How Long Should a Rubber Roof Last?

If you are a contractor or are familiar with the roofing game, you may have heard of EPDM. This is Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer which is more commonly known as rubber roofing. Most contractors will recommend that owners of a commercial property invest in these rubber roofs.

Rubber membrane roofs have advanced durability, life expectancy and cost per square foot that makes it one of the best replacement options for any kind of damaged roofing material. And while it certainly has disadvantages of its own, there are more than enough reasons that EPDM roofs are one of the most common options for commercial properties.

How long will a rubber roof last?

Let’s cut to the chase and discuss one of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to a rubber commercial roof: how long do they last? With the right upkeep and weather conditions, your standard rubber commercial roof will last anywhere from 40 to 50 years.

This, of course, includes proper and preventative maintenance as well. There is not a single roof out there that will last half a century on its own with no preventative maintenance done. And while that may sound like a hassle, that preventative maintenance entails simple inspections and patchwork that is done should there be any damage done to the roof.

If your area experiences extreme weather each year, this life expectancy can probably be knocked down by a few years, but rubber roofs are generally very durable and meant to last a long, long time without a ton of maintenance needed.

What are the perks of a rubber roof?

As mentioned, rubber roofs are becoming the go-to choice for commercial rooftops. This is for a few different reasons that we will outline here.

Rubber roofing is more durable and cost-effective.

A good installation is all you need

One of the good things about installing a rubber roof is that if it installed properly, that installation will make your roof seamless. When there are no seams in your roofing, that means that it is more moisture resistant and will be virtually leak-free.

With other roofs, there is the risk that shingles or individual panels could peel and raise up, exposing the roof underneath to additional risk of leaking. But with the seamless install of a rubber roof, you don’t have to worry about those pesky leaks anymore.

Rubber roofs have the same properties as PVC, TPO, and other roofing materials that are more expensive to have installed. Again, this all comes down to the installation. If it is done in a subpar way, you won’t get the full range of capabilities that the rubber roof can offer.

Lightweight

Your standard rubber roof weighs just about two pounds per square foot. This makes it lighter than something like modified bitumen, but it remains more durable. Being lighter in weight also means that it puts less stress on the roof over time. This can do wonders for the health of your commercial roof over the life of the building.

Its lighter weight also means that it is easier to transport and install. With heavier materials, it can be a hassle to get them up and down ladders or stairs, but the rubber material is much easier to transport and makes the overall installation a bit easier as well.

Durability

As mentioned previously, rubber roofs are very durable, on a level with PVC and TPO. EPDM is actually durable enough that it can support things like rooftop gardens as well. Because the material is seamless in nature, it is able to lock out moisture and prevent the growth of any fungi or other roof-harming forms of life.

With a proper installation and yearly preventative maintenance – inspections to check for any cracks in the façade that could allow for moisture to enter – your rubber commercial roof should last at least 40 years if not more.

If installed properly, a rubber roof can last 40-50 years.

Properly installing your rubber roof

The first course of action for installing a rubber roof should be to call in a commercial roofing contractor. A contractor or roofer will have a litany of experience when it comes to installing these roofs and the chance that something goes wrong will drop drastically.

If you insist on doing the work yourself, however, there are steps to follow to ensure that the job is done correctly, and your rubber roof is installed properly.

The first step is to make sure the roof is prepared. This means that you need to clean the roof. Any debris or dust that remains could potentially weaken the adhesive of the membrane. The whole point of the EPDM membrane is that it needs to be able to stick to the surface of the roof.

The next step is to inspect areas of your roof where there is a gutter. In these spaces, you may need to install a batten to extend your roof towards the gutter. This will direct rainwater drips to the gutter instead of behind the gutter; this prevents damage to the supporting wall and fasteners that are underneath the gutter itself.

Make certain that you prepare the areas of your wall that would accept flashing – this redirects moisture from the wall towards the rubber membrane – and remove any excess brick mortar using something like a mortar chisel. This will ensure that the flashings attach properly.

Lastly, prepare and install the rubber layer. Again, it is key that the rubber membrane bond with the roof because this is how it seals and becomes seamless. Apply the rubber to the roof evenly and make sure to unfold the rubber after you have finished applying the adhesive. This ensures that it won’t dry out without attaching to the membrane itself. When you are done applying, cut away the excess rubber so that the fit is complete.

Rubber roofing is becoming more common due to greater durability as well as lesser costs to install. If you own a commercial building, you may want to consider having a rubber roof installed to prolong the life of the roof for a long time to come.