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Though it might sound like some kind of obscure sub-genre of dance music on the surface, EPDM is in fact a synthetic rubber which is used very often as a building material for modern roofing, acting as a waterproof membrane. Because they retain more water than pitched roofs, EPDM membranes are installed more commonly with flat roofs than they are pitched roofs, which also means they are not as common in the UK (where we tend to favour pitched roofs) than the US (where they favour flat roofs).That is not to say there are no flat roofs in the UK, however, and the vast majority of them will have an EPDM membrane layer. If you’re on the fence about having your own EPDM membrane installed, this rough guide will take you through the basics of the material, what it can offer your home and how you should go about having your own installed.EPDM RoofingWhat is EPDM?

epdm-roofing

EPDM stands for (dictionary’s at the ready) ‘ethylene propylene diene terpolymer’, which probably means nothing to you, but I thought I’d get it out of the way. Essentially, it is an incredibly durable, synthetic rubber, which is used as a roofing membrane and is used widely in flat and low-sloped roofs across the world. The ‘ethylene’ and ‘propylene’ parts of the rubber are derived from natural gas and oil. In most cases, EPDM membranes are available in black and white, though black is significantly more common. It is also available in a variety of widths and thickness levels of 35mm and 60mm, each fit for different circumstances.

Pros

EPDM membranes offer an almost unmatched resistance to water, UV radiation, and extreme low and high temperatures.

  • Studies have shown that even when it’s been exposed to the sunlight, EPDM has a life expectancy of around 50 years!
  • No regular maintenance is required, though if possible, a yearly inspection is recommended.
  • It’s easily reparable.
  • An EPDM membrane can overlay almost any roofing material.
  • The membrane can be covered with various materials to create the desired aesthetic look for your roof.
  • EPDM can be used as part of a green roofing system if a root resistant layer is placed between the vegetation layer and the membrane.
  • There are numerous ways to install EPDM, it can be fully adhered, attached to the roof mechanically, or ballasted to the roof with specially formulated adhesives and tape.

Cons

EPDM is less resistant to oil products than other membranes, but then how often will your roof be exposed to vegetable oil or petroleum?

  • EPDM cannot be applied if the weather is too hot.
  • Applying the EPDM membrane is a quick job, but it’s not an easy job.
  • The amount of materials and tools needed to apply an EPDM membrane mean that you probably won’t be able to install it yourself. There are numerous established companies online and local however, who offer fair prices and only employ fully qualified roofers.
  • Pitched roofs are already engineered to be as water resistant as possible, so if your home has a pitched roof, an EPDM membrane might not be necessary. It couldn’t hurt though!

The history of EPDM:

EPDM membranes have been used widely in the UK since the 1970′s, and due to their long lifespans, membranes installed ‘back in the day’ are generally still performing pretty well. As with anything, however, as time moves on, so does technology, and from the 80′s onwards the majority of EPDM roofs have been fitted with seam tapes in place of the liquid adhesives, which were used until then. There are now also 90mm EPDM membranes available to the market, which offer an even higher level of protection and support and modern, white EPDM utilises an eco-friendly, reflective surface, which cuts down on energy costs when it comes to air conditioning.

Getting Your EPDM Roofing Fitted:

If you are amongst the rare number of brits with a flat roof, if you don’t have an EPDM roofing membrane fitted, then chances are you’re going to eventually experience leakage, which could (eventually) ruin your home! Of course, you could have an EPDM membrane fitted in your roof, but it could have been fitted poorly, which will lead to the same result. The problem is when those who fit the material have no special knowledge or its properties or how it should be treated. This is why you should always opt for a roofer or roofing company, who work with EPDM often. A company will not only give you a guarantee on your roof, but will give you a no obligation quote and be able to take you through every step of the process. Be sure to shop around, check for testimonials from other customers, and take your time.

Ava Lazenby

The author Ava Lazenby

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