How Much Does TPO Roofing Cost?
TPO stands for thermoplastic polyolefin and it is a relatively new type of single-ply, flat-roofing material that is of slightly more premium quality than roll roofing or modified bitumen, two of the most common flat roofing materials available on the market today. It was introduced to the U.S. market around 1990 and offers homeowners a material with strong durability, energy savings and high performance at a middle-of-the-road cost.
TPO is actually a type of rubber, giving it superior water protection, cold-weather flexibility and resistance from impacts. The seams in TPO roofing are heat-welded, so it is generally considered to be a monolithic or seamless roofing material. It is fully recyclable, often ENERGY STAR rated and isn't made with harmful chemicals. TPO roofs are great insulators and are ideal for areas that get extreme weather conditions as they may provide significant energy savings in the summer and winter.
Average Minimum Cost: $160 per square
Average Maximum Cost: $500 per square
TPO roofing is often sold in "squares" of 10 feet by 10 feet. The price of TPO is given in terms of how much a square will cost.
Flat roofs are most common in urban areas, though some suburban and rural buildings have flat roofs. TPO may be used on pitched roofs as well, though the higher the pitch, the more expensive the job is likely to be. To calculate the square footage of a flat roof, simply measure the perimeter of the house. For a pitched roof, the homeowner may need to either get on the roof or measure the pitch angle and use geometry to determine the square footage.
All TPO roofs are made from the same material: thermoplastic polyolefin, which is a type of rubber-plastic compound specifically designed for roofing durability. However, there are several differences between TPO options that homeowners should keep in mind before purchasing or signing a contract with a roofing specialist.
First and foremost is the thickness of the TPO material. Thickness will determine durability and performance, but it will also determine cost. For an economy TPO roof that is moderately effective, .045-inch TPO roofing is the economy class. The middle-of-the-road thickness for TPO roofing is .060 inches while the premium quality is .080 inches thick. A thicker membrane offers increased longevity since TPO like most roofing and exterior materials suffers degradation as a result of UV rays. Thicker TPO also offers increased puncture resistance and may be indicated for areas at risk for hurricanes, hailstorms, tornadoes and other extreme weather events.
The second aspect of TPO roofing to keep in mind is the means by which it will adhere to the roof. There are three types of TPO roofing adherence: using a specialized adhesive, using mechanical fasteners or using a ballast to hold it in place. Which adherence method the homeowner should use is determined by the pitch of the roof, climate and budget. For instance, using the specialized adhesive to fully adhere the TPO to the roof is ideal for pitched roofs and may be more durable, but it is the most expensive option. On the other hand, using mechanical or ballast fasteners may work for a flat roof, depending on the level of wind and other weather events in the area.
When choosing TPO roofing, the final major decision is its color. TPO is not available in many colors. Homeowners can choose between a light color such as white or light gray and a dark color such as black. The main difference is in the nature of the energy savings. While a light color is ideal for warm, sunny climates because it reflects sunlight, darker colors are more energy efficient for insulating the house against cold weather.
Advantages of TPO Roofing
TPO roofing comes with many built-in benefits for homeowners. It is rapidly growing in market share as more people realize that TPO will provide smarter "green" functionality for just a little bit more than standard roll or modified bitumen roofs.
While TPO is not technically seamless, the heat-welded seams produce an essentially seamless appearance and functionality. TPO is a malleable material, and its malleability does not affect its overall structural integrity. This means that it is great for areas with extreme temperature highs and lows. Due to its essentially seamless construction, TPO roofing protects against water damage. Shingles and other seam materials may develop leaks between the seams, whereas TPO offers no way for water to get in. TPO roofing is a thick sheet of strong rubber. It will resist most tearing, weathering and impact damage. In some humid climates, algae and mold are problems for roofs. TPO does not provide a good surface for algae and mold to grow.
The energy savings from TPO roofing puts this material squarely into "green" territory. Because it generally lasts for 10 to 20 years, the cost over other options may be entirely offset by the energy savings over the life of a TPO roof. TPO roofing is a fully green product, and it may be recycled. It also won't emit the toxic odor often associated with other consumer rubber products. TPO roofing looks like one single sheet on the roof. This will give a home a sleek, sexy, modern aesthetic.
Disadvantages of TPO Roofing
The main disadvantage of TPO roofing is that homeowners generally need to find a professional to install it, which may end up costing as much per square for the material alone. Because of the heat welding required to set it up, a homeowner should feel comfortable with the job before taking on this home improvement task. One other problem is the relative lack of color options. White, gray and black are the three most common colors, and it is rare to find TPO roofing in other colors.
Last updated on Aug 14, 2014
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