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TPO vs Metal: Commercial Roof Edition

August , 2023 | 7 min. read

By Macie LaCau

view of commercial architecture

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a roof? For most, an image of a quaint home in a neighborhood with a traditional roof comes to mind. More often than not, we forget that commercial roofs exist. Of course, we know that every building should and does have a roof but that doesn't mean it's a topic of interest in everyday conversation. When it comes to commercial roofing, there are a few different options to consider as opposed to residential roofing. 

RoofCrafters has been a name in the roofing industry for nearly three decades and we know that sorting through commercial roof options can be a tad confusing. Luckily, we've picked out two that just may pique your interest- TPO and metal roofing. 

This article goes in-depth to compare two of the most popular commercial roof options, breaking down their functions and benefits.  Some business owners may prefer metal while others would rather go for TPO- and the only way to find out is to start researching! By the time you finish reading, you'll have a much better idea if one of these picks is right for you. Let's get moving! 

The Rundown on TPO Roofing


Thermoplastic Olefin (TPO) roofing originally gained popularity as a versatile and efficient roofing solution for commercial buildings. It offers a range of benefits that make it a preferred choice for many property owners! TPO is a single-ply membrane that combines the advantages of EPDM (rubber roofing) and PVC (polyvinyl chloride) membranes. Here's a comprehensive overview of TPO:

What is TPO Roofing?


roofing crew installing TPO on a commercial building

TPO is a type of single-ply roofing membrane made from a blend of polypropylene (a type of plastic) and ethylene-propylene rubber. This combination of materials results in a flexible, durable, and heat-reflective roofing material that is particularly well-suited for flat or low-slope commercial roofs.

Benefits of TPO Roofing:


Energy Efficiency: One of the standout features of TPO roofing is its reflective and heat-resistant properties. TPO roofs have a high solar reflectance index (SRI), which means they reflect a significant amount of sunlight and heat. This can lead to reduced cooling costs for the building during hot months.

Durability: TPO roofing is known for its durability and resistance to weathering. It can withstand UV radiation, ozone exposure, and chemical exposure, ensuring a longer lifespan for the roof.

Flexibility: TPO roofing materials are highly flexible, allowing them to expand and contract with temperature changes without cracking or becoming brittle. This flexibility helps prevent leaks and other issues caused by temperature fluctuations.

Installation Efficiency: TPO roofing can be installed using various methods, including fully adhered, mechanically attached, or ballasted. This versatility makes TPO roofing suitable for different building types and configurations. Additionally, the large rolls of TPO membrane reduce the number of seams and potential leak points.

commercial roofing crew install TPO roof

Environmentally Friendly: TPO roofing is considered an environmentally friendly roofing option due to its high reflectivity and recyclability. The reflective surface helps mitigate the urban heat island effect, and many TPO membranes can be recycled after their useful life.

Cost-Effective: Compared to some other commercial roofing materials, TPO roofing tends to be more cost-effective. Its relatively easy installation, energy-efficient properties, and long lifespan contribute to its cost-effectiveness over time.

Installation and Maintenance:


TPO roofing installation requires expertise and proper techniques to ensure its performance and longevity. Hiring a professional roofing contractor experienced in TPO installation is crucial. Proper seam welding, flashing installation, and insulation are key factors in the success of the roofing system.

Maintenance for TPO roofing is generally straightforward. Regular inspections to identify and address any signs of damage, debris accumulation, or seam separation are essential. Routine cleaning to prevent dirt buildup and regular gutter maintenance can help extend the life of the roof.

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Other Notes to Consider:


While TPO roofing offers numerous advantages, there are a few considerations to keep in mind:

Quality Matters: The quality of the TPO membrane varies among manufacturers. Opt for reputable brands that have a proven track record of durability and performance.

Color Options: TPO roofing is available in various colors, but white or light-colored membranes are recommended for maximum energy efficiency.

