Rubber roofing explained: costs, types, advantages and disadvantages (2023)

Rubber roofing explained: costs, types, advantages and disadvantages (1)


Whether you're looking for a proven flat roofing material, a more durable alternative to asphalt shingles, or even a protective layer over your existing roof, rubber could very well be your answer.

Rubber roofing can refer to any of three compounds of single-ply membrane roofing materials suitable for low pitch roofs - EPDM, TPO and PVC - and rubber shingles. Each of these types of canopy comes with different advantages, disadvantages and costs.

Luckily we know a thing or two about rubber roofing and as luck would have it we already highlighted the costs, pros and cons of EPDM, TPO and PVC in our reviewbest flat roof materials.

In this article, we will take a closer look at the pros and cons of these rubber roofing materials. Then we examine the pros and cons of rubber shingles and whether they will fit your new roofing project.

On this page

  • How much does a rubber roof cost?
  • Types of rubber roofs
  • What about rubber shingles?
  • Rubber roof: summarized

How much does a rubber roof cost?

Single-ply rubber roofs cost from everywhere$4.50 and $13 per square foot.

The final cost largely depends on the specific material. The thickness of the material and whether the installer fully adheres (glue, more expensive), mechanically fastens (screws, cheaper) or usesBallast(layers of stone, cheapest), also plays a role in pricing.

In addition, project costs increase when you have to tear down existing materials and add deckinginsulationwhen changing the roof. penetrations such asskylights, HVAC units and chimneys will also add to the cost as they add more complications to the roof installation.

Speak to local professionals to get quotes on your rubber roofing installation project

Types of rubber roofs

Roll rubber sheets are mainly used on flat roofs. Nevertheless, they can also be used in sloping environments as a primary material or, in particular, on top of an existing structuremetal roofs. Rubber shingles, on the other hand, should only be used on pitched roofs.

Single layer roofing

EPDM roofing costs, pros and cons

Installation costs per square meter:4,50 $ bis 10,50 $.

(Video) Flat Roofing Materials Comparison: EPDM Rubber Roofing Membranes

Rubber roofing explained: costs, types, advantages and disadvantages (2)

Image source:Heidler Bedachung

what we likeWhat we don't like
60 year lifespanBlack color absorbs heat
Easy to installIn some cases not the prettiest
Fire and hail resistantshrinkage potential

ethylene propylene diene terpolymer, a synthetic rubber that everyone calls EPDM despite being a terpolymer rather than a monomer, is technically the only roofing system out of the three single-ply options we're comparing in this article that is primarily rubber.

Aside from polymers and definitions, the EPDM rubber roofing has proven its worth.

Many roofers prefer EPDM because it can be installed for many projects with a single, seamless sheet, as opposed to multiple, layered rolls.

Many builders prefer EPDM because it is fire resistant and has good hail resistance. In addition, of course, there is the convincing track record of EPDM. AStudie 2010 des EPDM Roofing Associationshowed that 30-year-old EPDM membrane samples can last another 20 years through aging tests.

With prices ranging from $4.50 to $10.50 per square foot, EPDM roofs are also the most affordable of the bunch.

So what's not to like?

for starters,EPDM roofs can shrink under the right conditions. This will expose the layers beneath the rubber sheeting and potentially allow water to enter the structure.

Second, EPDM usually comes in black, which means buildings baking in the blazing sun will only get hotter with an EPDM roof. A black roof also does not suit every building aesthetically.

TPO roof costs, pros and cons

Installation costs per square meter:3,50 $ bis 9,50 $.

Rubber roofing explained: costs, types, advantages and disadvantages (3)

Image source:Roofing of central houses

what we likeWhat we don't like
affordabilityUncertain track record
color optionslifetime open
energy efficiencyTedious installation
Heat welded seamsInstallation requires experience

First introduced in the United States in the 1980s, TPO or thermoplastic polyolefin, is relatively new to the field of membrane roofing.

Unlike EPDM,TPO has color options. A white TPO roofing system can improve energy efficiency in hot climates.

