New manufacturing methods and technologies have given rise to an alphabet soup of roofing options in recent decades. For the past 30 years, the use of single-ply roofing sheets has grown in popularity as more commercial users realize their ease of installation, flexibility, and competitive price. The sheets have the additional advantage of being manufactured in a factory to consistent and strict quality controlled standards that built-up systems cannot match. In fact, this is seen as one of the best selling points for single-ply roofing.
Installing single-ply thermoplastic olephin membrane (TPO) rolled roofing systems uses less material and less labor compared with asphalt-based systems, and is considered more flexible and tougher. TPO also costs less than many other membranes that are hot-air welded. The TPO seams that are hot-air welded are stronger than the material itself when the weld is done properly. Since there is no need for those large kettles to heat up the bitumen, the process also is easier and cleaner than adhesive-based installation. Also, as a single-ply unit, it is lighter and easier to handle than membranes with multiple layers.
TPO also can make a huge contribution to the environment in the locations where it is installed. White TPO is reflective and so is able to better protect the interior from the heat of the sun, even though with time there may be changes in the color and texture of the material. In this way, it lowers utility bills even as it reduces heat islands in urban settings. TPO also can be recycled, unlike the more conventional competition, thermo set rubbers.
The popularity of TPO has grown exponentially until now it is used to cover hundreds of millions of square feet of roofing each year. This makes TPO the fastest growing segment of the single-ply roofing industry in the United States.