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What Is TPO Single Ply Roofing? Pros And Cons In Florida

A TPO single-ply roofing system uses the synthetic material thermoplastic polyolefin to create a structural deck, a waterproofing membrane, and a thermal insulation barrier to construct roofs for commercial and residential properties.

The TPO membrane can be used to create a new roof or reinforce and maintain an existing one. TPO single-ply roofing uses a single membrane application to keep any building dry. It can be mechanically attached, plate bonded using an induction welder, ballasted or adhered, using low-rise urethane foam. Available in many colors, white, grey, and tan are the most popular ones.

What Is TPO Single Ply Roofing?

TPO Membrane Composition

First introduced in the early 1990s as a roofing replacement to PVC that’s a lot more efficient and economical, TPO single-ply roofing is a thermoplastic polyolefin membrane composed of three layers. It has a TPO polymer base, a polyester-reinforced fabric center, and a top layer made of compounded thermoplastic polyolefin. Common fillers used during the manufacturing process include carbon fiber, talc, fiberglass, wollastonite, metal oxy sulfate, EPDM, and ethylene-propylene rubber.

A Slightly Misleading Name

Calling the TPO roofing membrane plastic is a little bit misleading. Rather than being primarily made from plastic, TPO is actually a blend of different rubber types. They include polypropylene and ethylene-propylene rubber.

TPO Single-Ply Roofing Characteristics

Among the fastest-growing roofing types, TPO single-ply thermoplastic membrane has a very high puncture resistance level, extraordinary tensile strength, and superior solar reflectivity. It is durable, versatile, requires minimal maintenance, and is extremely cost-effective.

Perfect For Use On Homes And Businesses

TPO single-ply thermoplastic membrane roofing systems are ideal for residential, commercial, and industrial structures in warm climates. It saves on energy costs because it helps to keep structures cool. TPO single-ply roofing membranes also have high wind ratings and are available with manufacturer warranties of up to 30 years long.

Pros And Cons Of Its Use In Florida

There are several pros and cons to installing the TPO single-ply thermoplastic membrane roofing systems on properties in Florida. Although its use on commercial and residential structures has received overwhelmingly positive reviews, it is wise for property owners to make themselves familiar with what people in Florida who have used this type of roofing material have had to say about it.


There are several good reasons more and more residential and commercial property owners in Florida choose to use TPO single-ply thermoplastic membrane roofing on their structures. The most common reasons they give include:

1. It Makes The Building Cooler

TPO roofing helps the buildings on which it is used remain cooler. It does so because instead of absorbing the sun’s harsh rays, TPO reflects them. This means keeping the structure cool in the blazing hot Florida sun costs a lot less.

2. It Often Exceeds EPA ENERGY STAR Specifications

TPO roofing systems often exceed ENERGY STAR specifications from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It’s also 100% recyclable, helps structures meet LEED objectives, plus it can potentially help structures qualify for tax credits.

3. UV Ray Resistant

With available thicknesses of between 45 mils and 80 mils, TPO thermoplastic membranes can provide a thick, dense shield that’s resistant to and blocks out the sun’s UV rays. Being UV-resistant and heat-resistant, the hot Florida sunshine is held at bay without damaging the roofing material.

4. High Wind Ratings

When installed according to the manufacturers’ pre-tested assembly specifications, TPO thermoplastic roofing membranes have very high wind ratings. This is important in Florida because of the strong winds associated with frequent storms.

5. Economical

TPO thermoplastic roofing membranes are also a prevalent choice in Florida because of its economical price. It is energy-efficient, has hot-air weldable seams, and is as attractive as PVC roofing on residential and commercial structures, but it costs a lot less.

6. Versatile

The versatility of TPO thermoplastic roofing is another reason a growing number of home and business owners in Florida use it. Not only is it ideal for commercial as well as industrial applications, but it also looks great and works well with many different styles of home. Property owners also love its range of reflective color options.

7. Durable

Durable enough to withstand impact, punctures, and tears, TPO roofing membranes can also resist environmental pollutants like grease, corrosion, and dirt accumulation, as well as mold,
mildew, and algae growth. Its flexibility enables it to handle thermal expansion and contraction and the settling and other building movement and be strong enough to last for decades.

8. Easy To Install

Manufactured with wider sheets, TPO roofing membranes are lightweight, have few seams, and can be installed quickly and easily. Because it takes less time and work to install TPO roofing system materials, it costs a lot less to get the job done.

9. Energy Efficient

TPO thermoplastic roofing membranes are very energy efficient. Their surface reflects the sun’s heat, helps reduce the carbon footprint, keeps any structure’s interior much cooler, and exceeds the ENERGY STAR requirements put in place by the EPA. Plus, it’s on the Cool Roof Rating Council’s list of recommended building materials because it can stop heat buildup and keep any structure’s interior thermally comfortable.

TPO Roofing Cons

TPO roofing is a relatively new product. Some of the cons associated with its use are related to determining the best manufacturer to purchase it from.

1. Inconsistent Quality

Depending on the manufacturer from which you purchase the TPO thermoplastic roofing membranes, it can be difficult to get quality products with the same level of thickness that is durable enough to last 10 to 20 years consistently.

2. Lamination Weakens It

The top layer of TPO thermoplastic roofing material is often laminated. This can cause weak points, shrinkage, cracks, and deterioration over time. Cheap TPO roofing can begin to develop surface cracks relatively quickly.

3. Expansion And Contraction

TPO thermoplastic roofing material comes in relatively small widths. That means it has seams about every 6 to 8 feet. These seams can cause the membrane to expand and contract regularly. This can eventually lead to the seams coming loose allowing water to infiltrate the roof.

4. Questionable Longevity

Many manufacturers have not identified the best chemical formula to produce TPO roofing materials that are consistently durable and long-lasting. This can lead to material and seam failure and the cracking and curling of the TPO roofing membrane in a very short period of time.

5. Accelerated Weathering

Many brands of TPO roofing membranes cannot stand up when there’s a high heat, solar or thermal load. Many Southern states, where temperatures on the roof can exceed 160 degrees, have experienced the TPO roofing material suffering accelerated weathering in these situations where solar loads are beyond “normal.”

An Intriguing New Roofing Material

The TPO single-ply roofing membrane is an intriguing new roofing material more and more residential, commercial and industrial property owners in Florida use. It offers many benefits. However, people should find the right brand and consider its pros and cons carefully before installing it on their roofs in Florida.