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A Rubber Roofing Starter Guide – Part One: What is Rubber Roofing?

First introduced in the early 1960s, rubber is still the material of choice for many low-slope roofing applications. It mainly features EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer), which is considered a major ingredient in the roofing “industry revolution”. Since it was first formulated, EPDM as a roofing material has undergone a number of changes – factoring in innovations in the manufacture of seam tapes and installation equipment.

The material is available as rolls for commercial purposes, and as shingles for residential applications. EPDM rubber roofs are made up of:

  • Rubber membrane. The EPDM rubber membrane is engineered to withstand damage from various elements, and is known to accord properties with outstanding weather protection that remains unseen in other popular low-slope roofing materials. Available to suit differing specifications, EPDM rubber membranes can be custom fit to your roof to eliminate the need for field seaming.
  • Bonding adhesive. Usually solvent-based, bonding adhesives used in EPDM roof applications secure the membrane to the roof deck and the surrounding walls.
  • Seam tapes are used to create field seams between two rubber sheets; laminate tapes can be used to create seams or to do repairs. Lamination tapes, on the other hand, are used to seal the air and water space between the rubber membrane and the roofing surface. (In some cases, termination bars are used in place of the tapes.)

EPDM rubber roofs can be installed in three ways. These are:

  • Fully-adhered. Fully-adhered application is best for roofs that have irregular geometric shapes or which have limited load-bearing capacities.
  • Mechanically-fastened. This type of application is most suited for decks that have enough resistance for mechanical fasteners. Like fully-adhered rubber roofs, mechanically-fastened EPDM is also lightweight.
  • Also called loose-laid, ballasted roofs do not have insulation bases that are fastened to the roof deck. They are ideal for roofs that can accommodate the added weight of the ballast, and those with slopes that do not exceed 10 percent. There are various available compatible substrates for this type of application to facilitate easy installation.

The question now is, do you need a rubber roof? What do you stand to gain should you choose to install one? Find out in the second installment of our three-part blog series. Stay tuned!


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