the market and manufacturers, not only policymakers.


White or black?

There is "white-on-black" EPDM roofing which is sold by the manufacturers just to hold the market niche. Are there not only political reasons to push and develop "white-on-black" EPDM? Probably yes, but most of them are still political.

No doubt, that black EPDM will stay on the market for a long time yet, as about 95 percent of all EPDM roofing are black.

So we have the next reasons for it to have a foothold:

People are tend to choose what will work for them longer – and the "white-on-black" EPDM is not so durable and reliable as the black one is;
Those who deal with building are sure that EPDM is cheap because it is rubber, but it is not so fair as a matter of fact;
There is a belief that a black roof is better for areas with cold climate, it doesn't work all the time, but still people choose the black EPDM roofing for this reason;
EPDM has been on the market for a long time, and people will choose what they already know. It is a good roofing – not the best, but still not the worst one.

"White-on-black" EPDM

So what is the unknown "white-on-black" EPDM? We will try to answer this question and find out if it is better than the black one. It is a laminated material and black EPDM is the main part of the membrane. It is more expensive, though not so durable, but if you want or need a white roof, you will pay more, not thinking of a roofing membrane.

"White-on-black" EPDM has never been very popular, although it has been manufacured for a long time. But it was pushed by concern of "global warming" and other issues of this type. So it got popularity recently. But the problems which had the original product didn't dissolve, and modern version is not perfect either.

Standard EPDM roofing is black because it contains carbon, if you think it is the flaw, you are mistaken, as carbon makes the material stable and structurally strong, what will provide you with a long lasting and reliable roof.

The "white-on-black" EPDM is just "painted" or laminated standard black sheet.The white color is produced by titanium oxide, what is the reason why the "white-on-black" EPDM surface becomes not very stable and long lasting. The laminated surface cause bad sealing and difficult process of it. When the warranty term is up you have only black EPDM membrane.

It is obvious that the titanium oxide makes the membrane quality worse, and it influences on duration and reliability of the membrane. That's why it is added only to a separate piece of the membrane, which needs to be laminated. So, you have only the surface white, but there is black membrane underneath.  EPDM roofing is nature black material and its laminate on the surface is just needed when the customer wants white roof.

There is a dilemma – you are going to deal with EPDM black roof and coat it with a reflective elastomeric roof coating but why do make your life more difficult if you can buy it already white. No need to buy black one and coat it white. But at the same time, you will face up the problem of worse quality and duration. Though the decision and the last word is up to the customer only.


The reasons to choose EPDM roofing

If you need a roof which can handle with rain, snow, UV rays, abrasoins, ozone and low-temperature flexibility, then you need black EPDM roofing. When it is seamed and installed well, it will work for you long, though when it is hot outside, the membrane and the seams can shrink and pull apart at some point. We can't answer here if the black EPDM roof is better for cold climate or no, there are too many views on this statement, but high temperature is obviously a reason why it is often coated with a reflective elastomeric top coat.

The main advantage of an EPDM roof compared to TPO system is its sheet size. It can be bought in a 50 foot by 50 foot section – it will make the installation more difficult, but you will have fewer seams on your roofing, what will minimize the risk of dry out and shrinkage. Moreover its thickness is very good – 45-60 mils.


What is bad about EPDM roofing?

You need to know that when EPDM membranes contact with anymal and vegetable oils or petroleum-based products the swelling and distortion can occur on it. The EPDM roofing membrane is very reliable and long lasting, but as every roofing system it can have seams dry out and shrink what will create problems. Usually to keep the seams cooler and prevent dry-out and shrinkage, they are coated with white roofing coating.

The EPDM roofing must have proper maintenance and it is not cheap to install. It needs glues to adhere it to underneath, the seams can be glued or taped – the result is the same.