Climate: TPO roofing performs well in moderate to warm climates. In extremely cold climates, it's essential to ensure proper installation to prevent cracking due to temperature fluctuations.

All in all, TPO roofing offers a combination of energy efficiency, durability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness for commercial roofs. Its reflective properties and resistance to weathering make it an attractive option for various types of commercial buildings. 

However, proper installation by experienced professionals and routine maintenance are crucial for maximizing the benefits of TPO roofing and ensuring its long-term performance. If you're considering TPO roofing for your commercial property, consulting with a roofing expert can provide you with tailored advice and a solution that meets your needs!

All About Metal Roofing


RoofCrafters removing a blue metal on a steep roof

Commercial metal roofing is a robust and versatile solution that has gained significant popularity in the commercial sector due to its durability, longevity, and low maintenance requirements. It offers a range of benefits that make it an excellent choice for various types of commercial buildings, from warehouses and factories to retail centers and offices.

Benefits of Commercial Metal Roofing:


Longevity and Durability: Commercial metal roofing systems are built to last. They can withstand harsh weather conditions, including heavy rain, snow, high winds, and even hail. Metal roofs don't crack, warp, or rot, making them highly durable and reliable over the long term.

Low Maintenance: Minimal maintenance is required for commercial metal roofing. Unlike some other roofing materials that can accumulate debris, mold, or mildew, metal roofs shed snow and debris easily, and they're resistant to common issues that plague other roofing materials.

Energy Efficiency: Metal roofing reflects a significant amount of solar energy, reducing heat absorption and thus lowering cooling costs for commercial buildings. Additionally, many metal roofing systems can be coated with reflective finishes to enhance energy efficiency further.

Aesthetic Versatility: Commercial metal roofing comes in various profiles, finishes, and colors, allowing property owners to achieve their desired aesthetic while maintaining the benefits of a metal roof.

Other Notes to Consider:


Installation Expertise: Proper installation is crucial for commercial metal roofing systems. Working with experienced roofing professionals ensures that the panels are correctly installed, and proper insulation and ventilation are in place.

Weight: It's essential to consider the weight of the metal roofing system and ensure that the building's structure can support it!

Metal roof replacement on a 4-story commercial building

Building Codes and Permits: Different regions have specific building codes and permitting requirements for commercial roofing installations. Working with contractors who are familiar with local regulations is important.

Cost: While the upfront cost of commercial metal roofing may be higher than some other options, its longevity and energy efficiency often lead to long-term cost savings.

As you can see, commercial metal roofing offers a host of advantages that make it a top choice for businesses and property owners looking for a durable, energy-efficient, and low-maintenance roofing solution. With its various profiles, finishes, and customization options, metal roofing can suit a wide range of architectural styles and commercial building types.

Are You Ready for a Commercial Roof Replacement?      


We hope you're ready to dive into the process! In the dynamic world of commercial roofing, both metal and TPO roofs stand out as versatile and durable options, each with its own set of advantages. The choice between commercial metal and TPO roofing ultimately depends on your specific needs, priorities, and budget.

Metal roofing offers unparalleled longevity, energy efficiency, and aesthetic diversity, making it a wise investment for those seeking a long-lasting and visually appealing solution. On the other hand, TPO roofing brings remarkable value with its cost-effectiveness, reflective properties, and ease of installation, making it a popular choice for those focused on efficiency and performance.

Of course, we can't stress enough that it's crucial to find the right roofer for you. Not all roofers know what they're doing or have your concerns in mind. If you're feeling unsettled on a decision, do your research and take all the time you need! If you live in one of our service areas, help is just a ring away. When you're ready, visit our contact page to connect with one of our kind RoofCrafters representatives. We're ready to take on your commercial roofing project!

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Macie LaCau

I'm a native Georgian who spends my days nurturing my passions and embracing the quiet life. With a penchant for taking the road less traveled, I love discovering new ideas, rooting for the underdog, and taking the long way home. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, animals, and making memories.