TPO roofing has been around since the 1990s and is now one of the most popular types of roofs for commercial buildings. About 40% of commercial roofing work includes TPO, according to a survey by the National Roofing Contractors Association. It offers big energy savings for building owners, and big labor savings for contractors thanks to its easy application.
What Is TPO Roofing?
Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO) is a type of single-ply membrane for roofing applications. Another type is Ethylene Propylene Diene Terpolymer (EPDM).
A single-ply membrane is a sheet of roofing material that is mechanically attached, adhered, or ballasted to a building's insulation to create a layer of protection over a commercial structure.
TPO membranes are made from a blend of polymers and rubbers, usually polypropylene, ethylene rubber, and reinforced special fabric.
How to Install TPO Roofing
TPO's wide variety of attachment methods have contributed to its popularity. The membrane can be mechanically attached, adhered, or ballasted. We'll walk you through the different TPO installation methods.
Mechanically Attached: The TPO membrane is attached with mechanical fasteners (like screws) through the insulation and decking materials, usually at the seams. This method offers strong performance in high wind conditions at a very low installation cost. A complete line of fastening accessories assures the right attachment for the right condition.
InvisiWeld: This is a patented system for mechanical attachment. It uses an electromagnetic pulse to produce an induction weld between the plate and the underside of the membrane. The result? A high performance, non-penetrating mechanically attached system that offers the same great wind uplift resistance as traditional mechanical fasteners.
Adhered: When a TPO roof is adhered, it is glued to the substrate with a special adhesive that forms a strong, chemical bond across the entire roofing assembly. Adhered (and self-adhered) systems offer a high degree of performance predictability, are aesthetically pleasing, and offer some energy savings compared to mechanically attached roofing systems.
Ballasted: The insulation and membrane are loose-laid with the membrane fastened at the perimeter. Ballast is laid over the top of the membrane to hold it in place. What's ballast? It's a mixture of small rocks, typically 2-3″ in diameter. Ballast is the preferred method when a job needs to be done as quickly and inexpensively as possible. In this method, the TPO membrane is not anchored or adhered in any way to the decking material.
Energy Efficient: The main benefit of TPO is its energy efficiency. The membrane is usually white and thus highly reflective. A highly reflective membrane reflects sunlight and heat away from the building, ultimately reducing the heat load on the roof's surface and maintaining a lower temperature than darker colored roof surfaces. The building's interior stays cooler and doesn't rely so much on A/C.
Did you know? In certain geographic areas, GenFlex TPO roof systems stay 50℉-60℉ cooler at peak times than traditional roofing membranes!
Eco-Friendly: The green building movement is a huge driver for TPO membranes. TPO is a valuable part of the equation when a building owner is trying to reduce peak electrical demand or limit a building's carbon footprint. TPO membranes are made from recyclable materials. All GenFlex White TPO products meet EPA requirements and strict reflectance and emittance criteria in the USGBC® LEED® program.
Highly Durable: TPO membranes offer exceptional resistance to tears, punctures, chemicals, and weather. TPO expands and contracts with the building and allows for movement as buildings settle. TPO offers more flexibility than other single-ply roofing membranes.
Little to No Maintenance: Thanks to its durability, TPO rarely needs to be cleaned. It resists dirt buildup and bacterial growth, so the membrane stays white for the long-haul.
Cost-Effective: TPO is one of the most affordably priced roofing materials on the market. It's cost-effective from an installation standpoint, too, since it can be installed with less labor time than other roofing options.
What's next for TPO? Continued growth! According to the Global TPO Roofing Membrane Market Report 2021-2026, market analysts predict “that 45 mil thickness TPO roofing membrane will remain the largest segment due to their low cost and is [an] ideal choice for buildings which need 10-15 years of service life. TPO roofing membranes with 80 mil thickness are expected to witness highest growth over the forecast period due to the growing demand for materials with greater strength, energy efficiency, durability, and performance.”
GenFlex TPO Products
Not sure which TPO product is right for your next roof? Contact your local GenFlex representative!
GenFlex EZ TPO: Combines the flexibility and weathering resistance of rubber with the versatility of a thermoplastic. Seams can be heat-welded or sealed with seam tape.
GenFlex TPO Fleece Back: Reinforced with a weft inserted polyester scrim and externally with a polyester fleece backing for superior cut and puncture resistance.
GenFlex EZ TPO Plus: At 80 mil thickness, this membrane is designed to provide greater puncture resistance, breaking strength, and long-term performance than 45 mil or 60 mil membranes.
GenFlex TPO Accessories
GenFlex has everything you need to complete the job right, including TPO accessories.
TPO Flashing: Flexible, non-reinforced thermoplastic flashing material designed to be used where reinforced or pre-molded accessories cannot.
GenFlex EZ TPO Clear Cut Edge Sealant: Polymer-based sealant used as a sealing agent on cut edges of the TPO membrane after they are heat-welded. Offers good adhesion for the TPO membrane to other surfaces.
TPO Universal Pipe Boot: Specially designed for the flashing of round penetrations on TPO installations. Fits various penetrations from 1ʺ (25 mm) to 6ʺ (150 mm). Must be cut to correct size prior to installation.
TPO Reinforced Pipe Boots: Factory-fabricated boots made from high-performance GenFlex roofing membrane. Specifically designed to be used in roofing applications for flashing round penetrations. Will fit various sizes from 1″ to 6″ (25.4 mm to 152.4 mm). Tab design allows the boot to be used to flash pipe penetrations with limited or no access from above. No need to use non-supported flashing, so you can reduce labor and increase performance of the detail and system.
TPO Edge Caulk LVOC: One-part elastomeric sealant used with Peel & Stick™ TPO products. Offers excellent adhesion to EZ TPO and other surfaces, plus excellent resistance to ozone, ultra-violet, and general weathering.
TPO Premolded Inside and Outside Corner: Injection-molded TPO component made from non-reinforced thermoplastic polyolefin. Designed to be installed in roofing applications for flashing inside and outside corners.
TPO Cover Tape: Adhesive that is laminated to a white, gray, or tan thermoplastic coverstrip. May be used to cover Bar Anchors or strip in metal flanges.
GenPocket T: A penetration pocket vacuum. Formed to ensure uniforme product quality and consistency. Each GenPocket T is designed for use with GenFlex TPO membranes.
TPO T-Joint Cover: Made from a high-performance, non-reinforced TPO compound. Designed to seal T-Joints that occur at seam intersections on TPO roofing systems.
GenFlex TPO Resources
GenFlex TPO products are easy. We do what we can to help you grow your commercial expertise, and stand out in a crowd of contractors and competing bids.
Check out the education portal for on-demand training videos and reach out to your local representative for on-site training. Then remember! You earn points every time you install GenFlex warranted products. Those points add up fast and can be redeemed for everything from brand-name power drills to flat-screen TVs. All you have to do is sign up for the BuildUp Rewards program!
Product Lists and Distribution Centers
For a complete list of submittal sheets, training videos, and other tools, click here.
TPO Installation Videos
*Based on the Taber Stiffness testing versus best-selling competitor TPO.