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What is EPDM Roofing?

EPDM roofing often goes by a more common name: rubber roofing. The initials “EPDM” are short for ethylene propylene diene terpolymer. This is the material that is used to manufacture a single-ply roofing membrane that has become one of the most popular materials for flat and low-slope buildings – and it has been since it was introduced more than four decades ago.

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EPDM roofing is the top choice of architects and contractors for both new buildings and as replacement roofs, according to the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA), of which Wilson Brothers Roofing is a member. What makes it the top choice?

It resists cyclical membrane fatigue. What this means is, your roof won’t experience cracking or peeling. The material stands up to weakness in any part of the rubber during temperature cycles. You get proven hail resistance – no denting or scouring.

EPDM roofing is highly resistant to wind damage. When designed correctly, it meets various insurance and government wind lift criteria.

The synthetic rubber has been formulated to be highly resistant to ozone damage. It offers surprising resistance to extreme heat and fire.

EPDM roofing is a membrane, that is, it comes in sheets of flexible rubber polymer that are unrolled and laid directly onto on a substrate, with the sheets overlapping to form seams. The membranes are usually black but white is also manufactured.


The installation process virtually assures that you do not have to worry about leaking seams. The synthetic rubber sheets are several feet wide. They are laid down with some overlap. Usually, hot air is used to “weld” the sheets of membrane to the substrate, and together at the seams. The term for this is “thermo-setting”. When high heat is applied to the overlap, the rubber bonds to rubber, and the bond cannot be broken. In addition, seams may be coated with a liquid version of the synthetic material. This adds even greater strength. Sometimes, liquid adhesive is also used, or fasteners may also be employed when needed.

The rubber sheets are cut and sealed around HVAC and other protrusions. Most times, equipment installed on a commercial roof stays put. It does not have to be removed and then re-installed, which eliminates some of your labor costs. The materials can be “ballasted”. This means that a final layer of crushed stone or gravel is laid on top to for additional wind lift resistance.

EPDM roofing is installed in what is known as a “single ply system”. This means you get a very simple roof. Your roof is strong, with durable seams and a projected useful life of at least 20 years – often more. Standard warranties range from 5 to 20 years.


When you hear the term “rubber roof” you may think it is heavy. Not so. A typical roof, including insulation, membranes and any fasteners, weighs less than 2 pounds per square foot. Put another way, a typical membrane that is .060 inches thick weighs 1/3rd pound per square foot.


One of the benefits of EPDM roofing, to commercial building owners, is the fact that repairs do not require a lot of equipment that must be dragged atop a roof. Plus, there is no need for tear-off of damaged sections. For example, say a branch or other kind of flying debris in a windstorm caused a cut in the membrane. Either your maintenance people or your roofing contractor will simply wash and clean the surface, prime the area, and then utilize laminated patches that have been developed for just such a purpose. You won’t find very many roofs that are this simple have installed, or to fix.

Members: National Roofing Contractors Association, Colorado Roofing Association, Better Business Bureau Call now at 303-294-9535

Wilson Brothers Roofing: serving Denver, Lakewood, and Centennial, CO. Family owned and operated since 1984.

"Our mission is to exceed customer expectations in providing quality roofing and gutter service in a prompt, honest, and professional manner the first time, every time."
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