The Pros And Cons Of An EPDM Roof: Is It Right For You?

Posted on October 19, 2023

The Pros And Cons Of An EPDM Roof: Is It Right For You?

As a building owner or manager, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is choosing the type of roofing system to install. One option that has gained popularity over the years is ethylene propylene diene monomer, better known as EPDM. But is it right for you? Let’s look into the crucial details of EPDM membranes.

The story of EPDM begins in the 1960s, when the need for a more durable, cost-effective, and easy-to-install roofing material was growing at a rapid pace. Traditional roofing materials were easily susceptible to weather damage, required frequent maintenance, and had shorter lifespans. The introduction of EPDM provided a solution to these challenges.

What is EPDM Roofing Material?

EPDM is a kind of synthetic rubber created using compounds derived from oil and natural gas. The result is a flexible membrane that can handle severe temperatures and weather conditions. Over the years, advancements in manufacturing technology have led to enhancements in the grade and performance of EPDM membranes. Today’s EPDM roofs are more resistant to UV radiation, ozone, and weathering than earlier versions. They also come in different thicknesses and can be reinforced with polyester or fiberglass for added strength.

The journey of EPDM from its inception to its current status as a go-to roofing material is a testament to its durability and versatility.

How EPDM Can Benefit Your Business

epdm roof

EPDM membranes are specifically designed for low-sloped roofs, a favored design option for commercial buildings and sheds. Here are some of the key advantages that make it a popular choice among roofers, property owners, and building managers:

Long-Term Durability

EPDM membranes are known for their durability. With a lifespan that can extend up to 30 years or more with proper maintenance, they offer long-term value to property owners. This durability is due to the unique properties of the material, which make it resistant to weathering, UV radiation, and even ozone.

Intense Flexibility

EPDM is highly flexible, which allows it to adapt to a wide range of building movements and settings without cracking or splitting. Whether you have a flat or low-slope roof, EPDM can conform to your building’s shape and movements.

Strong Weather Resistance

EPDM roofing membranes are excellent at withstanding various weather conditions. Whether it’s heavy rain, high winds, or intense sunlight, an EPDM roof can handle it all. This is due in part to its rubber-like properties, which allow the EPDM membrane to expand and contract with temperature changes without losing its integrity.

High Impact Resistance

One of the lesser-known advantages of this roofing material is its resistance to impacts. EPDM can withstand impacts from flying debris and hail without sustaining significant damage. This makes it a great choice for areas prone to storms and high winds.

Ease of Maintenance

EPDM roofing systems are relatively easy to maintain. They require only periodic inspections and cleaning to ensure they remain in good condition. If damage does occur, repairs are typically straightforward and inexpensive.

Affordability at Its Finest

Last but not least, EPDM is cost-effective. The material is reasonably priced, and because it’s lightweight and easy to install, labor costs are often lower than with other types of materials. This makes EPDM a budget-friendly option for many properties.

While EPDM offers many benefits, it’s also important to consider its drawbacks.

Potential Drawbacks of EPDM Roofs

Here are some common challenges associated with EPDM roofing systems:

Puncture Vulnerability

One of the main drawbacks of EPDM is its susceptibility to punctures. Falling debris, heavy foot traffic, or even wildlife can cause damage to the roof membrane. While this can be mitigated with regular inspections and prompt repairs, it’s a factor that building owners and managers should be aware of.

Sensitivity to Certain Substances

EPDM membranes are sensitive to certain types of solvents and oils. Exposure to these substances can cause the roofing material to degrade over time. This means that care must be taken when choosing rooftop equipment or performing maintenance tasks that involve the use of solvents or oils.

Professional Installation Required

While the installation process for EPDM roofs is relatively straightforward, it does require professional expertise. This is because the seams between EPDM sheets need to be properly flashed and sealed to prevent leaks. Improper installation is a leading cause of pest and water infiltration, which can result in severe damage over time.

Aesthetic Limitations

For some property owners, the black or white color of standard EPDM membranes might not be the desired color choice. While top EPDM brands do offer multiple color options, these can be more expensive and may not offer the same level of energy efficiency as the standard black or white membranes.

Now, let’s find out how much you might pay to install this type of roof.

Cost to Install EPDM Roofs

On average, you can expect to pay between $4 and $7 per square foot for materials and installation. This price includes the cost of the EPDM membrane itself, as well as other necessary materials such as adhesives, flashing, and fasteners. Your expenses will vary widely depending on several factors:

Size of the Roof

The total area of the roof is one of the most significant factors affecting the cost. EPDM membranes are typically priced per square foot, so larger roofs will naturally cost more to cover.