(Video) EPDM Rubber Roofing: Pros And Cons Of A Premium Rubber Roof

Installing TPO usually involves using a heat gun to weld all seams along the surface. These heat welded seams require little maintenance and will last longer than tape or adhesive sealants used to protect EPDM roof seams.

On the other hand, hot welding requires more skill and time compared to EPDM roofing installations, increasing labor costs. Should these seams need to be repaired, you will need the special heat gun again. TPO, on the other hand, is not a DIY-friendly roofing material that requires installation and maintenance.

Aside from the challenges posed by hot welding, most concerns about TPO start with reliability. TPO did not become widespread until the late 1990s, andTPO quality standardsonly started to take shape in the last two decades.

During this time,contractors and the Midwest Roofing Contractors Associationpointed out numerous problems with TPO membranes, ranging from splitting along fasteners to degradation after UV exposure.

However, as performance data of TPO roofing continues to come to light, we can say with greater certainty that this roofing material is legitimate. Such a studyreleased in 2020showed that 15 year old TPO roofs meet the 2019 quality requirements for brand new TPO membranes in most cases.

promising? Yes.

proven? It's too early to tell.

We will say the following about most roofing materials, but we want to stress that for your peace of mind, you should choose both a guaranteed TPO product and an installer.

Ultimately, builders and contractors will keep TPO on their radar because of its attractive price ranging from $3.50 to $9.50 per square foot.

Costs, advantages and disadvantages of PVC roofing

Installation costs per square meter:$6,50 - $13.

Rubber roofing explained: costs, types, advantages and disadvantages (4)

Image source:TSpark company

what we likeWhat we don't like
Durability, resistance to elementsHigher cost
20 year lifespanPotential health and environmental concerns
color options

Before TPO came onto the market, PVC or polyvinyl chloride was the thermoplastic roofing material of choice.

It's arguably still the best material if you take its exceptionresistance to fire, wind and hail taken into account. Similar to TPO, it's available in energy-efficient white, among other colors, and installers tape the seams to create a smooth, watertight seal.

Restaurant owners choose PVC because itresists harmful fatescape onto the roof which would otherwise degrade EPDM.

(Video) Comparing Roofing Materials | Ask This Old House

PVC roofs last an attractive 20 to 30 years. Complementing its sustainable value propositionPVC roofs can be recycled.

The main bone of contention with PVC is the cost. For example, you could pay up to 12 times more for a PVC roof than wood for an EPDM roof.

There is also much debate as to whetherPVC poses significant health and environmental risksduring its life cycle.

Environmental organizations emphasize that PVC emitsDioxina known toxic pollutant during its life cycle. In roofing applications in particular, manufacturers often use hazardous chemical phthalates to increase flexibility.

To counter these claims, PVC advocates say that PVC roofing reduces energy requirements, uses less fossil fuels during production, and outlasts other flat roofing materials to a sufficient degree to outweigh the potential environmental costs.

In any case, PVC is one of the most popular materials for flat roofs. This is shown by market reports from 2018PVC accounts for around 20 percentof the market for single-layer roofs.

What about rubber shingles?

If you're looking for the inherently durable and sustainable quality of rubber, but without the drab, one-dimensional style of single-ply sheets, might we suggest rubber clapboards?

How much do rubber shingles cost?

At $4.50 to $13 per square foot for installation, Rubber shingles come at a price that is not unreasonable, especially considering their advantages.

This price range is closely aligned with wooden chutes and metal roofing as a reference.

Advantages of rubber shingles

Rubber roofing explained: costs, types, advantages and disadvantages (5)

Image source:TSpark company


Rubber shingles are visually indistinguishable from coveted materials such as stone slate or wooden sticks. the former isnotoriously expensiveand difficult to work with, making rubber shingles a budget-friendly alternative while maintaining their highly respected appearance.

