Polyvinyl chloride or PVC is a popular material for flat roofing systems. You will usually see this roofing option in different commercial structures, such as shops, condominiums, and even restaurants. This material contains a lower percentage of oil and petroleum than thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) or ethylene propylene diene terpolymer (EPDM).
Read on to learn what PVC roofing is and what makes it a good material for flat roofs.
What Is PVC Roofing?
A cost-effective but strong plastic, PVC is one of the most commonly used plastics out there. It can be made into various products with distinct performance characteristics, including roofs. Roofers choose this material mostly because of its superior durability. You can count on a PVC roof to protect your building, even under harsh climates and weather conditions.
PVC roofing systems are made from two layers of PVC roof material with polyester sandwiched between the layers to act as a reinforcement. For added flexibility and strength against ultraviolet rays, the layers in a PVC roof comes with additives. Moreover, PVC roofs are more reflective and resistant to dirt and dust due to the added layer of acrylic coating to the membrane.
What Makes It a Good Flat Roofing Material?
Eco-Friendliness and Sustainability
PVC membranes can be welded throughout their lifetime and they remain thermoplastic. This allows the material to be used in new equipment, solar panels, and routine maintenance. Unlike other roofing membranes, PVC trim from manufacturing can be entirely recyclable. Post-consumer membranes are being returned and made into new membranes.
Thermoplastics come in a wide range of colors, but they are usually available in light colors. Light-colored roofs offer higher reflectivity, and they also excel in bouncing back heat from the sun. Pure white roofs can make dirt look more obvious, which is why PVC membranes are typically available in light gray, tan, and off-white colors.
Durability and Seam Strength
The impact of roofing materials on the environment highly depends on how long they last. Materials that last for decades are better for the environment since they are less likely to contribute to landfill waste. PVC membrane can stay durable and last for decades when properly installed and well-maintained. Moreover, welded seams are stronger than the material itself. It makes PVC ideal for vegetated roofs as it does not facilitate root penetration.
Different Attachment Options
Two of the top choices when it comes to attaching PVC systems are mechanical fasteners and fully-adhered systems. Manufacturers can produce these sheets into wide panels in the factory, which lowers the number of seams that require sealing in the field. The pattern of the fasteners can be changed, depending on the expected wind loads.
Thanks to the recent development of double welds, PVC roofs can offer better resistance against the wind. In double welds, the membrane is welded on both sides of the seam fastener to distribute stresses and prevent strain on the roofing material. Nearly all thermoplastic single-ply membranes today feature internal scrim reinforcement, which improves stress distribution and dimensional stability.
What Are the Benefits of PVC?
Improves a Building’s Energy Efficiency
Because many PVC roofing membranes have high solar reflectivity, they can help cut down your energy consumption and utility bills. With this material, you can enjoy savings of up to 40 percent on your yearly energy costs. A PVC roof can also improve your roof insulation’s performance by up to 25 to 50 percent. It means that you will not only save on your heating and cooling costs, but the comfort of the building’s occupants will also increase.
Helps in the Conservation of Resources
Another reason PVC is a preferred commercial roofing material is that it is lightweight. This feature of PVC can reduce the use of steel and wood, which are necessary for heavier roofing materials. PVC membrane can extend the service life of a roofing system by up to 75 percent and can last as much as three decades.
When you do not replace your roof as often, you will not only save in installation costs, but also help in reducing the amount of energy, materials, and labor required to produce new roofing materials. PVC is also low-maintenance, meaning it helps in conserving resources and materials needed to repair the roof.
Contributes to Better Outdoor Air Quality
PVC vinyl roofing membranes have high solar reflectiveness, which helps in improving air quality. A NASA study found that compared to darker-colored roofs, lighter roof surfaces like PVC membranes can help reduce summertime urban air temperatures. It means that using PVC membranes in urban areas can diffuse heat and reduce the formation of smog.
Improved Wind, Fire, and Chemical Resistance
The welded seams of PVC roofing systems make them significantly wind-resistant. These roofs can stand up well against Category 3 hurricanes. Consider PVC if you live in an area that gets intense winds and severe storms.
PVC membranes will not easily ignite as they are highly resistant to fire and oxidation reactions. By choosing PVC, you will improve your business or home’s protection to fire. One more benefit of PVC is that it is not affected by long chemical exposure. It will give you peace of mind that your flat roof will perform well, even under harsh environments.
How Do You Maintain a PVC Roof?
Why Invest in Regular Roof Maintenance?
Low-slope roofing systems last longer when taken care of regularly. Maintaining your PVC roof will optimize its performance and reflectivity, which contributes to energy savings and comfort. By keeping your roof clean, you can prevent dirt and debris buildup that can cause algae and other organic growth. A dirty roof can also attract small animals and pests. How often you need to have your roof cleaned depends on different factors, such as environmental contaminants, rainfall frequency, and roof slope and drainage.
Safety Should Always Be Your Priority
For your safety, only allow trained professionals on your roof. Experienced roofers know how to walk on the roofing system without causing damage and compromising its structural integrity. Make sure that your roofer follows all safety requirements. Keep in mind that wet PVC membrane is slippery, so always be cautious to prevent accidents or falls.
Don’t Forget to Protect Your Exterior
Certain cleaning products can cause damage to exterior facades and landscaping. To prevent this from happening, test a small area of your exterior first before cleaning. Make sure you have accommodations for run-off cleaning solutions to avoid damaging your plants and contaminating groundwater. Moreover, comply with all local, state, and federal requirements for water run-off at all times.
Address Leaks and Damage ASAP
Regular inspections go a long way when it comes to prolonging the life of your PVC roof. Aside from routine checks, also have your roof inspected after weather events. Sometimes, roofing damage doesn’t show signs until the problem has escalated. By addressing repairs as soon as possible, you can prevent leaks from causing mold, mildew, rot, and other costly issues.
Hire a Reliable Roofing Contractor
Make sure to hire a contractor you can trust for your roofing needs. At KLIM Roofing & Construction, our roof maintenance experts will perform an inspection and assessment of the condition of your roof. We will let you know if your roof needs immediate repairs. Our team will then work with you to create a scheduled maintenance plan that is ideal for your needs and meets your budget.