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TPO And EPDM Roofing

If you were to look at all the layers of your roof piece by piece, you would see the roof decking, which is normally made of plywood. Then, you would see the underlayment, which comes in different types, such as Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO) and Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM). It is on top of this layer that your shingles are laid and attached. This layer simply works to help keep the elements of rain, snow, and heaven only knows what else, away from the decking of your roof and your home beneath. So, what are they and how are they used?

TPO and EPDM Roofing

(TPO) Thermoplastic Polyolefin.

This type of underlayment is made out of thin rubber. Usually, this is from other recycled rubbers which helps make it low-cost and a great reuse. TPO is sold in large rolls. Roofers will roll this out and to prevent leaking through the seams, the seams are glued or fused together with heat. Because of its durability and low cost, this is usually something used on commercial buildings. This material is also energy efficient. The material generally reflects the sunlight, which in turn will help keep the heat from settling in your home or building in order to keep the cooling costs lower. Due to the rubber material, TPO is going to react well to heat and cold outside to ensure quality protection for the roof decking all year around.

(EPDM) Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer

Like TPO, EPDM is a rubber that is sold in rolls and used for commercial buildings. It is also cost-effective, and perfectly acceptable to cover and protect your roof decking when getting a new roof installed. EPDM underlayment had fewer seams, which lowers the possibility of leaks when laying or after years of use, and it comes in a variety of sizes and thicknesses. This roofing is said to absorb the heat of sun and UV rays, which means that the heat may get locked in, but it won’t damage it. This underlayment is considered a good choice for hotter climates. That being said, EPDM is considered to only be suitable for certain roofs. This is not something that you can put asphalt or shingles over top of. Most people choose TPO over the EPDM as TPO is considered more durable, however, if cost is an issue, the EPDM can be a great solution to underlayment needs.

underlayment roll

Roof Care

While both roofs are going to wear and tear over time, you can always do a little bit of maintenance to the to help keep them in good shape over the years. One of the best things to do for the roofs is to wash them. Both TPO and EPDM require simple cleaning solutions and bristled brushes. For EPDM, you can use laundry detergent and a medium bristled brush. Saturate everything and give a good scrub. Be careful not to pull at any seams or press too hard, as you may accidentally puncture the rubber, and then, we of course have a different problem altogether. Make sure that the roof is rinsed well of residue, and you should be good for a while! TPO will require a TPO-safe and nonabrasive cleaning solution. You’ll want a soft-bristled brush for this one, instead of the medium recommended for EPDM, but you can use a pressure washer for this as well. Make sure the solution is completely rinsed off after, as you don’t want it settling on the roof.

CertainTeed Underlayment

Regardless of the roll of underlayment choice, both products will come with their own pros and cons, which is why it’s always important to discuss your needs and worries with a trusted roofing contractor. Tell them what you need, and they’ll give you the product that can check most of your boxes. As a CertainTeed ShingleMaster™ certified company, we use CertainTeed products on all of our roofing jobs, delivering top-of-the-line, beautiful, and durable roofs to homes and businesses throughout Michiana. They offer a variety of underlayments that are a little different from TPO and EPDM. These underlayments are designed for different climate zones and can be installed quickly without the need for special equipment.  Visit to learn more about the products we use and contact us for a free roof inspection or an estimate on a new roof!