We know that there’s a lot of information available about commercial roofing systems. Here’s a brief discussion of a built up roof vs TPO. However, remember that your best source of information comes from your certified commercial roofing contractor.

Differences Between Built-Up Roof vs TPO

Both TPO and built up roofing are popular roofing systems for commercial buildings. However, there are significant differences between each system.

  • TPO (Thermoplastic Polyolefin) is an example of single-ply membrane roofing that comes in sheets. However, built-up roofing systems are multi-layer systems.
  • TPO material has been used since the late 1990s, while built-up roofing is one of the oldest commercial roofing systems, having been around for more than a century.
  • Built up roofing (BUR) systems are applied to the roof deck using cold process adhesives, hot asphalt, or torches. Combining built-up roofs with the modified bitumen roofs cap sheet is not uncommon and creates a hybrid system. TPO is typically fully adhered with bonding adhesive or is mechanically attached. TPO membranes are heat welded at the seams to create a watertight surface.

Pros and Cons of Built-Up Roofing Systems

Here are some of the benefits of a built up commercial roof.

  • Excellent waterproofing
  • Multiple layers provide redundancy, protection
  • Fire-resistant
  • Gravel surface protects from UV degradation
  • Can handle foot traffic
  • Durable against harsh weather conditions

Pooling water, which can be prevented for both types of systems, can cause problems on both of these types of roofing systems. Pooling water can cause soft spots, waving, undulations, and blistering.

There’s no perfect commercial roofing system. However, proper installation and maintenance by a certified commercial roofing company can prolong the life of a built up roofing system.

Pros and Cons of TPO Systems

Here are some of the advantages of a TPO single ply membrane roof.

  • TPO is lightweight and flexible in colder temperatures.
  • TPO roofing systems are popular in hot climates because the surface reflects nearly 87 percent of UV rays. 
  • TPO membranes can come in a variety of colors.
  • TPO systems are resistant to environmental pollutants and chemicals.
  • TPO can be applied over an existing roof.

Even though TPO roofing materials have gained popularity within the last decade, there are still issues you need to be aware of when choosing this system. For example, TPO roof membranes don’t stand up to foot traffic as well as other systems.

Built Up Or Single Ply Membrane Roofing? Nations Roof Will Help You Decide

Your experienced roofing professional at Nations Roof will help you decide which commercial roofing system is best for your situation. We are one of the nation’s largest full-service commercial roofing contractors – and have been for over 20 years. 

While both built-up roofing and TPO systems have drawbacks, they aren’t as likely to occur when you have experienced crews from Nations Roof install and maintain your roofs.

Contact Nations Roof to schedule a consultation or a 21-point roof inspection.

Key Takeaways About Built Up Roof vs. TPO

  • TPO is a single-ply roofing system that has been around since the late 1990s.
  • Built-up roofs have been around for more than a century.
  • TPO stands up well against UV rays, but built up roofing systems are better for high-traffic roofs.
  • Proper installation and maintenance are essential for both built up and TPO roof systems.