Gummi Shake vs. however Shake

Rubber roofing explained: costs, types, advantages and disadvantages (6)Rubber roofing explained: costs, types, advantages and disadvantages (7)

IMagic source:Umweltshake&Hanson roofer

Gum slate vs real slate

Rubber roofing explained: costs, types, advantages and disadvantages (8)Rubber roofing explained: costs, types, advantages and disadvantages (9)

(Video) Top 3 Flat Roof Materials Explained - Torch Down, EPDM, TPO - Which is the best?

Image source:EcoStar&The Ryan Restaurant


Rubber shingles help reduce waste in two ways. First, they areMade from recycled plastic and tiresthat would be otherwisecontribute to landfill or to fuel recovery from incineration.

Second,Rubber shingles are themselves recyclable, diverting even more waste from landfills.

Durable all round

In general, rubber is fire, impact and wind resistant - key properties that homeowners and insurance providers look for in roofing materials.

AStudy 2018on roof tiles made from recycled tires and plastics in Argentina showed that they had better insulation as well as greater resistance to freeze, hail, bending and water absorption than their ceramic tile counterparts.

Water resistance, in particular, is key for any roofing material. That essentially means no rot and mildew.

Disadvantages of rubber shingles

smell after installation

Some say there may be a lingering rubber smell after installation.Euroshield, one such manufacturer of recycled rubber shingles, says that this odor "disappears over time after exposure to the elements."


In terms of price, rubber shingles certainly beat slate, thoughasphalt shingleswill almost always net you the least amount of money. If you're on a tight budget, rubber shingles might be too far-fetched.

Rubber roof: summarized

If you are looking for a single ply membrane suitable for flat roofs, EPDM, TPO and PVC are among the most popular and worthwhile options. The optimal choice depends on your budget and your specific roofing requirements.

On the other hand, rubber shingles are likely to appeal primarily to those looking for an environmentally friendly and reasonably affordable alternative to a more traditional type of roof like stone slate.

Find the best rubber roofing contractors in your area


What are the pros and cons of rubber roofing? ›

The Pros and Cons of Rubber Roofing
  • PRO: Rubber roofing is safe and durable. ...
  • CON: Your design options may be limited. ...
  • PRO: Rubber roofs are environmentally friendly. ...
  • CON: You need the right roofer for the job. ...
  • PRO: Installations and repairs are easy.
Oct 7, 2022

What are the different types of rubber roofing? ›

There are three types of rubber roofing (EPDM, TPO, and PVC), which are long-lasting options that offers many benefits you may not have considered.

What type of rubber roof is best? ›

Single-ply rubber roofing is the ideal material for flat and low-sloped roofs because of its durability and water resistance. Each type of rubber roofing material—whether it contains synthetic rubber polymers or plastic polymers—was specifically designed to protect low-sloped roofs from water damage.

Do rubber roofs need maintenance? ›

Rubber roofs are very low maintenance however sometimes you may like to give it a clean to keep it as good as new for as long as possible. A handy tip when cleaning your rubber roof is to use dish soap such as fairy liquid and water.

What is the benefit of a rubber roof? ›

It's robust, durable, and resistant to blistering. It's also easy to install, so it's cheaper than felt. Rubber roofing isn't limited to your home's deeper layers. Rubber shingles and rolls are an excellent replacement for tiles, protecting low-pitch roofs from the weather without requiring heavy maintenance.

What are 5 disadvantages of rubber? ›

Welcome back.
  • Get damaged under the action of strong acid, ozone, oils, greases and fats.
  • Not recommended for use in alcohols, esters, or among the aromatic solution.
  • Low temperature properties.
  • Higher raw material prices.
  • Does not apply to hot water being.
  • Cannot be used in power transmission systems.

What are two disadvantages of rubber? ›

Like any other polymer, natural rubber has some disadvantages as well. It does not have very strong heat resistance and is only able to withstand temperatures as high as 180° F (82° C). Due to the presence of double bonds on the backbone of the polymer, natural rubber is susceptible to being attacked by ozone.

