Popular Commercial Roofing Membranes: A Quick Look At Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO) Membranes

So many commercial buildings are choosing to use single-ply thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) membranes that they have become one of the fastest growing segments in the roofing industry. If you haven't familiarized yourself with this material, now is the time.

An Overview of TPO Membranes

TPO membranes are made from ethylene propylene rubber and some filler materials like talc and carbon fiber, which add to is strength and durability. This type of roofing membrane can easily meet a wide range of design and need specifications of various buildings, and are offered in several different color options. They come in several thicknesses of 45 mils, 60 mils and 80 mils, and are installed fully-adhered, mechanically-attached or ballasted. This means that the TPO membranes are either adhered using a special substrate, screwed on tight with fasteners or either loosely laid overtop the roofing structure.

Factors Affecting the Quality of the TPO Membranes

When consulting with commercial roofing professionals regarding the option of installing a TPO membrane, there are some factors that you will have to consider in order to prevent future roofing problems and membrane failures. Particular factors that can easily affect the quality of the TPO membranes include:

  • quality of the welding. Poor welding leads to TPO leaks, and proper welding will result in higher productivity and durability with seams that are more reliable, which are capable of better wind uplift performances. Some experts recommend placing a piece of OSB or plywood that is 3 feet by 3 feet under the welded area to prevent hot solder from coming into contact with the membrane.
  • the mechanism of which the TPO membrane has been installed onto the market. Most professionals recommend opting for fully-adhered installation options; however, you will have to research the quality of the adhesive substrate in more detail. The type of chemicals that are used will have a huge effect on the quality of the membrane.
  • whether the TPO membranes have been coated over with an elastomeric coating system. This coating system will not only protect the TPO membrane and prevent it from deteriorating, but can also restore aged appearances. 
  • the thickness of the membrane. Naturally, thicker TPO membranes tend to be more durable in comparison to thinner alternatives.

You also want to make sure that you hire a reputable commercial roofing company to complete the installation in order for the best finish possible. Request for references when you contact various commercial roofing companies, and do not hesitate to call the references just to confirm any claims that are being made.

Advantages of TPO Membranes

There are many advantages that TPO membranes are able to offer in comparison to other alternative options — such as EPDM and PVC membranes. The advantages that are most commonly outlined by commercial roofing companies include:

  • superior reliability. The seams of TPO membranes are 3 to 4 times stronger than EPDM systems, and these systems can last 10 to 20 years.
  • exceptional puncture resistance. This allows TPO membranes to better withstand environmental and elemental conditions without deteriorating in condition.
  • being dimensionally stable. Unlike other roofing membranes, which are susceptible to shrinkage, TPO membranes do not face these problems.
  • maximum design flexibility. There are many different installation options available that can cater to various commercial roofing designs and needs.
  • optimal energy efficiency. TPO membranes have reflective properties that transmit less solar radiation and can offer better insulation for higher energy efficiencies.


With the many advantages offered by TPO membranes, they have become a popular choice for commercial roofing. If you are interested in TPO membranes, you should consider the amount of warranty that various commercial roofing companies are able to offer. Do additional reading in order to find the best prices in your area.