Your Building’s Location

The property’s location also influences the cost. Factors such as local labor rates, the cost of materials in the area, and even local building codes and permit requirements can all affect the final price.

Local Labor Costs

While EPDM is easier to install compared to some other types of roofing materials, it still requires professional installation. The cost of labor will vary based on the complexity of the job, the experience level of the workers, and the time it takes to complete the installation.

Additional Features or Customizations

If your roof has additional features such as ventilation systems, satellites, skylights, and more, these can add to the complexity of the installation and thus increase the cost. Additionally, if you choose to customize your EPDM roof with premium options such as reinforced membranes or specialty coatings, this will also add to the cost.

So, is this roofing material right for you? To get a better understanding, it’s crucial to compare this material with other contenders.

How EPDM Compares to Other Flat Roofing Options

Besides EPDM, there are other material choices when it comes to flat roof replacement. You should choose one that’s suitable for your budget, business activities, and local weather conditions. So, let’s compare the other top materials to EPDM.


epdm roof Empire Roofing & Exteriors

When comparing EPDM to TPO, several factors come into play. TPO, like EPDM, is a durable material, but it often excels in impact and ozone resistance. 

Both materials are energy efficient, but TPO’s inherent white color gives it an edge in reflecting sunlight and reducing cooling costs. Plus, TPO can resist certain industrial chemicals, oil, and grease better than EPDM. 

However, when it comes to longevity and cost, EPDM generally comes out as the more affordable option. Where EPDM can last around 30 years, TPO has an average lifespan of 20 years.


Polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, is another alternative. 

PVC roofs are known for their durability and weather resistance, often outperforming EPDM in these areas. The installation process for PVC roofs involves welding the seams with hot air, which offers increased durability compared to EPDM installation methods. 

However, these added benefits come at a cost, as PVC tends to be more expensive than EPDM. Moreover, PVC is also considered less eco-friendly than EPDM, which is a concern for businesses trying to reduce their carbon footprint and opting for an eco-friendly approach.

When we talk about high-quality roofing products, any one of them can be useful to you, depending on your requirements. If you decide the EPDM is the material for you, you should explore the following quality products that have proven to be the most cost-effective solutions.

Top EPDM Roofing Products in 2023

Brands like Carlisle SynTec, Holcim Elevate, and Johns Manville are leading the way with their world-class EPDM products.

#1 Carlisle Sure-Seal® EPDM Membrane

Carlisle’s Sure-Seal EPDM membrane is leading the market with its proven performance and dependability. The membrane is known for its exceptional weathering material and SecurTAPE feature with superior peel and shear strength. The membrane’s hail resistance is also commendable due to Sure-Seal EPDM SAT (Self-Adhering Technology). It provides a low-VOC option, eliminating solvent-related odors. The SecurTAPE strongly seals the exposed cut edge of the membrane and the platform flashing, further enhancing the product’s value.

#2 RubberGard EcoWhite™ EPDM Membrane by Elevate

Elevate’s RubberGard EcoWhite EPDM membrane is another innovative roofing solution, offering superior performance, sustainability, and compliance with industry standards. The white surface maintains a cooler environment, coupled with multiple thickness variants, and the 30-year Elevate Red Shield™Warranty.

#3 Johns Manville EPDM R Membrane

Johns Manville’s EPDM R is a resilient EPDM roofing membrane fortified by a robust 1,000 denier mat. This configuration imparts exceptional strength and durability to the roofing system. Its superior scrim thickness surpasses the industry standard by 140%, the highest among competitors. The membrane demonstrates excellent resistance against punctures and hail, ensuring long-lasting performance even in adverse weather conditions.

If you are looking to upgrade your roof with EPDM, the best way to get started is by consulting with your local reliable commercial roofing contractor.

Looking For A Flawless EPDM Roof Installation Service in New Orleans, LA?

At Empire Roofing & Exteriors, we’re here to answer all your questions related to commercial roofing. We’re proud of our skilled and certified experts who’ve been fortifying buildings with high-quality EPDM roofs in Louisiana. With our extensive experience and 100% customer satisfaction rate, you can trust that your roofing project is in good hands. So, call us at (225) 347-8877, and protect your property and investment today by taking advantage of our free consultation on EPDM roofs in New Orleans.