How many years does a rubber roof last? ›

If installed correctly, you can expect a rubber roof to in excess of up to 50 years. Because an EPDM flat roof is compromised of durable rubber, it can withstand extreme weather conditions such as hail or snow and common weather such as rain and strong winds.

Can you put rubber roof over shingles? ›

Asphalt and shingles aren't suitable for a rubber membrane to be bonded onto. However, for surfaces such as felt, overboarding and adding an EPDM rubber roof is ideal for adding protection to it and further insulating your roof.

What is the best thickness for a rubber roof? ›

So if nothing's going to be installed on the EPDM after it's been installed then we would normally just recommend the 1.2 membrane .

Is rubber roofing cheaper than shingles? ›

Opting for rubber shingles will cost you three to four times more than you would pay for asphalt shingles. However, asphalt shingles will come with their costs, such as repairing own shingles and installing roof trusses or rafters. The reason why rubber roofs cost significantly more is that they are so durable.

What type of roof is most expensive? ›

The most expensive type of roofing material is slate.

For labor and materials, you can expect the cost of a slate roof to start around $15.00 per square foot and has the potential to get up to around $30.00 or more per square foot.

What type of roof is the most cost effective? ›

Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt is the cheapest of all roofing materials in the market and will last you between 15 to 30 years. This is the best option for homeowners facing budgetary constraints. It is also widely available and comes in a variety of colors.

Which is better EPDM or TPO? ›

TPO has a higher resistance to punctures than EPDM. Additionally, TPO seam strength is nearly four times that of an EPDM adhered/taped seam. That said, on average, EPDM roofing membranes are proven to last considerably longer than TPO.

How often should you reseal a rubber roof? ›

In fact, about every two to four years is ideal, depending on the kind of weather you have and the type of environment you drive through on a regular basis. Certain kinds of climates can cause more wear and tear on the roof than others. And always, after a large storm or heavy snow, inspect the roof for damage.

How often should you seal a rubber roof? ›

First off, let me answer the popular question of “How often do I need to reseal my RV roof?” It's case by case, roof by roof, of course, but the recommendation is to reseal your roof each and every year. Every 10 years it is recommended to replace the entire roof. Failure to do so will cause leaks.

Do rubber roofs get hot? ›

Rubber roofing is lightweight, making it easy to install, but it is also thick and strong. This helps to repel heat in the summer, keeping your space cool and saving on air conditioning costs. It also absorbs warmth in the winter, making it perfect for those biting UK winters too!

What goes underneath a rubber roof? ›

Underlayment is a waterproof or water resistant barrier that's installed directly to your roof deck before the actual roof material is installed. Here are some good reasons to use underlayment: It provides protection for the roof deck before and during the installation process.

What is the best sheet material for rubber roof? ›

EPDM rubber membrane is the ideal solution as it is easy to install and lasts a lifetime.

Should a rubber roof be glued down? ›

When you are fitting an EPDM roof, you need to make sure that it is glued down properly. During the membrane application process, you will need to apply two different types of adhesive. The first is a water-based adhesive. Use Permaroof deck adhesive for the best results.

What is the danger of rubber? ›

Rubber product manufacturing puts workers at risk of breathing in hazardous dust and chemical fumes. Symptoms of respiratory illness may develop over time.

What are two advantages of rubber? ›

ADVANTAGES: NATURAL RUBBER exhibits high resilience, good tensile strength, and tear resistance. In addition to excellent wear resistance, NATURAL RUBBER also offers low permanent set characteristics plus good flexing qualities at low temperatures.

What are 4 properties of rubber? ›

It has excellent tensile, elongation, tear resistance and resilience. It has good abrasion resistance and excellent low temperature flexibility. Without special additives, it has poor resistance to ozone, oxygen, sunlight and heat.

What weakens rubber? ›

What is rubber deterioration? Most elastomers undergo rubber degradation over time and the most common rubber deterioration causes are exposure to light, oxygen (ozone) and heat.

