What is TPO Roofing?

TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin) roofing is a single-ply synthetic roofing membrane that has been gaining popularity in the commercial roofing sector in recent years due to its many notable benefits. TPO is also a variation of “rubber roofing,” which is commonly used on flat commercial roofs for its strength and durability.

TPO roofing membranes offer a durable, energy-efficient and cost-effective roofing solution. Its seamless system construction means that a TPO roof has the strength needed to withstand all kinds of weather extremes, from ice to water to wind and hail, and its lifespan can exceed 20 years.

Polyisocyanurate (polyiso)

This stiff, dense material has a high R-value, which is a large factor in reducing energy bills.

Expanded polystyrene (EPS)

Known for its high R-value, this material is rigid, tough and water-resistant.

Extruded polystyrene (XPS)

XPS is tougher than EPS and has a high resistance to UV rays as well as water.

Both the TPO and the accompanying insulation material are typically fastened to the roof either mechanically or with adhesive bonding agents. TPO can also be heat-welded in areas of the roof that are more difficult to work with, such as around chimneys and vents.

Performance & Sustainability

TPO membranes are increasingly popular in the commercial roofing industry largely due to the naturally-reflective white surface, which blocks UV rays, meaning that the building’s temperature can remain consistent and the heating/cooling systems can work more efficiently, which translates to lower energy bills. Since the material is flexible, it resists tears and damage from impacts, and the flexibility allows the membrane to accommodate the building’s settling, as well as temperature fluctuations, without forming splits or cracks.

TPO membranes are Class A fire-resistant, thanks to the fire retardant added to the material during the manufacturing process, and the material is also resistant to corrosion, disintegration mildew and algae. The ease at which a TPO roof is maintained makes it an attractive option for large commercial buildings, and the relative cost savings reinforce its attractiveness.

A TPO roof can be expected to last up to 20 years with proper installation and care. While the material is durable and puncture-resistant, there is some opportunity for the seams to come apart, increasing the potential for leaks. Having semiannual inspections of the roof is typically enough to discover potential problems early and perform repairs before they become serious.

The cost of the installation can vary depending on several factors, including:

configurationTPO Roof Assembly

TPO is a single-ply roof, but when you examine the process upclose, you can see that the single ply of TPO actually paired with several layers of material to perform at its optimal level.
Commercial TPO Roof Configuration


This gypsum board reinforces the insulation layer and can help improve the fire rating for the building, though it not always necessary for a TPO roof to have one.

Roof deck

The roof deck is the lowermost layer of the roof and is the foundation for the roofing system.

TPO membrane

The topmost layer, the membrane is what protects the roof from water, wind, pests and more. It’s generally sealed by applying heat to fuse the seams and cooled to harden. The membrane is typically available in thicknesses of 45, 60 and 90 mils.

Elastomeric (adhesive) layer

The membrane should be fully adhered to the decking to prevent any space for water or wind to enter. This attachment method provides the highest level of energy efficiency, sound insulation and creates an insulating air barrier.

Cover board

Attaching the TPO membrane to a gypsum cover board increases the strength and integrity of the roof for the long-term. While it’s not always a necessary step, it’s certainly recommended in many situations.


The insulation layer is, as discussed above, typically made from polyiso, EPS or XPS. The insulation can be attached to the substrate either mechanically, full adhesion or a combination of both.

Vapor barrier

This layer’s purpose is to ensure that inside air doesn’t escape through the roof. Vapor barriers are typically used in colder climates to help heat from escaping and can prolong the life of the roof.

Flexible - strong - waterproofWhy Choose the TPO System?

TPO has many advantages as a roofing system. The material is reflective and UV-resistant, which keeps the building cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. This saves on energy and thus helps to reduce energy bills, as well as contributes to reducing a heat island effect. Furthermore, TPO is resistant to ozone exposure and will not degrade.

TPO is flexible, durable and resistant to damages of all types: tearing, punctures, impact damage and thermal shock and is highly resistant to algae, mold and mildew growth. It’s also a cost-effective and environmentally friendly solution, as the material is manufactured using no dangerous chlorine and is 100% recyclable at the end of its useful life.

The fact that TPO is hot-air welded at the seams means that it is 3-4 times stronger than a roofing system that relies on adhesive alone. The roofing is designed to resist buildup of dirt and debris, but a low-maintenance plan consisting of a seasonal cleaning and a semi-annual inspection is recommended for optimal performance and longevity.

Waterproof and wind-rated up to and above 120 mph, this material is a proven technology that is not easily damaged, is low-maintenance and typically comes with generous warranty coverage from the manufacturer.

Is TPO the right choice for your business?

Call our team today to schedule a roof consultation. Our experts are honest, knowledgeable and experienced commercial roofers.