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What is EPDM Roofing? (3 Things You Need to Know About It)

March 9th, 2022 | 5 min. read

What is EPDM Roofing? (3 Things You Need to Know About It)

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Membrane roofing has been a popular choice for commercial buildings for decades. However, roof membranes are now also used on homes in certain areas. 

One of the most common membrane options for homeowners is EPDM. But what is EPDM roofing? And what do you need to know about it?

For over 30 years, the team at Bill Ragan Roofing has helped homeowners find the perfect roofing material fit for their situation. Now we’ll help you determine if EPDM roofing is the right option for you. 

I start this article by giving you the basic rundown of what EPDM roofing is. After that, I’ll get into the 3 things every homeowner needs to know about EPDM roofing. 

What is an EPDM roofing membrane?

EPDM (ethylene propylene diene terpolymer) is a synthetic rubber black membrane commonly used in commercial and medical facilities. But like I said earlier, even though it’s used mostly in commercial, EPDM roofing has its place in residential roofing.

epdm roofing on an asphalt shingle roof(EPDM on flat portion of an asphalt shingle roof)

Due to the membrane being black, it’ll absorb heat, unlike the white membrane roof systems. Because of this, I wouldn’t recommend using it over a bedroom or living space. 

Even though it doesn’t have the advantage of reflecting heat like the white membranes, it won’t get as dirty as the white material. So, you don’t have to worry about the aesthetic of an EPDM roof when looking from a window. 

I recommend EPDM for a low slope or flat roof over a garage or a non-living space, but you can still use it over a bedroom or living roof. Just consider the heat absorption that comes with a black EPDM membrane roof system when making your final decision. 

3 things you need to know about EPDM roofing

Now you know the basics of what EPDM roofing is. But before deciding if it’s the right choice for you, there are a few more things to know about it. 

Let’s get to the 3 things you need to know about EPDM roofing. 

1. The reason you need EPDM roofing

You’re not going to use a rubber membrane on just any roof style or pitch. That’s why the first thing you need to know about EPDM roofing is what situation calls for it. 

A roof is considered low slope when the roof pitch (aka steepness) is below a 2:12 (less than 2 vertical units up for every 12 horizontal units out). Because the roof pitch is flat or close to flat, water won’t run off like it would on a higher pitch. 

If your entire roof or parts of your roof are flat or low slope, they need a waterproof material. This rules out most roofing materials, including the most commonly used asphalt shingles. 

There are even installation instructions and building codes that state asphalt shingles can’t be installed on anything below a 2:12 roof pitch. This is why EPDM roofing (or another flat roof system) must be installed on low slope or flat roofs. 

2. The lifespan of EPDM roofing 

A roof’s lifespan is the number of leak-free years you get out of it and even tells you when it’ll need to be replaced in the future. EPDM roofing is extremely durable and is kind of like having a bulletproof rubber roof system.

As long as it’s installed properly, you can expect to get around 25 to 30 years out of a fully adhered 0.060 thickness EPDM roof. Just know, putting a lifespan of 25 or 30 years on an EPDM roof is great, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get this many years out of it. 

No matter what kind of roofing material you have (EPDM roofing included), the number of years you get out of it depends on multiple factors. This includes the weather in your area, the amount of direct sunlight that hits it, the quality of installation, and more. 

But as long as EPDM roofing is installed correctly, you should get pretty close to the lifespan range above. 

3. The cost of EPDM roofing

The last thing and most important thing you need to know about EPDM roofing is how much it’ll cost. Just know that it’s impossible to give you an exact price due to all the different cost factors

The numbers below should only be used to help you understand the budget needed for EPDM roofing. With that in mind, EPDM roofing will cost around $14.00-$17.00 per square foot for smaller projects and around $12.00 per square foot for slightly larger projects.  

A couple of big cost factors help determine where you’ll fall in the price range above. The first one is the type of insulation used under the actual EPDM roofing membrane. 

It costs more to use insulation thick enough to insulate the entire structure than using fabric insulation and gluing the membrane to it. The second factor is the size of the roof getting EPDM roofing installed on it. 

If you have a smaller project, the cost per square foot will actually be on the higher end of the price range. For larger projects, the cost per square foot has the opposite effect and drastically decreases.

Your other flat or low slope roofing options

You just learned the 3 things you need to know about EPDM roofing. Knowing the above information helps you determine if an EPDM membrane roof system is the best choice for your flat or low slope roof. 

But how can you make the final decision without knowing the other flat or low slope roofing options? The truth is, you can’t. 

That’s why we wrote another article breaking down the other options available to homeowners for a flat or low slope roof system. 

Since 1990, the team at Bill Ragan Roofing has provided high-quality roofing membrane services in Nashville and surrounding Middle Tennessee areas. Whether you need repairs or a roof replacement, you can count on our workmanship to take care of your roofing needs. 

Check out The 4 Best Materials for a Flat Roof (& How Much They Cost) to learn about the other flat roofing options and how much they’ll cost you.

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