Say it with me: Thermoplastic polyolefin Yes, the OPC is much easier. According to the Firestone Building Products white paper, TPO is technically a plastic based on polypropylene in combination with ethylene/propylene rubber.

Plastic and rubber are thus essentially mixed. A lot of information on the internet indicates that UCIs are becoming increasingly popular for commercial roofs. The fact is that we are not interested in commercial buildings, but that we focus on the possibilities and costs of applying this material to the roof of a residential building.

Understanding roof options OPC

As with all synthetic roofing options, no two companies have the same TPO formula. Instead, they adapt it enough to create their own brand. The result is a 40 to 100 mm thick membrane that is attached to the roof covering.

OPC is known as a single-layer application, which means that only one substance is needed to achieve the benefits (see benefits below). Each year it competes directly with EPDM and PVC, which are similar in application and have some identical advantages, but each with its own advantages.

TPO is purchased in rolls from 6 to 12 feet wide and with variable depth in millimetres. Typical thicknesses vary from 45 mm to 65 mm, but it is really the builder’s preference that determines the need for a particular project. The sheets are unrolled and cut out under the roof according to the size of the roof covering and the objects that penetrate into the roof structure. The material is attached in one of three ways:

  1. mechanical – nailed or screwed to the bridge
  2. fully coupled
  3. Ballast – when all the material has been laid, river stones or ballast are strategically placed to keep it in place.

TPO is usually used on flat roofs, but not always. Each pitched roof can accommodate the material. However, costs are likely to increase if installed on a pitched roof.

OPC manufacturers take pride in the fact that the resulting roof is monolithic or has no visible seams. It is excellent for waterproofing the top layer of the house. To achieve this seamless appearance between the individual panels, the seams are welded together, which is possible with the type of TPO plastic from which it is made. PVC is another material that is welded to the seams, but with TPO the material is flexible by nature.

All roofs must allow movement, either due to temperature fluctuations or the impact of people walking on them. In the case of PVC, additives are added to the base material to increase elasticity, while TPO has a natural flexibility.

The colour options are white, light grey and shiny black. It was once believed that only white UV rays reflect, but the material of plastic roofs (i.e. laminate roofs) allows this reflection.

Cost and value

The most important thing to effectively estimate the cost of installing a TPO roof is to find a qualified professional who can get the job done. Most roofers are likely to be able to fix the material mechanically or even bond it (by bonding the membrane completely to the roof).

via Atlanta Roofing Specialists

Effective hot air welding requires care, skill and experience. If this part of the work is carried out inefficiently, the results (e.g. leakage) will not create total value.

Our RoofingCalc.com study indicates that the cost of a residential TPO roof is between $6 and $12 per square meter for materials and professional installation, but some residential and commercial contractors will install it for $5 to $7 per square meter, but only for larger or fairly simple residential projects that can be completed in a day or two.

We have to be careful. This issue is discussed in the chapter Disadvantages, but deserves a special mention.

In 2010, the Midwest Roofing Contractors Association made a recommendation against TPO, which obviously had an impact on the market. Some TPO producers have responded to this consultation by pointing out that no two TPO materials are identical, which means that some brands are circumventing the problem identified in the consultation.

We believe that investment funds are constantly changing their formula, which is probably a good thing.

The industry is well aware of the perceived problem, but the downside of the coin is that the equipment is not necessarily proven. If you intend to use this equipment, it is best to rely on the companies that have existed since the beginning (read: before 2000) to ensure that the guarantee is still valid.

CIUs’ roofs generally have a guarantee of at least 10 years and at least 25 years. The material itself has to last much longer, so the installation is a constant problem, as is the way the caulking is done.

Return on investment

As far as the return on investment is concerned, data on CIUs are simply not yet available. Compared to PVC and EPDM, it is questionable, even bad. However, first look at the advantages and do your homework before you decide, because no material is perfect and every material has its disadvantages. CPB is the stuff of an industry that tries to improve every year.

OPCRoof benefits

  • offers exceptional resistance to ozone, UV radiation and certain chemical influences.
  • Refractory
  • inherently flexible
  • environmentally friendly – easy to recycle with other plastics
  • cheaper than PVC roofs
  • Energy Star meets energy saving requirements
  • Reflects heat radiation – better than EPDM
  • is resistant to fungal growth, dirt accumulation, impact and tear perforation

Defects in the roof of the OPC

  • of the latest technology leads to a lack of proven progress in practice.
  • requires high-quality installation so that the seams can withstand the ravages of time.
  • If the seams fail, re-welding means an extra service from a professional.
  • Some material formulas cannot last long under a guarantee of only 10 years.
  • slightly more expensive than the EPDM roof
  • the colour possibilities are limited compared to other roof types

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