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What is EPDM Roofing & How Much Does it Cost?

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National Roofing Costs

$0.80 per sq. ft. Minimum Cost
$1.60 per sq. ft. Maximum Cost

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What is EPDM Roofing & How Much Does it Cost?

EPDM, or ethylene propylene diene monomer, is a rubber material popular for creating a waterproof surface on flat roofs. There are two varieties of EPDM roofing in terms of the membrane material. Vulcanized sheeting is cured and has a uniform appearance that allows the sheet to retain the original size on shipment. Non-vulcanized roofing is uncured and is typically used for flashing or smaller areas that do not require a set size in the flexibility of the material. The seams are overlapped, and both vulcanized and non-vulcanized material can be bonded together for a strong seam.

Rubber roofing membranes come in an initial color of white or black. White EPDM roofing material contains a polymer that takes sunlight and transfers the sunlight into heat. White material reflects the sun and prevents the degrading of the polymers in the roofing membrane. The black material requires additional coating for protection but offers more insulating quality for colder climates to absorb more UV heat.

EPDM can be coating with acrylic treatments for an extra layer of protection on the material. Any painting should be restricted to latex-based paints approved by the manufacturer. The membrane will have to be cleaned initially with a degreaser detergent after curing the protective coating. Additional research will need to be done to make sure the paint will not inhibit the UV properties of vulcanized rubber. For warmer climates, roof paint may need additional stabilizers to avoid cracking or breaking down of polymers. Darker colors can promote the absorption of UV radiation and lighter colors can reflect UV radiation. There are also latex and rubber-based paints that may cost more but offer added protection against breakdown of color.

Materials Involved in Installation

Special seam flashing material and tape effectively "shrink-wraps" the rubberized roofing material to the building structure. The seam tape is placed over a non-reinforced roofing membrane. Any connecting membrane material is joined and applied after a primer is added to the seam. This is a more consistent measure used in flashing or over longer strips of seams. There are also peel-and-stick styles of flashing tape with a rubberized surface to bond on pipes or corners. These tapes are limited to smaller areas for maximum effectiveness.

The rubber roofing material is cleaned at the seams using a splice cleaner before applying the bonding agent. The bonding cement and sealant is added protection against moisture infiltration and uniform measurement of the sheet seams. Bonding sealants are also used in addition to flashing tape to ensure water infiltration is reduced. Due to the nature of flexibility in rubber roofing, there has to be extra overlapping in flashing material to ensure a tight fit.

There is a separate bonding agent for putting rubberized roofing on a non-ballasted roof. The rubber is placed on the substrate directly after the cement has cured. Extra caution should be taken to carefully place the membrane material for a dry fit to determine any seams and gaps. After the bonding agent cures, it develops a strong permanent seal against the substrate. Accessories such as heavy paint roller and push broom will be required to quickly push out air gaps and seams in the material.


  • Minimum costs: The thinnest roofing material costs approximately $40 plus labor per 50 square feet.

  • Maximum costs: Thicker roofing material costs approximately $80 per 50 square feet plus labor.

Additional accessories may drive up the cost of the membrane roofing material. Edge finishing materials come in lengths that start at approximately 10 feet in length at $15 per section. Trim seal comes with various caps depending on the style of roof. Roof repair accessories are usually a part of the long-term maintenance schedule due to the long life of the roof. Liquid rubber liquid repair coatings are approximately $250 for a 5-gallon container, and extra repair materials come in various sizes and prices depending on the thickness and depth of the roof repair.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Rubberized roofing has a strong resistance to UV light radiation and thermal shock. Actual installation uses the natural flexibility of the EPDM sheeting to reduce the shock of heat to prevent a hot roof environment. There are also long-term energy and start-up cost savings to consider. The natural reflection of the sheet and innate materials are very long lasting. It is not uncommon for EPDM roofing to last up to 50 years. The sheets contain a natural fire and heat retardant to add extra safety to a roof structure, particularly where hot vents and pipe flashing on the roof deck are installed.

Flexible sheets come in large sizes to cover considerable areas of a roof for ease of installation and fast turnover rates. This high turnover rate also has a high repair turnover rate. Although the installation itself is specialized, homeowners usually find it fairly simple to repair seams on their own. Finally, EPDM material is considered a more environmentally friendly material to work with. There are low costs associated with production, and recycled products such as tires can be incorporated into the material.

There are a few distinct disadvantages to EPDM roofing as well. Although it is a highly flexible material, it is not flexible in terms of who can install it. Homeowners can perform repairs, but these sheets usually require a professional to install, and the costs can quickly add up depending on training and experience. It is not considered a DIY roofing material, and traditional roofers may have more of a learning curve to install it. EPDM is a highly specialized material with trained installers. Despite the natural waterproof quality of the material, the rubberized sheeting may prove difficult to install around certain kinds of flashing exposures. Heavy damage to the rubber may cause a leak that can be difficult to pinpoint. This is why an improperly planned rubberized roof can cost a lot more in damage control. It is very important for homeowners to find qualified installers with experience in this area of roofing.

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Last updated on Nov 8, 2018

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