What Is TPO Roofing for Commercial Roofs?

Commercial Roofing
February 10, 2022

At first glance, the roof of a commercial building may seem like a very simple thing. After all, unlike residential roofing, commercial roofing is usually flat, and as opposed to being made of many parts like shingles, it’s made from one layer of some other material. And while it’s true that the basic design may not be complex, there’s a lot of science that goes into the rooftops of commercial buildings.

There are several reasons for this, but primarily, it boils down to two things:

  1. Protection from the elements
  2. Energy efficiency

One common material that can check both boxes is thermoplastic polyolefin, or TPO. In the city of Portland, TPO roofing can be found adorning the tops of thousands of buildings. Read on to find out why it’s so popular.

What Is TPO Roofing?

TPO is a single-ply synthetic material that’s sold commercially in large rolls. While the term “single-ply” usually means it’s made of a single layer of material, it’s actually made from three layers. The first is a synthetic polymer base, essentially a type of plastic. Layered on top of that is an extremely strong reinforced fabric center, strengthened with another synthetic material: polyester. Finally, the top, protective layer serves to hold the whole thing together. It’s this top layer that’s made from the thermoplastic polyolefin that gives this particular roofing material its name.

The word “thermoplastic” implies that the material has something to do with heat, and indeed, that’s the most important feature of TPO roofing. This material can be easily heat-welded to itself, allowing individual sheets to be joined to one another across the whole of a roof with ease. This means that, even with a very large roof, the material can be joined together seamlessly.

What Are Its Benefits?

As we’ve mentioned, the ability of TPO to be heat-welded means that it can be turned into one huge layer across a rooftop of any size. Because of this, it serves as an excellent layer of protection against the elements, with no weak spots where leaks can develop. Even if they do develop, the material can be repaired fairly easily through the same heat-welding properties.

TPO also has a great beneficial effect on the energy efficiency of a building. If you own a commercial building, you know that saving money on energy costs is a must, and TPO can do this effectively by reflecting away a great deal of sunlight that strikes the top of the building. This is the result of both its advanced design and its stark white color, which reflects solar radiation and keeps the cost of air conditioning down, saving money for businesses that opt to use this unique type of material.

Its ability to resist solar radiation makes TPO both energy efficient as well as environmentally friendly. Actually, it’s made entirely of recyclable materials. This means that once this durable roofing material has finally reached the end of its useful life, it can simply be recycled back into new TPO roofing.

Finally, TPO roofing isn’t just resistant to sunlight. It’s created to resist rain, mold, fungus, oil, heat, cold, and even earthquakes. The material’s flexibility means it’s unlikely to give way even if the building itself moves a great deal.

Is TPO Roofing Right for My Building?

TPO, of course, isn’t the only synthetic material that can be used to layer on top of commercial roofs. In Portland, TPO roofing is popular due to the relatively warm summers. Many business owners expect that it will save them a good deal of money over the years. Other climates, however, may benefit more from roofing materials that are designed for cold weather. This includes roofing materials such as EPDM, which is black in order to absorb heat rather than reflect it away.

Business owners should also consider what types of materials are best for their specific building. For example, because TPO is designed to resist a large number of chemicals and other harsh materials, it can be perfect for the roofs of factories and restaurants, which may vent materials that are otherwise damaging to rooftops.

Ultimately, when choosing a roofing material, you’ll have to weigh your needs with regard to energy, durability, and the climate where you are located. Weather has a major effect on the best type of materials for constructing buildings. That’s why it’s a good idea to research the average weather for a given year in your area before making any commitment to specific roofing materials.

Is It Expensive to Install?

TPO roofing is usually fairly inexpensive to install. The cost is usually around the same as other, similar roofing materials. However, business owners should be wary of having their roofing work performed by the lowest bidder. While it’s true that the job shouldn’t be expensive, if a deal seems too good to be true, it most likely is.

A good roofing contractor will be highly trained and certified to do the type of work that they do, as well as properly insured. If they aren’t, then the possibility exists that they may do more harm than good to a commercial rooftop, ultimately costing business owners more money than they save.

For these reasons, it’s a good idea to do some comparison shopping when seeking a contractor to do roofing work on a commercial building. Check references, read reviews, and compare prices to get a good idea of what you can expect to pay for this type of job.

In the Portland area, a company like Interstate Roofing is your best bet. Experienced roofers also offer emergency services, should any problems arise—even at inconvenient times. Contact us with any questions have about your commercial roof.