collage of 3 types of EPDM alternatives including SBS, TPO and PVC membrane

Flat Roof Alternatives to EPDM Rubber Roof Membranes in Canada


  • SBS roofing, TPO roofing, and PVC roofing are good alternatives to EPDM roofing.
  • They all have an average of 25 years of longevity with minimal maintenance.
  • Availability, Budget, Environmental impact, and Climate are top considerations when choosing flat roofing systems.

Deciding on the material for your flat roof is crucial; therefore, you must know the available options and the best choice for your home. The EPDM is the most popular in Canada, but other flat roofing systems are equally good.

This post is an extensive analysis of four alternatives to the EPDM roofing system that you can explore. With this, you can make an informed decision when buying the best flat roof for your home. Before going into details about other systems, let us look at the EPDM roofing system.

What is EPDM Membrane Roofing?

Ethylene Propylene diene monomer (EPDM) is a synthetic black rubber membrane used in medical and commercial facilities. Also, it is becoming a preferred choice for residential roofing.

It is popular because of its high reliability, adaptability to varying temperatures, durability, and impressive color palette. Manufacturers use environmentally friendly recycled rubber materials to produce EPDM rubber membrane roofing.

Also, it is ozone and UV resistant and provides exceptional low-temperature features. This roofing system is also resistant to different fluids, liquid fertilizers, synthetic brake fluids, and mild acids.

EPDM Manufacturers: It is produced by major polymer manufacturers and referred to by their designated trade names. These include Nordel®, Vistalon®, Dutral® and Firestone.

EPDM Warranty and Longevity: The flat roof system remains stable for years, but there are different warranty options. It ranges from 5 to 30 years to accommodate almost any building owner’s requirement and budget. In some situations, they can last up to 40 years.

Popular Product Specifications: EPDM membrane roofing is available in sheet sizes up to 15.24m (50ft) wide by 45.72m (200ft) long. In thickness, it is available in 2.3 mm (90 mils), 1.5 mm (60 mils), and 1.5 mm (45 mils). It comes primarily in either white or black. When installed, the color reflects black or gray on the roof.

Average Price in Sq.ft: The average price is $4 to $7 per square foot installed.

Alternatives of Flat Roofing Systems to EPDM Rubber Roof Membranes in Canada

So, what other flat roofing systems can you consider apart from EPDM? This post looks at three other options – SBS Roofing, TPO Roofing, and PVC Roofing. 

SBS Membrane Roofing

SBS, Styrene-butadiene-styrene flat roofing systems are one of the most customizable low-slope commercial roofing options. They feature polyester, composite, and glass reinforcements. SBS roof membrane is a thermoplastic elastomer, which means it is resistant to harsh abrasions.

That makes it highly long-lasting when combined with bitumen (asphalt). One of the great things about this roofing system is its compatibility with different installation processes.

SBS membrane being installed with torch down (fire)

Torch down SBS membrane in action

You can use several application methods for the installation, including heat-weld, cold-applied, mechanically-fastened, hot-applied, and self-adhered applications.

SBS Manufacturers: Different manufacturers produce SBS flat roofing systems. They include Soprema, Polyglass, Johns Mansville, and Firestone.

Warranty and Longevity: SBS flat roofing systems have a life expectancy of at least 30 years, even with minimal maintenance. It requires minimal maintenance throughout its lifespan. So, it is best to perform annual maintenance to extend its lifespan.

Product Specifications: SBS is customizable, and the shape and size of your roof will determine the specification. However, it comes in 1.5 mm, 2 mm, 3 mm, and 4 mm thicknesses, and 1m x 7.5mm per roll. The color options include White, Grey, Tan, Brown, Black, Red, Green, Light Blue, and Light Grey.

Average Price in Sq.ft: The average cost of SBS flat roofing systems is between $11 and $15 per square foot.

TPO Membrane Roofing

Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO) is one of the fastest-growing flat roofing systems on the market. They are a single layer of synthetics with reinforced scrim and come in sheets of ten, twelve, or twenty feet wide.

They have a naturally reflective surface that reflects UV rays. TPO is a good option for homes with a low-slope dormer or a flat roof because it will keep the room cooler.

worker with a welding tool standing on a white TPO membrane installed on a roof
Wielding a TPO membrane with a wielder

It is worth mentioning that this roofing option is a white membrane, which means it gets dirty faster. However, if you are least bothered about the look of your roof, you may not worry about the color.

Manufacturers of TPO Roofing: Top manufacturers of TPO flat roofing systems include Firestone, Verisico, GAF, and Johns Manville.

Warranty and Longevity: The average warranty for this product is between 25 and 35 years, depending on the manufacturer you choose. However, it can last up to 40 years with optimal maintenance.

Product Specification: The manufacturers fabricate the membranes in sheet form, and they come in 10ft, 12ft, and 2ft widths. They are available in 45-mil, 60-mil, and 90-mil thicknesses. You can find them in different colors, but the most popularly used are white, grey, and tan.

Average Price in Sq.Ft: The average cost of installing a TPO flat roofing system is between $14 and $17 per square foot.

PVC Membrane Roofing

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) is another single-ply white membrane used in residential and commercial roofing. It shares several features with TPO, including its chemical makeup, characteristics, and installation process.

a worker cutting a PVC membrane
A look at a PVC bundle being cut

However, PVC roofing systems are more flexible. Additionally, they are highly resistant to tough flat-roof aggressors, such as hurricane-level winds, fire, and chemicals. Apart from durability, they also have solar reflectivity, which helps to regulate energy use and temperature in buildings.

 Manufacturers of TPO Roofing: They include Versico, GAF, Sherwin-Williams, and Sika Sarnafil.

Warranty and Longevity: Depending on the manufacturer, you can get between 25 and 35 years of warranty on your PVC flat roofing system. Your roof can last a few years more with good maintenance. 

Product Specifications: The roofing systems come in 60-mil, 72-mil, and 80-mil thick sheets. Their length and width are an average of 6ft by 12 ft. When it comes to colors, you will find them in various colors and patterns, including white, gray, beige, and tan.

Average Price in Sq. Ft: PCV membrane roofing costs an average of $7 to $10 per square foot to install.

Final Thoughts

There are many factors to consider when choosing one of these alternatives. These include availability, budget, climate, and environmental impact.

Take the time to evaluate each roofing option vis-à-vis these factors before choosing. We recommend you speak with an expert roofer to help you make the best decision.