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What is a PVC Roofing Membrane? (What You Need to Know About It)

February 28th, 2022 | 5 min. read

What is a PVC Roofing Membrane? (What You Need to Know About It)

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PVC roofing has been around a long time in the roofing industry, but it’s mainly used on commercial projects. While it may be popular for commercial buildings, it does have its place in residential roofing. 

The problem is most homeowners know nothing about a PVC roofing membrane. This is understandable because it’s only used on specific areas of a residential roof. 

But if your roof calls for a membrane, there are some key things to know about PVC roofing to help you determine if it’s the right roofing material for you. Well, look no further because we’ve got you covered. 

For over 30 years, the team at Bill Ragan Roofing has educated homeowners on all the different types of roofing materials, even those used for certain situations. Because of this, we’ll help you decide if a PVC roofing membrane is the right choice for you. 

I start this article by diving right into what exactly a PVC roofing membrane is. After that, I’ll get into why you would need it, how long it’ll last, and finally how much it’ll cost you. 

What is a PVC roofing membrane?

PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is a single-ply white membrane used in both commercial and residential roofing. Due to the membrane being white, it reflects heat instead of absorbing it.

pvc roofing membrane

PVC is a great option If you have a flat roof over a living space because it’ll keep the room below cooler. It’s also a great option over a non-living space like a garage or covered patio.

Just know the white membrane will get dirty over time. So, you need to decide if seeing a dirty PVC membrane from a window is a big deal. 

It’ll have no functionality issues, but it’s just something to keep in mind when going through the decision-making process for your flat roofing material.

3 things to know about a PVC roofing membrane

Now you know what a PVC roofing membrane is. But there’s still so much more you need to know about it. 

Let’s get to the 3 things you need to know about a PVC roofing membrane. 

1. Why would you need a PVC roofing membrane in the first place?

The first thing you need to know about a PVC roofing membrane is why you would even use or need it. When a roof or a roof facet has a roof pitch (aka steepness) below a 2:12 (less than 2 vertical units up for every 12 horizontal units out), it’s considered low slope. 

The problem is that water won’t run off as fast on a low slope or flat roof as it would on a higher pitch. Because of this, it needs a waterproof roofing material. 

This rules out a lot of roofing materials, including asphalt shingles, because they’re not meant to handle sitting water. Even the shingle manufacturer’s installation instructions and building codes state that asphalt shingles specifically can’t be installed on a roof pitch below a 2:12. 

For this reason, a PVC roofing membrane (or another flat roof system) has to be installed on low slope or flat roofs.

2. How long does a PVC roofing membrane last?

A roof’s lifespan is the return you get on your investment and helps you know when it’ll need to be replaced in the future. With that in mind, you can get around 25 years out of a PVC roofing membrane as long as it’s installed properly. 

While it’s great to put a lifespan of 25 years on a PVC roofing membrane, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll actually reach its maximum life expectancy. How long a roof (PVC included) ultimately lasts depends on multiple factors

Some of these factors include the weather, how much direct sunlight hits it, and the quality of installation. But as long as the PVC roofing membrane is installed correctly, it should get pretty close to its maximum lifespan. 

3. How much does a PVC roofing membrane cost?

The last thing to know about a PVC roofing membrane is probably the most important to homeowners. This, of course, is how much it’ll cost you. 

You should budget around $14.00-$17.00 per square foot for a smaller PVC roofing membrane and around $12.00 per square foot for slightly larger projects. Keep in mind that a lot of factors determine a roof’s cost, so it's impossible to give you an exact price.  

One of the big cost factors is the type of insulation used under the PVC roofing membrane. If you use insulation that’s thick enough to insulate the entire structure, it will cost more than using fabric insulation and gluing the membrane to it. 

Another huge factor is the size of the roof getting the PVC membrane. The cost per square foot will actually be on the higher end of the above price range on smaller projects. 

On the other hand, the cost per square foot drastically decreases when you get into larger roofing projects.

Is a PVC roofing membrane right for you?

You just learned the 3 things you need to know about getting a PVC roofing membrane. After reading, you should have a good idea if it’s the right low slope or flat roofing material for you. 

If it is, you’re ready to find a great local roofing contractor. But what if you’re on the fence or just want to know the other options available?

No matter which one you fall under, you need to know how it compares to the other popular low slope roofing materials before you can truly make the best decision. Because of this, we wrote another article breaking down the 4 best roofing materials for a flat or low slope roof. 

Since 1990, the team at Bill Ragan Roofing has provided homeowners in Nashville and surrounding Middle Tennessee areas with high-quality roof membrane repairs and replacements. No matter what low slope roofing service you need, you can count on us to maximize your investment. 

Check out The 4 Best Materials for a Flat Roof (& How Much They Cost) to learn which flat or low slope roofing material is the right fit for you.

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