What are synthetic rubber advantages and disadvantages? ›

Natural rubber vs synthetic rubber

Synthetic rubber also excels in extreme temperatures due to good heat resistance and heat-aging qualities. However, it is not recommended to use synthetic rubber in applications that involve ozone, strong acids, oils, greases, fats and most hydrocarbons.

Do rubber roofs leak? ›

Leaks can be a real problem for rubber roofs that haven't been properly maintained, particularly during periods of heavy rainfall. EPDM rubber is a waterproof material that should protect your home in all weather conditions.

Do rubber roofs bubble in heat? ›

Trapped Air

As the sun warms the roof, it will begin to appear as bubbling along seams. The EPDM membrane will often contract back into its normal position after the sun sets and the temperature cools. When installing the warm deck insulation, it's important to make sure the underlying roof structure is dry.

Can you put a second layer of rubber on a roof? ›

Technically, some rubber roofs can be laid over existing layers, but it's always best practice to tear off the old roofing and replace it new.

Can you glue rubber roofing to plywood? ›

EPDM rubber roofing can be installed to a few different surfaces, but it works best when it adheres to timber deckings such as roofing grade plywood or OSB sterling board. Sometimes EPDM can be bonded to lightweight concrete and other surfaces that are non-porous like fibreglass and tissue faced insulation.

What temperature should a rubber roof be? ›

It's usually recommended that a rubber flat roof shouldn't be installed in temperatures under 5°c. Before carrying out any installation in colder conditions, always check the manufacturers' recommendations.

What is rubber roofing called? ›

A rubber roof, known in the roofing business as an EPDM (ethylene propylene diene terpolymer) roof, has a lot of advantages and only a few disadvantages. One of the big advantages to rubber is the cost.

Can you use 30 seconds on a rubber roof? ›

Answer: 30 Seconds Outdoor Cleaner does list RV roofs on the label. 36 of 45 people found this answer helpful.

What is the minimum slope for a rubber roof? ›

Normally, 1:80 (0.72⁰) is the recommended minimum angle for a slope, and this is universal across the vast majority of flat roofing systems, regardless of the materials that they incorporate.

What is the best insulation for rubber roof? ›

Roofing professionals emphasize that the choice of flat roof insulation should feature the appropriate R-value. The most expensive and highly recommended insulation is Polyisocyanurate (Polyiso) rigid foam. Extruded Polystyrene (XPS) is also an optimal choice, along with Expanded Polystyrene (EPS).

What is the cheapest longest lasting roof? ›

Asphalt shingles! These are some of the lowest-cost materials on the market for roofing. Asphalt shingles are very common and great for budget-conscious homeowners. Their lifespan is shorter than other roofing materials with warranties of 15-30 years (about half as long as metal roofs).

How much is a piece of rubber roofing? ›

Roof size: Rubber roofs cost $4.25–$14 per square foot.
Cost by Membrane Type.
Membrane TypeCost per Square FootLife Span
Rubber shingles$7.50–$1530–50 years
3 more rows
Dec 9, 2022

What is the cheapest roof form? ›

The cheapest roof design is a roof with just hips, which are the sloping part, while the gable is the triangular bit on the end of the roof. A lot of subdivisions require a roof with hips and gables (rather than just a hip roof) so that is the most common form of roof construction.

What is the best roof that last forever? ›

Slate roofs are often called the “forever roof” because they can last seemingly forever. If you ever travel abroad, you might notice many homes in Europe have slate or clay tile roofs simply because they were easy to manufacture years ago and have been proven to stand the test of time (and the elements).

What color roof lasts the longest? ›

From the above information, we can conclude that color doesn't determine the durability of shingles. Both light-colored and dark-colored shingles can last longer if given the necessary maintenance.

What is the best inexpensive new roof? ›

What Are the Least Expensive Roofing Options? Asphalt shingles are by far the most popular roofing materials because they have relatively low upfront costs. Still, there are other things to consider, such as the lifetime cost of materials and how often you have to replace them.

What roof is best for lower insurance? ›

Material: A slate roof is considered more stable and may earn you a lower rate. A wooden roof isn't fire-resistant and poses a risk, resulting in a higher rate or may make you ineligible for a policy. Shape: Gable roofs and hip roofs are the two most common roof types.

What damages roof the most? ›

Most common types of roof damage
  1. Wind damage. Tornadoes are a frequent occurrence in the Midwest. ...
  2. UV and heat damage. If your roof has heat or UV damage, you might notice warped or buckling shingles. ...
  3. Leaks and water damage. ...
  4. Damaged flashing. ...
  5. Hail damage. ...
  6. Structural damage. ...
  7. Fungus and debris. ...
  8. Ice dams.
May 20, 2022

What is the most effective roof design? ›

A metal hip roof offers the most durability of any common roofing design. Because hip roofs have an inward slope, they're ideal for regions that are prone to strong wind and frequent snow.

What is the disadvantage of EPDM? ›

The disadvantages of EPDM rubber include relatively poor resistance to petroleum-based fuels, most oils and non-polar solvents. Given these characteristics, EPDM is not a suitable material for petro-chemical applications. It should be noted that the inert nature of EPDM also makes it difficult to adhere to.

Why is EPDM so expensive? ›

The cost of EPDM installation adds another $1.50 to $3 per square foot. For a 1,500 square foot roof, expect to pay between $8,000 and $22,000. The price range for an EPDM roof is incredibly vast due to various factors such as the cost of materials, adhesive, labor, equipment, and many other things.

What is the life expectancy of a rubber roof? ›

If installed correctly, you can expect a rubber roof to in excess of up to 50 years. Because an EPDM flat roof is compromised of durable rubber, it can withstand extreme weather conditions such as hail or snow and common weather such as rain and strong winds.

How long does rubber roof coating last? ›

Typically, moisture cure silicone roof coatings can last for about 15 years. This tends to be the average. This requires that you ensure the roof is properly cared for during that time.

What material goes under a rubber roof? ›

There are three different types of single-ply underlayment: thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM). If you're considering EPDM rubber membrane for flat roof installation, here what you need to know.

How often should you recoat a rubber roof? ›

It's a good idea to plan for a new coating every five years to ensure its integrity and continued performance.

Can you recoat a rubber roof? ›

You need to make sure you choose paint that's durable, can settle on rubber, can hold up against direct sunlight and can withstand all types of weather. An acrylic coating specifically designed for rubber roofing would be ideal.

How much does it cost to rubber coat a roof? ›

Cost by Membrane Type
Membrane TypeCost per Square FootLife Span
TPO$4.50–$147–15 years
EPDM$4.25–$1220 years
PVC$5.25–$1320 years
Rubber shingles$7.50–$1530–50 years
Dec 9, 2022

How much does it cost to coat a rubber roof? ›

Roof coating materials range from $0.15 to $2.50 per square foot. Acrylic coating is the most affordable (even the best kinds cost under a dollar per square foot). Liquid rubber and high-end polyurea (which requires two coats) will cost $2 to $2.50 per square foot.

Can you put a rubber roof over an existing roof? ›

Technically, some rubber roofs can be laid over existing layers, but it's always best practice to tear off the old roofing and replace it new. So once you have all of your tools and materials, it's time to start tearing off the old roofing.

Can wind damage rubber roof? ›

High winds can lift or otherwise stress flat rubber roofing on your home. Windy weather can completely rip away a rubber roof or cause tears and looseness that allow water to penetrate. Bubbles in the rubber indicate wind damage and should be inspected and repaired as soon as possible.

What temperature is too cold for a rubber roof? ›

In colder temperatures, especially below freezing, the adhesives and primers will fail to correctly bond the EPDM rubber membrane to the surface. It's usually recommended that a rubber flat roof shouldn't be installed in temperatures under 5°c.

Can water sit on a rubber roof? ›

Properly installed EPDM rubber should be able to withstand the water without absorbing any, but it's still important to drain any puddles as soon as you spot them. Regular maintenance and inspections will help to identify any problem pooling areas on the roof.


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